The Ultimate Caravan Buyers Guide

camper van hire Australia

Image courtesy of Awesome Campers

When you have made the decision to upgrade to a caravan, but you are on a limited budget, you need to sort out your ‘must-haves’ from your ‘wish-lists’. Features to consider are the type of caravan windows and doors, the flyscreens, bathroom and shower, laundry, size and number of beds, storage space, internet access, heating and cooling, and the list goes on. Let’s take a look at some of the questions to ask before making your final decision.

What type and size of caravan do you need?

The number of people taking trips in your caravan will dictate the number of beds needed. If it’s just yourself and your partner, you can get away with a small caravan, which will be less expensive than a family sized caravan. You still might favour a larger model, because they have more caravan windows that let in more light, but smaller caravans are less expensive, so you need to decide what’s more important – light or money!

Another consideration is the towing capacity of your vehicle, because unless you want to upgrade to a big 4WD that can tow three tonnes, you may need to opt for a smaller caravan. Do you need a caravan that can go off-road or are you happy to stay on good sealed roads? Caravans that can go off-road are becoming more popular, but they are also more expensive.

Where will you store the caravan when you are not using it? Many carports aren’t high enough to take a caravan, so is it better to opt for a camper trailer or pop-up caravan? These pop-up caravans are a great option, because they are small enough that most smaller cars can tow them easily, and they have plenty of caravan windows to let in light, as well as being cheaper than larger caravans (they can also include showers and toilets).

What are your compromises?

When you are on a limited budget, one of the biggest compromises made by many Aussies is the on-board bathroom and shower. If you are always going to book into a caravan park, then why pay the extra for these facilities? After all, you won’t have much on-board water for a decent shower and you have to empty the toilet canisters regularly. 

Some people want large caravan windows to take advantage of the beautiful Aussie scenery, and they also want an external awning, BBQ and outdoor kitchen. If these features are important to you, then make sure that they are at the top of your list. Other people might prioritise air-conditioning for the hot summers, an extra large fridge and media station. This is no time to stint, but make sure that you have everything on your ‘must-have’ list, before venturing into your ‘wish-list’ or you might blow your budget. 

Final checks before signing the deal

Always take your chosen caravan for a test drive, before agreeing to sign the deal. This doesn’t mean you take it away for a weekend, but you simply take it for a test drive. Find out if you can you hitch and unhitch it easily on your own, does it corner and brake well or does it fishtail on the straights? Does your vehicle feel like it’s struggling to pull the caravan or does it tow easily?

Check that the caravan windows and doors open and close smoothly, that all electrical equipment works, and even kick the tyres for good measure. Finally, sign the deal and drive away into the sunset!