What is a Travel Trailer?
Travel TrailersThe history of Travel Trailers can be traced back to the early days in the 1920s, in which the people of the time called it Tin Can Tourists. As time progressed, trailers became more livable and earned a new name in the 1930s and 1940s which was the House Trailer. In the 1950s and 1960s, the industry seemed to split, creating the two distinctly different entities that we see today, that of the recreational vehicle (RV) industry and mobile home industry. Today travel trailers are classified as a type of RV along with motorhomes, fifth wheel trailers, pop-up trailers, and truck campers.
Smaller travel trailers and pop-ups are still made with touring in mind. These generally are less than 18 ft (5.5 m) long and contain simple amenities. By design, they are lightweight and quick to set up or prepare for travel. Most weigh less than 3,000 lb (1,350 kg). and can be towed with a large car or small truck depending upon its towing capacity.
Mid-range travel trailers are 18 – 25 ft (5.5 – 7.6 m) long can weigh 5,000 lb (2,250 kg) or more, and are generally towed with compact V-8 powered pickup trucks and SUVs. They have most of the amenities of the larger travel trailers, but sleep fewer people.
Larger travel trailers are made with the seasonal or full-time user in mind. These generally range from 25 – 40 ft (7.5 m – 12 m) long and contain all the comforts of a luxury condominium. Because they require a purpose built tow vehicle, highway tractor or large truck or SUV, these amenity-laden homes can reach 12,000 lb (5,500 kg) or more. While trailers may weigh in even above that, most long-box pickups have a maximum tow-weight of 15,500 lbs, and towing over 10,000 lbs. requires a 'class A' driver's license. Multiple televisions and air conditioners are common in units of this size. Slide-out rooms and screen porches add to livability. By law, travel trailers are limited to 400 ft2 (37 m²) of living area, and many models offer exactly that.
With all of the disincentives inherent in municipal zoning bylaws and building codes to affordable, ecological (off-grid) and compact housing solutions, travel-trailers offer a legitimate and unique possibility for those considering an ecological full-time home or seasonal cottage. Travel-trailers are often acceptable (flood-plains, areas outside of urban growth limits, etc.) - where regular buildings may not tread. One of the great virtues of a trailer park, is its very light infrastructure, low ecological footprint, minimal land disturbance, abundant permeable surfaces (for stormwater drainage) and relative ease of site-restoration.
Some specialized brands of trailer, such as the Hi-lo trailer, have an upper half (slightly larger than the lower half) that can be folded down over the lower half to a total height of about five feet for reduced wind resistance during travel; these otherwise contain everything other travel trailers have (except for a full-height closet).
A recent innovation in the Travel Trailer typology is the "toy box" or "toy hauler." Half living area and half garage, these trailers allow 'toys' to be brought to the countryside. A folding rear ramp gives access for motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft, even racecars. A built-in generator provides power for A/C, TV, and microwave.
Another innovation is the hybrid travel trailer, combining the features of a pop-up trailer and a hard-sided trailer. In its camping configuration, one or more bunks fold down from the side with canvas tent covers. When in travel, the bunks fold up into the side of the trailer leaving four hard sides. Larger models allow the hybrid travel trailer to be used while "turtled", that is with the sides up. The primary advantage of a hybrid travel trailer is that it offers a greater space-to-weight ratio. A disadvantage is that the tent ends are not insulated and subject to heat loss and condensation build-up.
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