If you enjoy traveling the open road but aren’t ready to commit to an RV, purchasing a trailer is the next logical thing. It will give you a sense of driving and towing an RV without the associated costs. However, despite its lower price tag and overhead in comparison to a full-fledged RV, there are still going to be many things to take into account prior to purchasing a mobile camper. New owners will feel intimidated by the various models, features, financing, and a thousand and one other details to mull over. In this list, we will show you the 10 most crucial things to consider before purchasing a trailer.
1. Should you even buy a trailer?
The first thing to ask yourself and travel partners is whether owning a trailer is actually necessary. Some people won’t mind sleeping in a cramped trailer while out in the open road, but others may feel more content with renting a hotel room. Communicate with your companions about whether investing in a trailer is the right decision. Remember that it’s not just stop-and-park; when it comes to trailers there is a long list of procedures for setting it up, maintaining it, towing it, and storing it. If you find that you can’t make a unanimous decision, then perhaps a trailer isn’t the best thing to purchase.
2. Your vehicle’s towing capacity
The next step is to determine how much your vehicle can tow. A quick solution for this problem is to check the owner’s manual which will show the manufacturer’s recommended tow rating. It’s not recommended that you take a wild guess or rely on your cousin’s uncle’s coworker’s answer on Facebook. After you determine the towing capacity of the vehicle you’ll use to tow, you should only look for trailers that are well below your car’s maximum tow rating (at most, 80%). After all, you’ll need the leftover towing capacity to lug equipment and people around.
3. Spend some time in a trailer
If you find that a trailer is imperative to your travel experience, then you should have some first-hand experience of life in a trailer. You can do this simply by renting one. This lets you try various types and brands before solidifying your commitment to one trailer. In addition, new buyers can learn the feel of tugging additional weight behind your vehicle. Play the field to see which trailer can satisfy your every need.
4. Inner features
We’ve established that we need a trailer and our car can tow x amount of weight. Next, we need to determine what furnishings we want inside the trailer. You should know that different models and brands are equipped with an assortment of preinstalled features. Will you need hot water on your trip for showers or drinks? What about cabinets for storing various items? Will you be doing your “business” in the privacy of your trailer or out in the woods with bears and snakes? Ask your travel mates what they think is right and decide.
5. Where will you store your trailer?
Trailers vary in size and dimensions. If you have 10 acres of unused land then storing your trailer may not be a problem. If you live in a part of town with limited parking space, then you may have to rent garage space somewhere. Maybe you have a friend with extra parking space the he or she won’t mind letting you use, free of charge? Whatever the case, you’ll have to think of where to put the trailer during its downtime. It’s easy to think about where to park when you’re traveling to spacious areas, but when the trip is over where does the trailer go?
6. Trailer type that best suits your needs
There are four types of trailers to consider: Pop-up, Travel Trailer, Toy-Hauler and Fifth Wheel.
- Pop-up (sometimes called pup) is the lightest type folds into an easy-to-maneuver trailer. They can contain a wide assortment of features like a fridge, gas oven and heaters.
- Travel trailers are similar to RVs as it is a closed space wide hard sides. Some models can fold out to increase living space and increased privacy with personal bed spaces and bathrooms.
- Toy-Haulers are like a cross between a camper and enclosed car trailer. The hauling area of a Toy-Hauler can transform into a bedroom or living space with beds and couches. This type of trailer is typically used to haul around “toys” like dirt bikes or ATV.
- Fifth Wheels are the largest of the four types of trailers. It connects to the tow vehicle using a fifth wheel hitch found in the bed of pickup trucks. These are what you imagine luxury trailers to look like. They come equipped with every feature you’ll need for comfortable living while traveling.
7. How many people will use it?
If you’re considering buying a trailer then you are most likely traveling in a group. Certain trailer types won’t accommodate large groups, and some trailers require the help of at least six people to setup efficiently. Some trailers will come with multiple bedrooms or bed spaces while others only come with two bedrooms: one for the owner and the other for the owner’s dog, all others have to sleep outside. Depending on how well you plan on treating your friends or family, make sure that you buy a trailer that can comfortably accommodate everybody. If you plan on expanding your travel group/family in the future, make sure your trailer can accommodate growth.
8. Trailer brands
There’s no absolutely correct answer on to the question “Which brand is best?” You’ll have to manually research trailer brands, features, weight and size. Check for reviews, both positive and negative. Don’t be enticed by cheap trailers as there’s usually a huge tradeoff for low prices or high discounts, like lack of built-in features or ridiculous maintenance costs. Try and find the best quality trailer that meets every/most of your needs within your budget.
9. New or used
Once again this is completely up to you. You have the responsibility to weight the cost of a new unit against second-hand ones. In general, used trailers will require large renovation costs and more frequent maintenance. Try to imagine the long-term expenses over five years or more. However, when opting for a used trailer, there’s one rule of thumb to always follow: if water can seep from the outside to the trailer’s interior, stay away. Trailers are made of either wood or metal, and water leakage is a clear indication that you will have to invest heavily on repairs before making it livable.
10. Where to buy a trailer
As we approach making the final decision, we’ll want to know where to buy a trailer. Research dealers near you or within drivable distance from you since you may need to make periodic visits for maintenance purposes. Most trailers will come with a one-year warranty so ensure that you are getting at least from the seller. A trailer is very different from a car. If you experience any car trouble you can take it to the manufacturer’s dealership and get it fixed. In the case of trailers, only the dealer can help you. If you can, make sure that the dealer you are working with has a good track record of dealing with trailer issues and customer complaints.