Aussies are natural adventurers. So much so that many of us truly enjoy having a caravan culture. Because really, what is not to love about having a caravan that will allow you to be at home anywhere you want to be at any given time? It’s simply a fantastic feeling. The closest thing to feeling truly liberated and free from all the daily demands of a structured and rigid life. If you’re about to set on your caravan journey, this guide is perfect for you. We’d enlist everything you need to know before setting up your caravan – from travel style, sleeping, and licenses. We’d even discuss if satellite TV is essential in caravans now. So read on, take note, and drive on!
1. Your Travel Style
What kind of caravan lifestyle do you want to have? This is an important question that you need to ask even before looking for the RV that you want to buy. You need to have clear answers to the following questions:
- Will you be living in your vehicle?
- Will you only use your caravan on weekend trips?
- Will you only use your caravan on short holidays?
- Will you be traveling to remote areas?
- Will you be traveling on off-road locations?
Once you’ve answered the following questions, you may then easily decide on the following matters:
- Your RV’s storage size
- Your RV’s self-contained requirements
- Your RV’s off-road capabilities
- Your RV’s kitchen arrangement
- Your RV’s bathroom
- Your RV’s sleeping arrangement
- Your RV’s entertainment space
2. Your Caravan
RV stands for “recreational vehicle.” When one talks of RVs in Australia, one does not automatically refer to large caravans. In Australia, RVs come in different styles and sizes. All are not immensely large at all. There are different kinds of caravans but you ultimately need to understand the difference between a motorhome and a campervan.
A motorhome has a truck chassis that uses the driver’s cabin. Its living quarters and sleeping quarters are built separately. On the other hand, a campervan has a truck chassis with existing rear walls.
3. Your Vehicle Chassis
Your vehicle chassis is your vehicle engine. Having one that is of good quality is essential if you want to use your RV for years to come. The following are the leading chassis providers in Australia that many people trust:
If you’d totally disregard branding, you simply need to determine the difference between front and rear-wheel drive. You should do extensive research on this and be extra inquisitive when discussing it with a salesperson.
4. Your Manufacturer
Your manufacturer of choice should be trustworthy. A campervan is composed of thousands of complex and meticulous materials that you would be utilizing while traveling across Australian roads. Hence, it is of prime importance that all such components are of prime quality. When looking for a manufacturer, always check on the following:
- the manufacturer’s experience
- the manufacturer’s active years in the industry
- the warranties offered by the manufacturer
- presence of accreditation by the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Accreditation Program (RVMAP)
5. Your Maximum payload
How much weight will you be bringing with you? Do you find yourself living light and easy or still significantly packed? Do not take this point lightly. You wouldn’t want to find yourself alone in the middle of nowhere with a broken caravan that got too broken to function because it carried too much weight. You should make it a point to ask your manufacturer or dealer about your preferred caravan’s maximum payload. Ask if the listed weight already includes the following: gas bottles, water, and passengers. Your caravan of choice should be able to easily support the weight that you would normally carry during road trips.
6. Your Caravan Features
What features must your caravan definitely have? Always start with ones that are truly essential. Do you know the difference between a need and a want? Those that you need should always be prioritized while those that you want can be fully disregarded. An ideal caravan that can give passengers absolute comfort and ease would normally have the following:
- Oven, cooktop, and grill
- Large water storage
- Grey water storage
- Storage compartments
- Solar panels
- Air vents
- Air conditioning
- Television – a satellite TV would be essential if you always want to be updated with news and current affairs
- Reversing camera
- Gas bottles
- USB outlets
7. Your License
The license that you currently have may not be enough to give you the right to drive your caravan. This will be the case if your caravan’s total weight is over 4.5 tonnes. In such a case, you will need to have your driver’s licence upgraded. Please refer to this guide:
- Standard Car Licence (STD) = 4.5 tonne GVM and less
- Light Rigid Licence (LR) = 4.5 – 8 tonne GVM
- Medium Rigid Licence (MR) = 8 – 12 tonne GVM
You will need an additional car if you will choose a caravan that will require towing. Such an additional car is loved by many caravaners because it gives them the freedom to do quick trips to shops while their cam is fully set up. You need to know though that such a setup will add costs given that it will require additional fuel consumption.
Deciding on your preferred RV sleeping arrangement is exciting. There are plenty of options to choose from. When choosing though, you need to keep your travel style in mind: will you be living in your caravan for good or will you only be using your RV on weekends? A permanent and specialized sleeping arrangement is necessary if you’d be living in a caravan for good. You will be given the option to decide on the following matters:
- Size – single, double, bunks
- Style – dinette-conversion, French, island, retractable, or drop-down
- Position = east / west or north / south
PRO TIP: Choose a north/south-facing island bed if you want ultimate comfort. Take note though that this option will reduce space for walkways.
10. Test Drive
Never proceed with purchasing a caravan without a test drive. You should always opt for dealers that offer a ‘try before you buy’ option. Better test everything first than be sorry!