So you’ve decided to make the dream you’ve always had a reality, and buy a caravan. Your dream caravan. Or you might be new to the world of RVs and travelling want to take your first. Either way, it’s a big purchase, which requires a bit of thought before signing the papers and tootling off down the road into the sunset. This is an exciting time in your life, and you want to make a great decision. There are many options to consider, many makes, models and configurations available, which can be navigated through with a simple checklist. Here is a guide to buying a caravan to help you figure out what is most important to you in a caravan, and get you out on the road.

What sort of travel will you be doing?

Are you imagining yourselves travelling long distances, exploring Australia, just the two of you, stopping as it takes your fancy? Or quick trips to caravan parks by the beach with the family for the school holidays? You want the caravan that can handle the long haul or something lighter for quick trips. Use these qustions to help frame your thinking.

Who will be travelling?

The size of your van, and how many it sleeps, depends on how many of you will be travelling. Obviously smaller is cheaper (but easier to tow), but if this is your first chance to do some travelling sans kids, it might be your chance to cut loose and purchase something large and luxurious, all to yourselves! Most vans today range between 11ft and 24ft.

What will your trips be like?

Are you a bit more adventurous, and keen to venture off the tarmac, to more isolated camping sites, or are you keen to stick to the highways and set up in established caravan sites? Or maybe a bit of both! If you do want to venture off road, make sure you purchase a caravan that can handle the elements. If you plan on heading off the grid a little, you might want to consider a caravan with a built in shower and toilet, just to make life a little more comfortable.

What creature comforts do you require?

There’s a huge range of caravans available, catering to every level of creature comfort required. Air-conditioning, a separate bedroom, bathroom, and toilet can make life extremely comfortable on the road.

Where will you store your caravan?

Do you have space at home to store the caravan, or will you be looking into a storage facility? If space is an issue, you might want to consider a smaller format or a pop top caravan as they can easily be stored in most garages. Check our your council parking restrictions to see if on street parking is feasible, or consider an offsite storage unit to keep your new van spick and span. If you plan on storing for along periods you can likely negotiate a good rate. The ideal place is your own secure garage, but few have the luxury of that kind of space.

What’s your confidence like with towing?

Caravans must be towed, and towing can be a little daunting. There’s a lot to consider, and a lot of specifics to get your head around. So think about how big your car is, it should be heavier than the caravan you’ll be towing. Also think about safe loading and towing equipment, and how confident you are with manouvering and towing with other cars on the road. None of these need to put you off, but it’s worth considering. If you’re completely in the dark and want to build your skills before hitting the road, a towing course might be worth considering.

If you ask yourself these questions, make a big list of what you ‘must have’, vs what you’d ‘like to have’, hopefully your decision will be that much easier, and before you know it you’ll be on the open road having the trip of your lifetime.

Want find out more about what to look for in your perfect caravan? Download our guide to buying an ultimate caravan in 2017.