Travel Trailer vs. Toy Hauler: 17 Differences That Matter


You may have been thinking to yourself what the difference is between a travel trailer and a toy hauler. Why yes, there are sleeping and lounging areas in both, but they do offer many different features and solutions.

What are the 17 differences between a travel trailer and a toy hauler?The difference between a travel trailer and a toy hauler is the weight and the space. A toy hauler is going to weigh a lot more than a travel trailer since the bottom has to be sturdier to handle those extra vehicles. The interior of a toy hauler can be simple. Because it is mostly meant for day trips and not extended weekend trips, there is usually not a full kitchen set up like a travel trailer.

On the outside looking in travel trailers and toy haulers look the same, but they are quite different when you take a closer look. Some of those differences include:

  1. Weight
  2. Costs
  3. Purpose

So, to understand the differences between the two, we have to take a deep dive into what makes them both so unique. There are 17 differences that you will learn about below.

The 17 Differences Between a Travel Trailer and a Toy Hauler

While they are both in the RV family of trailers, there can still be confusion between the two. So, to help you know the difference, here are the main reasons why these two trailers are in a league of their own:

  1. Purpose
  2. Towable
  3. Weight
  4. Different Types of Their Kind
  5. Interior
  6. Costs
  7. Storage Space
  8. Dimensions
  9. Gas Mileage
  10. Transporting Other Goods
  11. Bathrooms
  12. Amenities
  13. Brakes
  14. Water Tanks
  15. Sleeping Arrangements
  16. Exterior
  17. Maintenance

1. Purpose

You first must understand your reasoning for wanting to purchase either a travel trailer or a toy hauler. If you want something that can give you a nice time while camping and can house multiple people, a travel trailer should be considered.

A travel trailer does not have the capacity to carry other smaller vehicles inside. This will lead you to put the smaller vehicles, if you can, in the bed of your truck.

The toy hauler’s main job is to transport any smaller vehicles that you will use on your trip. If you have an ATV, you will be able to fit it in the garage portion of the trailer and still have room for a lounge area for you and your family to relax in.

Even if you do not own any toys, a toy hauler has that available space in the back for you to do whatever you please with. You can add an extra bed or lounge seating to accommodate a larger number of people.

Toy Hauler

While you can go camping with a toy hauler, it may not have as many added features like a travel trailer. As some toy haulers may not have a kitchen or designated sleeping area for you and your guests. These toy haulers are more for a one-day excursion unless you bring supplies of your own.

2. Towable

Toy haulers are big because they have to be big enough to carry your toys in. So, in turn, you will need a truck that is capable of pulling this much weight around.

It would not be recommended that you go on any rocky or mishappen roads as the toy haulers are too larger to handle that. However, if the road you are taking is level enough, you and your toy hauler will be fine.

As you will see in the next category below, toy haulers can be extremely heavy. This is their “dry weight,” and this goes for travel trailers as well. Dry weight is when you have only the equipment that was installed in your trailer from day one.

Once you load a toy or fill up the water tanks in your trailer, that weight changes. For example, you have a 10,000 lb. toy hauler and you add a 600 lb. ATV after you have fueled it. Next, you have filled a 35 lb. water tank that adds 300 lbs. You are now at 10,900 lbs. that you must tow with your vehicle.

For travel trailers in order to transport it, you are able to have the following vehicle:

Because travel trailers come in varying sizes, all you need is a vehicle that can support the extra weight. You can look up the maximum towing weight in your vehicle’s manual.

Related reading: Can a Minivan Pull a Travel Trailer? [Must-Read]

3. Weight

A toy hauler is going to weigh a lot more than a travel trailer since the bottom has to be sturdier to handle those extra vehicles. Because of this, the hitch weight needs to be heavier to be able to have enough control staying stable. A toy trailer can weigh anywhere from 7,000 to 20,000 lbs.

Because there are different lengths to travel trailers, this will determine how heavy your trailer will be. A travel trailer can range between 10 to 40 feet in length. Those lengths are approx. 1,250 to 8,500 lbs. You will have to research on how much weight your vehicle can carry.

Travel trailer

With a travel trailer take note of how heavy the gas and water tanks will be as this will surely add to the total weight.

Related reading: How Much Does It Cost to Install a Trailer Hitch? (with 9 examples)

4. Different Types to Their Kind

For toy haulers, there are two types. There are a Class A and a Class C toy hauler. The Class A type has a much larger garage area for your toys. While the Class C type is just a bit shorter, giving you more room for guests in the living area.

There are far and few options for a toy hauler motorhome as they are not as popular at this moment. The toy hauler motorhomes have a few neat features that you may like that include:

  • Fuel Station for you toys to refill on a road trip if needed
  • Patio for relaxing after a long day
  • Ramp and Rail to haul your toys into the toy hauler

There are many types of travel trailer and there are multiple sizes to fit your needs. They include:

As you will notice in your research, some travel trailers will not have a full-on kitchen or bathroom area. However, smaller travel trailers are still considered travel trailers.

5. Interior

The interior of a toy hauler can be simple. Because it is mostly meant for day trips and not extended weekend trips, there is usually not a full kitchen set up like a travel trailer. Since it is a toy hauler, it is specifically meant to be an open space, and not packed to the brim with amenities.

In the garage area of a toy hauler, if there is a bed, it would be directly above the seating area. The bed can be pushed up higher and the seats can be folded along the walls to give you a nice opening for your toys.

With the garage section of your toy hauler, you will find that the area tends to become cold or hot depending on the temperature outside. This is because there is no insulation in this area. Since this is the area that you hold your toys in, there can be water and oil-resistant floor and fasteners to keep your toys in place during the ride.

However, just like a travel trailer, there can sometimes be a full bathroom area that has a:

  • Shower
  • Toilet
  • Sink

A travel trailer has everything you need to enjoy yourself in any environment for a period of time. Most travel trailers have a deck or patio for you to enjoy yourself on. If you take a travel trailer to go camping with, you will not have to worry about sleeping in a tent on the hard ground.

You are able to lock up all of your equipment in both of these trailers to ensure that your stuff stays protected at all times, either from people or animals.

A travel trailer’s bunkhouse can sleep quite a number of people if you have a bigger trailer. You can sometimes sleep up to 9 people.

6. Costs

A travel trailer costs around $11,000 to $35,000 if you were to purchase a new one. The cost of a travel trailer depends on the:

  • Manufacturer
  • Model/Floor Plan
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Number of Slide Outs
  • Number of Amenities

The price of a new toy hauler will range between $12,000 and $80,000. These prices are determined by the same standards as the travel trailer with the addition of the garage space.

Additional costs for either trailer will include:

  • Trailer Hitch ($25$150): This is for you to connect your trailer up to your vehicle. Be sure to choose a hitch that is capable of handling the weight of your trailer.
  • Towing Mirrors ($30$120): Towing mirrors are a requirement if the trailer is wider than your vehicle. There are clamp-on towing mirrors and permanent towing mirrors that you can have installed.
  • Trailer Covers ($120$450): The prices for these covers will rest on it being for a travel trailer or a toy hauler and the length that you need it for.
  • Insurance: Insurance for your trailers should be a must as anything can happen when you are on the go. The price of your trailer, how much you use it and your actual driving record will be put into your insurance quote. Try to receive three quotes before you purchase.

7. Storage Space

If you are looking for storage space for your knick-knacks and luggage, a travel trailer is your best bet. There are small closets that you can put your stuff into.

A toy hauler will mostly have the extra space for your toys and any additional items you want to store in the garage area. There may be one or two spaces for you to store additional things, but for a toy hauler, storage cabinets and closets are not a priority.

8. Dimensions

The length of the garage on a toy hauler alone is between 8 to 15 feet. The entire length of a toy hauler ranges from approx. 20 to 44 feet. The width of a toy hauler is 7 to 8 feet.

A travel trailer can be as long as 20 to 42 feet. The width of these trailers is about 8 feet. Both a travel trailer and a toy hauler can add some length with the addition of a patio or deck. A wider measurement will be added on as you use your slide outs to create more space.

Related reading: How to Choose the Right Size Travel Trailer: An In-Depth Guide

9. Gas Mileage

Because of how heavy the toy haulers are, the gas mileage on your vehicle will suffer a bit. The heavier the object you are towing, the more fuel your vehicle has to use to pull all of that weight around.

This allows your vehicle to use a gallon per 10 to 12 miles. So, you may have to make one or two more stops to your destination than as planned to refuel.

With a travel trailer, the weight is still a greater number, but it is smaller than a toy hauler. You should be able to see between 12 to 16 miles per gallon

10. Transporting Other Goods

A travel trailer is great for transporting tents or bikes. Things that are capable of maneuvering around furniture or being able to be strapped to the back of the trailer will do just fine.

A toy hauler says its purpose in its name. This so-called, “garage on wheels” allows you to transport:

  • ATVs
  • Dirt Bikes
  • Bicycles
  • Motorcycles
  • Kayaks
  • Mountain Bikes
  • Snowmobiles

Stick with a toy hauler if you continuously use these smaller vehicles on a regular basis. A travel trailer has a designated area for everything, so unlike a toy hauler with the garage area, you do not have room for that much customization to a certain space.

Related reading: 6 Clever Ways to Carry Kayaks with a Travel Trailer

11. Bathrooms

Both the toy haulers and travel trailers have bathrooms. Some trailers may not have a bathroom because they are smaller in size and the garage and lounge area will be the main priority to the manufacturer than a bathroom.

However, small trailers will have a smaller toilet that you will have to empty out yourself. A larger trailer will have a more standard RV toilet that floats down to a holding tank to release on the other side of the trailer.

As far as travel trailers go, if you purchase the 44-foot trailer, you could end up receiving two bathrooms. This could be a viable option if you are taking a larger group on a trip.

12. Amenities

A popular feature for the travel trailer and a toy hauler is the slide outs. The slide outs are meant to come out when you have stopped and will give you more space to work with.

There are generators on these trailers that will help you go off-the-grid. The generators can already come with it or you can have one installed.

With a substantial travel trailer, you can have the works when it comes to the kitchen. The kitchen could include:

  • Kitchen Island
  • Sink
  • Microwave
  • Cabinets
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Countertop Space

For some toy haulers, a few of the kitchen items listed above will come with the trailer. A travel trailer may also have room to add cable for the TVs and a place to enjoy meals.

Both trailers have the potential to include awnings to lounge outside under some shade. There are a plethora of amenities that come with these trailers, you just have to determine which model has what you need and what you can live without.

13. Brakes

A toy hauler and a travel trailer do have brakes. However, some manufacturers of travel trailers will not bother with brakes because of the size of the trailer. It is by law that trailers of these sizes have brakes, but you can also check your state’s law on the weight limit that is needed for brakes.

For a travel trailer, there are three types of brakes that can be used:

  • Electric Brakes: Toy haulers and travel trailers can use electric brakes. They are functioning when the trailer is connected to the vehicle that is towing it. So, whenever your vehicle brakes, the electric brakes can pick that up and stop themselves.
  • Surge Brakes: These brakes work on their own on the hydraulics system to brake. The power that is seen when your vehicle brakes, puts pressure on the trailer’s brake system that allows the brakes to respond when needed.
  • Breakaway Brakes Systems: By U.S. federal law, travel trailers and toy haulers must have this system. If your travel trailer disconnects from your towing vehicle, the brakes will apply themselves. This is in addition that you will have to purchase, with either of the above two brakes

With breakaway brakes, if you have installed the electric brakes already, purchase a backup battery. This will give energy to your electric brakes because once the trailer disconnects from the vehicle, electric brakes need to be able to help and apply themselves during this situation.

Electric brakes are a safer option with toy haulers. The circuitry from the toy hauler can help the electric brakes stop when they need to and allow your towing vehicle to brake faster without yanking this heavier trailer.

Anything that you will be towing that is above 2,000 lbs. should have brakes. Because a toy hauler’s weight automatically exceeds 7,000 lbs., it will have brakes as soon as you purchase it.

Also, be sure to check and replace your brakes every year if you frequently use your trailer. Although, you can check them every 10,000 to 12,000 miles.

14. Water Tanks

So, if there is a sink or a bathroom aboard your trailer, then you have a water tank. For a travel trailer there are three different water tanks:

  • Fresh Water: Will be used for your kitchen and bathroom needs at all times. This is the water that is available to drink from the sink or used in the shower.
  • Gray Water: This is the water that recedes back down from a flushed toilet or water that goes down back into the sink or shower.
  • Black Water: This is where your waste from your toilet goes.

The size of these water tanks rests on the size of the trailer. Some tanks can range from 15 gallons on up to 90 gallons. It is important to dump and refresh this water whenever they are full.

The larger the group you take, you will want to dump this water in a day. With one or two extra people, you could possibly survive for a week before the need to refresh the water.

Dump your gray and black water tanks near a station that has an RV section. Be sure to have an RV sewer hose and gloves. The sewer hose needs to be a snug fit to ensure that nothing spills.

It is recommended that you wash your black water tank first and then your gray water. This helps clean out any waste particles with the semi-clean water from the gray tank.

15. Sleeping Arrangements

The travel trailers beat the toy haulers in this category. Some toy haulers have foldable beds or one queen-sized bed that you can raise in the garage portion to make room for a toy.

A travel trailer has bunkhouses that can house multiple people. This trailer has the option of having two queens or multiple twin-sized beds. The slide outs help in this regard as some travel trailers has 7 slide outs. You can have a bed anywhere with these slide outs. The areas for any sleeping arrangements on a travel trailer are determined by the floor plans. 

16. Exterior

The exterior of a travel trailer is built on a frame that has a single or dual axle setup. This will let you know whether or not it uses two or four tires to tow it. The axles for a toy hauler will almost certainly be a dual axle and have a higher weight rating.

Most travel trailers are made of the following materials and most of these materials are very lightweight:

  • Aluminum
  • Wood
  • Fiberglass
  • Foam Sheets

A Toy hauler’s exterior finish it usually made of fiberglass. Fiberglass is a great option if your trailer becomes dirty easily. All you have to do is hose it down with water and be on your way. Both travel and toy haulers can have exterior luggage holders as well for more storage space.

Related reading: How To Repair Travel Trailer Walls [Must-Read]

17. Maintenance

Maintenance is needed with both a travel trailer and a toy hauler. The more you use these trailers the more you need to check on them to makes sure they are up to code and to your standard.

When it comes to maintaining your trailers, here are a few checks that you want to look out for:

  • Tidy Up Your Trailer: Making sure you do regular cleanings on the inside and outside of the trailers.
  • Inspect the Roof: Just as you would a house, check the roof to see if it needs to be repaired and clean it regularly.
  • Moldy Awnings: Treat your awnings well and inspect them as there could be tears or mold. Brush any excess water off of them to prevent this from happening.
  • Overworked Tires: With the weight of the trailer being on them, tires need a checkup whenever you feel something is amiss.
  • Treat Your Water Source Well: Your holding tanks help you during your journey, if they are not taken care of it could cause problems for you. If you are not using your trailer, clean your trailer’s water tanks, and use antifreeze during the winter to prepare them for the season.
  • Temperatures: Your trailer may come with an AC unit. You want to make sure that you change the air filters, especially if you are driving to the desert or somewhere dusty with your trailer.
  • Legally Required Lights: Brake and tails are important. As with a big trailer, the vehicles behind you need to know what to do and what to prepare because they cannot see your towing vehicle. Check and make sure that when you connect your trailer to your vehicle that the lights work.
  • Replacing Hitches: After a certain number of uses and being left out in the elements for a while, hitches begin to rust and become useless. Take note of your hitch, to see if it still holds up to the amount of weight that it is continuously pulling. Clean it and grease it properly to prolong its life.
  • Protect Your Life Source: Your trailer may already have a battery. This battery should be looked at every time you come from a trip. Place it in an area that does not see a lot of moisture when you are not using your trailer.
  • Storage Bound Trailer: Everyone is going to place their trailers in storage for a season or two. This is the time to deep clean and empty out any and everything from the fridge to the water tanks.

With either a travel trailer or a toy hauler, the maintenance is going to be a long and steady battle. These are large enough components where if you do not do inspections or clean your trailer regularly, you will miss things that could have been fixed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few common questions people often have about travail trailer and toy hauler:

Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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