Deciding between a Caravan, Fifth Wheel, or a Motorhome

Deciding on your next caravan, motorhome or fifth wheeler is an understandably difficult decision. There are many factors that go into the purchasing decision. At Travelhome, we know that every individual and couple has a different set of preferences that impact the final decision. Today, we are going to look at some of those key factors and how they might sway you towards buying a fifth wheel, caravan, or a motorhome.

Living Space

Depending on the size of caravan you purchase, the living space can feel anywhere from squished to quite spacious. With a caravan, ensuring adequate living space from your caravan is key. When compared to a fifth wheel setup of the same size (tow vehicle and unit), there is much more living space in the fifth wheeler due to its design.

In a motorhome, the space is divided between the space used for driving the vehicle and the living space. Depending on the motorhome chosen, most have less living space than a caravan or fifth wheeler.

Due to the design of a fifth wheeler, with the bed being over the tray, there is a larger interior layout available. This means that compared to a caravan or motorhome of the same size, there is more space in a Travelhome. As per Caravan and Camping Sales, a fifth wheeler “feels enormous inside when set up, with much more interior room” than a caravan or motorhome.

Lock and Leave

In a motorhome, there is no option to leave any part of the unit behind if you wish to go out. If you do want to leave the motorhome behind, you will have to bring a second vehicle with you on your travels, which adds a lot of costs to your holiday.

Both caravans and fifth wheelers are designed in order that they can be parked and left. Once set up properly (usually involving stabilising legs) you can use the towing vehicle as you please.

Towing

Caravans are more susceptible to side winds and sway than motorhomes or fifth wheelers. While some top of the line models now come with anti-sway, this is not guaranteed. This is due to having space between the caravan and tow vehicle, a longer rig set up, reduced control and poor weight distribution. However, for many experienced caravan owners this does not present as big a problem as it does for newbies.

As the motorhome is one unit, there is no towing required. Many motorhome owners find that the lower and mid-sized motorhomes can be a bit tricky to drive in strong winds due to size and weight. There is also the complaint that you must take the entire vehicle with you wherever you go, making it more annoying to go get groceries, visit the beach, etc.

For a fifth wheeler, the hitch is placed in the back tray of the towing vehicle. With the fifth wheeler hitched in the back try, you can enjoy a smoother and safer towing experience when compared to a caravan of the same size. When compared to a caravan (of the same length) and towing vehicle combination, a fifth wheel rig will normally take up around 3 metres less. Due to the aerodynamic shape of some fifth wheelers, drag, sway, side winds and fuel efficiency are all improved over the competition.

See this article by RV books for more on the towing differences between a caravan and fifth wheeler.

Bathroom (Ensuite)

Caravans and motorhomes can vary significantly in terms of bathroom quality and space. Depending on the size of unit, some will come with no bathroom and others with a small bathroom. Some caravans do come with a full bathroom.

While we can’t speak for all fifth wheelers, Travelhome takes pride in providing exceptional living arrangements, and that includes the bathroom. We build each Travelhome to the standard where it can be used as a home away from home. Internal toilet, shower and vanity all come with your fifth wheeler. And you can even install an external shower as an optional extra for those sandy adventures.

Hitch

Most if not all caravans can be towed by a towbar. Some vehicles have them fitted as standard. If your vehicle does not have one, they are not very expensive to install. It can be difficult to line up a caravan with the tow bar for towing.

Obviously, a motorhome does not require hitching due to the vehicle and home being one.

When hitching up a fifth wheeler, the process is much simpler than for a caravan. Most people find it easier to line up the fifth wheel and the hitch than a towball and caravan coupling. However, the hitch will cost more than a regular towbar on the back of your vehicle.

Caravan Hitch Fifth Wheeler Towing

Storage

In a caravan, there is space in the tray of the towing vehicle due to the towbar being on the rear of the vehicle. If you buy a sizeable caravan, there is also ample interior storage space too.

A motorhome tends to have the least storage space of all 3 options.

With a fifth wheel rig, there is less storage space in the tray of the towing vehicle due to the location of the hitch. However, this is somewhat made up for with the size of the Travelhome, and additional storage options available.

Summary

For casual travellers, holidayers or full-time travellers, there are many questions that need to be answered when deciding between a fifth wheeler, caravan, or motorhome. And the importance of these questions must be measured on an individual basis. Here are some of the questions you should consider:

  • What level of comfort is required?
  • How much space is required inside the unit?
  • Do you want to lock and leave the unit?
  • How often are you travelling?
  • What is your budget?

Making the decision between caravan, motorhome, or fifth wheeler can be difficult. We hope this article has helped clarify some of your questions or queries. If you have any other questions, please contact us via the form below.

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