What is a Destination Trailer? And what makes these Different?


Whoever said “It’s about the journey, not the destination” hadn’t heard about Destination Trailers. Popular among summer vacationers, snowbirds and retirees, destination trailers are a home away from home — one where you can settle in and enjoy a vacation for extended periods.

Destination trailers are in the recreational vehicles (RV) category. However, they are a lot more than just a trailer. They are more spacious and comfortable than traditional travel trailers and have a lot of the amenities you would find in a house. These are designed for campers to live in for several months or even seasons.

In the inside, they are fully equipped with accents and a luxury finishing and enough gathering space, so they have more of a home atmosphere. Think fully equipped kitchens with a regular-sized stove and oven, a full-size fridge, a dishwasher, and a kitchen island, as well as washer and dryer, electric fireplace, couches and more.

It is not uncommon for destination trailers to have a second bedroom and as well as a second half-bathroom for guests. Destination trailers are available in a wide variety of floor plans to accommodate couples, families or larger groups. Large windows and a patio or back entrance providing a lot of natural light are also featured in most floor plans.

Some destination trailers may also have units or extensions that slide out when parked and collapse when traveling, to create more living space.

When compared to travel trailers, destination trailers are also taller and heavier which is why they are harder to move, but you can still travel with them without much hassle. They are best towed by a one-ton truck and can be towed without a permit or professional handling.

Destination trailers are self-contained and can handle electric needs from an on-board battery.

Whether you are setting up at an RV resort, a residential lot or a more secluded area, a destination trailer will have everything you need for a comfortable stay.

How is a destination trailer different from a travel trailer?

A travel trailer’s main purpose is, you guessed it, to travel. The average size of a travel trailer is 8-9 feet wide. They are more versatile, lighter, smaller and have an aerodynamic design, all of which help you keep gasoline costs modest.

These are great for long road trips or short weekend getaways, specially if you are not a fan of tent camping and sleeping on the floor. They are also relatively easy to hitch to the back of your truck and get on the road.

While not as comfortable as destination trailers, travel trailers do have some home fixtures such as a bedroom, a couch, smaller kitchen, and eating booth, but they don’t really resemble a home or are intended for long stays.

Destination Trailer or Park Model?

Destination trailers are often advertised as park models. Just like destination trailers, park models are designed for a long stay, as opposed to a long drive but there are a couple of important differences between these two types of recreational vehicles.

Park models don’t really look like an RV. They are meant for a more permanent residence than both travel trailers and destination trailers and even look like small homes. They are wider than destination trailers and will often have a deck or bay extension that slides out to add to the living space and collapses for travel. Some more elaborate park models can even have a loft level, much like a tiny house.

Park Model Trailer on Pavement
Via Pinterest

By federal regulation, park model trailers need to remain under 400 square feet and, unlike destination trailers, cannot be transported without a permit and professional handling. While park models are in the RV category, they are not as readily mobile as a travel trailer or a destination trailer.

Any mobile home or recreational vehicle over 400 square foot is considered a manufactured home, falls within a different tax bracket and it needs to comply with a different set of regulations.

Once parked, the wheels of a park model are usually removed and a skirt is installed. Additional decks, patios, awnings, and landscaping can also be added. Once parked and set up, a park model will look a lot like a manufactured home.

What about holding tanks?

While park models give you more of a permanent residence feeling, destination trailers give you more independence. Park models do not have a holding tank for waste. Upon set up, park models need to be hooked up utilities such as fresh water, sewer, and electric systems.

On the other hand, destination trailers have their own holding tank and are not dependent on a freshwater hookup or sewer. If you are parked at an RV camp or residential ground with utility hookups, you can chose to use the trailer’s own or hooking up to the utilities and live on the grid. This gives you more freedom about where to set up your home for the season.

Travel and destination trailers usually have three separate tanks – one that holds the fresh water used for sinks and toilets. A gray water tank where used shower and kitchen water drains. And black water tank with the waste from the toilets. The last two need to be emptied every few days. Some small or older trailers may not have a gray water tank. Instead, the used water goes to the black water tank.

Freedom to move your trailer comes with the price of emptying and maintaining the three tanks, as it is the case with destination and travel trailers. If you have a large number of people traveling with you, this might be a task for every other day. Don’t wait until it’s full! It is recommended to empty them when the tank is two thirds full because it will be easier on the valve and create a better flow.

  • RV resorts and campsites have filled up stations for the fresh water tank and designated dumping areas for the other two.
  • You should never empty the tanks at a location not marked as a dumping area.
  • Clearly marked valves on the outside of your trailer will let you know which is the gray water tank and black water tank.
  • Sanitizing the black water tank each time after dumping it will ensure proper hygiene and functionality.
  • Lastly, you will want to keep an eye out for weather, as freezing temperatures and extreme heat can affect the three holding tanks.

You will want to insulate the tanks and fresh water hose to keep from freezing in the winter. A frozen gray water tank means it cannot be drained by the valve. Very hot temperatures, on the other hand, can cause the fresh water stored in the tank to stagnate and get contaminated. Cleaning and maintenance products can be purchased at grocery or home improvement stores.

How much does it cost to move a park model trailer?

Transporting a park model is not an easy task. You cannot simply hitch it to your one-ton truck and get on the road as you would with a travel trailer or even a destination trailer. Because moving a park model is an elaborate process, it also comes with elaborate pricing. The prices vary depending on several factors: distance, size and weight of the model and permits required.

Most states require permits to mobilize a park model through the state and to set it up at your final destination. Companies often do an inspection of the trailer in order to deem whether or not it is movable. Old age and poor or unstable condition of the trailer might be reasons why a company could recommend not moving your park model.

Some states also require an inspection of the park model before bringing it into the state for the same reasons moving companies do. The more state lines you cross, the more permits you will have to obtain, which also adds up to the cost of the move. Moving companies should handle all of the permits needed.

Renting space at an RV resort is a good alternative to paying for city permits to set up in a residential area. Another advantage to these spaces is that they are equipped with the all of the utility hookups your park model needs, as well as a community of campers.

A short distance move will run about $5,000. The further the drive, the more it will cost. Because of the size and weight of the load, it takes a considerable amount of effort, time and gasoline and drivers can’t exactly drive at the speed limit. A 400 square feet park model can weight up to 20,000 pounds! That is one heavy load to tow.

The cost of setting up plumbing and utilities alone can be about $3,000. A full-service move that includes setting up costs could cost roughly $8,000 for a short distance move. More elaborate and long distance moves can cost up to $15,000.

As you would handle any type of move, it is important to get more than one quote and to note the services and materials each company includes. This can save you a lot of money!

You also want to make sure the company provides insurance. Insurance is not where you want to cut costs. Accidents on the road are unpredictable, and it is better to be safe. Keep in mind that even with full-service movers all added decks, awnings, skirting and landscaping will have to be removed by you before the move. Installation of all of those will also have to be handled by you post-move.

The costs of moving a parked model add up so fast, some campers recommend simply purchasing a new one at your place of destination. This is an option to keep in mind especially for long distance moves.

The best type of trailer for you will certainly depend on how exactly you will want to use it. Whether you want to RV across America or move south for the winter, you will want to consider the above costs and features of each type of trailer.