There are a variety of reasons to buy a caravan. With so many options available, your first purchase can be an overwhelming experience. Here are some things you should consider.

Main use of Your Caravan

Before purchasing your first caravan it’s important to decide what its main use will be. Your caravan could be for family holidays, frequent short trips, outback road trips or extended retirement travels. Many can be suitable for all these things, others are more suited for one in particular – like long distance travel or off road adventures.

A few questions you should ask yourself before purchasing:

  • What is the main use?
  • Do I need a shower and toilet onboard?
  • How many beds are necessary for my caravan?
  • What am I planning to eat? Do I need a stovetop, a grill or a conventional oven?
  • How many people am I planning to travel with?
  • Will my vehicle tow the size caravan I want?

Next, sort the answers to these questions into two lists; what you want verses what you need. This will make it easier to eliminate some of the options and hone in on suitable alternatives when you are out shopping for a caravan.

There are a few different types of caravans including:

  • Pop-Top
  • Pop-Top Expandable
  • Compact
  • Fifth-Wheel

Choosing the Right Size

When considering the size of the caravan, you should take into consideration the following factors:

  • Your budget – larger vans generally cost more.
  • Your wish list for the internals (toilet etc will make the van larger).
  • Storage – larger vans are unlikely to fit in your garage.
  • Your car – what is your car’s towing capacity.
  • Your driving experience and comfort – are you comfortable towing a long wheel base caravan?

If you prefer the idea of traveling light, then a short wheel base caravan could be for you.

Caravan sizes range from 11ft to 24ft. If you have no issue with towing a larger caravan then you can buy a caravan complete with its own en-suite, flushing toilet, hot and cold running water, own bedroom and full sized kitchen.

If you want a caravan that’s easier to tow then the Pop-Top style is the way to go. It has a fold down roof section which makes it ideal to store in your garage.

New or Used?

It’s quite common for first time caravan buyers to purchase a secondhand caravan. If you’re going to buy a secondhand caravan it’s recommended that you buy from a licensed dealer. This ensures that you’re buying a caravan that isn’t stolen, or encumbered (with money owing on the van).

Used Caravans

When buying a used caravan it’s important to inspect it and make sure that it’s not going to have issues that will end up costing you more money in the future.

Always check for moisture. If you walk in the caravan and you can smell dampness then that’s not a good sign. Repairing moisture damage in a caravan can be especially hard on your wallet, so check things like the window seals and external damage that could lead to leaks.

It’s important to have a look over the electrical system and the stove. A faulty electrical system can be lethal. If you are ever unsure of the electrics then it’s best to get a professional inspection.

Tow Capacity

Make sure you check the tow capacity of your current vehicles and make sure they are capable of towing your ideal caravan. Many modern day sedans are capable of towing a caravan. It’s a common misconception that only four-wheel drives are capable of towing caravans.

The bottom line to buying your first caravan is shop around. Decide exactly what you want versus what you need then work out what you can get for your money. Then start planning your lifetime of flexible, relaxed travel.