A boy sitting next to a campfire

Confessions of a Happy Housewife,Entertainment,Travel

Camper Trailer vs. Caravan: Which Rig is Better for Your Family Adventure?

10 Oct , 2017  

Travelling with kids comes with its own set of challenges. Camping around Australia is the perfect opportunity to indulge in freedom, fun and thrilling outback adventures. But throw children into the mix, and the experience can be overwhelming and exhausting too. Camping with kids brings in an entirely new set of requirements to consider. A camping rig with space becomes a priority, smart storage solutions are essential and implementing at-home creature comforts feels more practical for all.

As challenging as camping with kids can be though, the time spent together is rewarding for all. It’s a valuable learning experience which sets them up with new skills they can apply to everyday lives. Whether you’re adventuring around the country for weeks or you’re just looking for a weekend getaway with the troops, investing in the right camping rig will encourage a smooth and comfortable journey.  Here are a few considerations to make when deciding between a camper trailer or caravan for your next trip:

The Right Camping Rig

The “right” camping rig will vary between families. What is someone else’s dream on wheels, can be another family’s nightmare. Choosing the ultimate camping home is as important as the road trip map. Your choice can save you time and money and help create a better experience for you and the kids. Determine what features are important first and see what budget permits.

Before you put your money down on a camping rig, grab a map of Australia and work out where you want to go. How do you want to live on the road, how long will you be travelling for and how often will you and your family be using the new rig? There’s no use splurging on the biggest, fanciest rig if it’s too much hassle for the trip or you’re racking up debt because of the fuel. And bigger isn’t always better – especially if it doesn’t suit your budget and needs. Be smart and practical, but consider comfort too.

Some of the biggest deciding factors include: 

Value for Money

We all want a good deal. And if you’re a growing family, budget is usually exceptionally tight. Camper trailers tend to provide the best value for money because of their compact and practical designs. It’s the level of convenience that travelling with kids craves. Quality Australian made campers can start around the $7k mark and reach up to $20k. Models at the top end of the scale are premium campers designed for off-road driving. These will come equipped with all the features including kitchens with the lot, independent suspension, better power capacity and water storage.

Caravans are a home-away-from-home and thus, come with a heftier price tag. Mid-sized vans will start at $30k and include ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning. The downfall though, is they’re not designed to take off-road. For serious camping and off-road adventuring in a caravan, you’re looking at least $50k for a small model. Don’t forget that many camper and caravanning places will offer second-hand models too, which are perfect for occasional travellers or for families wanting to test the camping waters.

A caravan in a green field

Your Towing Vehicle

Budget tends to be the biggest culprit for which camping rig you invest in, but it’s your towing vehicle that really dictates the final direction. Some cars are simply not built for towing a caravan and unless you want to invest in a new car and a camping rig, it’s important to check its towing capacity before.

Check what the towing size to narrow down your options. There’s no point investing in a camper or caravan that’s too heavy for your vehicle. One of the biggest benefits of camper trailers is their lightweight properties, making them easier and affordable to tow and take off-road. For those families wanting to travel for longer periods of time where towing capacity and money is less of an issue, caravans can be a more substantial option.

Family Size

How many people will be living in the camping rig? You want to comfortably fit everyone for the trip, and if anyone is on the taller side, consider camping rigs with headroom. You’d be surprised how big the little things can be. Camper trailers generally offer more open floor space which can be better suited for family trips. But if you have a large family and want all the luxuries, a caravan is a good option.

Basic Needs vs. Creature Comforts

What’s your idea of roughing it up? The best adventures are when the kids aren’t screaming the entire time and everyone is comfortable. Weigh up what your family will be happy with. For some, it’s the basic amenities with a few extras to splurge out on. For others, all the at-home creature comforts are important. What features you choose will determine whether a camper trailer or a caravan will be more suited, and how big you need to go. Make sure your essential features are in line with your budget and the towing capacity of the vehicle. Key considerations include self-sufficiency, layout, appliances and storage.

Caravans have reached the point where they can bring almost all the luxuries of home. Washing machines, air conditioning, home theatres and toilets can be included, but with a very substantial price tag. On the flip side, today’s camper trailers can be fitted out with the essentials to make a comfortable trip, without costing you a small fortune. Camper trailers are self-contained with beds, kitchen, toilet, shower and hot water. For families wanting an extra room, soft floor camper trailers have the extra space to move.

An interior of a campervan

Setup Time

If you make frequent stops or spend a long time on the road, then set up time can add up. This is where caravans come out best because it’s basically a home away from home attached to the back of your 4WD. Everything is ready to go with no setup time required. Pop tops and camper trailers will chew into your adventuring time, but if the setup time is an issue and budget restraints don’t cater for a caravan, hard-floor camper trailers are ideal.

Hard floor camper trailers are designed to suit any Australian terrain and have the quickest setup time. They’re the camper trailer that’s most similar to a caravan, with its floor helping to create a more self-contained, comfortable unit than soft floor campers.

Choosing the right camping rig is one of the most exciting parts of the adventure. Complete with your road trip map, camping gear and family, trekking around Australia is always an experience worth taking.

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends PMX Campers – Perth’s best off-road camper trailers with over 8 years’ experience in the industry. PMX Campers are 100% Aussie owned and operated by active members of the camping and off-roading community to ensure you get the best advice for your next trip. 

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