If you’re considering taking time to explore what NSW and Australia has to offer, then buying is a great option. However when you look at the size extent of the range, and cost it’s easy to get a bit confused. We have put together a comprehensive list of questions and answers to help guide your decision making.
Question 1: What type of camping or travel do you intend to do?
Don’t just think about the first trip, plan ahead a couple of years. Will it be mainly used for weekend escapes to a favourite getaway destination? Is it for family holidays with the kids? Is it for the fulfilment of a lifelong dream – the trip around Australia that may take months or even years to complete? Or have you perhaps decided to adopt an itinerant lifestyle and make it your only home? The purpose will determine your type of caravan, its size and configuration, its layout and the extent of its fittings. The amount of travel will determine how important features such as independent rear suspension, off-road capability and the level of comfort are to you.
Question 2: Who will need to sleep in it and how much space do you need?
Think about how many people will be travelling with you: Are you a family either growing or reducing? Will you be taking the grandkids or friends? Consider what “essentials” you will take with you and how much space you will need. What basic home comforts do you require?
Question 3: What is the towing capacity of your vehicle?
You need to ensure you match the caravan to your car. Unless you are in the enviable position of purchasing the caravan first and then the vehicle to suit it, you need check the towing capacity of your current vehicle as this will set a ‘maximum’ weight for your purchase. You need to be aware of:
- The tow vehicle’s allowable (braked and unbraked) towing weight.
- The tow ball weight rating.
- Any additional equipment required for towing, such as the fitting of a transmission or power steering oil cooler in your tow vehicle.
- Manufacturer specifications for the type and rating of the tow bar required for specific towing weights.
- Tare and gross weight of the caravan, camper trailer you plan to tow.
- Anything over 750kg needs electric or hydraulic fittered brakes. This includes the layden or payload i.e. water, luggage, food etc.
Question 4: Big or small? (Yes, size matters)
This is one of the most important aspects to consider. Do you want the comforts of home or just enough space to sleep and keep dry? Everything extra adds weight and size so something large will provide all the luxuries, however, a smaller more compact item is more stable and easier to tow.
Other considerations are the number of travellers who will live and sleep in the space, their height, wind resistance whilst on the road, on-site set up and easy manoeuvring.
Question 5: Where will you store your purchase?
Consider where you will store your purchase when not in use. Do you have a carport or space in your garage? What is the height and width of this space and in particular will a caravan fit through the entrance? It is recommended that your caravan not be parked on the street or footpath for security reasons and in many areas placing vehicles and other items on the footpath / nature strip you may incur a fine from the Council as it is illegal.
Question 6: Buy New or Used?
New caravans offer all the benefits, safety features and comforts of recent design advancements, including independent rear suspension and durable, lightweight construction material. Buying new also allows you the choice to ‘custom-build’ the layout for your needs and desires.
A pre-loved caravan is less expensive, but be aware and check for wear, mould, leaks and the mechanics. If you choose to buy a used caravan always buy from a licenced dealer. Licenced dealers do many exhaustive checks to ensure that the units they are selling are in fact not stolen (and often re-identified) or encumbered (i.e. they don’t have any money owing on them).
Question 7: Should you rent before you buy?
If you’ve never towed a caravan, trailer or driven a motorhome, the time to find out your comfort level is before you buy. Find a dealer who rents out the type you’re interested in and take one for a weekend trip. You should plan a trip that is easy and the caravan park or camp ground is available.