Advantages and Disadvantages of RV Towing

Disadvantages of RV Towing
A neat set up for a travel trailer, sure. But with a generator, it would be super cold inside.
A neat set up for a travel trailer, sure. But with a generator, it would be super cold inside.
Jorn Tomter/Getty Images

Now you know about some of the benefits a towed RV, but fifth wheels and travel trailers aren't all roses and chicken soup. There are a few drawbacks you should be aware of before investing in a towed RV.

One of the biggest disadvantages of RV towing is the separation between vehicle and trailer. Whether you're towing a travel trailer or a fifth wheel, your coach and your RV are connected only by a hitch, and this raises a few potential problems. For example, if your RV is the subject of an attempted burglary, all you need to do is drive off. This is an advantage a motor home has over both a towed RV and a fixed house. (It's fairly difficult to move your house when someone is attempting to break in.) If your towed RV is being broken into, you'll have to exit the RV to get to your coach vehicle and make your getaway.

The separation between RVs and coach vehicles also becomes painfully apparent during bathroom breaks. With a motor home, traveling needn't come to a screeching halt to accommodate a tiny bladder. Since a towed RV is connected to the coach vehicle by only the trailer hitch, a passenger who needs to use the restroom would be forced to climb out of a window of the coach vehicle while it's traveling and shimmy back to the RV (and hope it's unlocked) to use the bathroom without stopping. HowStuffWorks -- and all other sane entities -- strongly recommends you not allow this aboard your RV.

Climate control can be another issue with towed RVs. When in tow, a fifth wheel or travel trailer is an empty shell, subject to external temperatures. Since climate control features are turned off during travel, a family can find a towed RV hot and stuffy or terribly cold inside on arrival, depending on the weather. Until the RV gets hooked up to an external generator and given a little time to cool off or heat up, tow travelers may find it best to hang out in the coach vehicle.

Travel trailers can be towed by any vehicle capable of towing the RV's weight. All that's required is a ball hitch to connect the trailer to the coach vehicle. Fifth wheels offer a greater challenge, since they require a special connection to the pick-up truck's bed. This offers more stability and control when towing fifth wheels, but it also means you have to purchase a pick-up if you don't already have one, and must invest in a costly hitch for the bed of the pick-up. What's more, because of the weight of most fifth wheels, not just any pick-up will do. You'll need a heavy-duty truck to tow it.

The need for a coach vehicle can also pose a disadvantage for towed RVs. The added weight can cause sway if improperly distributed. While motor homes --especially Class A coaches -- can be difficult to drive at first, they can't sway since there's no hitch to act as a joint between coach and RV.

Have a better handle on what you want? Pile your family into your RV and hit the road once more. Maybe you'll even cross paths with your drifter friends. You can also click to the next page to find even more resources on towing and other related topics.

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More Great Links


  • Brown, Jerry. "Tow-able choices: travel trailer vs fifth wheel." New RVer. Accessed October 23, 2008.
  • Fairview, Frank. "4.5 secret reasons to buy a fifth wheel as your RV." Ezine Articles. June 4, 2007.
  • "Choosing a full-time RV." Mac and Accessed October 23, 2008.
  • "Everything you wanted to know about RVing." Poulsbo RV. Accessed October 23, 2008.
  • "The advantages and disadvantages of different RVs." Online RV Trader Blog. October 22, 2008.
  • "Why choose a Class A RV over all other types." Bus For Sale Guide. Accessed October 23, 2008.

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