Nature is calling, and more families are hitting the road this camping season. They’re ready to make memories while hiking, biking, paddling, and exploring the great outdoors in a family camper trailer. To purchase an RV for your family, you’ll need to look for amenities and features that other travelers might not need. Let’s look at seven of the best family camper trailers of 2023 and why they might fit your travel lifestyle. Let’s dive in!
What Is a Family Camper Trailer?
RVs come in several classes. There are towable and motorized RVs. Within the towable RVs, there are pop-up campers, truck campers, travel trailers, and fifth wheels. Within the motorized RVs, there are Class As, Class Bs, and Class Cs. These classes represent different sizes, weights, and designs.
Family camper trailers are usually travel trailers, as they are by far the most popular RV on the road. A travel trailer is a towable RV that connects to another vehicle’s rear bumper. You don’t need a special license to tow a travel trailer. Depending on the state, there are specific criteria where a CDL might be necessary if driving a motorized RV or towing a very heavy or long camper. However, this doesn’t apply to most travel trailers.
How Is a Travel Trailer Different From a Fifth Wheel?
The most significant difference between a travel trailer and a fifth wheel is how it connects to the tow vehicle. Travel trailers attach to the rear bumper of an SUV, truck, or even a sedan if the camper is lightweight enough. This is why people often refer to them as “bumper pulls.”
On the other hand, fifth wheel campers sit in the bed of a truck and have a kingpin or gooseneck hitch. An SUV or van cannot tow a fifth wheel. Not only is the payload too heavy, but these vehicles can’t accommodate the specialized hitch. Travel trailers can often be pulled by SUVs and tow-capable vans, making them better suited to families needing extra seating and interior space.
Because of a fifth wheel’s design, there are usually two or three steps inside, leading to space over the front cap. Sometimes this is a bedroom. Other floorplans utilize this space as a living room.
When you come down the steps into the central living area, the ceiling is much higher than a travel trailer. Generally, fifth wheels feel more spacious and homey, even if the length isn’t much more than a travel trailer. They can make excellent family camper trailers but usually are more expensive than their bumper pull counterparts.
Pro Tip: We compared 5th Wheels vs. Travel Trailers to determine which is best.
What to Look for in a Family Camper Trailer
When looking for a travel trailer for a family, it’s crucial to have specific focal points. These camper trailers must suit a family, not a solo traveler or a retired couple. So there are a few things that are essential to keep in mind during your search.
First, size matters. The longer the trailer, the more interior space you’ll have to spread out. Keeping the kids’ toys separate from the dining area means having a room or space for the kids. You’ll need a more extended trailer for that type of accommodation.
But don’t only focus on the length. Also, consider the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and tongue weight. The GVWR will affect what kind of tow vehicle you need. Most family camper trailers will be heavier because they’re longer and tend to include bunk rooms. Your minivan won’t likely have the towing capacity to pull it. The GVWR of your trailer must be under the towing capacity of your tow vehicle.
The tongue weight will also play a role in determining the tow vehicle you need. Some trailers have heavy front ends that attach to the ball and hitch on your vehicle’s bumper. Depending on your vehicle’s capabilities, you may need to search for a family camper trailer with a lighter tongue weight, so your tow vehicle doesn’t work so hard pulling it down the road.
Floorplans are another huge factor when looking for a travel trailer for your family. Will everyone have a place to sleep? Where will the kids’ toys go? Is there a place to work during the day? Because a family involves more people, you’ll have more stuff. RVs are tiny spaces. So having enough space where everyone feels like they have a nook or cranny is crucial.
Consider the storage space available, too. Do you have a pantry to store food for six people? Are there places in the bathroom for hair brushes, deodorant, bath towels, and other items? Think about how you’ll live in the space, whether it’s a weekend or months at a time.
Cargo Carrying Capacity
Another important acronym to understand when looking for a family-friendly RV is CCC. This stands for cargo carrying capacity. GVWR and tongue weight is crucial because they affect what kind of tow vehicle can pull the travel trailer. The CCC is how much weight you can put into the trailer and stay under the GVWR.
This is especially important for families since everyone will bring their stuff. If you have a family of five and only have 1,000 pounds of CCC, you’ll leave behind many things. For full-time travelers, at least 500 pounds per person is a good starting place when considering how much CCC you need.
If you’re deciding between two family camper trailers with similar floorplans and sizes, the CCC may be the deciding factor. If one gives you 1,200 pounds and the other 1,500 pounds, you’ll appreciate having that extra weight capacity for gear.
Finally, considering the floorplan and imagining how you’ll live in the space, think about specific family-friendly features. Things like a large kitchen, seating for everyone, and outdoor storage matter more for a family of six than a couple. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or planning a cross-country road trip for three months, these features can make or break your camping experience.
Having lots of countertop space for meal prep is vital for families. A spacious dining table for everyone to sit comfortably is also a factor. So is enough outdoor storage to fit everyone’s favorite camping chair. Consider these family-friendly features when choosing your next family camper trailer.
7 Top Family Camper Trailer Models for 2023
Below are some of the best family camper trailers on the market in 2023. They range in size, weight, and price, but all will have floorplans suitable for families. They’ll also have essential features to help make the camping experience enjoyable.
1. Grand Design Reflection 312BHTS
Length: 37 feet, 4 inches
GVWR: 11,295 lbs
CCC: 1,863 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: The floorplan of this Grand Design Reflection is very family-friendly. With a bunk room for the kids, an island, and ample counter space in the kitchen, there’s enough room for a family of four or six to enjoy the interior space. There’s also a 16 cubic-foot refrigerator to store enough food for everyone. Plus, the outdoor kitchen and TV hookup invite the family to use the outdoor area as part of the living space,
2. Grand Design Imagine 3210BH
Length: 36 feet, 11 inches
GVWR: 10,195 lbs
CCC: 1,801 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: Another Grand Design model that is a great family camper trailer is the Imagine 3210BH. This one also features a rear bunk room, a kitchen island, ample counter space, an outdoor griddle, and an outdoor TV hookup. A unique feature is the large living room seating area, perfect for family movie nights. In addition, the roomy rear baggage door offers even more storage space for camping gear so that everyone can bring their favorite chair or fishing rod.
3. Keystone Cougar 30BHS
Length: 34 feet, 5 inches
GVWR: 9,500 lbs
CCC: 2,161 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: Instead of a separate bunk room like the Grand Design models, this Keystone family camper trailer has double over double bunk beds behind the booth dinette. This is an excellent option for weekenders who don’t want the added length of a bunk room. The L-shaped dinette seats several people comfortably. The tri-fold sleeper sofa provides additional sleeping space and seating for larger families. There’s also pass-thru storage and a cargo door in the rear for all the camping gear.
4. Forest River Cherokee 294GEBG
Length: 36 feet, 8 inches
GVWR: 10,985 lbs
CCC: 4,007 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: For smaller families who don’t need four bunk beds, this Forest River Cherokee features a queen loft bed over a smaller bunk. The U-shaped dinette and sofa provide enough seating, and the outside kitchen and TV hookup bring the family outside to enjoy even more space. Finally, the rear storage rack is an excellent feature for toting additional cargo or a generator.
MSRP: around $57,000
5. Jayco White Hawk 32BH
Length: 38 feet
GVWR: 9,995 lbs
CCC: 1,815 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: This Jayco White Hawk 32BH is the only model on this list of family camper trailers with an extra half bath. The spacious rear bunk room features an entertainment center, which is excellent for older kids. Plus, the slide out area in the bunk room provides extra space. Finally, this model has a sizeable tri-fold sofa, so if the kids want to join mom and dad in the living room for a movie, there’s comfortable seating.
MSRP: starting at $52,497
6. Jayco Jay Feather 30QB
Length: 36 feet, 11 inches
GVWR: 8,500 lbs
CCC: 1,235 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: The most budget-friendly option on this list is the Jayco Jay Feather 30QB. The unique bunk room features an L-shaped configuration with an entertainment center and wardrobe. The L-shaped kitchen and huge U-shaped dinette provide ample counter space and seating for a large family. Finally, this model also has a roomy tri-fold sofa. At 8,500 pounds, this is also the most lightweight option.
MSRP: starting at $40,485
7. Airstream Flying Cloud 30FB Bunk
Length: 30 feet, 10 inches
GVWR: 8,800 lbs
CCC: 2,128 lbs
Family-Friendly Features: Although Airstreams aren’t in many families’ budgets, it’s worth noting the Flying Cloud 30FB Bunk model. The twin bunk over the queen bunk provides sleeping space for kids, even in a travel trailer with no slides. There are also two sitting spaces between the U-shaped dinette and sofa so everyone can have personal space. Finally, you can’t beat the Airstream’s quality and craftsmanship. If you can afford the Flying Cloud, it will serve your family well for decades.
Will a Toy Hauler Make a Good Family Camper Trailer?
If you’re interested in remodeling, a toy hauler is worth considering for a family camper trailer. You can transform the rear garage space into any room to suit your needs. Use the Happijac bed or replace the system with permanent bunk beds.
Often, toy haulers have washer and dryer hookups, which can be a must-have for some full-time traveling families. Some will also feature a second bath, either full or half, so that the kids can have a sink and toilet.
Just know that toy haulers tend to have smaller living and dining spaces. You can have more sleeping space in the rear garage and front main bedroom, but you’ll give up some middle space for lounging, watching TV, and playing games.
Consider a Destination Trailer If Remaining Stationary
If you’ll be stationary, it’s worth considering a destination trailer as your family camper trailer. This type of trailer tends to be larger and ideal for families. Whether living in the camper full-time or paying for an annual site at a local campground to visit on the weekends, a destination trailer will have some features that other travel trailers won’t.
Some models feature a loft, which keeps the living area comfortable while adding sleeping space above. Instead of losing kitchen or dining space to have enough room for everyone to sleep, you would add a second level.
Sometimes destination trailers also have wide sliding doors, which is nice when taking in a view. They might have residential appliances and more spacious bathrooms. Since destination trailers shouldn’t move often, you can enjoy these amenities in a stationary campsite.
Pro Tip: Enjoy an RV adventure with your family any day of the year by using this guide on Finding Year-Round Campgrounds.
What Is the Best Camper for a Family to Live in Full-Time?
Full-time RV families live and travel in all kinds of campers. From motorhomes to truck campers and skoolies, every family finds what suits their travel and lifestyle. Unlike choosing a camper trailer to go family camping in, full-time RVers are looking for slightly different criteria and all of it depends on their situation. We’ve developed a series of questions to help you narrow in on which RV type would be best for your full-time RV family.
Buy a Camper Trailer That Meets Your Family’s Needs
Whatever family camper trailer you choose, it needs to meet your family’s needs. Just because your co-worker bought a specific model for their family doesn’t mean that the floorplan will work for yours. Remember your tow vehicle’s capabilities and the amenities you want to make your camping adventures enjoyable.
Do you think one of these family-friendly travel trailers will suit your family’s needs? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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