Camping Tips, RV Camping Tips

What to consider when purchasing a travel trailer: 5 tips

When we decided on what type of RV we were going to purchase (see my article Motorized Vs Towable Recreational Vehicles (RVs)), then I had to decide what trailer to purchase. Below are my some of my thoughts about what to consider when purchasing a travel trailer: 5 tips.

1. Weight of travel trailer

Weight of a trailer (dry and gross vehicle weight rating) and hitch weight were probably the most important aspects of a trailer for me. Dry weight is the weight of the RV without any liquids, passengers, or cargo. Gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum allowable weight of an RV. Hitch weight is the amount of weight a travel trailer’s tongue places on the hitch it is mounted to. These aspects were important to me because I didn’t want to exceed my vehicles towing and hitch weight capacity. You’ll want to check your vehicle manufacturer’s manual for your vehicles max tow and hitch weights.

2. Travel trailer floor plans

As you view different trailers, you’ll notice that all of the major brands have similar floor plans. The three most important aspects of a trailer’s floor plan for me were having double over double bunk beds (two people on each bunk bed), having a separate master bedroom and not having a slide.

A slide is a section of the trailer that slides outward increasing the interior space of the trailer. I heard horror stories about issues with slides when I did my research. So, I didn’t want a slide in my first trailer.

3. Ladder and walkable roof

Some trailers have ladders so you can walk on the roof, some don’t. I was told if a trailer doesn’t have a ladder, you shouldn’t walk on the roof. But, you should verify with the RV dealership regarding your specific situation. It was important to me to walk on the roof so I could address any issues.

4. Length

Some people mentioned that you don’t want to buy a trailer that was too long for your tow vehicle. Now that I’m an owner, I’m not sure how important this is.

Length of trailer is important for campgrounds. Some campground’s largest RV campsites only allow up to 30 foot trailers. So, if you buy a 35 foot trailer, then that will be an issue.

Note, you’ll want to confirm the length of your trailer from trailer’s bumper to it’s coupler (end to tip). You don’t want to go off of the advertised “box” length. Campgrounds max trailer length is typically measure from end to tip.

5. Dealership

The RV dealership where you purchase your travel trailer is very important in my opinion for several reasons. First, you’ll want to find a dealership that is close to you. Why? So you can easily tow your trailer for repairs and maintenance. Trust me, you’ll be bringing the trailer back for repairs. Get a good warranty!

If you buy a trailer out of state, then the local RV dealerships may not work on your trailer. Some dealerships won’t work on trailers they didn’t sell. Some dealerships don’t work on specific brands of trailer.

Second, you’ll want to find a dealership that has a large enough service department so they can schedule you for repairs within a reasonable amount of time, like a week or two. I’ve heard stories that some dealerships take months to schedule and hold on to your trailer for months.

The dealership I purchased my trailer at schedules appointments within a couple of weeks and returns the trailer within a week. You should talk with the service department manager to ask about lead time for scheduling appointments for repairs.

Third, you’ll want to find a dealership where the people that work in sales and in the service department are ethical and really care about their customers. You can check online reviews and ask your friends that have trailers. I’ve noticed that the service department at the dealership I purchased my trailer at is very responsive, caring and ethical.

You should ask to speak to the manager in the service department to get a feel for how the service department is run. Go with your gut feeling. I constantly tell the service manager that he should get a commission on RV sales. Why? Because his level of service would strongly influence my decision to buy at his dealership again.

I hope my article “What to consider when purchasing a travel trailer: 5 tips” was helpful, happy camping!

Books that may be helpful

Below are some highly rated books that you may find helpful when preparing to buy an RV.

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