A first timer’s guide to buying a caravan
New to caravanning? Here’s all you need to know about buying a caravan.
As the COVID-19 pandemic takes the shine off international holidays, many Australians are looking for other ways to take a break, and for a growing number of holiday makers, that means caravanning.
Contrary to the stereotype, caravans aren’t the sole domain of so-called grey nomads – the average caravan owner in Australia is 33 years old, according to research by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA).
As travel restrictions ease, domestic tourism is booming, with caravanning and camping leading the charge. RACV Cobram resort manager Gary Hunt says caravan parks across the country, including his own by the banks of the Murray, are experiencing huge demand with an influx of bookings for the short term and well into the year. “People who traditionally might have spent money on an overseas holiday are realising that might not be possible for some time, and many are using the money to invest in a caravan that they can use for many years to come.
“We don't have the option to go to Thailand, so a lot of people are thinking, why not explore what’s in our own backyard here in Victoria. And caravanning is a great way to do that.”
Even before COVID struck, registrations for recreational vehicles were at a record high, with 740,000 RVs registered in Australia in January 2020. By May, as international and even interstate travel plans collapsed, Google reported a three-fold increase in the number of searches for “caravan” or "recreational vehicle". And a CIAA survey in September found that 62 per cent of respondents were more likely to take a caravanning or camping trip due to COVID.
But for those considering buying a caravan, it is a substantial financial investment. Prices for basic entry-level vans start at around $50,000 up to more than $120,000 for deluxe models fitted with all the comforts of home. Even a decent second-hand van can set you back $25,000. There’s a bewildering range of sizes, styles, layouts and construction materials on the market, so you need to do your homework. Here are some top tips to help you make the right choice if you’re buying your first van.