Caravans and 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.
Samuel White Baker purchased an actual Gypsy caravan in Britain and shipped it to Cyprus for his tour in 1879. The world's first leisure trailer was built by the Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works in 1880 for Dr. William Gordon Stables, a popular author of teenage adventure fiction, who ordered a "gentleman's caravan". It was an 18-foot (5.5 m) design, based upon their Bible Wagons, used by traveling preachers in America's Wild West. Stables named it Wanderer. He travelled around the British countryside in it and later wrote a book documenting his travels in 1885 called The Gentleman Gypsy. This moved the Duke of Newcastle to commission his own caravan, The Bohemian.
By the turn of the century, 'caravanning' for leisure had become an increasingly popular activity. In 1901, the first dedicated caravanning club was established. The Camping and Caravanning Club (originally the Association of Cycle Campers) was founded by Thomas Hiram Holding, the father of modern camping. The Caravan Club was founded in 1907 with Stables as its vice president. Its stated aim was to "... bring together those interested in van life as a pastime...to improve and supply suitable vans and other appliances...and to arrange camping grounds." Caravanning gained popularity in North America in the 1920s.
Modern travel trailers come in a range of sizes, from tiny two-berth trailers with no toilet and only basic kitchen facilities, to large, triple-axle, six-berth types.