Aerial view of a caravan and car on a desert road near the ocean.

Buying Your Dream Caravan – 5 Tips to Know First

Need help seeing Australia? 

Now overseas travel is limited; more people are exploring local to see the wonders of our country. Fall in love with open road adventures, family holidays or a quick getaway when you just need to escape city life. 

Finding the right accommodation on wheels can be tough though. 

Do you choose an off-road rig? What features does your budget allow? Do you buy outright or secure a caravan loan? Caravans are a significant investment well worth it in the long run – but only if you choose wisely. 

Whether you’re throwing it all in to live on the road or crave travel flexibility, these tips will help you make the right choice for your lifestyle needs.  

  1. New vs Used  

A pre-loved caravan can be more cost-effective than buying brand new and still holds value. Safety is paramount, so look for one with full maintenance history, up-to-date registration and go for an Australian-made model.  

It’s best to buy from a licensed dealer for used caravans. They’ll perform the necessary safety checks and have entry-level to premium vans to choose from. Look for models equipped with the IRS axle system and stabiliser coupling sets for towing safety and greater control.

Before you buy, check the condition of the body and view the registration papers to ensure it ticks all boxes.  

Tip: Inspect a used caravan more than once. 

Retro caravan overlooking an ocean view.
  1. Leisure Finance vs Buying Outright

Set your budget in advance, so there’s no room for disappointment or overspending. 

Determine how you’ll fund the caravan. Leisure finance is a viable option if you need help with financing your caravan purchase, as decent caravans are pricey. Compare loans and do your research to confirm you’re getting the best deal. Don’t forget to factor in other costs, like insurance, servicing and registration, which may be bundled into your loan. 

Tip: Get pre-approved caravan finance before you start looking. Avoid adding your caravan to your home loan as that’ll bump up your interest. Instead, shop outside of the caravan dealer to access a more comprehensive option of financiers with fixed or variable rates. 

  1. Size Matters

The size and weight you decide will depend on budget, travel requirements and the features you’re after. 

If your travels are mostly off-road, smaller is better to cater for flexible travel speeds. However, if you plan to be on the road for months at a time, you’ll need a rig large enough to include the essentials and allow for ample internal space. 

Massive caravans are likely to get bogged or suffer body damage if you try to take off-road. Lighter all-road options with adequate ground clearance and shock absorber suspension are an ideal option to allow for speed adjustments as you travel. 

Large caravan being towed by a four wheel drive through the Australian outback.
  1. Features vs Deal-Breakers 

Map your motivations to determine what you’ll need. 

Your travel style and how often you plan to use the caravan will define the fundamental features and any deal-breakers. 

Weigh up:

  • Short term vs long term plans
  • Family requirements 
  • Towing capacity and your towing experience 
  • Pop-top or hardtop
  • How you prefer to sleep
  • Your travel style – rough and ready, functional, comfortable or luxurious 
  • What your compromises are
  1. Visit Caravan and Camping Shows

Caravan yards or caravan and camping shows provide a way to get a tangible feel for your options. 

Just like you would visit multiple houses when buying a home, it’s essential to look at as many caravans as possible to make the best decision. Look out for show sales and pick up good deals on caravan accessories to support your purchase. 

Tip: You can always learn more by talking to other caravan owners. Ask for advice based on specific experiences which may help to narrow down your options or gain a better understanding of what you want vs what you don’t.

A caravan being towed by a car travels on a road past some yellow warning signs

Author Bio:

This article is written by Jayde Walker – a Perth copywriter and small business owner who writes in the travel and lifestyle industries.

Edward

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