Caravan Buying Guide For First Time Caravanners

The popularity of caravans was on the rise before COVID came along. And then it exploded! This graph below, from Caravanstats, shows the rise of recreational vehicle registration up until May 2020.  

caravan sales stats
Stat provided by Caravan Stats

Since then the figures have continued to grow. (We’re perhaps depending on anecdotal evidence there but we’re very confident that there was an industry-wide explosion of caravan sales.) That has brought many people into the market who are looking at buying a caravan for the first time. Last year there were 772,598 caravans and campervans registered. 

If you’re one of those who are buying their first caravan then this article will hopefully assist you in making your choice. Buying a new van can be the most expensive purchase, apart from the family home, that most couples will ever make. It’s important to get it right…first time!

Choosing The Right Caravan For You

If you’re fortunate enough to already own a vehicle capable of legally towing your selected caravan…congratulations, you’re halfway there. If not, take a tip, choose your caravan before you choose your tow vehicle!

Buying a caravan isn’t about right or wrong. It’s about choice and being prepared to compromise on some items. If you’re fortunate enough to find your dream caravan on display & available for immediate delivery, congratulations again! With good quality used caravans almost impossible to find at the moment, chances are that you’ll have to order your caravan of choice & be prepared to wait 12-18 months for delivery.

This article will focus on what options are available in a standard two person on road touring van, as opposed to off road or semi off road models. To minimise weight, standard on road models generally have the traditional leaf spring suspension, not the heavier independent suspension featured on off road caravans.

Standard Inclusions On Caravans

When considering your “wish list” for your new van, remember that most manufacturers usually include the following as standard inclusions:

Your Work Starts Now!

What size caravan to buy?

Your decision here will be determined by a number of things. Probably the main determining factor will be the ability of your vehicle to legally tow your chosen van and your vehicle/caravan combined weights have been considered. The longer the van, the greater the weight. If your caravan is being stored at home, obviously the space you have available is also a major factor in what size caravan you choose. In this regard, always confirm the overall length of your intended purchase. Be aware also that body or cabin lengths are often confusing. Always check with the dealer whether the advertised body or cabin length is an internal or external measurement.

towing a caravan
Before buying you caravan consider whether your vehicle can legally and safely tow it.

Colours

It’s vital that you feel at home in your new surroundings. The internal colours you choose must reflect you and your lifestyle. The days of orange benchtops and lime green carpets are gone (for now). There’s an extensive range of colours available for benchtops, cupboards, splashbacks, fabric etc. Hubby might also be able to choose the colour of the external decals…if he’d like to match the colours of your vehicle.

Layout/design

Centre or rear door entry? In a standard design, centre door entry will take you into the bedroom area, rear door entry ( unless your van has a rear club lounge) will take you into the kitchen/dining area.

Dinette. Café style, L shape or club?

The café style is certainly a popular choice but the L shape and club dinette’s ability to convert into additional sleeping space for an adult or a couple of your favourite grandchildren is a big plus for many buyers.

Options/extras

Try before you buy additional solar panels, batteries, etc. They can always be added later. Because of weight & storage issues, fully enclosed annexes aren’t as popular as they once were, with most caravanners preferring lightweight, compact sunscreens for privacy & protection against the elements.

Your Vehicle

If you’ve already determined that your vehicle is capable of legally towing your selected caravan. All that remains now is to make sure you have the appropriate brake controller fitted plus any 12 volt power circuits required that may be specific to your caravan. All the appropriate connections can be carried out by an auto electrician.

Where To Find Your Caravan

In 2022 it is getting hard to find new caravans for sale. With lead times of up to 18 months from some manufacturers, you’ll need to factor this into your purchase. To help you with your decision Caravan Sales has compiled a list of caravans for you to consider: 

 

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