If you feel you need a few more creature comforts than camping allows, why not try a getaway in an RV? It’s the common acronym for “recreational vehicles” which just means travelling in a in a caravan, camper van, motorhome or camper trailer, and usually with comfier beds than a tent as well as your own cooking and often bathroom facilities. You still have the flexibility to go to more places than others, and these days, you have the ability to stay within safe distances of others, while staying at some of the best natural spots in the country.
Caravan, camper van or camper trailer – which is right for you?
If this is your first time heading on an RV holiday, we strongly recommend hiring a caravan or camper van to see if you and the rest of the family or friends like it. Think about where you want to go and how long you want to stay in any one place. A caravan can be used for multi-stop holidays, but typically people drive to one location; whereas a camper van can be more quickly packed up to move on. The camper trailer has a bit more set up too but can be a cost-effective option. If you want to go really off the beaten track, we wouldn’t recommend the caravan and in fact, we suggest making sure your camper van or car and trailer can go off road and has 4WD capabilities.
Other important factors include how many people will be travelling with you, and how long will you be travelling for? This may affect the size of camper van or motor home, how much gear you want to take with you.
Caravans are towed by your car or 4WD vehicle and they can be quite heavy, so it is critical to make sure that your vehicle not only has a tow bar but that you also know your vehicle’s weight towing limit.
According to carsguide.com.au towing capacities can range from 640kg (unbraked) and 1200kg (braked) in a compact all-wheel drive SUV to 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked) in many large SUV wagons and dual-cab utes, through to the 6989kg (braked) towing capacity of a massive Ram 3500 pick-up.
The company you hire your first caravan through will be able to help you with this.
However, if you don’t like the idea of towing a caravan or don’t have a vehicle with the towing capacity, a camper van may be more for you. The great thing about a camper van is that passengers have more space and more facilities while on the road. They can sit at a table, make a snack, and just relax in a lot more comfort than many standard vehicles.
Depending on how many people in your group, you may wish to opt for a large camper van or rather a motorhome. Like the luxury caravans, these typically give a more deluxe experience as they can feature larger beds, bookshelves, large living areas and may include a bathroom with shower.
For those who don’t want to break a budget you can also look into a camper trailer, the lightest option, which can fold up and still include features such as a small kitchen and the ability to sleep in greater comfort than a tent.
Towing a caravan or driving a bigger vehicle than you are used to, means you need to have your wits about you choosing the right route. Narrow roads, low bridges and steep inclines can cause issues. The ideal device to pack is a Navman Drive Duo SUV which has “large vehicle assist” that will give routing specially for larger vehicles. You can simply plug in the vehicle’s dimensions and the GPS will provide the most suitable route for your situation.
Where to go with your RV?
Once you are ready to head out, where to then? Well the possibilities are endless, you can stay near a beautiful beach, in a national park, somewhere close to shops and restaurants, in a historical country town or in the beautiful outback.
Wherever your trip takes you or whatever RV you are travelling in or with, we recommend booking a holiday park or camping spot to stay at (whether you are looking for a permanent spot or touring a variety of places). There are different holiday parks and camping spots to suit all types of budgets, including free camp spots, and holiday parks with powered and unpowered options; you can even find holiday parks with water parks, barbeque stations and lots of open green areas great for kids to run, play and make friends.
If you plan on taking your pet, make sure your holiday park is pet friendly before you pack the dog harness or cat box in the vehicle. You will also want to let the park know the weight of your caravan or camper van when you make your booking.
Some great websites that help you search for a holiday park or camp site include Top Parks, Big4 Holiday Parks, and Camp Stay. Also check out your state’s caravanning association website for location tips, as well as great caravan, camper van and motorhome advice.
How to prepare before you head out
Some things you may want to consider before going on your first RV holiday include taking a short towing course for a caravan or a driving course for a large camper van or motorhome that can help make your trip safer.
It is also important to make sure you are covered for insurance in the event of an accident. If you are hiring a caravan or camper van, it will likely be included in the package but do check the fine print (as well as the insurance on your own vehicle to ensure you are covered if you are towing a caravan.
A good quality GPS and a dash cam is also important to help keep your trip safer. Navman’s Drive Duo SUV, is loaded with HERE 4WD tracks, lists campsites and points of interests such as restaurants and petrol stations. It even has a built in Super 2K dash cam that will capture any incidents that occur on your drives. Most importantly the device’s “large vehicle assist” option (mentioned earlier) that will find the right routes for the size of your caravan or camper van, so you don’t get stuck on any narrow roads or low overpasses.
Before you head out check all doors and windows are locked in your RV, loose items are packed away safely and any drawers, cupboards and latches are secure.
The NSW Caravan and Camping Industry Association has a fantastic checklist of essential things to take such as a first aid kit and great tips like pack thongs if you’ll be sharing showering facilities or use tea towels to fit between pots and pans to stop them from rattling while travelling!
Wherever you go, be safe but get out there and enjoy yourselves!