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Old 06-22-2021, 10:51 AM   #1
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Travel Trailer vs 5th wheel for family

So I was shopping for campers, I thought I had figured it out all, then my wife got involved!

I thought we had settled on a smaller travel trailer for now, since it could be done with the correct half ton truck, but my wife looked at some 5th wheels and decided she liked the layouts.

I started looking at 5th wheels and noticed that while some are family oriented, not a lot are. Someone suggested a toy hauler, but I'm not sure I want to get in to that.

So based on personal experience here, is a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or 5th wheel toy hauler the better option for a family of 5? That's 3 small kids and 2 adults.

This will be a a local trip every 1 or 2 months, with longer trips to the east coast 1 or 2 times a year.

Obviously a 5th wheel or even larger travel trailer forces me to shop for a different truck, but if overall the experience of a 5th wheel is that much better, I have no problem jumping to something in the 1 ton range.
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:00 AM   #2
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Comparing a 5th wheel and a travel trailer of similar size, the 5th wheel will be more comfortable to tow, will have more usable internal space, and will have lots more storage space. The travel trailer will get better fuel economy.


Unless you have toys to tow, there is little point to a toy hauler. With 3 kids, you probably should be looking at bunkhouse models.


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Old 06-22-2021, 11:12 AM   #3
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I would never want a TT! You hear of too many fishtailing accidents. That doesn't happen with a 5th wheel. We pulled a 5er for 10 years before getting the MH and loved it! Never a problem with stability, even in high winds! JMHO
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:38 AM   #4
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Pros and cons to each. On a travel trailer, you need to make sure you have the right hitch setup, depending on size. This would be a hitch with spring bars and anti-sway setup. For 5 people, based on ages and sexes, you are going to need a good sized TT - probably 30+ feet. To get something large, that will be towed by a 1/2 ton P/U generally implies a fairly light unit, which (generally) means cheap construction. Space is fairly limited in a TT, especially when it comes to storage. On a 5th wheel, there are light units that (supposedly) can be pulled with a 1/2 ton P/U, but you may encounter the same issues as with a TT on construction. If you were to compare a 31 to 33' TT to a %th wheel, the differences are significant. Significantly more space, nicer bedroom for up the steps,, more storage in and out. Towing characteristic are night and day as the 5th wheel tracks directly with the tow unit. Maneuverability is significantly better, especially in tight spots as you can accomplish 90 degree turns, if needed. However, based on short bed or long bed, you will have to determine what type of hitch you need or want. Short bed generally requires a slider type of 5th wheel hitch, while that is not necessary for a long bed truck. IMO opinion, there is no comparison to a TT with a good 5th wheel layout with a rear kitchen. We had one TT for about 9 months then moved to a 5th wheel and have had 4 since moving to a MH. If you are going to really use the unit a lot, I say a good 5th wheel, and possibly a new truck, if it is financially feasible.
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Old 06-22-2021, 12:38 PM   #5
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Here are some bunkhouse models in trailers. Compare the length and the weights.
You definitely don't need a toy hauler unless you'd want to use it for bike carrying.

As stated, a 5th wheel is easier to hook up, more stable on the highway and has lots more outside storage space.

Keep in mind that holding tank size is very important if you'll do any dry camping or have no water/dump hookups.

You'll just have to decide on the floorplan that will work for you and the price you want to pay... especially if you have to figure in a new truck. Good luck..... and next time begin planning WITH the wife!

https://camperguide.org/travel-trailers-with-bunk-beds/

https://www.funtownrv.com/bunkhouse-fifth-wheels

https://www.rvingknowhow.com/5th-whe...e-floor-plans/
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Old 06-22-2021, 12:50 PM   #6
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Look at ever unit you can. Spend some time in them and move around each other. Where are each of you going to spend you time? Is there room to do the things you want to?

Next make a list of how and where you plan on using it. Length, size and weight may be an issue for you.

Now make a list of features that are important to you and why. For example we spend extended periods of time traveling and boondocking. We wanted at least 100 gallons of water, built in generator with fuel, at least 2 A/C, space for toys, plenty of room to install batteries and solar, "full size" fridge. It is typically just me and my wife so a single bathroom was enough for us, do you need 2?

While I like the idea of a TT, the size and comfort are not what we want for the way we use it.

We really like traditional 5th wheel lay out, however very few came with our water/waste requirements and we did not find any that had a generator with built in fuel.

We are in a toy hauler. I hate the living room lay out, but we have adjusted since I really like everything else. Now that I telework the garage has become my office when we travel. Toy haulers are also one of the easiest ways to get lots of sleeping area. We have a king master, a loft for small kids, 2 queen beds and a couch.

Of course each one of these options come with different vehicle size requirements. Do not get a toy hauler unless you are willing to get a 1 ton truck and even better, a dually.
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Old 06-22-2021, 02:09 PM   #7
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If I'm going larger truck I'm just going all out and getting a F350 dually. Might as well get the largest tank possible.

I'm assuming as long as I get a new or newer 5th wheel that bed clearance shouldn't be an issue, or can at least adjust enough things to alleviate it?

Hopefully as trucks have grown taller trailers have as well to match
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Old 06-22-2021, 02:50 PM   #8
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Why is everyone advocating for bigger is better. In my experience with young children rving was an adventure not to be confused with the luxuries of home….that is until they become teenagers. Young ones liked sleeping in a tent more than in the RV. If they must sleep in the RV, there are plenty of half ton towable lightweight bunkhouse travel trailers on the market. You must remember, the kids will not be spending much time inside the RV. Going with a smaller rig or a used MH will save you tens of thousands of dollars on trailer and truck. Everyone, including Mom will have just as memorable a time rving in a smaller rig. We had a bunkhouse motorhome when we had young kids. Traveled all over the west with a toad loaded with “real” camping gear, including tents. Although the MH could accommodate our family of 5 comfortably in inclement weather, the real memories were the times with tents and campfires. Mom always slept in the MH because she was afraid of bears. You could of course just get a class C and take along a toad.
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Old 06-22-2021, 03:56 PM   #9
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The answer to this is so simple:

Get the biggest 5th wheel and truck you can comfortably afford.
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Old 06-22-2021, 04:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogie_ View Post
The answer to this is so simple:

Get the biggest 5th wheel and truck you can comfortably afford.

I would disagree. Once either a 5th wheel or a TT get over about the 30' to 32' range, you will begin to limit the number of camp sites available, especially in many state and national parks.


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Old 06-22-2021, 08:51 PM   #11
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I would disagree. Once either a 5th wheel or a TT get over about the 30' to 32' range, you will begin to limit the number of camp sites available, especially in many state and national parks.


Joel
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34' 5th wheel ---FTd for 7 yrs and never had an issue with camp sites in state/national /COE CGs due to our length

Issue today is not so much length but overcrowded CGs
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Old 06-22-2021, 10:36 PM   #12
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I would disagree. Once either a 5th wheel or a TT get over about the 30' to 32' range, you will begin to limit the number of camp sites available, especially in many state and national parks.
We had absolutely no problem getting sites in public campgrounds with our 40' MH.... without reservations. At this time reservations are required for any size, unfortunately.
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Old 06-22-2021, 11:51 PM   #13
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I didn't say that there would not be any sites. I said that the the number of available sites would be limited. That is a fact, especially in parks where the campgrounds are older, such as Yellowstone.

Not only that, but a 30' 5th wheel or TT, plus the tow vehicle will be far longer than your 40' DP.

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Old 06-23-2021, 04:16 AM   #14
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One advantage of the travel trailer is having the bed of the truck available for carrying bicycles and other stuff that you may want to carry with three kids.
Travel trailers with a good hitch and setup can be very stable. We had a 28' travel trailer with a Hensley hitch, and then a 24' trailer with a 4 pt. Equalizer hitch and I never experienced any trailer sway or problems. So, I'd find the trailer or fifth wheel that has a good layout for sleeping, enough storage for your gear, and is one of the better quality rigs.

Your thoughts on getting a dually is a good one as you will have plenty of options, especially down the road when you may want a different rig as the kids get older. I'd want to keep a travel trailer length down to 32' or less. If you want a bigger rig than that, a fifth wheel puts some of the length over the truck bed and eliminates the added length created by a trailer tongue.

Also, be sure to consider how well a rig is insulated and that it has adequate cooling. I would suggest trying to find a 4 season rig as it will be easier to cool and heat. But, don't get stuck with a larger trailer/fifth wheel with only one AC unit and find out that you can't keep it cool in the summer heat.

More importantly, it's a challenge to find a rig that will work for you and your family and what type of camping/traveling experience you want the kids to have. When we were camping with kids, the trailer was a place to sleep, store gear and spend time if the weather was foul and we couldn't be outside. For the most part, we liked to be outside, and I carried a dining fly to increase the amount of shaded area for relaxing, playing games, etc. Our camping was not about having televisions to watch and having all of the luxuries of home, and I think that's a good thing to encourage with kids....but that's just my 2 cents worth, and I confess, the DW and I certainly have a different camping/traveling style now that we're considerably older!!

Good luck and I hope you and your family are enjoying camping/traveling very soon! You will really have some great times and will have a lot of stories and memories as the years pass!
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