So you have decided to become a Grey Nomad and explore Australia at your own pace whilst being your own personal tour guide with BYO accommodation. Great idea! One big decision you now have to make is which caravan or motor home is best for you? It can be a tad daunting investing in your BYO accommodation with so many forms of recreational vehicles available boasting so many sizes, features, layouts, optional extras and prices to consider. As a result Grey Nomads Australia has decided to put together the most frequently asked questions and their answers to help you with this dilemma.
How are you going to tow the caravan?
This is a very important question to answer prior to buying a caravan. You wouldn’t want to buy a caravan first then find out the vehicle you already own is incapable of towing it. You will need to check the towing capacity of your vehicle beforehand which will let you know the maximum weight of your future home on wheels. Your vehicles towing rating is set by the manufacturer and can usually be found in the vehicle’s owner handbook. A compliance plate should be attached to the towbar to advise you of the maximum permissible loading for that particular towbar. It is usually recommended that the ball weight should be between 10 to 15 per cent of the total loaded weight of the caravan. This means if the total loaded weight of your caravan is 1500kgs, the ball weight should be 150kgs.
What are your overall needs in a caravan or motor home?
Basically you are determining what level of comfort you have in mind times how many people you intend sharing it with. The next consideration would be the lifestyle you intend to use it for. Will you be on short, long or indefinite trips? Do you plan to be in remote or heavily populated areas? Are you planning on sticking to the bitumen or does the adventure of putting your rig off road sound more like your cuppa tea? Do you want something that takes time to pack up or do you just want to hook up and go? Most importantly - what are you prepared to spend? These questions will help determine your caravan’s size and layout, the extent of its fittings and features plus what other items you may need to purchase such as a generator or solar panels.
Should you buy new or used?
First it is recommended to ensure your rig of choice meets all Australian standards and design rules, especially to cover you insurance wise in the event of an accident or incident. Buying new from a certified dealer offers all the recent comforts, colours and safety features of the latest design advancements and also allows your caravan to be custom built. Buying new also guarantees a warranty. However buying someone’s preloved caravan or motor home can be just as rewarding providing you do the usual buying checks to ensure it is not stolen or encumbered.
What should you be looking for when choosing a caravan or motor home?
The layout would be your first priority. Although you may have already decided on an island bed, L shaped dinette, 3 way refrigerator and full ensuite, it is important to manoeuvre around the caravan/motor home as if actually using it. This will let you know how practical the layout is prior to being committed to climbing over items to get to others and if there is ample cupboard and wardrobe space for your personal belongings. Quality involving the materials and construction of the overall build of your rig needs to be investigated. Look into the quality and build of the chassis and suspension, seals, tyres, awnings, etc. Look into how much storage there is for water, power sources, refrigeration and safety features such as smoke detectors, fire distinguisher, fire blanket, earth leakage and security locks.
Your journey into making the right decision for you personally will no doubt raise many more questions. Feel free to seek your answers on Grey Nomads Australia’s forum.