Australasia/ Pacific

Have wheels, will travel… in a motor home or a caravan?

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Ah, the freedom of hitting the highway for a road trip. If you aspire to be a self-contained traveller, then to tow or not to tow – is the question.

In this article, we’ll explore the advantages and challenges of owning a caravan versus a motor home or campervan to help you make an informed decision and get road tripping!

How many self-contained nomads are hitting Australia’s roads?

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The real affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 – 1894

Sunshine, endless stretches of coast line, the mysteries of outback Australia and rugged mountain ranges provide a playground of immense proportions for adventure seeking nomads.

Self-contained domestic travel (aka caravanning and campervanning) in Australia is growing in popularity. As at 31 January 2015, more than half a million caravans and campervans were registered in Australia, an increase of more than 5% from 2014 (source: Caravan registrations far outweigh campervan registrations – 528, 210 caravans versus 58, 375 campervans.

Queensland and New South Wales locals take the largest slice of the pie in terms of numbers of registrations for caravans and campervans. It seems warmer climates inspire camping adventures. Then again, Tasmanian postcode 6210 has the highest concentration of caravan and campervan registrations!

Let’s get straight to the point on the cost of motor homes versus caravans

On the surface of it, the purchase price of motor homes and campervans is significantly higher than caravans.  Remember, a campervan is your vehicle AND your accommodation.

If you are making cost comparisons, keep this in mind. If you’re serious about owning a motor home or campervan, you may not need a separate vehicle. To compare apples with apples, you’ll need to calculate the cost of the vehicle that is towing your caravan plus the cost of the caravan. So, for the purpose of this article, we’re taking cost out of the comparison.

The case for a caravan

Here are three reasons why a caravan is a great choice for road tripping adventures.

#1: unhook your car for easy exploring

Having the flexibility of a spare car or vehicle to go exploring in is one of the greatest benefits of a caravan over a campervan. It enables you to go and explore a narrower, windier, steeper area without the weight of a campervan. And, if your caravan needs some repairs or maintenance done, you’re not left without a way to get around.

#2: good for awkwardly shaped camp sites

If you’re travelling in a 7 metre plus campervan, you are restricted to longer camp sites. If the last powered camp site left is a triangular shape that can’t accommodate length – all you need to do is unhook your car or four wheel drive (4WD) and park it to suit the site.

#3: lighter to tow, lighter on fuel

The most common weight range for caravans is half a tonne to just under a tonne. Campervans tend to weigh in from three to five tonnes – keeping in mind that your vehicle will weigh a tonne or two anyway.

Make sure you buy a caravan that your vehicle – and you – can tow. Otherwise you’ll be up for a new car or 4WD too. As with all major purchases, research, research and then research some more!

The case for a campervan or motor home

“The reason we sold our caravan and our car to buy a motor home is because we have moved half a day’s travel away from family. Having a motor home that is a self-contained vehicle and accommodation, means it is easier to come back to visit, and set up in friend’s and family’s yards,” shared Meg Pierce, retiree and self-confessed road-tripping addict.

“As we get older, we were finding it harder to park with a caravan in tow. Now we can park in a shopping centre car park with less hassle,” she said.

Here are three reasons why a campervan or motor home is a great choice for your road trip itinerary.

#1: privacy and security – harder to peer into windows

Caravans tend to be lower to the ground, with windows at a height that someone could peer in to if they wanted to. For this reason, a caravan may not feel as private and secure as a motor home or campervan with height where an onlooker can’t tell if someone is home or not.

Should you need to make a quick getaway, dismantling and hooking up your caravan can take some time. In a campervan, if those noisy revellers are depriving you of sleep, you can literally up and go if you want to.

Today’s caravans and campervans prioritise security so a feeling of vulnerability in a caravan is a perception, not reality.

#2: you’re always set up ready for camping

No matter how late you arrive at your destination, as long as you’ve got the brakes on you can pull up and start cooking dinner without the hassle of setting everything up.  There’s no unhooking to rearrange your camp site or setting up jockey wheels to consider. If you’re keen to get on the road early the next day, it is possible to wake up, make a quick cuppa and head straight off to your next adventure.

#3: you feel like you’re travelling in your lounge room

While driving a large vehicle can take a little getting used to at first, once you’re confident, you and your passengers get to road trip in the comfort of your own living room! There is no doubt that campervan travel is luxurious camping from the comfort of your home.


Caravan Industry Association of Australia –

Let’s Go Caravan and Camping –


Author: Julie Pearce, ContentServices.Melbourne exclusively for

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