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Destination Trailers: Differences Between Park Model RVs And Towables

While RV life is an endless adventure, the constant movement and road trips can get exhausting. A destination trailer combines the best parts of RV living while offering a more permanent solution. Today, we are taking a closer look at why living in a destination trailer may be the ultimate stationary camping getaway. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Destination Trailer?

A destination trailer, or a park model RV, is a type of towable RV for long-term or semi-permanent placement at one location. Unlike other RV trailers meant for frequent travel, destination trailers are designed to be stationary and prove a more home-like experience. These tiny houses come with residential-style amenities for ultimate comfort. 

Due to their stationary nature, you’ll commonly find destination trailers in RV parks, campgrounds, or private properties permitting long-term stays. While destination trailers make for fun seasonal vacation homes, you can live in one year-round. A destination trailer offers a balance between the mobility of a traditional RV and the comfort of a small home, making them a suitable choice for someone seeking a more permanent or long-term living arrangement. 

What's Better for Seasonal Sites? Destination Trailers vs Fifth Wheels

What is the Difference Between a Destination Trailer and a Travel Trailer?

There’s much to consider when deciding on a trailer type. While destination trailers and travel trailers have some things in common, there are four key differences: purpose, size, towing, and interior features.

Purpose

A destination trailer is for long-term or semi-permanent placement at a specific location. It provides a more home-like experience and is not for frequent travel. However, a travel trailer serves a different purpose. Travel trailers are for mobility so you can tow them from one destination to another. They allow the owner to explore full-time with their home hitched to their tow vehicle.

Destination RV trailer setup on beach in mexico
A destination trailer combines the mobility of an RV and the comfort of a small home.

Size

The size of destination trailers will vary depending on the model and manufacturer. However, destination trailers generally offer more living space than travel trailers. Destination trailers can range from around 30 to 45 feet long and around 8 to 10 feet wide. Most destination trailers will provide additional living space from slide-out attachments.

In addition to being longer and wider than travel trailers, destination trailers are typically heavier. Destination trailers can weigh over 10,000 pounds, making towing them more challenging. Travel trailers typically weigh around 5,000 to 6,000 pounds.

Towing

You would tow travel trailers behind a truck or SUV. They feature a convenient hitching system to attach to the tow vehicle. Moving a destination trailer presents some unique challenges due to its larger size and weight. While it is possible to tow a destination trailer, it requires a sturdy one-ton truck with adequate towing capacity to safely handle the trailer’s size and weight.

While moving a destination trailer is not as complicated as some may make it seem, the sheer size and weight of the destination trailer can make it more cumbersome to tow and set up compared to travel trailers. When towing a destination trailer, a weight distribution hitch and sway control system will help enhance stability during towing. Like a travel trailer, you would bumper tow a destination trailer. Still, even with previous experience towing trailers, towing a destination trailer is challenging and requires plenty of practice.

Destination trailers also tend not to be built with aerodynamics in mind and many times have windows up front that need to be covered before towing. All of these things make them far less suitable for regular movement.

Interior Features

With their larger size and more expansive floorplans, destination trailers provide a spacious and comfortable living experience. Destination trailers typically have separate bedrooms, full bathrooms, kitchens, dining areas, and living rooms, for a fully functional living environment. 

Travel trailers typically have a more compact interior, with RV-specific appliances, storage solutions, and open floorplans. While they are convenient for travel, they typically do not offer the same level of luxury and space as destination trailers, making them ideal for shorter trips or adventurous journeys.

Some destination trailers omit tanks and water pumps because they are designed to be hooked up. This means they are not self-contained. While this is fine for full hookups, you cannot use any water without being hooked up at a site. Be sure to know if your trailer has tanks or not if you ever plan to use it not hooked up.

Pro Tip: Even in a destination trailer, you can overstay your welcome at some destinations. These are 5 Signs You’ve Stayed Too Long at a Campground.

Who Is a Destination Trailer Best for?

A destination trailer is best for someone seeking a more permanent living arrangement. For seasonal residents who spend a significant portion of the year in a particular area, like a vacation destination or seasonal campground, a destination trailer provides spacious living for extended stays. While travel trailers provide greater mobility and flexibility, destination trailers offer the comfort of a more permanent living arrangement.

Some retirees may want the flexibility to choose a desirable location and low-maintenance living space without the need for permanent home ownership. They could benefit from living in a destination trailer. Snowbirds, who migrate to warmer climates during the winter months, could also benefit from living in a destination trailer. Destination trailers allow them to set up their trailer in a warmer region for an extended stay instead of dealing with the hassle of buying or renting a traditional second property.

Close up of destination trailer exterior
Destination trailers are sometimes used as temporary homes

Where Do You Put a Destination Trailer?

A destination trailer can park in various locations depending on the owner’s preferences and regulations. Some campgrounds offer seasonal spots for destination trailers. Additionally, permanent RV lots are available for long-term or semi-permanent RV parking. These spots often provide amenities like water, electricity, and sewage hookups, allowing for a comfortable and convenient living experience. These areas are for individuals or families seeking a spot to park their destination trailer. 

Some RV resorts cater to long-term residents and offer designated spaces for destination trailers. Enjoying an extended stay at an RV resort comes with extra benefits, like swimming pools, clubhouse facilities, and organized activities. 

RV websites, like Campendium and AllStays, allow RVers to filter their search for a campsite by location, rates, age restriction, and length of stay to ensure the campsite is suitable for destination trailers. Payment for a destination site can vary depending on the location, amenities, and duration of the stay. Campground fees can range from daily, weekly, monthly, or seasonal rates. Furthermore, permanent lots or extended-stay campsites will typically offer monthly rental or lease agreements.

Tiny Home destination trailer
Tiny home builds are generally not considered destinaton trailers, but they usually serve a very similar purpose

Can You Live Full-Time in a Destination Trailer?

A destination trailer is an ideal option for full-time, year-round living. Many people choose to live in a destination trailer as their primary residence, either on a permanent RV lot or in RV parks that accommodate long-term stays. Living full-time in a destination trailer has several advantages.

Firstly, living full-time in a destination trailer provides a cost-effective housing solution compared to traditional homes or apartments. Destination trailers are no minor investment; a new trailer can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000. Still, when compared to the cost of a traditional sticks-and-bricks house, this trailer type is an affordable way to find a more permanent living arrangement.

Destination trailers include residential amenities like full-size appliances, separate bedrooms, and spacious living areas, providing a comfortable living experience. Destination trailers also offer ample storage space for personal belongings, making them feel more like a traditional home.

Do Destination Trailers Hold Value?

While factors like market conditions and the make and model of the destination trailer can influence its resale value, destination trailers tend to track similarly with RVs for resale value. Sometimes because destination trailers did not see the wear of the road they might hold their value a little better.

Wear, tear, and water damage are the biggest things that can devalue a destination trailer over time. Unfortunately, the materials used to build these trailers are not any better than RVs and may have a tendency to fail over time. Like RVs, water damage is the biggest concern with destination trailers, especially since they may be left alone for a long period of time without inspection.

Ultimately, the best way to maintain a destination trailer’s market value is to perform regular maintenance on the interior and exterior.

Destination trailer in Florida
Fifth wheels can be used for long term parking as well, but tend to cost more

Who Makes Destination Trailers?

Several well-known RV brands manufacture destination trailers, including Forest River, Coachmen, Keystone, Palomino, and Jayco, to name a few. Forest River produces the Cedar Creek Cottage line of destination trailers. A Cedar Creek Cottage destination trailer comes with a full residential kitchen, including an island, a full-sized refrigerator, and plenty of cabinet space. The bedroom comfortably fits a king-size bed, and it has washer and dryer hookups.

Coachmen produces the Catalina Destination Series which offers a balance of luxury living and functionality. Many claim Coachmen has reliable RVs and the destination trailer lineup is no different. With five floorplans, each model maximizes living and storage space and provides exceptional comfort.

Other notable options include the Retreat Luxury Destination Park model by Keystone RV, Puma Destination Travel Trailers by Palomino, and Jay Flight Bungalow by Jayco. Each brand offers something unique in its makes and models that will best suit various needs and preferences. 

Pro Tip: Unsure how to get mail while RVing? We found The Best RV Mail Forwarding Services Available for you to use while on the go.

The Brand New 2023 Keystone Residence 40FLFT, A Destination Trailer With Great Utilization of Space!

Is a Destination Trailer Worth It?

Whether a destination trailer is worth it depends on your needs, preferences, and circumstances. For those seeking a more permanent living arrangement in a specific location, this trailer type can be a fantastic choice. The spacious interiors, residential amenities, and comfort destination trailers offer make living in one a home-like experience.

Destination trailers provide a sense of stability, community, and convenience for those looking to spend extended periods in one place. Ultimately, a destination trailer can be a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize comfort and long-term stays. 

Could you see yourself living in a destination trailer? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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Steve H

Tuesday 25th of July 2023

There is a lot of confusion in the RV community about destination trailers vs. "park models." So, it would be helpful to explain that they are NOT the same thing. Destination trailers are built to RVIA standards, so do NOT meet residential zoning requirements. They are also limited to a width of 102" and may have numerous slides. Park models are built to residential, NOT RVIA standards, do not have slides or tanks, and must be hauled by a commercial hauler. They can be 11-13' wide, but must not exceed 399 sq. ft. in floor area. The two are easy to tell apart, as destination trailers have a typical RV roof and aluminum or fiberglass sides. A park model has a typical peaked residential shingled roof and residential composite siding.