7 questions you must ask before you buy a caravan
After lapping Australia in an RV with her family, Claudia Bouma reflects on the topics all travellers should query before forking out on a camper or caravan.
GOOD PREPARATION IS key to a successful trip, as is an appropriate, functional rig. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is which RV to buy, so make sure you’re armed with the following questions when you shop around.
Is this RV suitable for me?
The first thing you have to figure out is which kind of rig most suits your needs. If you want to rock up late and have minimal setup time, a motorhome is probably the way to go. Maybe you prefer a comfortable home, with the convenience of jumping in the car to go sightseeing? A caravan might be your preferred option. Others like to have the freedom to go wherever they want, without limitations, and don’t mind spending some time setting up camp. In that case, a camper trailer will do the job.
What kind of tow vehicle do I need?
One of the major problems most people run into once they hit the road is the fact that their car is not well-matched to the rig they’re towing. Weight is an all-important factor which is often overlooked. Find out what your car is capable of towing by checking the manufacturer’s specifications before you start looking around.
What features can I choose?
Sit down and make a list of the features you definitely want, then write another list of desired accessories. Things like a toilet or shower are wonderful, and in some cases necessary, but keep in mind you’ll be the one cleaning them. When buying secondhand, it is still important to have a checklist, so your options can be easily weighed up.
Can I buy additional accessories in the future?
At the time of purchase, you might not be able to afford certain accessories. However, you want to ensure you can add them any time you like – for example, an additional room for a camper trailer tent, or a fold-out annexe on a van or motorhome.
How self-sufficient can I be in this rig?
Bush camping is not only a great way to save money, it is also an excellent way to explore the country. Is the RV you're considering well set-up for this type of camping? Does it have a three-way fridge? Does it match your needs in terms of electricity – how many appliances run on power? Will you need to run the car or a generator for long periods of time, just to keep them going? Perhaps you should consider adding solar panels.
How reliable is the RV going to be?
Whether you buy new or secondhand, it is crucial to check the RV for a number of things: how strong is the chassis? How long and thick is the drawbar? What kind of a hitch does the RV have? What tyres are on the RV? (Never skimp on tyres, you’ll regret this decision once you experience one flat after another.)
Is there a warranty?
When buying new, it’s important to check what the warranty actually covers, and how long for. Excellent after-sales service is essential when you’re spending a substantial amount of money. When buying secondhand, research the brand you’re interested in and find out what others have said about it.
Most importantly, keep in mind WHY you’re buying a RV. Ultimately, you want to get out there and experience the trip you’ve always dreamed about, so make sure your rig is going to help, not hinder, that journey.
WORDS AND PICS Claudia Bouma
Written exclusively for Caravan World Online