A small travel trailer is the perfect way to travel and see the great outdoors with all the comforts and convenience of home. There are several makes, models, and sizes of travel trailer which offer various ameneties and pricepoints to suit your individual needs when you adventure to see the world.
Camping and exploring the wilderness have been a popular pastime for centuries, but the idea of staying in luxury, portable accommodations while camping began in the early 1900s. The first RV club was formed in 1919, and with it, a new type of adventurer was born. Segueing into the 1920s and the great depression, small travel trailer options and small RVs became a way of life. Many people resorted to minimal accommodations to survive and get through life with record-high unemployment and financial loss.
With the minibus movement’s popularity and people traveling in a converted van, travel trailers became even more popular. Additionally, the baby boom following WWII made it necessary to find affordable yet flexible accommodations for the entire family to travel the country in style and comfort.
Weekend camping trips and adventures were a popular option for many families with children, and the travel trailer helped fill this need. The 1950s and 1960s saw the creation of some travel trailer mainstays, such as the Airstream models. The 1950s also saw the first RVs made available to the public, and a trend was set in motion for the coming decades.
The 1970s and 1980s saw more iconic trailer and RV brands pop up, including the ever popular Scamp Trailer, established in 1975. Throughout this period, travel trailers grew in popularity, while RVs continued to grow in size and complexity. For those looking for a smaller option and something easy to tow, the travel trailer continued on a different trajectory, evolving to the travel trailer we know today.
Modern travel trailer options have come a long way since they originally debuted more than 100 years ago. Today, travel trailers are a great “in-between” option for people wanting more than a tent to sleep in but aren’t ready to commit to a giant RV. Travel trailers are easy to transport and come with many modern amenities, including well-equipped kitchens, plenty of sleeping space, and even full bathrooms complete with overhead showers. Now, more than ever, it is possible to see the world and live in comfort, with the addition of lightweight and easily transported travel trailers.
Table of Contents
- Best Small Travel Trailers
- Features to Consider in Travel Trailers
- Vehicle Considerations
- Why are small camper trailers beneficial?
- What are the best small camping trailers with bathrooms?
- What are your favorite things about Scamp trailers?
- What are your favorite things about a teardrop trailer?
- What is it like to have such a small floor plan and area?
- How can you save money with a travel trailer?
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Best Small Travel Trailers
Everyone wants to get away for a long weekend, and taking a small travel trailer is the best way to pack up your belongings and hit the road with the conveniences from home. With so many options on the market, we have put together a list of some of the best small travel trailers for you to explore.
Compared to other small travel trailer options, the Forest River r-pod model is the smallest and lightest travel trailer in this class. This design makes the trailer very easy to tow, even with small cars. The r-pod is completely functional, offering the luxuries of home, and can give owners 11 different floorplan models so that they can find just the right configuration to suit their needs.
New owners can customize their r-pod to accommodate more room for sleeping, a more equipped kitchen, or even a roomier bathroom. Most r-pod models are between 19 and 25 feet long, making them easy to tow and easy to park in most trailer spaces at National Parks.
Like other small travel trailers, the r-pod comes with a kitchen that features a sink, small refrigerator, microwave, and two-burner gas stove. While every r-pod model option includes at least a dry bath, some floorplan options will consist of a complete wet bath configuration with a full shower that can also be used as an outdoor shower.
These trailers can easily accommodate two people comfortably. If you prefer to have more sleeping space, choose one of the 11 floorplans that give you the option to spread out more or convert the dinette area to additional beds.
The best feature of the Forest River r-pod is the massive ceiling height. The ceiling of this trailer is measured at 6’6”, giving people over 6 feet high reason to celebrate. The added overhead clearance is comfortable for taller adults and can make maneuvering and overhead storage a breeze. The Forest River r-pod also has several thoughtful conveniences such as LED lighting in storage areas, an awning, and even additional hooks and places to store your pet’s leash, food, and water bowl outside.
Made in the USA, Scamp was first established in 1975 at the portable camper phase height. To this day, Scamp continues to make high-quality, top-performing, and practical small travel trailers for families to enjoy. They offer plenty of style options, and the lightweight camper is popular for families across the country.
The Scamp trailer comes in three different sizes, including a 13-foot trailer, a 16-foot trailer, and a 19-foot trailer. Each fiberglass trailer is easy to tow. The fiberglass trailer construction makes this camper extremely lightweight and practical. The 13-foot small camper can be easily towed with a 4-cylinder car, making this a practical option for many families. The 16-foot trailer can be towed with an SUV or small truck, and the 19-foot trailer must be used as a 5th wheel with large trucks with plenty of towing power.
Each small camper trailer that is ordered is custom-made for the customer. This custom design means that you have plenty of options when it comes to designing the space for your needs. Typically, the 13-foot small camping trailer comes with a small, two-burner stove, an icebox, and a dinette space. The small camper also has an air conditioner.
The dinette seats four but can easily be stowed away at night to make room for a comfortable bed that sleeps 2. The small camper trailer also features a small couch, which can convert to two additional bunk beds. The 13-foot small camper can sleep between 2-4 people, giving everyone a comfortable, cushioned bed.
While the 13-foot lightweight camper was the original Scamp model, it has been recently updated to allow the comforts of modern-day life and the comforts of home. The latest 13-foot small camping trailer also has a design that allows for a small bathroom at the front of the trailer.
The Scamp trailer is also available in a 16-foot option. This trailer is slightly larger and provides more space. Like the small camper option, this 16-foot trailer provides all the same amenities as the 13-foot model, such as the two-burner stove and dinette area, and features some additional counter space and storage options. This design will allow you to spread out more while making your meals.
The couch will convert to 2 beds stacked on top of one another, while the dinette area will stow away to provide a bed for two additional people. The added length on this trailer can accommodate an extra person, utilizing the cushions, and this trailer can easily sleep 2 to 5 people. There are five total floorplan options to choose from with the 16-foot Scamp small camping trailer.
Lastly, the Scamp small camper also comes in a sizable 19-foot camper option. This largest camper does require the use of a large truck that has the towing power to be able to pull the camper. This camper has all the same amenities as the 13-foot and 16-foot but also features some additional space to allow a loft bed at the front of the camper. With the additional space, this small camper can fit six people comfortably. Like other Scamp models, this camper has several floorplan options to choose from, which feature modern amenities like a bathroom and air conditioning.
As one of the tried and true veteran companies of the small travel trailer, Airstream continues to offer a range of small trailer options that allow friends and family to explore the great outdoors with the comforts of home.
One of the most popular models is the Airstream Basecamp. This small trailer is the smallest option from Airstream and is 16 feet long and slightly over 6 feet wide. This model does come in larger options too, but the 16-foot option is ideal for a small trailer. This camper gives you all the comforts of home and is designed to work as an intermediary step between camping in a tent and camping in a luxury RV.
The 16-foot Airstream Basecamp has a roomy floorplan that features a kitchen, bathroom, sitting area, and dining area. Like other small camper models, the dining area is easily converted to a cushioned bed that comfortably accommodates two people. The dining area also features two built-in couches that can seat up to 5 people or convert to a full-size bed that can sleep two.
Compared to other small camper options, the Airstream Basecamp comes pretty equipped with overhead cabinets, a sink, cooktop, microwave, and small refrigerator making cooking and preparing meals easy and convenient. The bathroom is also well-equipped with a toilet, small sink, and small shower. The showerhead can easily pass through to the camper’s exterior, making this an ideal and easy way to shower outdoors.
Although no longer in production, the Airstream Sport was a widely popular option for a small travel trailer. Discontinued in 2019, this small trailer is still readily available for purchases from used dealers or private sales. The Airstream Sport features many amenities and comforts of the modern world, packed down into a small and convenient size that can easily be towed. It is no wonder that the Airstream Sport was one of the best small travel trailer options and continues to be popular in the resale market.
The Airstream Sport trailer is easy to tow and can accommodate up to 4 people. There is a Memory Foam mattress at the rear of the trailer that features large, panoramic windows complete with blackout curtains. The seating around the dinette conveniently converts to an additional bed that can accommodate up to two additional people.
The Airstream Sport kitchen is complete with a small refrigerator, sink, two-burner gas stove, and microwave. Plus, the kitchen features a galley television, complete with a radio, CD, and DVD player to give you all the modern conveniences of home. Perfect for staying entertained even on a rainy day.
The Airstream Sport also has a modern and spacious bathroom. The bathroom comes complete with a sink, toilet, and overhead shower. The overhead shower can also easily be converted into an outdoor shower through a window pass-through, which makes showering off mud and dirt before coming into your trailer easily. The entire trailer is equipped with both heating and air conditioning.
Happier makes a small travel trailer called the HC1, which is versatile, compact, and completely customizable. This small travel trailer is only 13 feet in length but also boasts some roomy headroom, offering ceiling heights of 6’1”. The HC1 camper from Happier Camper offers a throwback to an earlier age, with seven different retro colors to give the nod to their past.
The floorplan combinations for the Happier Camper HCI are infinite, with a modular design for all the interior necessities. Customers can completely design and revamp their camper using 20 x 20 pods. The pods can be shuffled and moved to make an interior suitable for your needs. Pods include bedding, kitchen, sink, and cabinet configurations.
This design allows you to focus on the interior aspects of the camper that are important to you while ignoring other features that do not matter for your needs. The pods also come with D-rings and tie-downs to allow for additional storage. The tie-downs make it easy to stow away your belongings and keeping them locked safely in place.
This small camper does not have a dedicated kitchen, living area, or sleeping area because of the modular configuration but lets the owner customize their own space. While this can be great for creative folks, it can also be overwhelming to people accustom to having their trailer already designed for them. Fear not, though, Happier Camper provides some example floorplan configurations to help those who are not as creatively inclined.
The trailer itself weighs about 3500 pounds, making it pretty heavy for a small trailer. Be sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity before purchasing the Happier Camper. This camper can also be outfitted with several fun and convenient outdoor accessories such as an outdoor shower and a handy solar panel charging station. Owners may also have the option to add a lifted suspension to the camper to make this more off-road friendly for true adventure seekers.
Growing in popularity between 1930 and 1960, the teardrop camper offered adventurers a safe, secure, and comfortable place to rest their heads. Although this camper style does not offer a great deal of space, the indoor configuration is a step above sleeping in a tent, offering protection from the elements and a comfortable bed to rest your head. The teardrop trailer is easily attached to any car and is a lightweight travel trailer option for people looking to upgrade their camping experience.
This tiny trailer is made by several manufacturers, with each offering something different. Some limited models of the teardrop trailer only have enough space to accommodate a comfortable bed with minimal headroom. These trailer options are compact, lightweight, and offer protection from the weather.
While some minimal teardrop trailer options have a hard aluminum siding, others are made of tent material. These tent-like trailers allow you to unzip and unpack the enclosure, giving you more room to spread out. Tent-style teardrop trailers do not give you much control over the interior temperature and climate, though.
Other teardrop trailer options are larger, providing more space and amenities. Some teardrop trailers feature a full height ceiling, which leaves room for a small kitchen and a sleeping area. These areas will provide a small cooktop stove, prep area, and even a small area to sit and eat. Often, the dining area can be converted into a sleeping area. These larger-style teardrop trailer options are perfectly suitable for two people to enjoy the space.
Some designs feature a small wet bath area if you are looking for even more luxury in a small teardrop trailer. These will give you plenty of space to shower and have access to a toilet and sink. The wet bath area is convenient for longer trips and adventures and gives you some of the comforts from home that we are accustom to. Many teardrop trailers will feature additional storage space, USB outlets, and solar power charging stations to improve your outdoor experience with some modern amenities.
If you are concerned about towing a trailer, a good alternative that can still provide safety, comfort, and security is a truck camper. This camper option requires a pickup truck and utilizes the available space in the bed of the truck. Many truck campers can provide just as much room as a small travel trailer but offer a more convenient truck owner option.
Truck campers are compact campers that are often compressed while driving. When the truck is parked at a campground, the camper can be extended to allow more room to navigate the space. Many truck campers even feature side pop-outs that provide more room from side to side, often accommodating a small dining area.
Just like small travel trailers, a truck camper provides room for modern amenities, including a small kitchen. Many kitchens feature a sink, small refrigerator, and two-burner stove. Depending on the truck camper’s size, some kitchens will come equipped with a small counter area for food prep.
These campers will have a bed located to the back of the camper, often positioned on the truck cab’s roof. The small dining area near the kitchen can also be stowed away and reconfigured to allow an additional bed. Most truck campers can accommodate between two and three people comfortably.
Plus, many modern truck campers give people the comforts of home they are accustomed to. Truck campers often feature overhead LED lighting, integral televisions, DVD players, or radios. Truck campers feature additional storage on the exterior of the camper and can come equipped with solar panels for charging.
One of the biggest benefits of having a truck camper is the ability to take your camper anywhere your truck can go. Trailing a cumbersome camper behind your truck often limits off-road capabilities. But, when you have your camper integrated as part of your truck, there are no bounds to where your adventures can take you. A truck camper is convenient, comfortable, and offers limitless mobility through nature.
While not a trailer to tow, a small RV may offer the type of accommodations you are looking for when you go on your next adventure. A small RV can be driven, and there is no need to tow your accommodations. Further, a small RV can be spacious enough to accommodate more than four people and offer the same amenities as the best small travel trailers.
To be considered a small RV, the vehicle must be under 25 feet in length. Comparatively, this is smaller than many of the towable trailers featured on our list. Compared to towing a heavy trailer, a small RV may even get better gas mileage and save you money with their fuel economy. Plus, a small RV will still allow you to visit many common campsites and National Parks, allowing you to park and hook up to the available utilities.
Just like with travel trailer options, many small RVs offer luxury accommodations to make camping more comfortable. A small RV will often feature a small kitchen, dining area, sitting area, and sleeping area. The kitchen will feature a small refrigerator, cooktop, and some offer additional counter space.
The biggest difference between a travel trailer and a small RV when it comes to the interior is the finish level. Often, RVs will have high-end finishes, including solid wood floors, luxury countertops, and finished furnishing. Often, couches and dinettes are designed with plush leather seating and luxury woods. This feature makes the camping experience feel more like staying in a house or a rental than a mobile RV.
Features to Consider in Travel Trailers
The point of a travel trailer is to be able to bring comfort to the great outdoors. Many travel trailers act as an intermediate step bridging the gap between a tent and a full RV. Travel trailers can be completely customized and purchased based on your needs, wants, and interests. Before selecting a travel trailer, make sure you consider the available features and what will be most beneficial to you. Because of their small size, you will often prioritize your important features, unable to fit everything into such a compact space.
First, think about how many people will usually sleep in your travel trailer. Most trailers can at least accommodate 2 or 3 people, but if you have a large family, more sleeping rooms will be necessary. If you have 4,5, or even 6 people, consider looking for travel trailer options with a bunk bed to provide an additional sleeping room. Often, small RV configurations will even have a Murphy bed that pulls down from the wall, offering at least a single-size bed for someone to sleep.
Next, think about your cooking arrangement. How often will you be making your own meals? Many travel trailers have a small kitchen set up, but some include more amenities than others. Look for features like a small refrigerator, cooktop, and microwave.
Some larger travel trailers also come equipped with available counter space, overhead cabinets, and additional storage room for pots, pans, and dry goods. If you are spending an extended period in your travel trailer, consider splurging on a larger kitchen to easily prepare and cook meals.
A bathroom is a nice luxury that several people require if they are camping. A bathroom can be a simple dry bath in a travel trailer or a wet bath equipped with a cassette toilet, shower, and sink. Many shower options also have a feature that allows them to convert to an outdoor shower, making it easy to rinse off dirt and mud before coming into your trailer or small RV.
Many small travel trailers must be towed by your vehicle. Small, lightweight trailers can be towed by a car, while larger trailers require the use of a truck as a tow vehicle. Be sure to check the towing capacity of your current vehicle before purchasing your travel trailer. Your towing capacity may limit the size and weight you can easily transport from place to place.
When looking at the specifications of a tow vehicle, look for a statistic called the GVWR. This spec is an abbreviation for the gross vehicle weight rating. Simply put, the GVWR is the amount of maximum weight your vehicle can handle. Often, this number includes the vehicle itself and the trailer included in the GVWR rating. When purchasing a new travel trailer, be sure to pay attention to the trailer’s overall weight and make sure it will work with your current vehicle configuration.
So you are ready to hit the road, explore the wilderness, and enjoy some comforts of home while in the process. Purchasing a small travel trailer is a big decision, and there are plenty of options on the market.
Between the many sizes, available features, and ability to live comfortably, there is almost an overwhelming amount of information to sift through. Luckily, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the best small travel trailers so that you can get the correct information to make an informed decision.
Why are small camper trailers beneficial?
Small camper trailers are beneficial to have for many reasons, which make them a popular choice for families around the world. Small camper trailers allow you to upgrade from staying in a tent, often offering the modern amenities you have come to know and love in your own home. Small camper trailers allow you to explore the great outdoors while having a safe, secure, and luxurious trailer to return to at the end of the night.
Plus, small camper trailers are lightweight and easy to tow compared to their larger counterparts. Many small campers are made of fiberglass, making them incredibly lightweight. For many trailer options, it is perfectly possible to tow the trailer using only a small, 4-cylinder car. This not only makes it practical, but it can work with your current vehicle configuration you already own.
Lastly, small camper trailers are often more portable, offering more options for you once you reach your destination. Compared to large trailers or RVs, small parking spaces and campsites are perfect for a small trailer. This can open availability and reduce the rental costs by taking up less room at the campsite.
What are the best small camping trailers with bathrooms?
Many small camping trailers come with modern-day conveniences, including small bathrooms. While this may have been unheard of 50 years ago, small wet and dry bathrooms are commonplace in camping trailers.
Many large brands, including Forest River and Airstream, will feature several floorplan options that include a bathroom. Many bathrooms will minimally have a shower, sink, and cassette toilet. Certain models and floorplans may allocate square footage to the bathroom, allowing you to spread out and stretch more. Brands like Airstream will even feature an overhead shower option that can double as an outdoor shower through a pass-through window. This design option gives you more purpose out of one utility.
Other manufacturers, such as Happier Camper, provide fully customizable options that allow you to build the features you like, including the bathroom. Flexible 20 x 20 modules allow you to place a shower, sink, or toilet in your trailer exactly where you would like them. This feature allows you to get as creative as you like customizing your trailer’s interior to find a configuration that works best for you and your needs.
What are your favorite things about Scamp trailers?
Scamp trailers have been in production since the mid-1970s and are a tried and true manufacturer of small travel trailers. The scamp trailer features several options, which make this a popular trailer for many people. Not only does Scamp offer three sizes to allow you and your family to spread out, but they offer multiple floorplans that suit a variety of needs.
One of the best features of a Scamp trailer is its lightweight construction. These trailers are made of fiberglass, which makes them not only durable but light too. The smallest option is a 13-foot trailer, which can be towed by a 4-cylinder car. Their 16-foot option only requires an SUV or a small truck, and only their largest 19-foot option requires a fifth wheel to be able to tow the trailer. Plus, these trailers are small enough to comfortably fit into the small camping spaces established for campers and RVs at many National Parks.
Even with its small size, the Scamp trailer offers the modern-day conveniences we are accustomed to. Many floorplans for the Scamp line of trailers include sleeping space for at least two people, a small kitchen complete with a stovetop, and a small bathroom in many models.
What are your favorite things about a teardrop trailer?
A teardrop trailer is a particular style of condensed trailer, small, and easy to transport from place to place. This type of trailer design really grew in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and has only grown in popularity since. The teardrop trailer has evolved in the past 50 years and comes in various styles and design options.
At its most basic core, a teardrop trailer provides a lightweight and convenient sleeping option that is a step above a tent. The hard walls give the teardrop trailer the safety and security needed to protect you and your loved ones during inclement weather. This small design allows the teardrop trailer to be both light and portable, making it easy to tow from place to place.
More advanced teardrop trailer style designs feature modern conveniences such as a kitchen and even a small bathroom. With their minimal size yet available features, a teardrop trailer is a great option for people looking for a small travel trailer to explore the country.
What is it like to have such a small floor plan and area?
Having a small floorplan does not have to be difficult. Many people find that a small floorplan for their travel trailer helps them stay organized and encourages a minimalist lifestyle. Many trailers have storage containers, compartments, and lockers in unused space that help to provide storage options for your items.
Many sleeping spaces have additional storage located under the bed, which is perfect for large or bulky items. Additionally, the kitchen area and the dining area in travel trailers have locked cabinets and cords that can help keep items secure and stable even when driving.
While many travel trailers are around 25 square feet, this still provides enough space to comfortably stay in your trailer for days or even weeks on end. Twenty-five square feet is usually creatively purposed, providing enough room to eat, sleep, and even shower in some instances.
Many people who purchase a travel trailer do so for the sake of simply having a secure place to sleep while camping, exploring, and hiking. Many people spend a minimal amount of time inside their trailer during the day and only retire to space during inclement weather or to sleep at night.
How can you save money with a travel trailer?
While a travel trailer is a large upfront expense, it is possible to save money over time with the purchase of a travel trailer. Adding a travel trailer to your travel arrangements means that you will have a safe and secure place to sleep every night while on your outdoor adventure. This can save money on costly overnight hotel accommodations. Plus, with many travel trailers having their own bathroom, a hotel is no longer needed to get a refreshing hot shower.
Further, many travel trailer models come complete with their own small kitchen. Having the ability to store groceries in a refrigerator and cook and prepare meals in your trailer can save endless money by not having to eat at a restaurant every night. Simply cooking your own food will save money on every adventure and trip. If you are traveling with multiple people or with your family, home-cooked meals will save money every night.
Lastly, compared to other mobile travel options, such as an RV, towing a travel trailer will cost infinitely less. Not only is the cost to purchase a travel trailer less than a full RV, but towing a travel trailer requires less gas. Many large RV options do not get great gas mileage and have large gas tanks to fill with every stop. A travel trailer attached to your car or truck only moderately decreases your car’s intrinsic gas mileage, adding a minimal expense to your fuel bill.