The RV Lifestyle

What is it that attracts so many people to the Recreational Vehicle (RV) lifestyle? In this article, we look the various modes of RV transport - from motorhomes, campervans, camper trailers and of course, caravans. If you like meeting people from all walks of life, then there can be no better place than a caravan park or a back-of-beyond campsite and this article will guide you as to where you can go for further information on how to go about getting started.

What is the RV Lifestyle?

The answers to this question is quite simple - many things! Sometimes it's the great feeling of freedom, the ability to travel where and whenever you want. Perhaps just being able to lie in bed early in the morning and listen as nature wakes up around your campsite is special. For some, relaxing around the campfire late at night and listening to fellow travellers' most recent experiences is a high priority. Then, of course, there is always being parked by that secret little lake where the fish are always biting and the sunsets are always spectacular for the photography buffs.

Travelling with like minded friends is also part of the enjoyment too, sharing those special experiences and enjoying the on-road camaraderie. It should also be pointed out that for most RV's there is no such thing as 'roughing it' these days! If you like meeting people from all walks of life, then there can be no better place than a caravan park or a back-of-beyond campsite. A quick study of any caravan park late afternoon will reveal plenty of people sitting in their deck chairs, watching the world go by and enjoying a 'sundowner'.

What's really special about the RV lifestyle though is that it can be enjoyed by everybody - families, 'dinks', single people, 'empty nesters' and retirees. One of the great things about RV travel is that it can be accomplished on just about any budget - anything from about $10,000 to $500,000. That price range covers everything from simple camper trailers to very sophisticated 'A' class motorhomes. Indeed, price does not always determine the lifestyle - some RV'ers choose a camper trailer because that is the way they like to travel or it's simply easiest to store when they are not travelling.

Which RV for You?

Each particular style of RV, whether it be a caravan, camper trailer, motorhome or 5th Wheeler, has its own characteristics and which one you choose is entirely up to you. All have their advantages and disadvantages and each type of RV has a 'travel and lifestyle mode' that will suit different people, so there's really is no 'right RV' for everybody.


Towed RV's include full caravans, pop-top caravans, several varieties of camper trailers and 5th Wheelers. The latter being slightly different from the rest because the tow hitch is set above the axle in the tray of a truck rather than on a tow bar at the rear of the vehicle.

Caravans and Camper Trailers

Another sector of the RV market, particularly with caravans and camper trailers, that has grown in recent years, is off-road units. Naturally, a well built off-road unit is going to be much more expensive than a conventional van but it does offer much greater exploration freedom. A slightly different way that some people do their off-road travel is to have a 4WD towing a conventional on-road van and in addition, have a roof top tent fitted to the 4WD. So that when the rough road work starts, the van gets left behind and lightweight camping is done instead.

Bunk Bed Vans

However, there are some manufacturers who are trying to make some inroads back into the family market with bunk bed vans and there are many styles of camper trailers available. These are ideal for a family. With their wind up roof, all round windows and slide-out ends, they offer plenty of room inside and out - if you have an awning and sides - but are still light enough to be towed by the family sedan.


Motorised RV's, for want of a better term, include high top campervans, pop-top campervans, slide-on units for utes and tray backs, motorhomes built on a cab chassis ('B' and 'C' class), motorhomes built on a chassis ('A' class) and converted buses or coaches. "To tow or not to tow, that is the question". It's worth thinking about but in many cases is often determined by circumstances like budget. Caravans are generally cheaper than campervans and motorhomes, but with larger and more luxurious caravans that require a big tow vehicle, the cost differential is reduced. When parked for the night, it's possible to leave the caravan and drive away in the tow vehicle, which of course you cannot do in a motorhome. However, many small to mid sized motorhomes take a very short time to pack up so doing some local touring is not really a problem. Whether you have a caravan or motorhome (assuming you can afford either) is often a matter of how you personally, not your friends or the salesperson, prefer to travel.

Up until the mid 70's caravanning was very much a family holiday and during the summer holidays especially, there were thousands of vans on the road, mostly up and down the east coast of Australia. That has changed now, with much of the RV market being aimed at 'empty nesters' and retirees. Caravans have become much more sophisticated in their fitting out and consequently more expensive.

RV Clubs Around Australia

If you like being a club member, then there are certainly plenty of caravan clubs around Australia. On the motorhome side there are a couple of smaller clubs but the biggest, with a membership of over 25,000 is the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). All clubs offer plenty of like minded people and much helpful, friendly advice. It's often the latter which is most helpful for newcomers to the RV lifestyle.

For an easy way to find clubs Australia-wide, see the Clubs Directory.

RV Related Searches

Finally, if you have never tried the RV lifestyle, then do some research before buying anything. Websites like this one offer good advice and enable you to search for, and make contact, with manufacturers and retailers.

By using our Caravans Directory you will find websites and contact details for businesses Australia-wide.

RV Related Books

We also recommend you read the following caravanning books available from the ExplorOz Adventure Shop. Just click on the yellow add to basket icon (as shown below) to place any of the following books into your shopping cart. When you're ready to buy, simply follow the prompts to complete your secure online order, including the selection of your preferred payment method.

RV Final Thoughts

More practically, if you can, try before you buy.

Here's a few suggestions for doing that:
  • Borrow a van or motorhome for a few days from a good friend, or travel with them if they are really good friends

  • Rent a caravan from a caravan hire company, although there are not many around and it does mean having a fully fitted out tow vehicle

  • Stay in an on-site caravan or cabin for a week - this will certainly give you a taste of the lifestyle but not really any towing experience

  • Rent a campervan or motorhome from one of the prolific rental companies around. Again this will not give you any towing experience but will certainly give a good feel for the RV lifestyle. Indeed this is the way that some people, who really cannot afford to have an expensive motorhome parked for much of the year, enjoy their RV holidays all the time
Happy travelling!

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Created: June 2008
Revised: October 2008
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