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Travel Trailer Buying Tips from Experts

Travel Trailer Buying Tips: 9 Experts Give Their Best Advice




Does buying a travel trailer seem overwhelming? I know it can be. When you first begin looking at trailers, there are so many things to consider! Where do you even start?

To answer this question, I asked 9 RV experts for their top three tips for buying a travel trailer.

I emailed top RV travel bloggers, and asked RV.net forum members, this one question:

“If you could give 3 tips to someone buying an RV or travel trailer, what would they be?”

The Top Answers

The tips I received varied greatly, but there were three that stood out, coming from multiple experts.

#1 – Spend time in the trailer before you buy it. – 5 Votes
#2 – Make sure your vehicle can tow your trailer easily; don’t buy too heavy a trailer. – 3 Votes
#3 – Buy the best quality trailer you can afford – 2 Votes

Read on to discover all three of each expert’s tips.

The Full Answers

Responses – Top 3 tips for buying a travel trailer

Ray Burr - LoveYourRV

Ray Burr – Love Your RV

TIP #1: Watch weight
“Make sure the trailer and truck match up well. You want to ideally have about a 15-20% margin of safety in towing and weight capacities of your truck. If you get too close to the max weights or overload the truck’s capabilities not only is it dangerous it’s not a very pleasant towing experience. Don’t let a RV salesman tell you it will be OK for your truck to handle the trailer, they usually have no clue. Check with the truck manufacture or a trusted mechanic.”
TIP #2: Spend time in the trailer before buying
“Once you have narrowed down your choices to a few trailers go and spend some time in them. Pretend to do things you would repetitively do while living it it. Like for instance make a meal, watch TV, do the dishes, use the bathroom, have a shower,etc. You’d be surprised when you actually physically pretend to do theses things what annoyances pop-up. Better to know that before the purchase.”



TIP #3: Buy from a reputable dealer
“Buy from a reputable dealer. I would rather spend a little more money and have a good dealer that will answer questions and serve my needs after the sale than get a so called deal. RV’s are very complex items and almost always even new ones will need something tweaked or fixed. Getting a deal from a shoddy dealership can turn into a nightmare if things go wrong. You’ll also find that a good dealer will have more sway with the manufacture and can help you out if there is a dispute.”

technomadia-about-us

Chris and Cherie – Technomadia

TIP #1: See how they age

“Whether you’re buying new or used, try to find one of the same brand/model about 5-10 years older than you’re considering to see how they hold up over time.”

TIP #2Spend time in the trailer before buying

“Spend a lot of time inside each potential RV to really feel how it will be like to live in. Check things out like using the shower, sitting on the toilet, getting dressed and moving about with other people in the RV with you.”

TIP #3: Spend extra for quality

“Spend extra for quality, not necessarily whiz-band features that you probably won’t use anyway.”

Marianne and Randy

Marianne Edwards – Frugal RV Travel

TIP #1: Research
“Be patient. Don’t buy until you’ve devoted a good amount of time to research – compare prices on web sites listing used RVs and invest $139.00 to join the RV consumer group, http://rv.org/ – a non-profit web site providing independent ratings on all manner of RVs including travel trailers.”

TIP #2: Avoid dealerships
“If you want the best price, avoid dealerships. They generally have made it look pretty (cleaned it up, touched up paint, etc) but don’t really offer a warranty on used trailers (or, if they do it’s very limited) so, although you’ve paid more, you’re no better-off than in a private deal.”

TIP #3: Learn about the trailer and seller
“With a private sale, learn the seller’s profile. Look for a one-owner trailer and get as many details as you can about how they used it, why they’re selling, what parts have been replaced. If anything doesn’t sound right, be extra cautious or walk away. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Copy down the serial number personally and check police recores to be sure it’s not stolen.”

Gone With the Wynns

Jason Wynn – Gone With the Wynns

TIP #1: Spend time in the trailer before buying
“Tell the salesperson to leave you alone!  You need to sit in the RV for a couple hours and really hash out your daily routine.  Pretend cook, wash dishes, put away dishes, sit down to eat, sleep, watch TV, take a shower, all the daily stuff you do should be acted out in order to see if that RV will work for your individual needs.”

TIP #2: Don’t pay MSRP
“Don’t ever pay MSRP.  The salesperson might try and offer you a 5% immediate discount but you should demand more.  With motorized RV’s the discount can be up to 30% off MSRP, not sure about trailers but I know there’s some major wiggle room.  Also if there is an incentive you know about (for example with our first RV purchase there was a $500 off discount if you are a member of a credit union) try to negotiate your price first, then bring up the incentive.”

TIP #3: Set it up properly
“After you purchase pay very close attention to the walk through and PDI!  If your dealer has electric plugs and a dump station plan on staying at their property overnight as a ‘shake down’ night to see what all might need to be fixed in your new RV.  Once you get the first round of things repaired you should plan on taking a long weekend camping trip but don’t go too far away, you never know what may malfunction in a new RV, and you don’t want to be too far away from home should something crazy happen.”

rv.net

User “bikendan” – via RV.net forums

TIP #1: “Check for water damage”

TIP #2: “Make sure you have a tow vehicle capable of safely towing the loaded trailer, along with the vehicle being loaded.”

TIP #3: “Buy your second trailer, first!”

User “wannavolunteerFT” – via RV.net forums

“Spend some time in the trailer. can you reach the cabinets/storage or do you need a stool or to get down on the floor? can you sit in the bathroom with the door shut? Can you dress in the bathroom or is there a easy to manage alternative? any of these questions can be answered by spending some time in a TT and going through how you will do everything you do in the course of a day and night.”

User “ncrowley” – via RV.net forums

TIP #1: “Buy the best quality you can. If you need to, go used for better quality”

TIP #2: “Spend a lot of time in the trailer evaluating the floor plan. Is the bed long enough? Can you sit comfortably and watch the TV? Can you walk around easily? Can you cook easily? Can you make the bed? Can you access the sink? Etc.”

TIP #3: “Make sure your tow vehicle can not only handle the weight but you have a buffer. DO not be at near max weight with the trailer loaded for a trip.”

User “Halmfamily” – via RV.net forums

TIP #1: “Hit as many dealers and RV shows as you can before you make a decision. With so many floor plans and different qualities you’ll want to see as many as you can. Our dealer said over 50% of first time buyers come back within two years to buy a different floor plan.”

TIP #2: “Make sure your tow vehicle is capable of handling the trailer not just pulling it. We made that mistake.”

TIP #3: “Negotiate for the best price and research the price thoroughly before buying. Get several offers from outside dealers and take these to your local dealer. Ours came within $500 of our lowest quote and saved us a 500 mile trip.”

TIP #4: “RV’ing is not cheap, so if your getting an RV to save money on vacations you might want to rethink your decision. Factor is cost of RV, tow vehicle, hitch, brake controller, extra fuel, insurance, accessories and camp ground fees.”

User “loulou57” – via RV.net forums

“Really “listen” to the salesman/dealer owner and “hear” what he isn’t telling you!

Make sure that the new unit he is selling you is new. If he tells you it has never been registered…Ask him if it has ever been slept in!

Long story but a unit was sold as new but it had been either loaned or rented out. Evidence found after sale complete and money exchanged.”

User “myredracer” – via RV.net forums

TIP #1: “Rent one first. You can find some campgrounds that have rental units on them. That’s how we got our first introduction and we learned a few good things from that experience. It’s also what got us hooked.”

TIP #2: “Don’t go out spending a bundle of cash on your first TT and don’t spend another bundle of cash on mods and upgrades to it. BTDT. There’s a good probability that it will not be your last and you may not have it that long. The value of new TTs plummets from new and you could lose a lot of that bundle of cash if you go and sell it down the road. Once you get into RV-ing and see other units and go to RV shows, there’s gonna be something that is waaay nicer than what you have. Again, BTDT too…”

TIP #3: “Learn what to look for in TTs when you go around and look at them in person. Look under the trailers and see how the frames differ. Some are awful and some are good. Frames don’t usually get looked at much, especially by first-time buyers. See if floors feel soft. Look inside cabinets and see what the fit and finish is like and look for things out of plumb, level & square. Some cabinetry can be really poorly put together. When narrowing down, spend some time inside a unit. Sit down and picture yourself doing various activities and think about functionality. Where would you hang coats when you come and go in rainy or cold weather? TVs can be in difficult to see locations. Storage can be inadequate and poorly laid out. Is there enough kitchen counter area? Pass-through doors can be too small while some are generous in size. Some pass-through spaces can be much larger than others even though they are located similarly under the forward facing queen bed. Look at the cargo carrying capacity between makes and models. Sometimes the CCC is almost nothing after you have the TT all loaded up for camping while some manufacturers are realistic and generous on CCC. Download one of the pre-purchase checklists from the internet for ideas of some things to look for.”

TIP #4: “Bonus item. Get a pair of walkie-talkies for backing into a site. This may just save a marriage one day. (Another BTDT )

Oh yeah, and as said alluded to above, never ever believe what a salesman tells you. All they want to do is sell you something, anything, that puts cash in their jeans….”

 Summary

Buying a travel trailer doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In this roundup, we’ve shared the advice of 9 experts on how to simplify the process of buying a trailer. Hopefully buying that new trailer doesn’t seem as complicated as it once did!

Once again, here are the top three tips:

#1 – Spend time in the trailer before you buy it.
#2 – Make sure your vehicle can tow your trailer easily; don’t buy too heavy a trailer.
#3 – Buy the best quality trailer you can afford.




That first tip – about spending time in the trailer before buying – was mentioned by 5 out of the 9 experts. That surprised me – it’s certainly a good tip!

Also – a big THANK YOU to all the experts who generously shared their wisdom, for the benefit of all of us!

One more thing – if you haven’t yet, consider joining the Best Travel Trailers Newsletter. You’ll get access to free material, as well as emails when we post new guides.

I hope you enjoyed these expert tips, and that they will aid you in finding the right trailer for you!

Travel Trailer Rentals: 200 Places to Rent a Trailer in America

Travel trailers are expensive to purchase, and if you don’t travel a lot, renting a trailer is often a great alternative to buying one. Travel trailer rentals are popular, and for good reason. Here are a few of the benefits of renting a trailer:

  • Renting allows you to use the trailer for a small amount of time without paying full price to own it. Renting is a great option for people who travel infrequently – renting instead of buying can save you a lot of money if you don’t travel a lot.
  • It allows you to try out the camping lifestyle and see if you like it before you invest a lot of money in buying a trailer.
  • If you’re in the market for a travel trailer, renting allows you to evaluate the trailer before you buy one. You can live in it and decide what you like and dislike. This information is invaluable in the buying process, because it’ll help you know exactly what kind of trailer is best for you.

As you can see, renting is often a great option for people in all different travel situations. So where can you rent a trailer?Travel Trailer Rentals

200 Places to Rent a Trailer in The U.S.

With that, I’d like to introduce the ultimate list of travel trailer rental places. This includes 200 businesses that rent travel trailers, plus links to their websites. It covers all 50 states. Note: Many of these places say “RV rentals” but also rent travel trailers.

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

41. RV Maui

Idaho

Illinois

48. Arts RV
49. 83 RV

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

76. Destinations RV (closed)

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

112. Sahara RV

New Hampshire

New Jersey

117. 84 RV

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

145. EZ Camp

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

157. Dakota RV

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

178. Ace RV

Washington

183. Tacoma RV

West Virginia

188. PKB RVs

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Nationwide

200. RVShare
Serro Scotty Teardrop Trailer

Best Small Travel Trailers: 5 Great Teardrop Brands

Update: see the new version of this article, with 10 different small travel trailers, here.

Small travel trailers have a lot of advantages over their full-size counterparts.

While they don’t offer as many amenities as the big ones can, small trailers have their own set of benefits. They’re small and light, meaning you don’t need a huge truck to tow them. They’re less expensive too. They provide a place to sleep and eat without the hassle of a big trailer.




If you’re looking for a small travel trailer, look no further. We’ve put together a list of the best small travel trailers out there. These “teardrop” trailers as they’re called are unique, lightweight, and much easier to tow. There’s something for everyone here.

DSC00023

1. Egg Camper

Egg Camper is a trailer brand that offers a unique egg-shaped design. They only have two trailers – the “Egg Camper” and the Teardropp. The Egg Camper is a 17-ft small travel trailer that comes “nicely equipped” for $18880. It is a premium price for a small trailer, but it’s American-made and has some nice features. The other model, the Teardropp, is Egg Camper’s take on the classic teardrop trailer. The Teardropp, judging from the pictures on the website, looks pretty spacious inside. Its exterior dimensions are 166”x88”x83”. It has a door on one side, window on the other, and also opens from the rear. Available options are heat, air conditioning, and 12v fridge. To learn more, visit Egg Camper’s Teardropp page which has photos, descriptions, and a phone number and email address you can use to contact them.

 

2. iCampiCamp

iCamp also offers just two trailer options: the iCamp Elite and iCamp Lite. The iCamp Lite is a very small, unique trailer that expands with the use of a tent. You can learn more about it on its iCamp website page. But we’ll focus on the iCamp Elite, iCamp’s teardrop trailer offering. The Elite has a very cool design with colored trim – very sleek and good-looking. Its dimensions are 144”x80”x97”. It has a large window on each side, with a door on one side and a smaller 2nd window on the other.

The interior of the iCamp is amazing for a travel trailer. It has a stove, sink, dinette that folds down into a bed, bathroom, and even a shower! Plus, it has available heating and AC. It’s like it has many of the amenities of a full travel trailer but in a near-teardrop size. Made in China, the iCamp has a starting MSRP of $15,600 without options and can be towed by “many mini vans and passenger cars.” Its unloaded weight is 2366 lbs.

If you’re interested in the iCamp, head over to their website to find more info, floor plans, and dealers. This page on Roaming Times is a good source of information and reviews.




3. Serro Scotty

silver_pup_main

John Serro founded Serro Scotty in 1957. Scotty offers 3 models: the Hilander, the Sportsman, and the Lite. The Hilander is a full-featured travel trailer with a small size – 15’ 9” in length. The Sportsman is a bit like the iCamp – a larger teardrop, with bit more features. 15’ 2” in length, 1780 lb. dry weight, and comfortably sleeps 3 – good for a teardrop trailer. The headroom is 6’ 1”, very good for a teardrop.

The Scotty Lite is a classic teardrop trailer – modern retro design, and very small and light. It weighs only 960 lbs. and has a 90 lb. hitch weight. It has a nice wooden interior with a couch for two during the day that folds into a bed. It has a sink and storage space too. The Scotty Lite has a large window, door, and medium window.

For more information, visit the Scotty Trailers website – they have lots of information on their trailers, plus dealers and lots of good photos.

4. So-Cal

So-Cal Trailer

So-Cal has a large selection of teardrop models. They actually have three off-road teardrop models as well. So-Cal trailers have a classic look and good design. They offer models starting at $6355 but most are around $10,000. The off-road models are a bit more expensive of course.

So-Cal trailers are small and short, so they’re pretty light – the Rover model weighs in at 920 lbs. The back of the trailer folds up to reveal storage – and a pull-out mini stove! Good thinking So-Cal.

So-Cal offers many different teardrop trailers, so I recommend going and checking out their website to learn about them. They have lots of photos, details on how the trailers are made, and a map showing dealers.

5. Little Guy

Little Guy Trailer

Little Guy is one of the most popular and well-known travel trailer brands out there. Little Guy offers a large selection of teardrops – they’re the maker behind the popular T@b trailers too. The original Little Guy trailers have four variations. The smallest one is the 4 Wide Platform – it weighs only 800 lbs. and starts at $7063. They have tons of different options, like a window on top, sink and stove, and tons of different graphics to choose from.

They have a lot of teardrop options, so we’ll let you head over to their website and have a look. They have a lot of photos, video, specs, and options listed on their site, along with contact info and the option to get a quote from a nearby dealer after selecting your options. Definitely check them out.

Bonus: Knaus Deseo

Knaus Deseo

I told you we’d cover 5 trailer brands, but Knaus is awesome so I had to include it. The Deseo is a small trailer – bigger than a teardrop. It has a great exterior design and an even better interior. Looking around the Knaus website, I saw that they actually have a lot of impressive RVs and trailers. Their design is really, really good. Only problem is, they’re European, and all their dealers are in Europe. So it’d be hard to find one of their trailers over here.

But if you do, or you live in Europe, the Deseo looks to be an excellent small trailer. The photos on their website look very good. Unfortunately I couldn’t find specs listed, but they do have floor plans and details on the equipment and packages. Check out their website.




Summary

So those are 6 great teardrop travel trailer manufacturers. Teardrop trailers can be a great option if you don’t need everything a full-size trailer offers. You can tow them with a lot of smaller trucks and SUVs.

Check out the reviews and websites, and compare your favorites. If you find one you like, see if any local dealers have it. Go see it in person and try it out. Compare others and decide which you like best. All the options here are good choices – it’s just about finding best one for you.