Should you buy a caravan?
Most Australians of a certain age flirt with the idea of travelling around Australia in a caravan. Should you take the plunge?
A tow vehicle and touring caravan is a major financial investment, so how can you decide if you will enjoy the caravanning lifestyle before parting with your money?
There are a lot of caravans gathering dust and cobwebs in sheds with only one trip under their belt.
While touring in exotic outback locations and enjoying happy hour at sunset sound very appealing, caravan trips can challenge your coping skills and resilience.
The sort of person who loves life on the road in a caravan enjoys the outdoors and meeting new people, and copes well without all the comforts of home. Being away from family (particularly grandchildren) and friends is compensated for by all the new experiences, and living in very close contact with the spouse/partner is handled with tact and a bit of give and take.
The ability to take each day as it comes, and to change plans according to weather, health or finances is a great asset to the traveller. Having sufficiently good health and enough money to experience the highlights of such a trip is also important.
If you are a person who enjoys having family very close, or prefers a very structured, comfortable pattern of life and doesn't really feel a need to travel, you may not settle happily into the life of a touring caravanner. Those folk who like (a lot of) their own space and have had largely separate lifestyles from their spouse or partner may find life in a van claustrophobic and stressful. For some people, hobbies become an obsession and some hobbies require a lot of space or bulky, heavy gear, which makes them unsuitable to take on the road.
Compromise is always possible and we have met couples with interesting solutions. Sometimes, when only one person has a strong desire to travel around Australia in a van (and in one case we came across, it was the wife) he or she packs up and drives off in the van alone and the partner flies out to spend a couple of weeks in the van in various locations on the trip. In other cases the van is used only for a few weeks a year and spends the rest of the year in a shed.
If you sound like the sort of person who will thrive in a van, choosing what sort of RV is next. Choices are a camper trailer, motor camper, caravan, fifth wheeler or motorhome. Should you rent one first, or just go out and buy? New or used?
The adventure is just beginning...