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If you’re looking at buying an RV, travel trailers are excellent options because they’re versatile, relatively affordable, and come with lots of amenities. However, when picking the best travel trailer for your needs, you should pay attention to every detail, including its maximum width.
But, why does the width of an RV matter? Also, are there many variations between makes and models? Here’s everything you need to know about the average width of a travel trailer.
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What is the Average Width of a Travel Trailer?
The average RV width for travel trailers is between eight and 10 feet wide. However, most trailers and motorhomes are 8.5 feet or less to avoid legal restrictions. If you’re looking for a compact travel trailer, it may be around six or seven feet at the widest point.
Also, keep in mind that the maximum width of your RV when it’s driving is not the same as when it’s parked. Slide-outs can increase the maximum RV width substantially, with a single slide-out adding an extra foot or so on one side.
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Why Does the Width of an RV Matter?
Technically, when looking at different travel trailers, you should pay attention to all the size dimensions, including the average width, height, and length. However, the width of your rv matters for several reasons, including:
RV Width and Driving
Highway lanes are 12 feet wide, so it’s technically illegal to drive anything wider than that on federal or state roads. To avoid lengthy permitting and regulatory issues, the RV Industry Association sets standards for the maximum width of all RVs, including everything from Class B motorhomes to travel trailers. Generally, the RVIA supports a maximum width of 102 inches (8.5 feet), plus six additional inches for extras like awnings, air conditioning units, and more.
On the high end, a trailer may be up to 11 feet wide, but most RVs are no more than 10 feet. This is to avoid reaching the legal width limit so you can drive without worry or hesitation.
RV Width and Parking
As a rule, you’re not likely going to be putting your travel trailer in a regular parking spot. The average width of a parking space is only nine feet, so most trailers wouldn’t even stay within the lines.
Instead, there are two reasons to pay attention to your RV width when parking – when you’re boondocking or using slide-outs.
When boondocking, you likely won’t be able to use a slide-out since you’ll be in a parking lot or on the street. As a rule, compact travel trailers will work best for this situation because they don’t use slide-outs at all. Also, you may have to park in RV parking, which is wider than a regular space, but still limited.
RV slide-outs can increase the trailer’s maximum width substantially, so you have to plan accordingly when getting into a spot. also, will you be parking on grass or pavement? Some slide-outs come with extendable feet for stability, and they can sink into grass and dirt if you’re not careful.
RV Width and Permitting
Fortunately, you shouldn’t have to worry about buying a travel trailer that’s too wide for highway driving. However, just in case it’s close to the legal limit, you’ll have to worry about getting an oversize load permit from your state’s highway safety commission.
Does the Width of an RV Change When Parked?
There are a couple of reasons why your RV may get wider when you’re parked for camping – awnings and slide-out sections. Let’s break down what to expect from both components:
Having an awning is an excellent way to keep the sun at bay and help maintain a cooler interior. On average, an RV awning is about three to six feet wide, with differences of about six inches between each size.
These awnings also often cover the main entrance, so you might have to plan your parking arrangement accordingly. For example, if you park with the entrance away from the sun, you have to worry about sunlight warming the inside of your RV from the opposing windows.
Many RV owners like having a trailer with slide-outs because they expand the interior of the RV without making it harder to drive or maneuver. Typically, these sections are used to increase sleeping space, dining areas and kitchen space, or even for an entertainment center.
A trailer may have a single slide-out section, or it could have two or three, depending on the make, model, and overall size.
Another point to consider about RV slide-outs is that they’re often electrical and pneumatic, meaning they can break down over time. It’s imperative to maintain them regularly so they don’t break while you’re out camping.
Which Types of Travel Trailers are the Widest?
The term “travel trailer” is kind of a catch-all to describe all towable RVs. However, we can break these trailers down into different categories like:
Fifth-wheels are generally the largest and most luxurious type of travel trailer, often with multiple entertainment centers, bathrooms, and even bedrooms. However, while the length of a fifth wheel might extend past 33 feet, the width requirements are still around 8.5 feet when traveling.
Fifth-wheels can sometimes have slide-outs, but they often have enough space inside to forgo needing a separate movable section.
Toy Hauler Trailer
A toy hauler comes with a garage section so you can store additional motor vehicles like dirt bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, and more. Toy haulers are built much differently from travel trailers because the garage space is often convertible to a living area, or it can be used as a front porch.
Typically, these trailers measure between 96″ and 102″ or eight to 8.5 feet. They also rarely have slide-outs because it’s harder to install them when the garage takes up more than half the interior space.
If you’re looking for a travel trailer with a compact interior, a teardrop model is the best option. This design is like the Class B motorhome of trailers, meaning it’s smaller and doesn’t offer as many amenities. In most cases, you won’t even have a bathroom inside.
Generally, teardrop travel trailers measure between four and seven feet wide, so you never have to worry about driving on interstate highways, designated roads, or even backroads. Also, you can use a smaller tow vehicle like a car or compact SUV since the trailer isn’t as heavy.
Examples of Travel Trailer Width Variations (Smallest to Largest)
To illustrate how much variation you can find within travel trailers, let’s look at a few different models from smallest to largest. We’ll also look at how wide these RVs are with slide-outs engaged so you can plan accordingly:
Earth T300 Teardrop Trailer
- Dimensions – 5′ W x 5′ H x 11′ L
- Interior Dimensions – 4.91′ W x 3′ H x 10.5′ L
The Earth T300 is about as small as you can get with a teardrop trailer. With a five-foot wide body and weighing only 300 pounds, even the smallest vehicle can tow this trailer with ease. That said, you can’t stand up inside, and it can feel cramped with two people, but it’s perfect for quick getaways where you want to shed all the amenities of modern life.
Scamp 13′ Deluxe Layout B
- Exterior Dimensions – 6’8″ W x 7.5′ H x 13′ L
- Interior Dimensions – 6.5′ W x 6.25′ H x 10′ L
Although the specifications of the Scamp Deluxe are not significantly higher than those of the Earth T300, the interior is far more accommodating. It’s amazing what a couple of feet can do to transform a travel trailer from a compact model to something in which you can stand and lie down. The Scamp can even come with a toilet/shower combo, although the dinette has to convert into a bed.
Jayco Jay Flight SLX
- Exterior Dimensions – 7’1″ W x 9’5″ H x 21’1″ L
- Exterior Width With Slide Out – 9′ 11″
The Jay Flight SLX is a relatively compact trailer, but with the single extendable portion, it becomes over two feet wider at the center. However, even with this section extended, it’s still not wider than a highway lane, just to illustrate how much room you have to spare. In this case, it’s the dinette set that slides out, so you have more room to eat.
KZ Sportsmen Classic 181BH
- Exterior Dimensions – 7′ W x 9.3′ H x 21.5′ L
- Exterior Width With Slide Out – 9′ 5″
The Sportsmen Classic is another relatively compact RV trailer that uses a slide-out to giving you more room to dine and snack inside the RV. This trailer also has a 13-foot awning that extends about three feet from the side. So, with everything extended, you’re looking at about 12 feet at the widest point.
Grand Design Reflection 315RLTS
- Exterior Dimensions – 8′ W x 11′ 11″ H x 37’11” L
- Exterior Width With Slide-Outs – 13′ 8″
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury travel trailer, you can’t do much better than the Grand Design Reflection. This rig has three separate extendable sections, including two opposing slide-outs, which is why the maximum width is so much longer than most other RVs. The Reflection is the ultimate in RV luxury, with a queen bed, shower with a skylight, interior and exterior entertainment centers, and even a kitchen island so you have more space to prepare food and other dishes.
Keystone Sprinter Limited 341BIK
- Exterior Dimensions – 8’4″ W x 11′ 3″ H x 38’10” L
As with the Grand Design, the Keystone Sprinter Limited is one of the largest RV trailers you can buy. Oddly enough, even with its massive size and amenities, this is not a fifth-wheel trailer, so you don’t have to tow it with a pickup truck. This model comes with three slide-outs and tons of room inside. You get a sofa, a kitchen island, a master bedroom, and even an exterior kitchen for added convenience.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing the Width of an RV Trailer
As you can see, there isn’t much variation in RV widths, even though the size and shape of each model can be vastly different from one to the next. Also, keep in mind that we’re only looking at travel trailers – the differences can be even more significant when talking about Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes.
We’ve covered many of the factors to consider when paying attention to the width of your RV, but here are some other elements to keep in mind:
- Interior vs. Exterior Width – As a rule, RVs built for colder weather conditions will have more insulation, so the difference between interior and exterior width is more noticeable. Also, you may have to worry about various obstacles like the dining table, kitchen, sofa, and more. So, consider how much room you actually have to move around.
- Length and Width – Overall, the length of your RV will affect how you can maneuver more than its width. That said, a longer and thinner trailer may be easier to move than one that is short and extra wide.