Buying a caravan is such an exciting time but there are so many aspects and things that need to be considered during this process. We are constantly getting asked by our customers for advice on which caravan to buy, etc and while we don’t give any advice on brands, as everyone has their own preferences, we have put together some tips for those of you looking to upgrade, downsize or just buying your first caravan.
There are so many makes, models and layouts now available that it can be very confusing at times. Make sure to always keep your circumstances in mind when choosing the right van for you/your family.
Things to be aware of:
- Before you start looking at caravans the best thing you can do is to look at the vehicle you plan to tow with. Check the weight the vehicle is allowed to tow (including what is allowed as ball weight) and that will narrow down a little bit which type or sort of van you can start looking at. Sometimes we find that people buy vans that are too heavy for their tow vehicle which, other than being illegal is very dangerous and unsafe for you as well as others on the road. Another thing to consider is upgrading your vehicle first before buying the van (obviously depending on your circumstances) as we have had a lot of customers buy a van based on what their current vehicle can tow and then end up upgrading their vehicle anyway and wishing they had done that first so they could have got a bigger van.
- The next thing to be aware of when buying a van is what you want to load into it – check the payload you are allowed to have and if you plan to put boat motors and other large items in or on top of the van take this into consideration and perhaps buy a lighter van to accommodate for this extra weight. It surprises a lot of people how quickly you can be overweight in the payload aspect once the caravan is loaded with pots and pans and cooking items, coffee machines, water tanks/storage etc. Overloading caravans is dangerous and can cause serious damage to the chassis etc.
- Make sure sleeping arrangements are comfortable and will suit for a good few years – if you have kids, ensure that the bunks are not too small as kids grow quickly and you don’t want to be selling and upgrading in the short term if you can help it. We have also seen very tall people purchase a caravan with a smallish sized bed but find after a while it isn’t all that comfortable sleeping with your legs curled up night after night. Sometimes it might be tempting to buy a van that sleeps only the adults with the view of the kids sleeping out in the annexe and while it might work for some people and can seem like a good idea at the time but going away for weekends and not wanting to set the annexe up or camping when it’s cold, this becomes very uncomfortable and inconvenient.
- Consider whether you need a bathroom (toilet and shower) or not. This can come in very handy with kids and small children as it makes the bathing process simple and you don’t have to worry about them dropping their clothes and towels on the wet floor of an amenities block. But not everyone wants or desires a bathroom in the caravan.
- Consider how much you will be using the van in caravan parks or free camping. This will determine how much you may require a shower etc and also things like extra batteries, solar power etc.
- For families, sometimes it is a great idea to have an external shower which allows people (especially kids) to wash off all that pesky sand and dirt before tramping it all through the caravan!
- Don’t just look at new vans, also consider second hand vans. Sometimes this is a good idea in terms of value for money, as you usually get an annexe and extra items included whereas buying a new van all of these could be additional costs. The only thing to be aware of in buying a second hand van is you need to be careful as it is like buying a second hand car because you aren’t sure what the previous owners have done with it, where they have towed it (eg. over rough roads/ beach) or if the roof leaks or has leaked previously etc. You just need to do your research and ask a lot of questions and look for certain giveaways of problems. Most of the time people are fairly honest but it is a risk buying 2nd hand (as with a car) that there is existing problems that will then be your problem and can sometimes be costly to fix.
In the long run it might be a little more expensive than you first thought to get into the right van for you but consider the costs of selling and buying another van and it might be worthwhile spending a bit more and getting what you really want from the start even if it means putting it off while you save more money.
We hope these tips help a little bit when you start the process of looking for a new van. These are just our opinions and at the end of the day it i s completely up to you what you want to buy and what suits your circumstances.
Good luck and Happy Caravanning……!