Don’t let current fuel prices put a damper on your summer travel plans. Whether you’ve thought about buying a new RV or you have your eye on a cabin in the woods, you can have the best of both worlds!
Destination trailers offer the perfect compromise between an RV and a cabin.
We’ve packed this article full of everything you need to know about buying a destination trailer. You’ll enjoy exploring a fantastic way to live the RV life.
Read on and why an original tiny home is a popular option for RVers all over the country.
Destination Trailers Defined
Recreational vehicles have come a long way since 1915 when a wealthy family from New York embarked on a cross-country trip in a 25-foot recreational vehicle named “Gypsy Van.”
Today, people looking to get away from it all and get back to nature have options ranging from pop-up campers, camper vans, motorhomes, and travel trailers. Some innovative (and courageous) campers convert old buses into what they fondly call skoolies.
And then, there’s the destination trailer.
At first glance, many people mistake destination trailers for travel trailers. On the surface, they share several similarities.
For example, both have hitches that hook up to a tow vehicle (usually a pick-up truck). You’ll also find standard features such as slide-outs, kitchens, bathrooms, and comfortable living spaces.
Despite the similarities, their purpose, weight, and interiors set destination trailers apart from travel trailers.
Travel trailers are great for people who enjoy living life on the go. The destination trailer appeals more to those looking for a long-term camping solution.
This type of trailer lets you pick your spot, settle down for a while and enjoy the views.
Not a Park Model
People don’t just mistake destination trailers for travel trailers—they often confuse them with park models.
If you’ve ever visited an RV park where people live full-time, you’ve likely seen at least a few people living in a park model home. Unlike the destination trailer, once you set up a park model, it stays in place permanently. It’s like a mobile home, but usually not as large.
Many park models come with a loft, providing more living or storage space. Park models don’t have gray and black water holding tanks or sewer hose connections. You must hook them up directly to a residential sewer system.
While you can connect a destination trailer to a septic or sewer system, they come with everything needed to use the hookups at a campground. Destination trailers are self-contained.
What Exactly Does Self-Contained Mean?
Self-contained means you have you need to live in your trailer.
To fine-tune what we mean by everything, the trailer (or RV) includes a bathroom with a toilet and holding tanks. Self-contained trailers have separate holding tanks for fresh and wastewater.
Gray water from sinks and showers drains into one holding tank. Black water from the toilet drains to another holding tank.
The capacity of each holding tank depends on the model you buy. For example, the 2022 Forest River Sandpiper destination trailers’ hold tank sizes are as follows:
- Freshwater – 50 gallons
- Grey water – 156 gallons
- Blackwater – 52 gallons
Self-contained trailers also include access to power and LP gas. The above trailer comes with 50-amp electrical service and two LP gas tanks.
Buying a self-contained unit means you never need to leave your trailer to use the bathroom, wash your dishes (or yourself), or cook food. You are entirely reliant on the amenities included in your trailer.
Can You Live in a Destination Trailer?
The answer to this question is a soft yes.
You can set your trailer up at an RV park, a mobile home park (if they approve trailers), or a campsite. You can set up on your own land and live in your trailer in some areas. Before you do, make sure to check local zoning ordinances.
Destination trailers are ideal for four-season living. You can even enjoy winter camping in a colder climate if you have a furnace or other heat source.
You can enjoy seasonal camping.
Although many people choose to live in their destination trailer, others only occupy theirs for a few weeks or months out of the year. Depending on where you rent your seasonal campsite, the season could be summer or winter.
Seasonal campers usually rent a site for the whole season and treat the trailer like a vacation home. They leave the trailer either on-site when not in use or lease nearby storage space.
On the Inside of a Destination Trailer
The uniqueness of these trailers is revealed on the inside. You’ll find many different floor plans, some with second bedrooms or half baths.
You’ll have all the essentials—refrigerator, stove with oven, sofa, TV, and much more—many travel trailers and 5th wheels have included in their layouts. The difference is the level of luxury.
You’ll enjoy a residential-size refrigerator, stove, oven, and in some models, a washer and dryer. All appliances are residential size. Most floor plans include a generous pantry and storage space.
Higher ceilings, large spacious windows, and patio doors allow for more light and fresh air. While not as wide as park models or mobile homes, these trailers usually come with 3-4 slides, which increase your living space.
For outdoor living and entertainment, you’ll have a retractable awning.
Can You Customize Your Destination Trailer?
Most larger RVs come with at least a few built-in luxury features. Many manufacturers allow some customization on brand-new models
If you don’t have the option to customize, you may be able to add a few optional accessories. Popular choices for destination trailers include:
- Solid wood cabinetry
- Solid surface countertops
- Roller shades
- Slide Awnings
- Second A/C unit
- Fantastic fan w/rain sensor
- Paddle ceiling fans
- Stab jacks
- Roof ladder
- Theater seating
- Central vacuum
If you plan to use your trailer during the winter, you’ll want an optional cold weather package. Cold weather packages usually include thermal pane windows, heated holding tanks, and a furnace.
Of course, seeing is believing, and you can’t get an accurate picture of what these trailers offer unless you search for an RV dealership near me—and see one in person.
Luxury Features You Might Enjoy
A basic model will have plenty of features to make life more enjoyable. You can always upgrade after purchase and add things like LED lighting on the interior and exterior or a premium sound system.
Some owners choose to upgrade to a pillowtop mattress. Why not upgrade the kitchen with stainless steel appliances if you enjoy cooking?
If the trailer you’re considering doesn’t come with heavier furniture, you might consider an upgrade there as well.
Think about purchasing a previously owned trailer. You’ll likely discover several little extras at no extra cost to you.
Look for a dealer that advertises used toy haulers for sale or campers for sale. You just might find the destination trailer you’re hoping for in their inventory.
Key Aspects to Consider
When you invest in a destination trailer, you’ll want to ensure you buy the trailer that meets and exceeds your needs. Here are some key points to consider when looking at trailers.
When buying a trailer, you want one that will last for many years. You also want one that can withstand the weather during any season.
Look for the trailers manufactured with the best quality materials. Pay attention to the floor, walls, and frames.
Don’t forget the wheels. They need to be sturdy enough to carry the trailer’s weight and your belongings. It would be best if you also verified the age of the tires.
We mentioned earlier the variety of floor plans available when buying a destination trailer. Each company offers different layouts for specific models.
Choose the floor plan that meets your needs and allows you to feel comfortable spending a lot of time inside the trailer.
If you plan to live in your trailer full or part-time, you’ll want the essentials, including appliances and fixtures.
Bathrooms should have enough counter and cabinet space to hold toiletries. Not all trailers come with a tub and shower, but it’s great to have if available.
Kitchen essentials should include ample workspace. Many destination trailers have kitchen islands.
Your safety and the safety of your guests are a priority, no matter where you live or travel on vacation.
Check the windows and doors. Make sure they lock securely.
You’ll also want the same safety features you expect in any residence. Fire extinguishers, smoke, carbon monoxide, and LP gas detectors are all must-haves.
Fire extinguishers aren’t only for the kitchen. Bedrooms and other living spaces need them as well.
Not all trailers are the same size. It’s not so critical if you’re the only one spending time in your trailer, but if you have children or plan to invite guests, you’ll want enough sleeping space to accommodate everyone comfortably.
If you purchase a new trailer, you’ll have a warranty. Even if you buy a used unit, you may have an extended warranty.
Even so, you should feel comfortable that the wiring and electricity are in good working order. You also want to ensure that the water heater, water pump, air conditioner, and furnace work well.
How Long Do Destination Trailers Last?
Travel trailers and RVs generally last up to 25 years. Destination trailers are usually manufactured with higher quality materials and can last even longer than the standard 25 years.
Regardless of the quality, you are the primary factor in determining how long your trailer will last. If you take care of it and perform routine maintenance, you’ll enjoy it for many years.
One maintenance item many people forget about is sanitizing the fresh water tank.
You should take care of that after the trailer sits for an extended period. It’s a simple task and only requires filling and draining the tank and refilling it with a solution of chlorine bleach and water. After it sits for 24 hours, drain and flush the tank until you no longer smell the odor of bleach.
For other tips on extending the life of your trailer, ask the representative at your RV dealership. They’re usually RVers, too, and can offer several ideas to help you get more life and enjoyment from your RV.
Destination Trailer Dimensions
With an average ceiling height of 82 inches, you’ll have ample space, even if you’re tall. The height on slide-outs is usually 7 feet, which adds to the cozy, home-like feel of the interior.
The length of a destination trailer averages between 38 to 42 feet. As far as width, most of these trailers are around 8-10 feet wide.
Generally, you can comfortably accommodate 4-5 people, but some models have enough room for 6-8.
How Do You Transport a Destination Trailer?
While you can move a destination trailer from one site to another, there are a few things you need to know before you commit to the move.
Many people buy a destination trailer because they can hook up in one place for a few months or even a year or two. Then, they have the freedom to move their trailer to a new location.
This is the ideal home on wheels!
Moving a trailer like this poses a bit more of a challenge than moving a travel trailer, but it can be done. And you don’t need a commercial towing vehicle to do it.
Destination trailers weigh between 10,000 and 13,000 pounds. You can bumper pull your trailer if you have a one-ton truck and the right tow package.
Travel trailers weigh anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 pounds.
If you’re used to pulling one with a truck or SUV, be aware that upgrading to a heavier trailer will mean upgrading to a heavy-duty truck. If you’re unsure that your current vehicle can pull a destination trailer, visit a dealership with RVs for sale in Idaho and talk with an RV specialist.
Benefits of Owning a Destination Trailer
So far, we’ve discussed various features and things to look for when choosing your new trailer. There are multiple benefits of owning one of these unique trailers. Here are a few:
Slides increase square footage. The extra space offers comfort, which is always lovely for extended trips. Slides can provide a separate eating area or more room in a bedroom.
More Natural Light
Since they come with more oversized windows, you can enjoy more natural light. Some units have French doors. Most have dual entrances.
You won’t feel like you’re living in a tube. Instead, you’ll feel as if you’re right at home in your natural environment.
Because you can stay in one area for an extended period, you’ll have time to explore without rushing. You might even make friends with other travelers or locals. The size of the kitchen, bathroom, and other living spaces makes it easy to feel like a destination trailer is a home away from home.
Are There Any Disadvantages to Owning a Destination Trailer?
As with any RV, you’ll need to consider the pros and cons. While the pros outweigh the disadvantages, here are a few things to consider when buying a destination trailer.
Since it’s a little more challenging to move often, you’ll need to find a place where you’re happy staying in your trailer for at least three months.
If you don’t have a heavy-duty truck, you’ll need to purchase one. Your other option is to hire a towing service, which can be pricey.
Even with the few disadvantages, your trailer will have some wonderful features, but you’ll still want to find a campground with excellent amenities.
If you choose to buy a custom trailer, it could take several months. Custom trailers also cost more.
These things have relatively simple solutions and may not be an issue for you. It’s always wise to evaluate a purchase like this with both sides of your brain.
Where Can You Park?
When you own a trailer, the world opens to you in ways that it doesn’t for other travelers. You can park and drive to enjoy all the attractions in the area where you visit.
You’ll have no worries about hotel reservations. And, at the end of the day, you’ll go home to your own comfortable, private space.
Finding a place to park your trailer isn’t tricky. As mentioned earlier in this article, you can park at most RV parks and some campgrounds. It’s a matter of space.
The longer length of destination trailers can limit where you park. If an RV resort can’t accommodate anything more than 35 feet, you’ll need to find a big rig-friendly park.
Parking on private land is another option.
Since these trailers are self-contained, you won’t need to hook up to a sewer or septic system. You’ll still need to empty your holding tanks, but you can bring what’s fondly called a honey wagon to transport the gray and black wastewater.