Written By: Lisa Copeland
Unless you have ever had one, you could never imagine the joy a caravan can bring for the entire family. The right kind of caravan can open up many avenues of adventure. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, they are the most economical way to travel and see as many places as possible. Their popularity has made sure that the manufacturers build them better and at more economical prices. In the United States, we just call them campers and their popularity and affordability makes it possible for many families to own one. They look and are built a bit different than caravans. I dare say, I quite envy the European version.
One of the most important things you need to think about before you purchase one is durability. Price is important, but purchasing a caravan is much like purchasing a car, or truly, in some cases, a vacation home. Therefore, they are an investment. You do not want your caravan to fall apart before you have it paid for. There are many different manufacturers of caravans in the UK and all over Australia. There are diverse climates all over these places and the standards of the manufacturers are different here in the US. Australia has many diverse climates and terrain. Australians love to take their camping off the beaten path.
In Queensland, Australia, Gem Hunters Custom Caravans claim to have just the ticket for those adventurous Australians that love to go off road. They specialize in building RVs that are cost effective to tow, but durable at the same time. They claim to have found the perfect way to construct a durable and long lasting caravan that can take just about anything that you can throw at it. They build theirs with one hundred percent fiberglass, the same fiberglass that is found in yachts and boats. This helps to keep down the weight and help to make them air and water tight. They explain that older caravans were built with aluminum, timber and checker plate. The aluminum will crack, the wood rots and the aluminum plate is too heavy. They stand behind all of their caravans and will build one to suit anyone’s needs (Gemhunters, n.d.).
If you do not want to wait for a custom RV to be built and would like to buy one ready to go, is it possible to find caravans of similar quality that are “straight from the assembly line?” AVIDA Caravans manufactures caravans in a similar fashion as the custom builders. They build normal ones and off-road models. They also use fiberglass building materials to keep down the weight and provide a better insulated caravan to help it endure diverse weather. Take your pick. They manufacture just basic caravans all the way up to luxury models. They even build motor homes. I counted no less than fifty dealerships all over the continent of Australia. The advantage of buying a brand manufactured and sold in dealerships is that you get to travel around and compare models and they are ready to drive off the lot and use (AVIDA, n.d.).
One other choice in Australia is Road Star Caravans. They have a different method of building. Actually, they are built like the ones in the US. Road Star also claims to build the most durable caravan on the road. Their secret to keeping the RV air and water tight is a special sealant. It is called MS22. They demonstrated the flexibility of this product and explained how one color (on the trim) heats up and expands, while another part will contract. They state that some caravan manufactures only use sealant on the seams, while Road Star uses it all over the caravan. This gives it more protection from the elements (You Tube, 2013).
I think I have covered Australia enough. The UK has just as large of a caravan enthusiast community as Australia. The most interesting source for finding caravans I found in the UK is a site on the internet called the Caravan Company. They have businesses all over the UK with thousands of caravans to choose from. They have new and used models and all different kinds of manufacturers (The Caravan Company, 2014). The good thing about looking at used caravans is to see how a certain model will handle changes throughout the years. Look at new ones and then go and try to find a used model of the same and see how they age. There is nothing wrong with finding a used model, but be careful; just do your homework and make sure that you get the manufacturer to throw in a warrantee. If one particular dealer will not, another one will. I promise.
The best way to find the right caravan that is going to fit your needs is to find a caravan or RV show. There are usually at least a hundred dealers that attend. This is a good opportunity to “kick the tires.” Do not be ashamed to get on your hands and knees and look underneath the caravan. Check for clearance levels and pipes or electrical wiring that would interfere with the places that you will be going to. Off-road and on-road caravans look much different underneath. As an RV owner myself, I have done the same thing when shopping for a new model. Remember, just because one manufacturer makes a fantastic model, that does not mean that all of their models are going to be built as well. We have manufacturers that do the same thing here. They will make cheaper, more affordable models that are not built as well. I have been caught in that trap before, and it was costly. Just do your homework, and no impulse buying. You will regret it, and always demand a warrantee.