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  • Writer's pictureOakley Executive RV & Boat Storage

Buying an RV Motorhome or Travel Trailer? Know the Differences and Storage Solutions

image of travel trailer and rv or motorhome

Investing in an RV isn’t just about buying a vehicle. It’s about purchasing a slice of freedom, a promise of adventure, and a commitment to the open road. But like any large investment, purchasing an RV comes with its own set of factors to consider.

You may ask yourself, what exactly do I buy? Are there differences between RV's, motorhomes or travel trailers? Is a travel trailer an RV? Are all RVs motorhomes and vice versa?

Before you whip out your checkbook and sign on the dotted line, it’s important to understand your options. Here’s everything you need to know about RVs, motorhomes, travel trailers, as well as storage tips for your vehicle regardless of its size.

Did you know that Oakley Executive RV and Boat Storage offers convenient RV storage near Livermore?

Understanding the Basic Differences Between RVs, Motorhomes and Travel Trailers

When diving into the world of recreational vehicles, it can be both fun and slightly overwhelming. Jargon and various terms can lead to a few head-scratching moments. Let’s simplify RVs and begin with the basics.

What is an RV?

In short, RV stands for recreational vehicle. This is a broad term that encompasses a range of motorized or towable vehicles designed for leisure activities such as camping, traveling, or full-time living.

RVs come in various shapes and sizes. They can range from motorhomes, campervans, pop-up campers, fifth-wheels, and travel trailers.

Is a Travel Trailer an RV?

It is! A travel trailer is a type of RV that’s towed behind a vehicle. It doesn’t have its own engine like a motorhome does. Travel trailers can range from small teardrop trailers just big enough for two, to larger versions that are similar to motorhomes in terms of amenities and living space.

Unlike motorhomes, travel trailers don't have a cab for driving. They're hitched to a separate vehicle for mobility. They offer the advantage of leaving the trailer at a campsite and using the towing vehicle for day trips or errands.

RV vs. Motorhome

The terms “RV” and “motorhome” are often used interchangeably. However, as mentioned, an RV is a broad term to cover all recreational vehicles. A motorhome is a specific type of RV that doesn’t require a towing vehicle and combines both the driving and living spaces into one cohesive unit.

Motorhomes also fall into three categories:

  • Class A: These are the large, bus-like RVs that offer a lot of space and are often loaded with amenities. Ideal for long trips or full-time living.

  • Class B: Often referred to as campervans, these are smaller, more nimble, and are excellent for shorter trips or for travelers who prefer a more compact living space.

  • Class C: These motorhomes are a middle ground between Class A and Class B, often characterized by the distinctive cab-over profile which provides an additional sleeping or storage area.

RV vs. Travel Trailer: The Key Differences

When diving into the world of recreational vehicles, one of the most common areas of confusion revolves around the differences between an RV and a travel trailer. While it’s true that a trailer is technically a type of RV, there are other factors worth noting.

Driveability and Mobility

Some RVs, especially motorhomes, are self-propelled, meaning they have their own motor. Trailers, however, always require another vehicle for towing. Because they don’t have their own engine, a truck, SUV, or other vehicle is necessary to move them from place to place.

Size, Space, and Layout

RV motorhomes offer a more cohesive living space as they are designed for both driving and living. For example, Class A motorhomes can be extremely spacious and often have a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area.

On the other hand, the internal layout of a travel trailer can vary depending on the size and type. Some larger trailers are similar to motorhomes in terms of space and amenities, while smaller ones may have a more compact and simple setup.

Licensing and Registration

RVs typically require a standard driver’s license. However, some larger motorhomes might need a special classification or endorsement.

Because trailers don’t have their own motor, you don’t need a separate or special license to tow one. You will need to be aware of weight limits and potential endorsements for heavier units, though. Registration and insurance requirements can also differ.


Motorhomes generally have a higher upfront cost, especially for the larger, luxury models. Maintenance can also be pricier since you’re caring for both a vehicle engine and living space.

Trailers, on the other hand, often have a lower initial purchase price. They do require a towing vehicle, however, so remember to factor in the cost of that vehicle plus maintenance.

Pros and Cons of RVs vs. Travel Trailers

Choosing between an RV (particularly a motorhome) and a trailer can feel like a major decision, especially if you’re new to purchasing a recreational vehicle. Both options offer unique advantages and come with their own set of challenges. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each.

RV Motorhome Pros

  • All-in-One Convenience: Motorhomes combine your driving and living spaces. There's no need to exit your vehicle to access your sleeping or cooking area. This can be particularly handy during bad weather or late-night stops.

  • Mobility: Being self-propelled makes it easier to make quick stops, change plans, or find overnight parking.

  • Amenities: Many RVs, especially Class A and Class C motorhomes, come with a wide range of amenities that can rival a home. They can include everything from full bathrooms to spacious kitchens.

  • No Hitching Concerns: You won't have to worry about hitching and unhitching, a task that some find cumbersome with trailers.

RV Motorhome Cons

  • Price: Motorhomes generally have a higher initial cost. Maintenance costs can also add up given the combination of vehicle mechanics and living amenities.

  • Fuel Efficiency: Larger motorhomes can be less fuel-efficient compared to towing a lightweight trailer.

  • Maneuverability: In tight spots, cities, or older campgrounds, maneuvering a large motorhome can be challenging.

  • Flexibility: If you set up camp and want to explore the local area, you'll either need to use the motorhome or have a towed secondary vehicle.

Travel Trailer Pros

  • Versatility: You can unhitch your trailer and easily use your towing vehicle for daily excursions, shopping, or exploring areas.

  • Cost: Trailers, especially basic models, often have a lower upfront cost than motorhomes.

  • Maintenance: With no engine, some maintenance aspects (like oil changes and engine repairs) are off the table.

  • Variety: From teardrop trailers to expansive fifth wheels, there's a vast range of options to fit different needs and budgets.

Travel Trailer Cons

  • Towing Skills Needed: Pulling a trailer requires a learning curve, especially for backing up or maneuvering tight spaces.

  • Setup Time: Once you reach a destination, setting up (leveling, stabilizing, and connecting) can take longer than simply parking a motorhome.

  • Towing Vehicle: You need a suitable vehicle with enough towing capacity. This can be an additional expense if you don't already own one.

  • Accessibility: Quick access to your living space while on the move is limited compared to motorhomes. For instance, making lunch or taking a nap requires a stop to enter the trailer.

Considerations When Choosing Between RVs and Travel Trailers

When weighing the pros and cons of RV motorhomes and trailers, it's important to factor in your unique circumstances and preferences. Here are a few things to think about before purchasing:

  • How long do you plan to be on the road and how often will you travel? A small travel trailer is great for weekend getaways, but a motorhome might be better for the comfort and convenience of longer journeys.

  • How much space do you and your family need? This can determine how large of an RV you need to purchase.

  • What is your budget? Motorhomes generally have a larger up-front cost, making trailers more affordable. But keep in mind that trailers also require a towing vehicle.

  • What are you comfortable driving? A travel trailer requires towing while a motorhome requires the ability to drive a large vehicle. Deciding which driving method you prefer can help you determine which RV to purchase.

Choosing between an RV and a travel trailer isn't just about listing pros and cons. It’s also about envisioning your travel lifestyle and matching that vision with the right vehicle. Whichever you choose, make sure it aligns with your budget, needs, desires, and future adventures.

Storage Solutions for Both RV Motorhomes and Travel Trailers

Properly storing your RV when you’re not traveling goes far beyond simply finding a place to park it. Regardless of whether you own a Class A motorhome or a compact travel trailer, a designated storage space helps to maintain its value and increase its longevity.

Why Choose a Designated Storage Facility?

Parking your RV in your driveway is an option, but it doesn’t help to protect your vehicle from severe weather like freezing temperatures or harsh direct UV rays. Ultimately, choosing a covered storage space at a designated storage facility can extend the lifespan of your vehicle.

Additionally, storage facilities offer security features that can protect your investment from theft, vandalism, or accidental damage.

Consider Specialized Large Storage Spaces

If you own or decide to purchase a large motorhome, you’ll need a designated storage space large enough to accommodate the size of your vehicle. Many storage spaces offer standard sizes, but a 60’ space can be a game-changer. These extended spaces cater to the needs of larger RVs, ensuring they fit comfortably without the risk of damage from tight squeezes.

With larger spaces, getting your RV or trailer in and out of storage becomes much more manageable as well. You don't have to worry about navigating through cramped areas or the hassle of maneuvering around other vehicles.

Did you know that Oakley Executive RV and Storage Facility offers 60’ storage spaces with angled and pull-through parking? Check out our other features and amenities in addition to our convenient storage options.

Features to Look for in a Storage Facility

When looking for the right storage facility for your RV, think about security, amenities, and accessibility. Features like 24/7 surveillance, gated access, well-lit areas, and perimeter fencing can give you peace of mind. Additionally, amenities like water, electric hookups, and private dump stations can save you time and effort.

Safe and Convenient Covered RV Storage Solutions

Whether you own a large motorhome or a small travel trailer, storing your recreational vehicle isn’t a task to take lightly. At Oakley Executive RV & Boat Storage, we offer tailored storage solutions that make sure your RV is protected, secure, and ready for your next adventure. Reserve your spot now and give your motorhome or trailer the home it deserves.

Click to reserve your covered RV or Boat space today


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