Caravan or Camper Trailer?
Every year in Australia tens of thousands of travelers and adventure seekers hit the open roads, equipped with caravan and camping products and bound for new, familiar and exciting destinations.
In 2015, as we began the process of preparing ourselves for the mighty lap around Australia, we asked ourselves, caravan or camper trailer?
We love traveling, and discovering new places is a travelers dream. So it comes as no surprise that when the opportunity presented itself, we jumped at the chance to undertake an extended trip around Australia.
Purchasing a recreational vehicle (RV) was one of the most demanding and important parts of our big lap planning process, and with over half a million registered caravan and camping products in Australia today, choosing the right one was as much about art and design as it was about science and technology.
Having narrowed our choice down to either a caravan or camper trailer we steeped ourselves in a world of travel information in a bid to find the perfect set up. We bought and borrowed every caravan and camping magazine stocked at our local newsagent and library, got up close and personal with the latest offerings at caravan and camping shows, and read with interest as others shared their own RV travel experiences via online travel forums. We spent weeks carefully and painstakingly weighing up all the pros and cons of caravans and camper trailers.
As a result we compiled a list of the most essential, desirable, and practical features we had identified through our research. While managing to bring together a sizable list of categories ranging from must haves, good to have to, 'tell him you're dreaming', we discovered that most of the features could be easily grouped under three main headings - luxury, space and accessibility.
1. Luxury and Comfort
Luxury is a 'travel' word you will hear and read a lot, particularly in caravaning circles. Attend any caravan and camping show in Australia and luxury is a premise upon which many a caravan will be sold. Examples may include, but are not limited to stylish interiors, separate internal bathroom and laundry area, air conditioning and digital entertainment. An increasing number of caravan manufacturers are also building in off road capabilities that were previously the main stay of camper trailers.
Most camper trailers are marketed on practicality, not luxury. Luxury caravan products are designed to resemble the comforts of an average home. But luxury can impose hidden costs and additional maintenance, not to mention the potential hazards of towing a larger or heavier rig that is needed to accommodate this comfort.
2. Space and Storage
When considering how much space you need, ask yourself how long is a piece of string. In the first month of our trip we identified items we brought along that were simply unnecessary, cumbersome or redundant. We recovered large quantities of space and as a result felt far less restricted making for a more pleasant travel experience.
While there is generally more storage space in caravans than in camper trailers, storage requirements are a personal choice. A camper trailer can carry most of your basic needs. Most luxury caravans will carry all your basic needs and some. We have seen large rigs with gear bulging out of every side and tow vehicles likewise. The extra space you pay for will not be for a rainy day - it's to fill with stuff, probably stuff you don't need. We have found the more space you have the more likely you are to feel the need to fill it.
If you are undertaking an extended trip around Australia this is a major consideration. Many of Australia's most popular landscapes are located in harsh and impenetrable areas, and unreachable without the right set up and gear. With its unpredictable climate, traversing through some parts of Australia can be challenging at the best of times.
The ability to explore off the beaten track is a desirable option for some and while an increasing number of caravans are being designed to handle this, their size and weight can still present issues in some areas of Australia. Accessing remote places can also require an investment in and planning for energy and water needs.
Comfort, space and off road accessibility are useful terms for describing and categorising many of the modern features found in caravans and camper trailers. They helped us to understand what we personally wanted from our trip and focus our decision making. We wanted our trip around Australia to be a totally different experience from our usual life at home and to be challenged to step outside our comfort zone.
After thorough research we settled on a large, hard floor, off road camper trailer which, with some customisations, met our needs for space, accessibility and have provided some basic comforts. We purchased a table and some chairs that could comfortably fit inside our camper trailer to cater for meal times and act as a general living space.
While we are suitably happy with our set up we stress that our decision was based on our own set of personal circumstances with the outcome right for us. We do not advocate any particular caravan or camping product. Caravan and camping products are designed and made to suit individual needs and taste.
In the coming weeks will be taking a closer look at our camper trailer, the set up, its features and some tips and tricks we have learned while traveling on the road.
The aim of this article is to provide a broad overview for those considering whether to purchase either a caravan or camper trailer and so we hope this article will be of some assistance to you.
If you have some feedback on what you have read we would love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts on caravan and camper products below. What do you prefer? We would love to hear about your set up.