With the dizzying array of caravans out there, understanding what you’re looking for and separating the good from the bad, the essential from the non-essential and the real deals from the rip-offs, can be a confusing and painstaking process.
So to help you make an informed decision and understand what is reasonable to expect in a modern caravan, from chassis build and components to fit-outs, finishes and safety.
Decide on your needs
Buying a caravan is a big decision, both personally and financially. It’s an investment in a new lifestyle and future, offering an addictive mix of adventure and comfort, independence and community, and the opportunity to travel to some of the most beautiful and iconic spots in Australia with your creature comforts by your side.
That is why choosing the right caravan is crucial. A caravan should perfectly match your needs, style and personality. Like owning a car or bike, if your caravan isn’t the right fit you’re less likely to enjoy or use it, making it a bad investment and ‘that’ burden in your backyard. But with the right caravan, the world is your oyster! You’ll travel more, see more, and experience more incredible moments to take with you in life and share with your family and friends.
Finding a caravan that shouts ‘you’, inside and out, is what this guide’s all about. So let’s get started!
Write down a list
Before you visit a dealership or scour online, take a minute to sit down and write a list of everything you want out of a caravan. If you’re sharing it with a partner or the whole family involve them in the process, their viewpoints will also help shape your decision. Remember, caravans are your home on the road and should always reflect the living and travel style you expect and are used to.
Ask the right questions and the caravan will choose you
Focusing on your intrinsic needs first will help determine the type, size and layout of your caravan. Key questions to ask yourself, include:
WHO is your caravan for?
- you and a partner
- you and a small family (1-2 kids)
- you and a large family (3-5 kids)
- family share (between a few owners)
WHAT is it for?
- long-distance, long-term travel
- intermittent travel (i.e. weekend escapes and holidays)
- on-road travel, mostly along highways
- off-road travel, on unsealed and dirt roads
- caravan parks
WHAT level of comfort do you expect?
- basic, so you can travel light
- standard, with a good range of creature comforts
- luxury, with all the latest mod-cons on board
WHAT are your ‘must haves’?
- fully-equipped kitchen
- inbuilt toilet & shower
- double/queen/bunk bed
- lounge & dining for __ people
- heating & air-con
- TV & internet connection
- storage throughout
- additional underfloor storage
- premium fabrics & finishes
- outdoor dining & entertaining add-ons
- safety and security
- off-road capabilities & provisions (i.e. extra water storage)
- ability to customise
- Australian made
- servicing & warranty
What should you look for in terms of the caravan chassis and its components?
- heavy duty box duragal steel raised chassis
- A-frame extended to end of chassis
- heavy duty inline axles
- a breakaway unit
- durable wheels suitable for on-road or off-road travel
- shock absorbers on each wheel
- electric brakes on all wheels
- heavy duty leaf springs, load sharing rocker
- option of independent suspension (coil or airbag) for smoother driving
- jacking points at rear of wheelbase
- Is your vehicle built for towing?
- What is its towing capacity? What is the maximum weight it can operate under?
- Can it tow the weight of your caravan?
- Is it suitable for off road conditions? If you’re considering off road caravanning, is it kitted out for 4x4 conditions? Does it have great suspension, heavy duty tyres and other must-have off road features?
There are so many more features you can add to the list. Simply write them all down. The more ticks you get the closer you are to finding your ideal caravan. And the closer you are to that next big caravan adventure!