Selecting the right caravan for you

If you’ve ever walked into a caravan showroom or motorhome show, you may have felt overwhelmed by your options on offer. In fact, according to the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), Australians own 586,585 caravans and campervans. While most of us know the profile of ‘traditional’ pill-shaped caravans, spotting them as we’ve driven on long trips, the fact is you can select recreational vehicles of all shapes, sizes and uses. Here are some tips from Bill Tsouvalas, CEO and managing director at Savvy Caravan Loans to get you into the right caravan.

Figure out your preferred holiday destinations
To figure out the right size and type of caravan for you, you have to think about where you’re planning to take the caravan most often. CIAA research reports that over half of caravan owners in Australia occupy cabins, while 27 per cent of owners hitch their caravan to a powered site.   Will you be off-grid for weeks at a time or just planning weekend trips? Will you hitch up at a serviced caravan park or are you looking to go off road? And how many people will travel with you?

If you need an off-road capable caravan, this is the point where you whittle down options that suit this style of camping.

How frequently do you go on holiday?
If you or your family don’t go on holiday often, it doesn’t make much sense splurging on a caravan with every bell and whistle. Sometimes a smaller caravan or camper trailer might do the trick. If you’re planning to make your caravan a ‘second home’, then a larger recreational vehicle (RV) or fifth-wheeler might be best.

What is your car’s current towing capacity?|
If your list is shrinking but is still not quite manageable at this point, you need to take your red pen to all the caravans or trailers that your car can comfortably tow – that means up hills and over rugged terrain, if you are venturing far off the beaten track. Also, keep in mind that your licence could be restricted to towing a certain weight.

Your wants, your needs and your must-haves
Ultimately, your caravan has to suit your way of camping and your level of comfort. Many RVs and larger caravans might include amenities, such as small bathrooms or kitchenettes. If you take your caravan to a caravan park with these included, there’s little point in paying extra for them. You have to figure out what features will ‘get the job done’ for your camping style and where you intend to go. Sometimes, if you only need the bare bones, you might find a smaller camper trailer or pop-out caravan will do. If you need to carry equipment, you also have to consider how it will be stored.

New versus used and securing finance

Though it may be tempting to buy used because of the lower price tag, buying new means it’s easier to secure finance. Specialist caravan or RV brokers help people find competitive rates on finance, compared to the rates for unsecured personal loans offered by banks.

It’s also worth noting that some older camper trailers or caravans may not withstand harsher elements as well as newer models do, which is important if you’re taking your camper off road.

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