Essential tips for purchasing a caravan

4WD towing caravan drives up steep road overlooking rolling green hills.

Preparation is essential when purchasing a caravan.

A home is possibly the biggest purchase you’re ever likely to make, but buying your ‘home away from home’ is a huge investment, too.

Purchasing a caravan is a tricky proposition. There’s so much choice and a lot to consider: size, weight, style, and features all come into play. Then, of course, there’s cost.

To help with the process, BIG4 asked experts in the field to steer us in the right direction. Caravan Industry Association Victoria Chief Executive, Rob Lucas, and Jayco Australia RV regional sales coordinator, Chris Hooper, have provided us with great advice if you are considering buying a caravan.

Smiling couple eats at table inside caravan.

Caravan Industry Association Victoria Chief Executive, Rob Lucas, suggests hiring before buying to enhance your chances of finding the right type of caravan for you.

Rob Lucas: Chief Executive, Caravan Industry Association Victoria

BIG4: What are your top tips for someone who is considering purchasing a caravan?

RL: The biggest tip to consider before purchasing a caravan or RV product is to think about what you want to do: that is, where do you want to travel to? For how long? Are you going to head off road or are you going to travel on the highways? Are you looking at short stays or doing the lap (around Australia)? These are major considerations, coupled with whether you wish to tow (caravan, pop top, camper trailer) or want a drive vehicle (motorhome).

BIG4: What is the most important factor or factors when choosing a caravan?

RL: Mostly, the answer lies in what people want to do and what level of luxury they desire. Our industry has products from very basic to luxurious. Another major factor is your tow vehicle and the weight it can tow, so the size of the caravan or RV product is important. The layout, the amount of beds required, and whether you need an ensuite are just some of the other key factors for consideration.

BIG4: What are common mistakes people make when purchasing a caravan?

RL: The most common mistake is mismatching the tow vehicle to the caravan or RV product. Another mistake is people falling in love with the caravan and then finding out it does not suit the traveller.

BIG4: How do you know what caravan is right for you when you’ve never purchased one before?

RL: It’s always hard to say, but a really good idea is to hire a caravan and make a short trip, as then you will really know what suits and what doesn’t. It’s a great way to try before you buy for new purchasers.

BIG4: As there is so much to consider, are there any tips for purchasers to ensure they are not overwhelmed by the process?

RL: The purchase can be confusing and overwhelming, but if you visit a caravan industry-approved show you will get the best advice from the industry itself. I also recommend having a checklist of all your wants and needs, and then a new purchaser can start with a plan. While it will no doubt change as the various options are explored, it is a good start.

Dusty 4WD with bikes on roof and dusty pop-top caravan parked in dirt area surrounded by trees.

Chris Hooper puts his Jayco camper trailer to good use during a holiday.

Chris Hooper: RV regional sales coordinator, Jayco Australia.

BIG4: What are your top tips for someone who is considering purchasing a caravan?

CH: Research, research, and research. For many people, purchasing an RV is a huge investment and one that you don’t want to regret. Industry caravan shows are a great way of seeing many brands and types of RVs in one location, but avoid the traps. By doing initial research online and in magazines, you’ll work out what types of RVs are going to best service your needs prior to visiting the show. Therefore, you can go with a plan and focus on those particular products.

BIG4: What is the most important factor or factors when choosing a caravan?

CH: Ask yourself, what is my dream RV holiday and where do I see myself exploring in the future? For some, it’s a beachside site where the kids can run off and play while you relax and finish that book you started to read 12 months ago. But if you’re anything like me, you’re likely to head into the bush or outback where millions of stars light the night sky and the warm glow from the fire draws you in. Knowing where you want to explore will greatly assist with your choice of RV and whether a touring or outback model will suit you. There are also many options available on all types of RVs that allow you to tailor your investment to your requirements.

BIG4: What are the common mistakes people make when purchasing a caravan?

CH: Again, research is the key. Like any large purchase, the process can be daunting, but investigating the construction methods and types of materials used by your chosen RV manufacturer are important. Make sure you look in cupboards, lift up seat lids and beds, crawl underneath and look at the chassis, find out how the walls are constructed, and so on. Taking a factory tour of the RV manufacturer you have in mind will often give you an insight and confidence in the product you intend purchasing.

BIG4: As there is so much to consider, are there any tips for purchasers to ensure they are not overwhelmed by the process?

CH: Every van looks pretty; as a consumer you’ll need to look past this initially. Do your research and take your time, shortlist the RVs that will best suit your needs, investigate their construction, value for money, and features. There are many sources of information available to us as consumers these days, such as the internet and their various forums. While forums can be great to share holiday information and travel tips, your RV dealer is still the best avenue of information in relation to the product you intend on purchasing.


If you are looking for more information, the annual caravan and camping shows are a fantastic opportunity to research your next purchase, view demonstrations, and receive advice from industry experts. We hope to see you at one of the many 2016 caravan and camping shows. Then, of course, there is the option of purchasing a second-hand caravan.

Do you have any tips for people who are looking at purchasing a caravan that our experts haven’t covered? We’d love to hear them in the comments sections below.

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2 comments on “Essential tips for purchasing a caravan”

  1. Cindy Tesler

    6 December 2016 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for the tip that the purchase of your home is one of the biggest purchases that you will make. You also said that purchasing a mobile home is a huge investment as well. I think it’s a good idea to choose a caravan that has plenty of storage for tools so that you can fix any break-downs that may happen.

  2. Max Sayer

    29 September 2017 at 11:15 am

    I like your suggestions on choosing a caravan. I’ve always want to rent one and travel across the country. I’ll have to share this with my wife and see if this can help her get on board.

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