So you have been thinking about camper trailers and caravans for a while, but don’t know where to start. Do you buy or hire, is it better to buy new or used? How big should your camper be? What do you need in a camper trailer?
There are some smart questions you’ve got to ask yourself before you buy your camper and hit the road for your next adventure. In this buyer’s guide, we will focus on what to look for in a new camper trailer.
We’ll discuss the benefits of camper trailers versus other recreational options and what you should keep in mind when you start your shortlist.
Camper trailers vs Caravans vs Motorhomes vs Campervans
There is a wide range of recreational vehicles, so an excellent place to start is knowing the key differences between the different types to determine whether a camper trailer is right for you.
Campervan vs. motorhome vs. caravan vs. camper trailer
It comes down to two main categories:
Camper vans and Motorhomes are vehicles complete as both the transport and sleeping accommodation. Vehicles of this type are shorter and easier to drive. Motorhomes are the larger version, suitable for families of 2-6 while campervans conjure up images of backpackers with small “wicked” compact vans, generally suitable for couples.
Motorhomes are genuine homes on wheels, but there is definitely a higher price tag associated, whether owning or renting one.
Caravans and Camper Trailers need to be towed by a vehicle you already own, so it’s essential to know your car’s towing capacity before you start shortlisting your new campers or caravans. Camper trailers and caravans vary significantly in amenities, size, and price, making them an excellent choice for smaller groups of keen travellers and camping enthusiasts.
Camper trailers, which is more or less a box trailer with a tent section, either mounted on top of folded inside the box. There are several types of campers, you can see a few on our website. Campers are lightweight, very affordable, and adds luxury to those accustomed to sleeping in tents regularly. Since they don’t have high solid walls, these are best for off-road adventures and weekend camping getaways instead of a six-month journey; nevertheless, there are plenty of couples, hitting the road traversing the country on the smallest of small campers.
Caravans are solid wall enclosed trailers with more amenities such as a hot shower, toilet, airconditioning. Suitable for longer trips and a cheaper investment for people who already own a vehicle with good towing capacity. Caravans require very little effort to set up and are ideal for older couples facing mobility and agility issues, in saying that, there is also plenty of young families skipping the camper trailer all together and jumping into hybrids which is the middle ground between camper trailers and caravans.
Now that you understand basic differences, ask yourself these questions:
What are the wants and the needs?
Will you be making mostly weekend getaway trips (to the Great Ocean Road or Flinders for example), or are you planning an epic tour of the county without a return date?
What amenities do you need vs want? Do you need a shower and toilet or will you be staying at holiday parks that will have them readily available?
Or will you be free camping and need lots of water, pantry and fridge space?
Having a rough plan of what you realistically can afford time to do, will help you determine first whether a camper trailer is a right choice, and if not, whether you should be taking a closer look at caravans, or motorhomes.
The outback can be an inhospitable place so before you venture out there make sure your camper is up to the task.
The next big question:
Hiring vs. buying
If you are not much of a tourist or camper, you may want to rent one just for the weekend before committing to buying one. Any experience will help guide you in what you’ll want to look for if you feel ready to make the big purchase.
How often you plan on using the unit should be a significant factor in buying. If you only want to use it during Christmas and Easter, perhaps it’s not worth the hassle of insuring it, storing it, and maintaining the camper trailer or caravan. Hiring one might be the best route, (if you can get one for those dates…).
Rentals come clean and are generally supplied with accessories such as cutlery and fridge, ready for you to take off on your adventure.
Buying a camper can be an excellent investment if you plan to use it relatively frequently. Perhaps you’re planning a grand tour of Cape York and across Australia and don’t know when you’ll get back home.
There are more costs associated with the initial set up of the vehicle and camper, but it is worth it in the long run than renting if you like to get out of town once a month or so.
Hiring a camper is ideal for people who live in cities and find the expense of storing a vehicle too much. If you don’t have the patience or time to maintain one, it’s easier to hire and return it when you have completed your trip.
If you feel prepared to enter the exciting world of the grey nomads or off-road adventurers, you must then ask yourself if you want to buy a new or used one. It seems obvious but it’s worth mentioning there is a substantial price difference between the two.
Buying new is of course, the most reliable option. But you will have to pay for it. When you start your research, always begin with new camper and caravans. This process will give you an idea of the latest features and prices are, and you would be getting a feel for what is a fair compromise when looking at pre-owned and its merits. You may find that you don’t need all the latest bells and whistles and can use the savings on a more extended holiday or those must-have vehicle upgrades you have been drooling over.
Used campers and caravans vary significantly in price depending on how well the previous owner maintained the vehicle. Some retain their value exceptionally well because they’ve been used infrequently, have been well looked after, or have made modifications to improve their value (such as airconditioning and hot water systems). Another point to buy used is that you don’t carry the guilt of scratching or dinging it for the first time.
Buying a used camper is a really great option for a first-time buyer on a tight budget, but you have to know what to look out for.
Make sure you:
1- Check the roofing to see if you can see any signs of leakage.
2- Make sure all the appliances are working as the owners say they do.
3 – Look underneath the vehicle and check the tyres to see if wear-and-tear matches the mileage given.
When looking at motorhomes, you need to check the paperwork of all the services the vehicle received and is everything up to date? Whether a seller is an independent person you met online or a company selling and servicing a fleet of motorhomes, campers and caravans, it’s worthwhile to check everything yourself and not just take a person’s word for it.
Websites like Maverick Campers have a wide range of new campers and caravans. Tradervs offer an unbiased marketplace for various sellers so you can scope out price and amenities across the board.
Another solution: if you just want to look at what’s available, but internet photos aren’t enough, check out a local show in your area. Thousands of sellers and various vehicles offer the chance to walk around and check them out for yourself.
An expo takes the pressure off, offering an excellent opportunity for window-shopping if you’re still on the fence about what you want.
Hiring a camper doesn’t mean you don’t have to check everything, although in general things are ok, private owners are very proud of their trailers and will also be checking you out to see if they can trust you with their family. It does pay off to do research in advance and go with reputable companies with good reviews. Call them up and ask questions as well. Find out about service problems on the road and know what to expect when you show up ready to travel.
Whether you decide to hire or buy, it’s important to do some research in advance and feel confident and comfortable with what you decide to put your money in.
Budgeting for a camper or caravan
Unfortunately, if you are like the rest of us, one of the most critical factors in deciding which camper to get is your budget.
Your budget needs to take into account more than just the cost of the camper itself: insurance, repairs, and future add-ons can add up, so it is good to keep this in mind. If you spend all your savings on getting a top of the line brand new motorhome, you could end up without the money for the petrol to drive it anywhere. It sounds silly, but it’s true, and it happens.
If you’re looking at a used camper, it’s a good idea to learn what repairs might need to be done in the near future (like new tyres) or what you might like to improve yourself; installing solar panels, for example. If possible, check the history of the vehicle and see what’s already been worked on.
Has the suspension been fixed or show signs of punishment? The entire suspension system might need a replacement instead, which can be expensive and often not as easy as it seems, it might ultimately outweigh the benefits of buying the pre-owned.
It’s wise not to blow your entire budget on the camper itself. There are many other costs associated with the trip such as food, holiday parks fees, petrol, and fun activities. If something is out of your price range, prepare to let go of some amenities or perhaps wait a year or two until you can afford what you really want.
Buying a caravan or camper trailer is a truly rewarding investment, but it’s a long-term commitment. Impulse buyers might be better off hiring a few times to understand what it is they truly need. Impulse buying is one of the reasons why you may find so many people selling their campers after only a few uses.
The Next Steps
A camper trailer could be what you need to add more adventure to your weekends, contact the Maverick Campers team today. We’d be happy to help and answer any enquiries you have about our Campers and Caravans.
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