Our campervan, Roamy, at the Arapiles.
Are you a tent camper who’s just about sick of poles, flys and guide ropes?
It might be time for an upgrade.
There are plenty of choices available if you’re looking to break out of tent camping and go for something more solid and mobile. The most popular of those options are camper trailers, caravans, or campervans. All of these have their own unique features, pros and cons, and different variations.
The things to consider before you make your investment are mostly lifestyle factors. What’s your budget? What stage of your life are you currently in, and where will you be in the next few years? Where do you want to travel, and what kind of camping do you like to do? It’s also worth considering how much time will you spend inside your mobile accommodation, as opposed to sitting outside it under the stars.
We asked a Facebook caravanning and camping group for their best tips and what they learned when trying to decide what kind of adventure mobile suited them best. Here’s some of what they had to say…
We choose a camper trailer because it has the same profile as our 4WD, so if the car can make it so can our trailer – Judith
Our 17ft caravan is only the width of the car so it can also go pretty much anywhere.
We started off in swags, then hard floor camper then pop-top and now full height van. They have all been great for different reasons…. but the bottom line is we can still pretty much go anywhere – Dianne
Started with camp trailer after tent, then when we got older & less fit went to van. Natural progression i call it – John
I think it depends on the type of travel you plan to do and the camper trailer/van you select. We travelled with our two kids around Australia for 9 months in an off-road Camprite camper trailer and it went absolutely everywhere without issue. Some camper trailers are hard to set up but others are not. The upside is it will travel any track your car can. -Tracey
Went from tent to camp trailer but fed up of set up time. Very happy with our van and no regrets. – Sharon
I found our soft floor camper ideal for getting deep in the bush and staying for several days to weeks. Set up and pack up were a bit arduous. Full caravan is ideal for our current travels which are a night here and there, maybe a few days. Jump in the car and away in minutes. – Ian
As you can see, with so many options available, there really is something for everyone’s needs. It’s just about choosing what is right for you.
Here are some of the pros and cons of the different options.
Image courtesy of spelio, on flickr
- Available with both hard and soft floor options.
- A camper trailer can be small and versatile when packed down but will still require towing skills and an appropriate vehicle.
- Just like with tent camping, the weather can be an important factor in your comfort. There’s nothing quite like getting home and having to unpack your entire rig and allow it to dry out after a short rainstorm just before you packed up.
- While easier than a tent, camper trailers still require some setup and pack down time.
Image courtesy of Ozzy Delaney, on flickr
- Available in pop top, hard top and teardrop.
- Requires very little setup or canvas, even with the pop top varieties. Some caravans are small and easier to tow but will still require some trial and error experience if you’re not accustomed to towing.
- The setup factor with a caravan could not be easier. Everything is contained and ready to go and can be left stored in your caravan indefinitely.
- After finding your spot, it’s a matter of reversing in (tricky, but it gets easier with practice) and chocking up the wheels if need be.
- Teardrop caravans are perfect for people who just need a small indoor space – just enough to sleep – and they have that cool retro factor.
- Unfortunately, caravans can be an expensive option – a caravan is going to set you back a lot more than a tent.
Image courtesy of Handolio, on flickr
- An excellent cross between a car and a caravan, campervans are usually fairly low maintenance and relatively cheap to fix if something goes wrong.
- You can fit out your campervan DIY style, all by yourself. There is a huge DIY #vanlife movement going on at the moment, with plenty of inspiration available on Youtube and Instagram if you search the hashtag.
- If DIY isn’t your style, there are luxury campervans available with slideout areas that provide extra space, pop up tops for more headroom, and even ensuites.
- One significant drawback of campervans can be that if you want to go somewhere – say out to the local pub for dinner – you have to take your whole camp set up with you. This can make reversing a spot difficult, especially in free campgrounds. It can also be a pain to have to completely pack up before you can go anywhere.
- A slide-off campervan can be a perfect solution to this – the back part of your van slide off and remain behind, while you take the smaller less-bulky front end out for a spin.
Take your time trying out different options and ideas and consider the questions above not just not for now, but for what the next few years will look like for you. There’s so much to see in this incredible country that you’re no doubt hanging out to get out there, but this is a choice that needs some serious consideration.
Gumtree has an excellent selection of campervans, caravans and camper trailers, often at very reasonable prices. Keep an eye out on Facebook, too.
If you’re unsure or don’t want to make such a big financial investment, there are sites that hire out camping vehicles and adventure mobiles – Airbnb style. Maybe it’s worth hiring before you buy just to be sure.
While we’re on that subject, you can check out our campervan Roamy on Camplify here. If Roamy isn’t your cup of tea, there’s plenty of other campervans as well as caravans and camper trailers on Camplify as well.
Put in the research and you’ll be sure to find something that suits the way you and your family want to experience the great outdoors.
Have you made the transition from tent camping to your very own adventure mobile? Or are you intending to? Got any questions, comments, updates or corrections? Let us know by commenting below.
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