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Buying a caravan: How to pick the right one

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From pop-tops to tent trailers, motorhomes and campervans, it may seem that recreational vehicle (RV) options are endless – and they almost are. With so many models on the market, it’s hard to know where to begin.

But we have some refreshing news: choosing a caravan is about you and your needs. In this post we offer some food for thought and ask you a few questions about travel, towing and type, to help you narrow down the options.

Travel and use

It may seem like common sense, but you really should consider how you intend to use your caravan before you decide on the type that’s right for you. This is important as it will help determine the size, features and fittings you require.

Will you be:

  • Travelling across Australia over several months or just ducking out for a few weekend trips each year?
  • Adventuring off road or sticking to caravan parks?
  • Travelling alone or with the kids?
  • Making your caravan your new home?

Before buying a caravan, consider your proposed destinations and the amount of distance you intend to cover. This will help you figure out whether you need leaf-spring suspension or off-road capabilities.

Considering the long-term intentions for your caravan is also a good idea, since your needs may change as your family grows and your career and dreams evolve. It’s a good idea to write a detailed wish list within your budget.

Towing

Consider the towing capacity of your current vehicle. This could potentially set a significant limitation on the size and weight of the caravan you can carry. Unless you are able to purchase a vehicle to suit your dream size caravan, you’ll need to check your car’s towing limit and also the limitations of your driver’s licence.

Type

Considering the variety of facilities and configurations available, it’s important to think about your needs and wants in terms of size and style when you’re buying a caravan. If you like the idea of ‘having it all’ and you are able to comfortably drive a large motorhome or 5th wheeler you might enjoy the added leg room and facilities these larger caravans provide.

However, if you like to travel light, then a compact tent or camper trailer can provide smaller (and more affordable) options, with easily added adjoining tent sections.

Thinking about the nature of the experience you desire will help you to decide on other aspects too. Will you require cooking facilities, or do you want to cook outside? You might also need storage space for bicycles or other equipment.

Before buying a caravan, deciding how you will use it and what features you need will make your decision so much easier.

Once you’ve had a think and made your wish list, be sure to peruse our caravan definitions for a basic rundown of each type of RV and then consult our caravan buying guide for specific advice based on your budget.

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