Why Tow a Trailer When You Could Drive a Motorhome?


Among all the different classes and types of RVs (or recreational vehicles) for sale in the US, perhaps the ultimate option is to eliminate the towing of a trailer altogether and embrace the motorhome.  The idea of combining trailer and tow vehicle into a single, self-propelled recreational vehicle first occurred to someone back in the 1920s.  The industry remained a niche player for years as manufacturing and technology weren’t quite up to the concept, but by the 1950s, the motorhome had it its stride and was growing in popularity.  In 1958, a company was started up in Iowa that became synonymous with the industry: Winnebago industries.  While the company initially manufactured travel trailers, in 1966 it produced the first of its iconic Winnebago motorhomes.  Today, when people think motorhome, they often refer to it as a “Winnebago” regardless of the manufacturer.

 

Winnebago’s became highly desirable and immensely popular motorhomes, in large part because of the company’s two part strategy.  They priced their motorhomes significantly lower than their competition, and they put a high degree of emphasis on quality —to the point that the company custom manufactured much of its own furniture and other motorhome components.  While Winnebago might be the most recognizable name in motorhomes, there are other popular manufacturers to choose from, including: Coachman, Roadtrek and Airstream.

 

Motorhomes are offered in various sizes (or classes) that typically sleep anywhere from two to eight people.  As a rule of thumb, a motorhome will have a cab with a driver’s seat and a passenger seat, both of which often swivel to face the interior of the vehicle.  Inside are amenities such as a dining area, a kitchen, sleeping berths and washroom, along with heating and air conditioning.  Larger models will often have deluxe features such as a shower, living area, entertainment center and conveniences such as a microwave.  In many respects, a motorhome offers similar features to those available in less expensive travel trailers, but owners are willing to pay the premium because of the advantages of a motorhome.

 

  • Motorhomes are far more convenient that travel trailers, with no need to go through the hassle of hooking up to a tow vehicle every time the owner wants to move to a new location.  With a motorhome, you simply start up the engine and drive away.
  • Premium motorhomes —such as the models from Winnebago— tend to hold their value better than travel trailers, which often depreciate quickly.  In addition, motorhomes tend to be built to higher standards and last longer.
  • Motorhomes are designed from the ground up as mobile homes on wheels, making them a pleasure to drive.  The experience of towing a travel trailer with a pickup truck, minivan or SUV depends on the capabilities of the tow vehicle, the size of the trailer and the design of the hitching equipment.  Sometimes, the combinations are not ideal, leading to “white knuckle” experiences.  Additionally, the wrong trailer/tow vehicle combination can lead to premature component wear and other damage to the tow vehicle.
  • With a travel trailer, the driver has the option of using the tow vehicle for excursions once the trailer is parked.  Usually, this means a pickup truck or large SUV.  A motorhome has the capability of towing a small, fuel efficient car instead.  When the motorhome owner stops and wishes to tour around a city, they can take the car —saving money on gas and enjoying far easier parking than with a truck.
  • With a motorhome, anywhere you park can become a rest stop.  There’s no setup required, simply pull over and you can have a nap, make dinner or enjoy a movie, then continue on your way.
  • While driving, the interior of a motorhome is accessible.  While driver concentrates on reaching the destination, passengers are free to do as they like inside the vehicle (including sleeping or eating).  That’s one of the reasons why motorhomes are so popular with touring musicians, politicians and families with kids.

 

Motorhomes in remain popular among RV owners today, even with the increased cost of fuel.  Most manufacturers have responded to rising fuel costs by using lighter weight components, employing advanced aerodynamics into their designs and offering fuel efficient options such as diesel engines.  For the people who own Winnebago motorhomes, the call of the open road is impossible to ignore and the ability to pack up, start the engine and drive anywhere on the continent they want —taking their home with them— is irresistible.

 

About the Author

Jack Lennon is a long time camping and traveling enthusiast.  Determined to spend the next few years visiting as much of the US as possible, Jack answered an RV for sale ad and bought a pop-up trailer.  He’s since traded up to a Winnebago and blogs about his adventures as he cruises the highways in comfort.

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