Family Van Tradeoffs

We are looking to purchase our first full van, upgrading from a Swan. We have 3 young kids (the eldest is 4) & are looking at triple bunks. There seems to be a trade off we will need to make. We seem to be able to fulfil all but one of the following criteria.

* Length - we would prefer a 19 foot van, over a 22 or longer one for ease of towing and manoeuvring.
* Bathroom - People are steering us to a full ensuite over a combo.
* Cupboards - The more the better! This seems to be the main thing that is reduced when upgrading to a full ensuite. Our experience with the Swan (and 3 kids) makes us think that you can't underestimate how valuable cupboards are.
* Island bed - we have found a couple vans with an SW bed. While this doesn't bother us, we are concerned about re-saleability of the van.
* Open-ness of the bunks - triple bunks are tight. The Adventurer meets the above criteria, but the bunks are quite closed in.

Given our inexperience with a full van, we aren't sure which to compromise on. Any suggestions? Any brands to stay away from?

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Reply By: Mikee5 - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 17:01

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 17:01
You didn't specify your tow vehicle. Please make sure you are fully informed about weights. For example where a twin cab ute claims 3.5 tonnes towing, that may only be true with no fuel in the tank and only the driver aboard. Ensure the total combination weight doesn't exceed you GCM as well. Better to sort it now than be put off the road at a weighbridge a long way from home.
AnswerID: 614829

Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 17:11

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 17:11
Are you looking for new or second hand Kelb? Without getting into brands, I will make a few comments.

I agree on length, although with fixed bunks plus fixed bed for yourselves plus bathroom, 19' may be a bit of a tall ask.

A bathroom with separate toilet and shower cubicles bathroom may be convenient, but think of the space it takes up - further enlarging your caravan. A lot of space for use only during only a short part of the day. Go for a small combo and have more space for living. Use caravan park bathrooms when staying at these, using your own only for night visits and when camping out.

Cupboards are valuable, as you will have quite a load catering for your children and their interests. However there is a temptation to pack them and go over your ATM limit, and or your tow vehicle limit. Weights and appropriate tow vehicle are major considerations.

Many caravans have the space saving sideways bed. Again, this gives more room for living, or it saves you having a longer caravan by a couple of feet.

I am not familiar with The Adventurer (nor what brand the model you are referring to is) to know what you mean about the bunks being closed in. A curtain or method of closing the area would be needed for get the little ones to sleep if you want to stay up longer in the evenings.


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Follow Up By: Member - cruza25 - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 19:59

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 19:59
The adventurer is Jaycos new proper off road van.
Starts around the 59k price tag
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 20:59

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 20:59
OK. There are other brands using the name - Paramount for example.

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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Friday, Nov 10, 2017 at 23:13

Friday, Nov 10, 2017 at 23:13
I'd read the fine print on anything Jayco says is off-road, I have and everything is not what it seems, their definition of off-road is National/State forest trails/gravel roads, anything off-road voids warranty

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Nov 10, 2017 at 23:24

Friday, Nov 10, 2017 at 23:24
Probably includes the road to my place OutBack Wanderers - and we are near town. But it is an unsealed and sometimes rather corrugated road which I travel on almost every day in my small Corolla sedan.

When we were researching for our caravan, so called off road models would have disclaimers such as

"The - - - is designed to travel on and off sealed roads. They are not
however designed to travel over all terrain. Traveling over rough, rocky,
jagged, pinnacled or pot holed surfaces may amount to misuse or driver neglect.
Any damage occurring as a result is excluded from the manufacturers warranty.
- - -."

Or disclaimers or warranty exclusions meant they were good for "sealed roads, with occasional short drives on tracks such as to a campsite" - on models promoted as off road caravans.


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Reply By: My Aussie Travel Guide - Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 22:30

Tuesday, Nov 07, 2017 at 22:30
With your shopping list provided, I think you should be able to tick everything off your list. Whilst not impossible, 19 feet is almost the minimum size for an ensuite rather than a combo. Wouldn't compromise on this with kids. We've reviewed many vans at shows and pretty well seen what you're after including island bed, club lounge, triple bunks so not sure you really need to compromise. I would think you can fit more in the van than the Swan, so you just need to look at clever ideas for hanging things etc. if you need more storage. Try to take things that have multiple uses. Just be mindful of your payload.
AnswerID: 614840

Reply By: gbc - Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 11:46

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 11:46
My neighbours had a 19ft concept ascot built for their family with triple bunks, island bed and ensuite approx. 5 years ago. They are happy with it.
AnswerID: 614847

Reply By: CSeaJay - Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 13:43

Wednesday, Nov 08, 2017 at 13:43
If I may share some experiences:
1) bed size and orientation, inclusions etc: If you are considering the van for offroad purposes, then you will need to weigh up your preferences; as simple example, whislt we would have preferred an island bed, it was more important for us to have a van the same width as the car to fit through bush tracks and avoid the towing mirrors. Off-road ability then also impacted on the toilet shower combo, due to length and width.
2) 3 kids: We purposefully did not plan to have a van taylored for the kids; sure, in an emergency the van can cater for the three extra bodies, but most of the time (from age 7 or 8) they actually prefer to have their own tent as part of their camping experience. A simple 3 second popup tent was all we required. This suits us fine as now that they are older, they either bring friends (tents as well) or they don't come at all, so the van is still fine for us.

Hope this helps

AnswerID: 614849

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