Way before you walk into your local caravan dealership you need to consider whether it really is a path you want to travel down. It’s a big investment. One that shouldn’t be decided upon on a whim. So how do you go about deciding if buying a caravan is a good idea? Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure it’s worth it.
Have you travelled before?
Is travelling something you’re comfortable with or is this the first time you have toyed with the idea? There can be a big difference in expectations of travelling for those who have yet to dabble in adventure. If you have a few trips under your belt you will most likely be very comfortable out on the road and away from home, ready to take on the challenges of the unknown. If you have not, that’s fine too but it may be worth a test run or two to make sure you do cope well under the stresses of nomadic life and pressures of being away from home, friends and family.
Have you travelled in a caravan before?
Similar to the above point, even if you are a seasoned traveller it doesn’t guarantee you will love getting around in a caravan. Travelling in a van requires living a certain way. Think having minimal possessions, confined space and a lots of campsites. If you haven’t travelled in a caravan before, we recommend having a couple of test trips with a caravan hire company to make sure it is something you enjoy before you fork out thousands of dollars.
Is the caravan for long trips away or is it more for weekends here and there?
What do you plan on using the caravan for and how often? This is a big one when weighing up the financial commitment. Will you be living in your caravan permanently, are you planning on doing the big lap or is it just for weekends away up the coast when you can get away? When deciding on buying a caravan or not, consider your intentions and use this as a guide to weigh up whether or not it’s worth the cost.
Do you enjoy camping?
Do you get excited about the prospect of waking with the birds, communal showers at campsites, your clothes smelling like smoke and cooking with the bare essentials? Regardless of how luxurious your caravan is, there will be times where you will most likely find you will have to drop it down a notch. If the notion of being in the great outdoors living at the helm of nature’s conditions isn’t something you’re comfortable or happy about, you should reconsider the idea of investing in a van.
Can you afford it?
Can you really afford a caravan? It’s a tough question to throw out there but it’s important to note that the cost of a caravan doesn’t end after you leave the caravan dealership. They require maintenance, there are endless accessories you will want to purchase, registration, insurance and the list goes on. Also consider if you need a brand new caravan or would you be just as happy with a used one? The differences may not be all that much and you could save yourself a bit of dough. Unless you’re prepared to commit to the entire financial journey of owning a caravan, you will end up resenting your purchase.
Where will you store the caravan when you’re not on the road?
Caravans do need a little TLC when it comes to storing them. It will make a big difference in how long it will last in the long run so you should make sure you are able to store it when you aren’t exploring. Due to the height and size of the caravan you won’t be able to store it in your regular garage and you shouldn’t be leaving it out on the street permanently. Consider where your future van will have to sleep at night before investing big money. You don’t want to have to move house when you realise there’s no room for your van.
Do you need a caravan or could a pop-top or camper trailer do the job?
Maybe you like the idea of a caravan but you haven’t considered a pop-top or camper trailer yet? You can save lots of money and enjoy similar benefits of a caravan, especially if you don’t necessarily need or want the perks of a caravan. Research the difference between all of the options and certainly weigh up everything you need (versus what you want). You could certainly save yourself a lot of money if you realise you only actually need a camper trailer for your gallivanting.
Do you have a suitable towing vehicle?
This can be a bit of an after-thought for people considering buying a caravan. Does buying a caravan mean you will need to buy a Land Cruiser as well? If your current vehicle is unable to tow a caravan, make sure your account for this in your budget for the caravan. A new car plus a new caravan will certainly set you back. If your vehicle is already suitable to tow a caravan, make sure you ensure you get your caravan dealer or local repair centre to make sure your tow bar and relevant accessories are set up correctly and ready to roll!
Like most Aussies, flirting with the idea of buying a caravan and heading towards the sunset is alluring. There’s no doubt you will have a memorable time when you are out on the road but it certainly isn’t a cheap way to travel. Many people underestimate the financial investment required in purchasing and owning a caravan so it is really something you shouldn’t approach lightly. Spend some time considering your options, wants and needs and if everything is saying ‘YES!’, then start shopping! Weigh it all up and do what is best for you and your family! Good luck!