What to Buy a Motor home or Caravan?

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 11:49
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Can anyone give me some feedback on what is a preferable purchase option
Motor home or Caravan?? (not taking into account the cost of each purchase)
We will be travelling as grey nomads for a year or two at least, maybe longer.
We enjoy more out of the way places not necessarily caravan parks, more National Parks beside rivers etc - but not 4WD
Maybe someone has had experience in both
Thank you for any answers
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Reply By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:22

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:22
I reckon the ideal would be a motorhome with a small 4WD tow car.
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Follow Up By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:56

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:56
Don't you think this is double dipping with 2 motors to maintain?
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:17

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:17
Hey guys... it's only money - what else do you want to do with it?

I doubt the towcar would do much mileage. (kilometerage just doesn't sit right, does it? :)

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Kevern - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:23

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:23
If you have never used one or the other higher one of each for a week or two and see how they go. No matter which way you go there will always be someone who thinks you should have gone the other way.. Good luck with you choice and your trip.
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Follow Up By: Mainey (wa) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:15

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:15
Definitely recommend you 'hire' a motor home, even if it's only for a few days, drive it in the country and ALSO in the town, go SHOPPING in it to your local shopping centre.
then you can think about making an evaluated decision.

Mainey . . .
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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:50

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 12:50
Hi Bob

Some years ago i asked the same question here. We had always thought we'd get a 4wd truck mounted motor home for our grey nomad days. When it came time for the final decision, a number of points influenced us.

The ride in a truck was not as good for my husband's bad back as in a modern 4wd.

We still needed another vehicle at home, so it would be the cost of keeping (depreciation, licence, insurance etc) on yet another vehicle.

A 4wd can get into places the motor home can't. We can easily leave the caravan behind to go to some places, but you are stuck with your big rig (unless you tow a Suzuki or similar). This of course depends on how big you go. We met 'nomads' who had sold their home to do the big lap, and had only a tiny motor home - in all not much bigger than the average 4wd wagon. Lovely happy people - going to buy again when the trip was over - but taking their time looking!

Sightseeing and parking in cities (although cities are something we generally avoid) is easier with just the tow vehicle, than a big outfit.

We don't have to pack up camp if staying for a few days every time we go out touring. This is a minor point for us as we tend to move on almost every day anyway. We also prefer to bush camp away from civilisation. We did however do a lot of touring without the caravan on narrow roads and into tiny parking spots in Tasmania, where you would be limited with a large rig.

Towing a small car behind a big rig is not something i would like to do. I would find parking, backing and turning if caught in tight spots harder than with a 4wd and caravan. I think this is a better solution to people who want to go and 'live' (and perhaps work) in a place for a while, then move on.

As you don't want to go 4wd, it may be quite different for you.


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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:30

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:30
Motherhen - I think bob was not wanting to camp where he needed a 4WD rather than not wanting to own a 4WD. Maybee Bob can clarify this.

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Reply By: Muzzgit [WA] - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:24

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 13:24
Lets just say for a moment you were travelling in the great Western Australia, and you were somewhere like Jurien bay.

If you wanted to mosey on up the road to see Greenhead and Lehman, lovely little spots about 30 kays away, would you prefer to be a snail and carry your house around with you, or leave the caravan for the day and enjoy some hassle free sight seeing.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:29

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:29
Excellent point Muzz. Now just muliply the lovely spot by 1000 & that's how many great places most motor homes wont be able to get into comfortably. Australia is well suited to towing an offroad van or camper trailer then exploring just off the beaten track with a 4x4 wagon or trayback. NSW, Vic & Tassie with their better roads are suitable for either Vans or motor homes.
Cheers Craig............
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Follow Up By: Muzzgit [WA] - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 00:29

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 00:29
Hi Craig, both the places I mentioned are small towns with bitumen roads and a caravan park, but the point remains, would you want to carry your house around every day?

Your point about being able to go 4WDriving is very valid, but I think the people asking the question aren't into 4WDriving.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 18:15

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 18:15
I wasn't just suggesting 4 wheel driving locations rather major attractions like the Bungles where it's either just that bit rough to get in or the Park doesn't allow motor homes, vans or 2wd's mainly due to vehicle clearance.
Cheers Craig........
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Reply By: bushy04 - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:04

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 14:04
Bob you have to think about whether or not you will need an extra vehicle!
A 5th wheeler is also an option if you intend to be on the road for a long time ie months. It will give you a normal vehicle for running around etc.
My advice is to go and find some people who are on the road and have a good yarn with them
All the best Bob enjoy the life (its great). Bushy
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Follow Up By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:13

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:13
Hi All
We have a Tandem Wheel Off Road Caravan, and I hope I dont sound bias, But what do people do if they have a break down, and they have to leave the motor home at a work shop for a few days.

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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:34

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:34
My previous tug was off the road for 5 weeks awaiting for parts. That's a long time to be without your home.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:44

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:44
All good points to consider.

Bushy's recommendation to talk to people out on the road is the very best advice.

Kevern's suggestion of try before you buy is equally as important. Alternatively buy cheap and re-sell after trying it before you make the big decision or take the big trip.


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Reply By: Members - Chris/Lindsay (VIC) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:55

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:55
We travelled around Oz for a year with a caravan,4wd and tent. This worked well for sight seeing when we stayed for a few days in one spot and also the 4wd with the tent took us in to places like tunnel creek in the Kimberleys etc. We found it easy to leave the van in storage for a week or so to visit these more remote places. On the other hand we toured New Zealand for 2 weeks in winter recently and loved our hired 4berth motorhome The difference was we were pretty much moving every day except in Christchurch where we caught the bus and hired a motorbike for the day. For a long trip I think a caravan is better as you can offload it for sightseeing and it would be cheaper to repair the vehicle. Whatever you decide,have a wonderful adventure. Cheers, Christine.
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Reply By: lynxxy - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:02

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:02
hmm...whats the advantages of a Motor home over a caravan?

The fact that you can sit in the lounge chair while your partner drives?

They both are much more luxurious than my camper trailer thats for sure...but gee I love being able to detach the camper trailer from my landcruiser after a few days - in fact after a few hours - of towing. It just takes everything back to normality. Sort of like taking your boots off, if you know what I mean

Imagine your in a Caravan Park for a week and you go off to visit the township, friends, go get shopping...the last thing you want is to have to drive that big bus/truck looking thing around.

Forget parking in the undercover car parks in Darwin...YOU WONT FIT. So youll have to park only in the hot sun, not much shade around for those big motorhomes...and if its broken down...I dont think I would be too impressed with having to camp out the back of the mechanics garage...good excuse for a nice hotel i suppose, but you gotta consider these things.

Get the nice 4 wheel drive, and double axel caravan built for 4 wheel drive just to tackle those roads that can still be tar, but one lane, or full of holes...you only need to go west of ipswich for that.

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Reply By: keviny6 - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:15

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:15
definately a small motorhome , small compact one you can down awning and move ----use annexe for longer stays - don't get a converted one like coasters mazda buses etc--- cramped for living space at rear, also car for getting around is neccesary.
i jacknifed a caravan many years ago, not an experience i want to go through again
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Reply By: jomah - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:46

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 16:46
Hi Bob;
A motor home is easier to drive than a caravan combo.
They are more self sufficient with black water tanks.
thats the only two positives I can think of.
On the negative side; they are higher (less clearance) and
unless you tow a vehicle behind they can be very inconvenient as detailed above; and to get 20ft of living space as in a 20ft van you need a very large motorhome.I understand you dont want to talk about purchase price (have you won lotto?) but the cost difference between a van/car combiation and a motor home/small car combo is really like 2.5 times the dollars. A 5th wheeler is still a caravan but offers its own positives and negatives. The caravan & motorhome show should be in Brissy about mid year. Perhaps that would be a very good place to begin your research. More out of the way places as described can be a bit risky for a motorhome(heavy & easily bogged). 4x4 plus van with dirt road pack a better option. Just my thoughts, you will in the end make your own choice. We have been through it all and now in our 15th month on the road. We chose the 4x4 & van combo. No regrets so far. Good hunting Bob.
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Reply By: PeteS - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:45

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 17:45
My 2 cents (or no sense) worth is go, go, go for a Caravan. Main reason as a few others have said, if you want to go shopping, visiting friends or watch a sunset in a special spot its easier to leave the van behind. In the majority of camp spots the motorhomes have to leave their tables and chairs etc behind to mark their spot is taken. I'd love the luxury of a motorohome however for us being like a snail and taking our home with us everywhere we go is not our choice. Your choice may differ - that's what make us individuals.
Cheers, PeteS
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Reply By: Member -Steve.NT - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:36

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 19:36
Hey Bob V.

My parents are currently doing the grey nomad thing and have done so for some time, They sold every thing 2 years ago and set them selves up very nicely, they have no intention of coming home any time soon.

Their set up cost $75000 for the car and $ 58 for the van all brand new, they can spend weeks without a c/van park if they wish including washing as they even have a washing machine in the car a 2.4 Kva gen set to run the microwave, kettle, toaster air con etc.

This is their set upImage Could Not Be Found

The van is a 23'' Evernew off road semi custom made with full annex and the truck is 07/06 L/cruiser RV turbo deisel, it now has a boat on the roof as well now.

Cheers Steve.
AnswerID: 286749

Reply By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:06

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 20:06
I have a Troopy 4wd camper. It's great for me but not for some people who's mobility prevents them from climbing up into a rather cramped top dbl bunk. When I am at a large camp ground I really enjoy wandering around looking at other travellers rigs. Most people are keen to chat and will give you the reasons they had for purchasing their current set-up, interesting that a lot of people that I have met are not now using the same combination that the had a few years ago. I like the idea as previously suggested that you hire a camper for your first trip and then you can observe/talk to other people at the camp grounds.
AnswerID: 286756

Reply By: FreeWheeler(Qld) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:20

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:20
Gooday to you Bob.
We purchased a 6mtr Winnebago 4 birth Motor home & have towed a small suzuki 4by on a gypsy trailer.The conveience of the motor home is if it is raining you just pull up where ever it suits climb between the front seats and you in the home part no getting wet.Also when you are parked in a remote spot and if for any reason you are put in danger all you have to do is climb into the driver seat and off you go (hopefully) as with a c/van you are still in danger as you are still trying to get out of the van to get to the tow vehicle.It is handy to have a small car in tow as you may leave the m/home behind to do the shopping if you are in one spot for a while and to check out all the sightseeing stuff or for what ever reason.
The extra fuel is low about 1klm per litre,.
We were thinking of getting a 5th wheeler but glad we changed our minds as since i have seen them on the road i think they are just tooo bulky to try and get into parks and the like,but each to there own.
Bob there is a reason for me to respond to your Q,and that is our complete unit is for sale & what i have said above is true and not a load of bulldust it is fact from experience.The brid no longer wants to travell so we wish to sell.
Cheers Robert.
AnswerID: 286780

Reply By: splits - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:32

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:32

My wife and I spent the first 12 months of our marriage way back in 1974 travelling around in a small caravan pulled by a panel van with a trail bike in the back. We have done plenty of travelling since then but never with a caravan. The thing was a bloody nuisance. It would have been fine if we had taken it to a fixed destination and set it up for a few weeks holiday but we were on the move and that changed the situation completely. We found it could not be taken taken into some areas and we had to find a place to leave it. Parking in some cities was a problem. We often left it in a caravan park and went off sightseeing but often changed our plans and had to double back to get it. This became very frustrating.

It was not difficult to uncouple it from the car back then but I am not so sure I would like to be constantly doing it now.

In recent years, after the kids left home, we have used a 2wd tray back ute with a lift top camper body on it. We could afford something larger but that has been more than adequate. We clocked up thousands of miles in it including a two month tour of Tasmania. We now have a 4wd ute with a camper body. This one does not have a bed over the roof like the other one did but it is still big enough for us.

You did not say what size you are thinking of. If you are not thinking of the larger types then you may find a vehicle the size of a Transit, Fiat, Iveco, Mercedes etc. van would be suitable. These vehicles drive like cars, they have plenty of room for two people, most come with showers and toilets, you can take them just about anywhere a 2wd vehicle will go and you don't need a second vehicle on a trailer behind you. They are easy to drive in any street in any city and parking is rarely a problem.

If you do look at these vehicles then you will see that there are two types, the panel van type bodies and the cab chassis version with Winnebago type bodies. The latter are higher, bulkier and easy to hit trees or shop awnings. They also don't have the ground clearance of the van bodies and they could restrict your movements in some of the National Parks and similar areas that you intend going into.

Whatever you decide, take the advice that I have seen repeated many times in caravan and motorhome magazines and that is to buy the smallest one that meets your needs. Far too many people go overboard and regret it later.

AnswerID: 286791

Reply By: Member - Peter H (WA) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 03:03

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 03:03
Hi Bob

I have a converted Toyota Coaster. I have lived in Caravans but have never towed one so I cant compare.
What I can tell you is that I don't own another car and drive the coaster everywhere. Very simple to drive. Yes parking can be an issue but like everything you always figure it out. Having spoken to other people with larger motor homes, they also find it easy to drive.
A lot of places you cant get a big motor home into. The coaster I have has a King size bed at the rear, a dinette that seats 2, a sink and a shower and toilet. I don't think I would want much more room. My wife and I are big people and we don't find it any trouble moving around inside. The one thing we don't have inside is a gas stove. When I built the layout we decided that we would rather cook outside. Oh and I forgot we have a 190l 2 door compressor fridge and plenty of solar, so we can bush camp to our hearts content. As I said I cant tell you about caravaning. I do like the idea of having my house on my back. If there was any trouble we don't have to get out of the motor home, just walk to the front and drive away.
Just my opinion.
Either way, get out there and enjoy life on the road.

AnswerID: 286825

Reply By: PajeroTD - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 04:38

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 04:38
I just went to the RV show in Utah, and looked at both. I know everything is bigger (the motorhomes had Ford V10 engines, and the big diesel ones had 400HP Cummins diesels), but the theory is the same. Personally, I would go diesel 4x4 and 30ft caravan with dual axles. You would only go motorhome if you were pulling a car behind it on an A frame hitch. A motorhome, you can access while driving obviously, that's the only advantage. The purchase price was about 3 times the price of a similarly equipped trailer I think. The caravan i liked was the Jayco Jayflight G2 30ft (it was about $22,000 here, not sure how much they are in Oz). It appeared very robust and well insulated - i like the fully protected under-belly, I am not sure I would go the off-road caravans, because i dont like the idea of going off road with one, and those Bushranger ones (is that what they are called?) don't look like they are finished very well and overpriced. For the people who insist on off-road caravans, I would personally prefer something like a Hilux or F250 with the slide-on camper.
AnswerID: 286826

Reply By: Member - Bob V (QLD) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 11:37

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 11:37

To all the members who have replied to my enquirey Motor Home or Caravan, I am overwhelmed

Thank you all very much

It has given me a lot of food for thought I can tell you,

I suppose I have had a preference for the van and 4WD as a few have suggested, and (no I have not won Lotto but if anyone has the numbers do not hesitate to give me a call)

Hoping to meet some of you on the road in the near future

AnswerID: 286856

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 17:21

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 17:21
Hello Bob

Time coming close up for throwing in the towel?...lol

We were on the road for 5 years towing a 27 footer. I said NEVER AGAIN!!! I can list my reasons as long as your arm but I found the whole thing too stressfull. Maybe because everything was busted arse vehicles and equipment although we did not have many breakdowns.

If you are not looking for 4x4 stuff then a smaller comfortable motorhome will suit you down to the ground.

If you still want 4x4 as well then buy a Toyota Coaster from the second hand market and slip Landruiser front rinning gear and gearbox underneth and you have the best of both worlds. I wish I had gone down that road insread of what I have now BUT I have made my bed so have to lie in it.....LOL


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