camper trailer or pop out caravan

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 17:52
ThreadID: 68018 Views:4289 Replies:9 FollowUps:4
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We are planning a 6 month trip around Australia starting in August with three kids (ages 5, 3 and 1). Our big dilemma at the moment is trying to decide whether to buy a camper trailer with full annex or one of those caravan type pop ups where the roof pops up and the beds fold out. We believes we will have a lot more space with the camper trailer and annex especially in areas which are somewhat overrun with flies, heat or rain. However there may not be quite so much comfort or organisation to be had. Any advice on what is most suited to a family of 5 for 6 months?
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Reply By: Ozboc - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:00

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:00
What is your tow vehicle ? what is your budget ? where will you be staying ? Caravan parks - or places off the road ( down dirt tracks)

AnswerID: 360386

Follow Up By: sarahandvern - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:10

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:10
Thanks for the queries - We are driving a Prado, our budget would stretch to about 25k and I suppose we will be staying in a mix of places but certainly will want to access off road sites.
FollowupID: 628192

Reply By: Member - Vic S (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:31

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:31
Hello all
we have done both with kids 6,8,10 the first time in a 16 ft pop top and the second time at 8,10,12 in an off road camper, the whole family would give the vote to the pop top.Being able to stop easily for morning tea/ lunch or just a break from flies in some places was not possible in the camper but so easy in the pop top,also after a long day on the road with all a bit tired and at times grumpy the last thing you want to do is set up a camper let alone try to drive tent pegs into rock.The kids are now in their 20s and we have gone back to an off road camper.
Hope this helps ,have a wonderful time on the road ,we sure did.,
AnswerID: 360394

Follow Up By: sarahandvern - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:14

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:14
Thanks so much for your response, it is always good to hear from people that have actually experienced what we are about to attempt. Two questions if you don't mind, can you get fly proof annexes for the pop tops or is it just an awning? And did you do any off road with the pop top or did you stick to mainly sealed roads? Thanks again, Sarah
FollowupID: 628193

Follow Up By: Member - Vic S (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 15:35

Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009 at 15:35
most of our stays were in parks but we also camped off road with no problems ,with the pop top it did limit access into narrow winding tracks.When we went into Lawn Hill in QLD I was going a bit fast and hit a wash out which killed the fridge and caused some structual damage but other than that no issues in six months on the road,the roads we travelled were mostly sealed but we would have done several thousand on dirt roads ,not what I would call off road,with the camper it was the same except we did go into several off road areas.The plus with staying in parks was the kids had more contact with others their own age,most of the parks we stayed in were relaxed and not very upmarket but very friendly.Fly proofing an annex is the same in both it just depends on the design ie zips and velcro to seal the floor and sides
If you want any other info feel free to email.
FollowupID: 628485

Reply By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:44

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:44
Hi sarahandvern
I agree with Ozboc, What is your budget, where do you want to go, and where are you camping, with or without power. We have been on the road for over two years now and would not swap our camper for anything else. As yet we have not seen anyone with a pop top that can set up as quickly so not all trailers are slow to set up. If you decide on a trailer do you homework. From when we pull up to basic set up (over night only) it takes about 5mins. Full set up with annexe and extra kids room is 25 mins tops. Less if it's raining lol. When we are fully set we have more room than pop tops and most caravans. My wife loves having the extra room with the kids especially when it is raining.
You would not get a pop top into some of the places we take our trailer so that will be a factor. Not all people go that off road though.
We can access our fridge, pantry and stove while on the side of the road or in a car park, get some very funny looks when we go shopping then open up the draw and start loading groceries into the fridge while making lunch in the carpark at woolies.
One thing we liked with our camper is it was made to suite our car so wheel track is the same, the wheels are interchangeable and it is not wider than our car. Most pop tops are a set width and wheel track. This may not matter to you depending where you plan to go. We like the freedom to go where we want to.We have water and power on board and can be self-sufficient.
Really you need to answer the questions at the top. Hope this helps.


AnswerID: 360409

Reply By: Joondalupgerry - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:49

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:49
I'd definitely go for an off road poptop.
We looked at all options for our two year trip around Australia and quickly gave the camper trailer/jayco style pop out and pop up the flick.
With a poptop you can stop on the side of the road for lunch or a break with out having to pop the top ...the other style needs to have the ends etc extended before you can reach the fridge, cooktop etc.
We took our 16 foot tandem poptop everywhere possible.
(exceptions were Bungle Bungles and Fraser Island) for which we used a 6 person tent we also carried.
A 6 month trip around Aussie means you won't be staying put anywhere for make sure your Annexe/Awnings etc can be quickly and easily erected. Remember the midges in the far north can give you make sure your mesh is fine enough.
Cheers and enjoy your will be be so beneficial for your kids.
Gerard and Anne
AnswerID: 360411

Reply By: just goin - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:52

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 19:52
Hi Guys,
We have planned the same trip or time away if you like and pondered the same question as you and posted it on this forum about 12 months ago. We have a 5yo and 2yo travelling with us and we have ordered and pick up soon a Tambo Cooper XT Offroad Camper Trailer from Melbourne. We are from Newcastle NSW and we looked and looked and did all the pro's and con's. We would have loved a caravan for certain reasons and the camper trailer ended up the winner.

Many Reasons of course but the main ones for us was the cost. The amount of room we will have inside once set up for the kids being younger to play and spread out. If the kids go to bed early they are in the main tent while we the adults can still sit up in the annexe area and enjoy some quiet time out while still being close to the kids etc. The cost of the camper we got ended up under $12K for a top camper and that is unheard of anywhere we looked in Newcastle and Sydney for the same quality and features we were after. Have a look at the website as this is one of the adventure stories and websites that inspired us and directed us to look at Tambo. We also buy the Campertrailer Aust Magazine every 2 months and also have owned a camper trailer before.

We have family with caravans and yes there is little setup for a quick stop here and there but at the end of the day you are still sitting inside 4 solid walls and when you are going travelling to see Australia, then you should be out there interacting with others which in a camper trailer makes you more open to passers by and often initiates better conversation options etc etc.

We also didnt want to have to store a caravan at home upon our return, whereas a camper trailer will still fit into your garage or easily off the street with less hassle.

I could go on for ages but at the end of day - yes there may be an extra 10-15 mins setup with a camper trailer but with kids it gives you heaps more usable room and a little bit of exercise didnt hurt anyone.

Think about the fuel costs you will save as well compared to towing a caravan!!!!

p.s we hope to be on the road by mid July 09 at the latest and heading north, Cya on the road
AnswerID: 360412

Reply By: Johnny boy - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 20:40

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 20:40
Hi all,
I think everyone has a valid reason for there opinions and all I can say is that there is horses for courses ,so you should keep putting out the feelers and enjoy this wonderful forum because at the end of the day if we all got together be it in our camper VANS,camper TRAILERS ,solid vans ,Expanders, or even tents we would all still have a ball, I have 2 sets of friends that have done a big trip and they both took their camper vans and both sold them because of lack of fast erection and that was the reason for me buying my Windsor Rapid and I'm happy with my choice yet one of our Friends that sold there camper bought a solid van with a pop top because of security ( they felt safer in fully walled van when a storm hit and just when rif raf was about so like I said horses....
just keep in mind all the stuff that needs to be added to whatever you buy if you intend to be fully self sufficient ,I went to the show today and I think I might have to refinance the house for our big trip LOL! Good LUCK :)

Regards John.
AnswerID: 360422

Follow Up By: PradOz - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 23:40

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 23:40
100% in agreement with john. also remember what access you may need on your travels. if you arent going to be way off road then the travel height, width and length may not be a problem. but if you are then that would restrict your options and you may settle on a camper van or trailer. i would say if it fitted in your budget and didnt effect your travel plans re locations and access, the rapid, expanda types etc are an ideal compromise between a camper trailer/van and a poptop/full caravan.

you really do need to list your own wants, needs and wishlist to come up with what you should get. if you never had a camper or van b4 i would strongly suggest people hire, borrow one first. if thats not possible, start off cheap, try it out on some short trips away and then you will soon know what the family's wants, needs, likes and dislikes etc are and will end up better informed.

we started off small and cheap (jayco offroad finch $4000) sold it after a while (for $8000) and now have a later model jayco swan. the extra room due to the size, the layout with fridge opposite doorway, and larger annexe size suits us perfect. everyone is different, so keep doing your homework and hopefully get out there enjoying yourself soon...

FollowupID: 628229

Reply By: Johnny boy - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 07:48

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 07:48
Hi Sarah and Vern, I forgot to ask if you have been to any shows at all and where do you guys call home as its great to be able to look at a van then walk over and compare it to a camper trailer then walk to what everelse,you also get to look at a heap of gear that you might not have thought of for your trip,(cob cooker? ) Im looking at Solar power Vs genni and a hot water system in my van Vs one under the bonnet of the cruiser and we though MM to have a shower outside the van is the same as one in front of the 4b yet I can still use it when I camp and leave the van parked up and I gain all the space in the cupboard of van reduce weight save money, all good advice from experienced people ( yes I know they are still salesmen but who cares they can't force you to buy)
there is a guy GIC campers at the show selling what he calls an (EXTREEM) off road camper for $5400 with lots of options ,I think you can decide if its extreem but I grabed a pamphlet to show it to my mate,I went to a few shows got on here and surfed the net before deciding ,but I think you might want to get a move on Im not leaving till late Jan 2010 for 9 months and Im getting a bit nervous as time is flying LOL!

Have fun,Good luck ,stay safe John.
AnswerID: 360475

Reply By: Axel [ the real one ] - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 08:53

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 08:53
Starting in August for 6 mths brings the weather into the equation more so than travelling in the April - Sept season , an idea of a destination would influence the purchase , heat / cold / rain / road conditions vary so much ,, we did 6mths in our hard floor c/trailer last yr , put up and pull down 50 times in 26 weeks and 23,000 klm , some short setups [ o-nite ] some for 10 days , if was to do again would use a offroad capable poptop with a rollout annex to give the extra room ,, just about all c/trailers -soft and hard floors require some pegs and ropes and at the end of a long day or even a short days travel pegs and ropes become a chore to detest ,,,,
AnswerID: 360484

Reply By: Ray - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 09:19

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 09:19
One big disadvantage with a camper trailer over a pop top caravan is packing up. Especially if it is bleep down with rain at the time and mildew if you don't dry it out properly before you store it away and also short stops while travelling. I personally would not buy a camper trailer or a pop top caravan only a caravan with a solid roof.
AnswerID: 360487

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