A travel trailer is towed behind a road vehicle to provide a place to sleep which is more comfortable and protected than a tent. It provides the means for people to have their own home on a journey or a vacation, without relying on a hotel, and enables them to stay in places where none is available. However, in some countries campers are restricted to designated sites for which fees are payable.
Travel trailers vary from basic models which may be little more than a tent on wheels to those containing several rooms with all the furniture and furnishings and equipment of a home. They are used principally in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand and are rare elsewhere.
In the United States and Canada, the history of trailers can be traced back to the early 1920s, when those who enjoyed their use were often referred to as ‘tin can tourists’. As time progressed, trailers became more liveable 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 types that we see today, that of the recreational vehicle (RV) industry and mobile home industry. Today trailers are classified as a type of RV along with motorhomes, fifth wheel trailers, pop-up trailers, and truck campers.
In the United States, it is generally illegal for passengers to ride in a travel trailer, while in motion, unlike horse-drawn trailers and coaches. Triple towing (towing two trailers) is not allowed in some states, such as California, Alabama, Florida, or New York; however, triple towing is permitted in Texas if the combined length does not exceed 65 feet (20 m).
Off-road trailer also called 4×4 trailers, tentrax, and jeep trailers, are built specifically for exploring the extreme backcountry without having the restriction of paved highways or gravel roads. These are designed to handle rough terrain. Many off-road travel trailers are equipped with a tent and bed, a skid plate, large tires, lift kits, and articulation systems.An innovation in the trailer types is the “toy hauler” or “toy box”. Half living area and half garage, these trailers allow ‘toys’ to be brought to the countryside. A ‘fifth-wheel’ is supported by a hitch in the center of the bed of a pickup truck instead of a hitch at the back of a vehicle. The special hitch used for fifth-wheels is a smaller version of the one used on 18-wheeler trucks and can be connected by simply driving the tow vehicle under the trailer. Fifth wheel trailers are popular with full-time recreational vehicle enthusiasts, who often live in them for several months in one place, using their pickup truck tow vehicle for local errands. A fifth wheel trailer tows more securely than a traditional travel trailer because the hitch weight sits directly over the pickup truck’s rear tires. Since part of a fifth wheel sits over the bed of the pickup, it also reduces the overall length of the vehicle/trailer package while allowing the same room as a comparable length travel trailer.
Additionally, the hitch’s location in the pickup’s bed reduces the risk of jackknifing and allows for more manueverability when backing. Because of the greater room available on the roads in North America, these vehicles are more popular in the United States and Canada than in Europe or other parts of the world.