Submitted:Monday, May 21, 2012 at 21:56
Member - Arsenal Phill replied:
Hi Sue & Shaun.
We are not caravan experts but thought I'd start this blog through the eyes of `newbies'. Any information we share is purely personal on what we found or how we approached things.
We looked at LOADS of vans. We went to 2 Perth Caravan shows and the 4WD show looking at them. I am heavily into my off roading and love getting out bush. There's just something about the solitude that draws me. I guess after living in central London all my life before moving to Perth, I've been left with the `over it' feeling regarding crowds. You just can't experience this kind of lifestyle in England.
Anyway, I digress. I have always been a camper and have a couple of decent size tents, which are great. Then a while back, the better half and I started to lean towards the possiblitiy of getting a van. Just mostly for its convenience and comfort. I liked the idea, but was worried on two fronts. I didn't like the idea of being a rolling road block was number one. Then, secondly, I was worried about the impact a van would have on the areas and places I could access. With some gentle nudging and pointing in the right direction, I got the other half to agree that we'd buy a camper trailer.
We did some reasearch on some trailers, and knew what we wanted out of it. We picked one we liked and were well surprised that it was made less than 2 mins from where we live. However that was not to last long as they were bought out by a firm over East and shut up shop and moved away. Have to say that we were less than happy with nearly aspect of that experience. I won't go into detail here, as it is not relevant to the thread.
In the end, we got rid of the trailer because it was too much like hard work. Several little things weren't right and the other half just wasn't enjoying it. Some of the gripes, I had to agree with, so that then led us to re-examine the possiblitiy of getting a van. The thing is, that our trailer experience gave us a more precise insight into what we wanted out of our van. Armed with this information we went shopping. That is where the Caravan show was great. We had direct comparisons on every aspect right next to each other. It made the whole experience so much easier.
In the end we signed up with Retreat. We were looking around one of their vans. I think it was on our third or so visit, doing one of our round robin comparisons LOL, between vans, that we met Brendon. As it turns out he has an interest in the Vans and it showed. He was great. We sat down with him, he answered every question, and was also able to translate what we wanted and suggest a package and extras that would meet our requirements. We picked the van up last Monday and we'd both tell you that they surpassed our expectations. If it works as well as it looks, then we are going to be very, very happy campers!!! Thursday just can't get here quick enough, as that will be when we first hit the road and get to try her out for the first time.
So in answer to your question, the way we approached our purchase was to have a clear goal in mind. We knew the kind of places we hope to go. We had a rough idea of terrain and climate and that was basically the measure of our cloth. We uprated the suspension to fully independant coils and shocks. We had solar on the roof and have a third panel that we can move around on ground level to follow the sun should we be parked in shade. I already had a Honda 2kva Genie. Currently we can carry 190 litres of water, which I think will be enough. If it proves not enough, we'll just add another tanks. We also had jerry can holders put on the back, so that gives the capacity to carry either more water or fuel. We are bound to have missed something, but only time will show us that one.
As for the van inhibating our off-road excursions, we have decided that on the occasions where the van can't and shouldn't go, we'll just leave her somewhere and take the tent. Eventually if the necessary, we may look into getting a roof top tent for the Cruiser, but in truth, I think that is unlikely. The smaller of my two tents already has its spot in the van, so its not a problem to always have it with us.
Good luck with finding the right van for yourselves. I hope it fits you like a glove.
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