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Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer: Which Is Better?

| Updated Mar 1, 2024

Are you struggling with the great debate of Class B vs. small travel trailer? Well, here are the main pros and cons for each…

During one of our recent “Ask Us Anything” live broadcasts, the topic of a class B vs. small travel trailer came up. Kelly wrote:

“Can’t decide on a small pull trailer or class B. Pros and cons to both.”

We briefly noted the pros and cons of each during the livestream, but want to expand more with this article. 

By the way, we do these “Ask Us Anything” live broadcasts on our RV Lifestyle Facebook page every Sunday at 7 pm EST. 

Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer Overview

We go into more detail below, but here are a few key differences to sum it up. A Class B is easier to drive and set up and tear down, but leaves you without a “run around” vehicle and is more expensive than a travel trailer. 

A travel trailer takes more practice to learn to tow and park, but your tow vehicle serves as a “run around.” Travel trailers are less expensive and roomier than Class Bs. 

Again, those are the main points, but let’s take a closer look at those and more…

Pros & Cons of a Class B Motorhome

class b Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer: Which Is Better?

A Class B, often called a campervan, is generally 18-23 feet long and is built on a commercial van chassis. There is also a marketing class (not an official class) called Class B+, that’s a bit bigger.

To learn more about Class B motorhomes, check out these related resources:

And STAY TUNED – we are currently testing out several Class Bs, as so much has changed in the last few years. If you subscribe to our YouTube Channel (and click the bell icon), you'll be notified as soon as those videos are released!

But for this article, let’s jump right into the pros and cons compared to a travel trailer.

Pro #1: Easy Setup & Teardown

As a motorhome, you simply pull a Class B into the campsite, set the leveling blocks under the tires, and you’re pretty much set. At least, as far as getting your RV situated. 

The same is true in reverse. Remove the blocks, and you’re good to go! However, remembering those blocks is harder than you think, as we learned from the movie RV and the Dumbest RV Camping Mistakes.

Pro #2: Easier to Drive & Park

Driving a campervan isn’t much different than driving a regular passenger vehicle, especially if compared to a minivan or truck. There tend to be more blindspots, but otherwise, you can essentially drive it off the lot with confidence.

Con #1: No “Run Around” Vehicle

A lot of people choose Class B RVs because they’re easy to zip around and tour in. This is great when going from destination to destination, but is a bit of a con when you’re camping in one place.

Since your Class B is your “run around” vehicle, you have to break camp to go sightseeing or to run errands. Of course, you don’t have to tear down your whole camp, but you do have to disconnect, put in the awning, etc. 

A way around this is to bring ebikes or use your Uber app.

Con #2: More Expensive

When compared to small travel trailers, new Class B motorhomes start a bit over $100,000 but can be closer to $200k and up. In most cases, it even costs more than buying a small travel trailer and tow vehicle. Plus, you can use a tow vehicle as your everyday vehicle when you're not traveling.

Additionally, Class B motorhomes may have higher maintenance costs due to their complex mechanical systems, specialized components, and the fact that they are built on a commercial van chassis. This higher initial and ongoing cost could be a significant drawback for budget-conscious travelers.

Con #3: Less Roomy

Another drawback of Class B motorhomes is their limited interior space. Class B campervans are narrower compared to small travel trailers, which can make them feel cramped, especially during extended trips or when camping with multiple people.

Additionally, Class B motorhomes typically do not have slide-outs, which are room extensions that you can slide out when at camp.

Pros & Cons of a Small Travel Trailer 

travel trailer interior
Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer: Which Is Better?

The pros and cons of a small travel trailer are essentially the opposite of Class B. However, it still helps to explain them further.

Pro #1: Have a “Run Around” Vehicle

One of the key advantages of opting for a small travel trailer is that your tow vehicle can double as a “run around” vehicle once you have set up camp. Once you have parked your travel trailer at the campsite, you can easily detach your tow vehicle and use it for sightseeing, grocery runs, or sightseeing.

Pro #2: Less Expensive

Small travel trailers are more budget-friendly than Class B motorhomes, especially if you already own a tow vehicle. The price difference can be so significant that this pro alone might decide for you.

Small travel trailers can start at about $20,000 dollars. Of course, there are luxury trailers (think Airstream) that exceed $100,000, but you have a full range of options with 5-digit pricetags. Whereas rarely will you find a new Class B with less than a 6-digit price tag.

Of course, you have to factor in the price of a tow vehicle if you don't own one already.

Pro #3: Roomier (Wider and Can Have Slides)

Travel trailers typically offer more interior space and versatility compared to Class B motorhomes. They typically have wider floor plans and more headroom.

Plus, some travel trailers come equipped with slide-outs, which can be extended to create additional room inside the RV when parked.

Con #1: Harder to Drive & Park

The main challenge associated with small travel trailers is learning to drive and park them confidently. Maneuvering a travel trailer can require more skill and practice, especially when it comes to reversing, navigating tight spaces, or backing into campsites.

Additionally, the length and width of a travel trailer can make it trickier to handle on the road, particularly in crowded or windy areas.

Con #2: Rougher Ride & Potential Fishtailing

Another downside of small travel trailers is that they may offer a rougher ride compared to Class B motorhomes, especially on uneven or bumpy roads. You might experience “trailer bounce” or “porpoising” as the trailer pulls up and down on your hitch.

On that same note, the towing dynamics of a travel trailer can sometimes lead to fishtailing, which is when the trailer sways from side to side behind the tow vehicle, affecting stability and control. Passing semi-tractor trailers and strong crosswinds can cause this, too.

You'll need to learn proper weight distribution, hitch setup, and driving techniques to help mitigate these issues.

Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer: Deciding Which Is Better for You

Ultimately, deciding which is better comes down to a personal decision. It’s best to make a list of the pros and cons that affect you. For instance, some people already know how to tow trailers or aren’t intimidated to learn. So, they wouldn’t consider towing difficulty as a con.

Hopefully, this overview helps get you started. Here are more resources to help:

Our RV Buying Secrets

Class B vs. Small Travel Trailer: Which Is Better? 1

Next to your home, an RV is most likely the 2nd most expensive thing you'll ever purchase.

We get questions every day of other RVers wondering. “How do you buy a new or used RV?”

So we created a 75+-page downloadable digital guide to help you understand the nuances that come with purchasing an RV, where you can save thousands of dollars in the buying process, what the right questions are to ask dealers, what things to look out for, how to select the right unit, amenities, warranties, and so much more!

This ebook is designed to help make your purchase process as smooth as possible. And to teach you step-by-step exactly what to do so you can start your RV Lifestyle today!

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-02-29

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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