Your Home On The Road

There are truly a bewildering array of types of recreational vehicles available. None are perfect, they all have a negative and positive aspect to them, it is just what is the best compromise for your sort of intended travel at this particular time in your life.

I have little experience of campervans and motor homes so do not feel qualified to offer an opinion on these forms of travel except for the following points. With these forms of transport it is not possible to set up camp and then go off exploring as you can with a caravan. Also very few of these types of vehicles are adequate for rough road travelling.

Camper trailers, with very few exceptions involve erecting some form of canvas structure to live in. These in my experience are not suited to sustained travelling.  They have several drawbacks. Like a tent they need suitable ground to be erected on and this can sometimes be difficult to find. You cannot just stop and hop inside. Rain and mud can make life unpleasant and the continual erecting and taking down can quickly become a chore. In most campers it can be difficult to make a meal if the camper is not erected. Even if it is possible to be at the galley it may not be possible to get at the fridge and of course unless the camper is erected there is no shelter from the rain or sun.

Beware of most camper trailers in lightning storms, they can be very dangerous. You are on a piece of metal with metal supports over you. I have had to leave the trailer and seek refuge in the car in such storms, very unnerving! Be especially careful of “a bolt out of the blue”.

There are also some cheap and nasty camper trailers for sale that are little more than a household trailer with a tent added. I have seen these with axles snapped, spring hangers torn off and myriad other issues when people try to take these into remoter areas. So beware!

Wind up caravans (also called campers) are a step up from a camper trailer however they still have major drawbacks. Unless they are wound up you cannot get inside so what do you do for food stops, and if it is raining when you make camp you have no other option than to stay in the rain until the camper is erected.

Be very very very wary of manufactures stated times to erect and stow away camper trailers and campers, these times are usually for ideal conditions on a showroom floor with little resemblance to the real world.

Camper trailers and campers certainly have their place and in some instance they may be the best compromise, they are certainly very popular. In my experience however they fall far short of being suitable for long term travel in all weather conditions.

Caravans can offer the flexibility of offering a self contained living environment with the ability to unhitch and go off exploring. There are a huge number of makes and models of caravans on the Australian market and unless you do your research thoroughly you may end up with a van that is not suitable for the purpose you purchased it for. For instance do you intend to purchase a van that includes a shower and toilet? At the start of our research for our “perfect” van we decided we didn’t need such facilities. By the time our research was complete we had re-evaluated our position and decided a shower and toilet would make camping more enjoyable and open up areas that we could not visit if not self sufficient. Now we would not have a van without shower and toilet.

I prefer a pop top caravan for several reasons:

  • There is less likelihood of damage by low branches;
  • Lower centre of gravity than a full height van and this can be important when negotiating wash aways;
  • Good ventilation with the pop top up and the vinyl closures open. Even with all the curtains closed ventilation is still good;
  • In really bad weather the pop top does not need to go up.

So if you are looking to buy a van good research is the key. Doubt everything you are told until it can be proven correct. Evaluate everything. If at all possible hire for a trip as part of your evaluation.

Hopefully these articles may of some assistance in helping you make the right choice and then enjoying your time on “roads less travelled”.

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