There’s nothing better than hitting the open road, ready to leave your worries behind as you discover new people, new places and make new memories. Buying your first caravan and diving into the world of endless travel possibilities is both exciting and also a huge responsibility. While making the decision to purchase a caravan is a big one, your decision-making process has only just begun. Our ultimate caravan buying guide provides everything you need to make an informed decision and hit the road with the ideal vehicle for your travelling needs. Happy hunting!
Who’s coming travelling
Before you dive into your list of wants and needs, it’s important to consider who will be using the caravan. Shopping for a couple versus a family will completely alter what you’re looking for and the type of caravan you need to match your needs.
It’s not just beds and sleeping arrangements that you need to consider, but also what tow vehicle you plan on using. While it might be tempting to pop the kids into one of the beds during your drive, in Australia all passengers must be wearing seatbelts and in an appropriate restraint for young kids. Your tow vehicle is just as important when it comes to choosing a caravan.
It’s also worth weighing up how often you’ll be using your new prized possession. If it’s simply going to carry you around Australia during school holidays or whenever the opportunity arises, space may not be a huge issue. However, if you’re planning on hitting the open road with no end date in sight, a little more room to roam and store things can make a huge difference to your comfort levels. With these considerations at the back of your mind, this caravan buying guide will help you narrow down your choices.
What features are a must
Generally, caravans come in three classifications: on road, semi off road and off road. Your on-road caravan is for travellers who are happy just sticking to the highway, and it tends to come with more amenities for a comfortable journey. Semi-off-road caravans offer up a little more freedom when it comes to your adventures, with larger wheels and tyres that mean you don’t have to sacrifice too much on your luxuries. Finally, off-road caravans are built for towing over almost all terrains, though generally meaning you need to sacrifice on your creature comforts to allow for less weight.
- Size: caravans can vary dramatically in size, so it’s important to consider how much space you really need. Ideally, you want the smallest, lightest one possible, but this of course means sacrificing on your comforts. Slowly add in anything you’re not willing to forgo to get an idea of just how big you need your caravan to be.
- Full size or pop-top: full size vans are a solid shell. On the other hand, pop-tops have a PVC sock that expands as the top pops up allowing for greater head space when you’re inside.
- Single axle or dual axle: this is an important decision to make. Basically you’re looking at whether to get a van with four wheels or two wheels. This will depend on many different factors, such as the size of your caravan. Depending on the type you’re interested in (on-road, semi-off-road, or off-road), you may not even get a choice.
- Battery system: is it essential to be able to run lights, cook, charge phones and more? Electrical systems can range vastly in price depending on your travel needs. It’s important to work out what these are, as they vary from person to person.
- Ensuite: while many consider an ensuite an added luxury rather than a necessity, having one can really make your trip. No late-night trips to the bathroom in the dark. No fumbling with thongs in public showers. The convenience of your very own inbuilt bathroom shouldn’t be understated when you’re on the road.
- Storage: are you a pack light kind of person? Storage space can be hard to come by in caravans so it’s worth looking at how much you actually need. Plus, weighing your vehicle down will also affect its tow rate (more on this below).
What is your budget?
Now you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to set a loose budget in place. While it might be tempting to splurge on all those extra ‘nice-to-have’ features, it makes no sense to be paying off huge loan repayments with no money left to actually enjoy your travels.
Instead, work backwards and just start with your must-haves. Do a little research from here to see the average price range for a caravan that offers up the basics that are non-negotiables for you. From here, you can work out if you have a little wriggle room to splurge on a couple of extras, or simply need to take a second look at your caravan needs and weed out a few for a more comfortable price range.
Remember: this is just a loose budget and will likely shift as you approach the buying stage. That’s when your powers of negotiation will come into play!
Crunch down the numbers, then start shopping around.
Research different models
As mentioned earlier, your tow vehicle is extremely important when it comes to buying a caravan. If you already own, or have a vehicle in mind, then it pays to do your research to see exactly what it can handle before you invest. The last thing you want is to buy a big caravan that can’t actually be towed by your existing vehicle.
You need to take a look at your caravan tare weight, which is the actual weight of the caravan without water, gas tanks, etc. You want a weight that allows you to add in everything you need to bring with you, without exceeding your Gross Combined Mass (maximum weight of the vehicle and caravan together). It’s really important to get your head around this and make sure you understand it completely before hitting the open road. The good news is, it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it.
With your budget, caravan classification and key features in mind, you can start comparing different models within your price range. If you’re after a little luxury, the C16 is a great choice, offering the remote capability to keep you off-grid for longer – there’s loads of power, water and solar capacity, so you won’t need to leave your campsite for days on end – and with all the creature comforts included as standard.
If you’re after a great deal, check out the Cub’s latest model in their luxury hybrid caravan range, the H16. Purpose-built for travelling, it offers supreme comfort with a pop-top roof designed to open electrically. The caravan’s lower height provides access to more difficult-to-reach travel locations for you to explore, while lowering fuel consumption at the same time.
If your preference is for something lightweight, check out the L16, which is the lighter, more affordable cousin of the H16. It’s a great fully off-road, affordable caravan that’s built to withstand the toughest conditions, using Australian Bluescope steel to form the chassis and a timberless frame with composite panels.
All these Cub caravans also come with three different layout options available to choose from, along with nine upholstery options, so you can customise your home away from home.
It helps to do your research thoroughly and, most importantly, check out reviews to get an idea of the right fit for you.
After ticking off this caravan buying guide, it’s time to start the testing process. There’s a few ways you can do this:
- Online shopping
- In store
Cub has showrooms around Australia so you can head in and see the caravans up close. It’s the ideal way to narrow down your search and check out all the features up close.
You want to buy from a trustworthy brand that offers plenty of after-purchase support, so you can make the most of your new investment. Cub offers unrivalled care:
- 5 year warranties on suspension, chassis and canvas.
- Extensive and comprehensive camper trailer and caravan hand over with one of our experienced Sales Team.
- Camper trailers and caravan registration costs included in your final purchase price.
- After-sales advice and support from the CubCare service team, to help keep your Cub safe on the road
- YouTube channel of self-help videos.
Hit the road
Once all the hard work is done you can start planning that first trip on the open road. There’s no limit to your adventures as you take off to explore Australia, parking your caravan and venturing even further with just your car. It’s the ideal way to travel offering up comfort, flexibility, and more importantly, plenty of memory making opportunities.