Caravan vs Camper trailer 6 month family trip (2 adults 3 kids)

Submitted: Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:01
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My wife and I and three kids (aged 8, 6 and 1) are plannig a 6-12 month trip around Oz. Can anyone please provide advice on whether we should go for a caravan or camper trailer. I am leaning towards the caravan for ease of set up and luxuries (wife wants these).
What size and style of caravan would you suggest given there are five of us.

Any assistance in planning would be greatly appreciated. Would love to hear from anyone else who has done this adventure with three young children.


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Reply By: wild dog - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:15

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:15
Caravan, camper trailers and damp weather don't mix.

Those kids have to be the luckiest kids in Australia.
AnswerID: 364296

Reply By: just goin - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:32

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:32
Hi Holdsworths,
We are about to a big trip our selves. We pick up our camper trailer tomorrow and leave on the 15 June.
As there are pros and cons with both,so you need to ask yourself what do you acctually want to do.
If you are going to stick to the main roads and are happy to tent it if you want to go bush caravan may be for you.
In saying this we arrived at a caravan park yesterday at the same time as a fellow and his wife in a caravan. We set up a tent, had tea and bathed the 2 kids and old mate was still setting up. Not saying a camper would be quicker but what ever option you go for you need to have it organised.
We spent the last eighteen months deciding the same question and than we had to decide on a camper manufacturer.
As for the kids we found out if you dont expect to much from them and are happy to stop every few hours they are fine.

Cheers






AnswerID: 364301

Follow Up By: The Holdsworth's - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 16:11

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 16:11
Thanks for the info. Which camper did you decide on as it appears most people recommend campers.
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Follow Up By: just goin - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 20:30

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 20:30
Hi,
Sorry for the late reply, drive from melbourne to newcastle in to days with two kids, long way.
We finally decided on the TAMBO Cooper with the XT tent. Keith and Amanda were more than helpful with everything we asked of them. And there is the price. For the same thing up here we were looking at about twice the price. We looked at that many campers up here it weas a matter of seen one you seen them all but when we went to melbourne the first time it was WOW they are good.
If you google tambo campers their website will come straight up. If you live near here (newcastle) i would be more than happy to show you ours to save you a trek to Melbourne. And just before you ask i am not on a comission basis with them. hahahaha.
If you have any more queries just let me know.

Cheers.

P.S, It was very hard to get of the highway and come home and not keep going.
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Reply By: richard - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:38

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:38
Hi - I just got back from two week trip up north where it was perfect one day and pi$$ed down every other one.

I have a camper trailer. It did not leak however:-
-It was very cold at night as there is no insulation using canvas.
-It was very hot inside when the sun came out (not often)
-It was a pain trying to get the canvas dry enough to pack up.
-There is limited seating room

We are looking around at alternatives.

There are some good hybrids around where no canvas and have some insulation
eg Exodus, Topaz

The caravans seem to be very well set up with toilets inside where you can even poo inside near where you sleep or cook if you want:)




Richard
AnswerID: 364304

Follow Up By: Johnny boy - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 15:00

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 15:00
Hi Guys,
We have bought a Windsor Rapid and it can go off-road just not 4 wheel driving type of off road for example it can handle corrugation's and be taken over some rough terrain but it wont fit where your little trailers will but heck I'm taking my family around for 9 months next Jan and the last thing I want is to risk the family getting hurt or damage my home on wheels or get stuck where I will be in some bother that's why we take a tent as well just in case we find a nice spot but need to leave the van for a night or two ,we like the comforts that our van offers and we will be in it for 9 whole months not just a week or two ,well that's just our two cents worth and at the end of the day we all need to cater for our own needs so that's up to you to decide ,

Good luck and what ever you buy I bet you have a ball !!

Regards John.
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Reply By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:51

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 14:51
Some camper trailers are well fitted with all the mod cons are luxuries aplenty, but the main issue is where you're going to be taking it. If you're likely to only ever require powered sites at a caravan park, then get yourself a full caravan and keep your wife happy with the comforts. But if you want to do some bush camping, then you should really look at a dedicated "off road" model of either camper trailer or caravan so you can be a bit more adventurous. There's only a couple of true "off-road" caravans and these are very expensive - $80K mark so in comparison spending $25K - $40K on a quality offroad camper trailer is a better decision if you and your wife are happy with the fitout. Of course, you can buy second hand too - see our Trader for some ideas of what's around. It's always going to come down to personal choice and budget so what suits one family may not suit you but you've come to the right place to ask for suggestions from others! I hope you get some good answers,
MM
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: furph - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:04

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:04
D&M
I have to take you to task on this one "There's only a couple of true ..... $80K mark....
Please. What you must be referring to are the 18-20ft. vans all 8ft. wide, full height, tandem axles and weigh 2.5-3 tonne.
From your (perhaps limited in vans) experience you would know that these are not the "true offroad" vans, but ones manufactured for an elite clientel who wish to pose as "true off road" caravanners but who seldom go past a van park.
The "true off road van" will be no more than the width of the tow vehicle, less than 15' in length, have good (but not excessive ground clearance), a pop top for clearance under trees and brand new with good specification at no more than $50K.
These are the "true off road caravans"
furph
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 22:38

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 22:38
I was talking about Bushtrackers and Kimberley Karavans which are both in that vicinity.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:32

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:32
Talk about take to task!!
We now have a Kedron Top Ender. Previously had a very good off road CT (Odyssey). We pretty much NEVER stay in van parks. We have been on the road since January, and have not yet stayed in a van park.

We are currently on the banks of the Macarthur River in NT. Within 500 m of us, there are two other Kedrons and a Bushtracker.

Like many others, we started with a small tent, moved to a bigger tent, then a CT and now a good tough off road van.

Careful how you make assumptions on peoples travel habits and lifestyles based on how much they spend on a van.
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 19:34

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 19:34
Gosh no, sorry I think you have totally misunderstood my intentions with my statement. Just take it at face value. Was only trying to discuss the merits of caravans vs campers which was the question.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:55

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 11:55
My follow-up was directed at furph, Michelle, for his statement that vans over $80,000 are not true off roaders, but are:
'manufactured for an elite clientel who wish to pose as "true off road" caravanners but who seldom go past a van park.

The comment would be offensive if it was not so silly.

Norm C
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 14:52

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 14:52
No worries!
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 18:40

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 18:40
We head off soon for 3mths on the road and tow our Tambo Cooper soft floor camper.Some times I would like a off road van but going to the places we like to get to, lugging 3T of off road van is a big strain on vehicle too.ATM it comes down to this for us.Keep using the camper and go touring more often, or buy/save for an off road van, spend the next 5yrs paying for it while it sits in the shed cause we carnt afford to pay for it and go touring.
Give me my camper.......but when I get older and just want to tour and relax, a caravan it will be.
AnswerID: 364345

Reply By: Member - Andrew (WA) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:17

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:17
I'd recommend you buy a caravan to suit your needs and then sell it on your return. You will lose much less in the change over than renting over such a long period.
AnswerID: 364373

Follow Up By: Member - Andrew (WA) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:21

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:21
Ps...what ever you do, don't get a camper trailer for a trip over such a long period.

With the kids, setting-up and taking down, bad weather etc... you will go nuts.

You'd end up spending $$$ on hotel rooms just to take a break from it all.

None the less, half your luck...12 months away YIPPEE>>>
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Follow Up By: joff1 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 16:57

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 16:57
How do you know that Andrew??

We are mum dad and 2 kids travelling permently in a soft floor camper and we haven't gone nuts. We have our moments of cause but every family has them irrespective of their housing arrangement.

Believe it or not, some people choose to embrace the odd challenge like bad weather. It's part of the adventure. The trouble starts when you are not properly prepared or have a to much of a romantic idea of what is supposed to happen.

What the original poster needs to be sure of is what sort of family they are before they decide what type of abode they trail. No one else can possibly say that "you will go nuts" just because they themselves can deal with that kind of environment.
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 18:07

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 18:07
How long have you spent living in a camper Andrew? See my post below 2 and half years and still going. Agree with joff1, each to there own but just cause it doesn't suit you don't assume all are the same. Who cares if you get a bit wet, it drys. We have manage to stay pretty dry so far, and when it rains our girls usually go out and dance in it after spending 8 months at roxby doawns.We have more room in our camper than most caravans have and is very quick to set up, 5 mins basic and 20 mins tops full set up with 3 rooms 2.4x2.4, 3.6x.2.4.and 2.1x2.1 metres

Josh

Ps. If I worried about going nuts I would have stayed home cause most our friends thought we were nuts going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew (WA) - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 19:17

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 19:17
Struth....The thread asks for suggestions and I gave mine.

Like you and Joff say "each to their own". Sorry my opinion differs from yours.

And...longest I have spent out in a camper trailer is about 3 months....with 3 kids, aged 4, 7 and 9 which obviously makes you more qualified.

I find your reply thread rude and unnecessary...as if I can't have an opinion. Keep your attacks to youself.
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 20:32

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 20:32
Sorry just gave my opinion too. You made a blanket statement Quote "Whatever you do, don't get a camper trailer for a trip over such a long period. With the kids, setting up and taking down, bad weather etc....You will go nuts." I thought this to be a bit misleading as not all people who do it go nuts. Obviously you did,lol. That was a joke not an insult. Travelling in a camper is not for everyone.I know plenty of people I would say would not last a week in a camper and yet some of them have spent 6 months travelling in one. We have met dozens of people on the road travelling in trailers.
No I'm not more qualified than you by any means.
After travelling for 2 years we left our kids room in Goulburn and realised when we got sydney so no I'm not qualified by any means but we have lived in a trailer for 2 yrs without going nuts, maybe a bit crazy at times as in dancing in the rain or playing on the play ground with my girls lol. I wasn't meaning to offend you, sorry. As you said good on em for getting out for 12 months and whatever they take caravan, trailer or tent it will be an adventure. I do know of a family with 3 kids aged 2,4,7 who spent 2 yrs in a tent. Now that would make me go nuts but they loved it.
We could not get to the places we have with a caravan, even an offroad road one. Our trailer is no wider than our car and has the same wheel track. Have crawled through tracks with a bit an inch of clearance, these guys may not want to do that sort of thing. That's why I said each to there own, I wasn't trying to be smart. We have seen places others couldn't cause they couldn't get vans in and was to far to drive in with tent and back track. That was why we bought a trailer instead of a van so we could go anywhere we wanted. To do this we gave up some luxury. I guess that was my point. Before deciding on accommodation they need to work out where they want to go, do they mind tenting if need be and back tracking, how remote or on the black stuff. There are so many variables including family dynamics. Having a few test runs in hire units can be a good test but living in it full time is very different to a weekend away.

Have a good evening,
Josh
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Reply By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:24

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 20:24
We have lived in our camper trailer for over 2 years now with 2 kids 5+7 yrs old. The temperature range has been from -4 overnight in Murrayville vic to 45+ in Roxby downs Sa and Darwin Nt. We have had torrential rain and massive winds. Haven't yet had snow much to the girls disappointment lol.
If you can't pack up with wet canvas or in the rain then you bought the wrong camper trailer. If you buy a caravan you will spend half your time trying to keep it clean (to much like a house).
We bought a 3mtr square shade sail and on hot days either hang it over the trailer if possible or just drape it over for shade, makes a huge difference. Make sure the trailer has heaps of windows for cross ventilation as well. On a frosty night drape a tarp over, makes a huge difference keeping it warmer.
If you are in a camper buy really good sleeping bags to keep warm. A camper will allow more freedom of where you can go but a caravan gives you more luxury. Decide which is more important. If you decide not buy a camper because it takes to long to set up again you bought the wrong camper.
Take your time and look at every option. What looks good on the showroom floor may not be that good in the real world.
You really need to decide where you want to go? What you want to see? Can you leave to caravan and double back to pick it up?
Be careful if they say it is capable of going offroad. Check what they mean by offroad. Have a good look at how it is built. A lot of campsites have toilets of some form so not having a toilet is not a real issue and if remote there are plenty of trees. Remeber everyone is different. Our camper suits us cause it does exactly what we want and gets us where we want. It might be different for you and your family
Can I make one suggestion, in 6-12 months plan to go for 12 months as it is a really big country out there.

Josh
AnswerID: 364375

Follow Up By: joff1 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:04

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:04
Good advice Josh, it always amazes me when people offer wet canvas as a problem, especcially in the context of an extended trip. If you are travelling then packing up wet means absolutely nothing because you will 99 times out of a 100 be setting up that night 300 or 400 km up the road. As you point out, Josh, if you can't pack a camper away sopping wet for a 3 or 400 km drive then you possitively bought a dunga.
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Follow Up By: The Holdsworth's - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 16:28

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 16:28
Thanks for the feedback. This has all been awesome advice.

Out of interest what camper trailer are you guys using. From your commenst you seem to know the ones to steer clear from. i,e take too long to set up pack away etc
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 19:55

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 19:55
Hi holdsworth family,
We spent more than 12 months looking at camper trailers. We went to every camping show and every showroom we could find. We were amazed at how many different models there.
Before I go into the types of trailers there are can I say good on you for doing the trip, it is an adventure you will not forget. Don't go in it thinking it is all roses and you won't be disappointed. We have bad days when we wish we had more space or were not camped next to others so we could argue in private. But one thing I can say is the bond between our family is stronger than ever before and the places we have seen out weigh the bad days a hundred fold.
Our camper is an O'briens offroad family deluxe (I think they have changed the name now). We looked at Red rock, southern cross and Adventure trailers as other options. These were all well built trailers that would have suited our needs in different price ranges. When looking at campers ask if they can put them up for so you can see how hard/easy it is. If they don't want to don't buy it. Had a guy tell it was really quick and easy until we asked him to put it. Finally he said it takes about an hour but you should get it down to about 40 mins with practice. Ask about making changes to suit your needs. We had people tell us we didn't need a kids room, or we don't really want draws in the back. We obviously didn't go any further with these.
Look at how the trailer is built. Is it fully seam welded or just tacked in spots. Tacked in spots will leak and are weaker. Are the sheets one full length or joined, joined sheets are weaker and offer another place to leak.
Do the wheels match the wheel track on your car. Relevant if sand driving or in mud. Can also help prevent staking on tree roots on bush tracks.
Why we chose an O'briens camper. The service we recieved from the company was exceptional. They asked what we were planning to do, where were we going. It was all about what we wanted out of the trailer. We could change add or delete anything we wanted.
The trailer is no wider than our vehicle (was built to suit our 80 series) Wheel track is the same and we put the same rims and wheels on the trailer as the car, so we now have 2 spares on the trailer and 1 on the car that fit camper and car. Seen a few campers left on the road while they go to get tyres repaired.
The main tent part has gas struts so it goes up very quickly and needs no ropes. The awning stays attached, if we only put up the main tent it just lays over the roof. We have walls that we can zip on to enclose the awning and are quick to put on or take off. On a sunny day we don't have them on to enjoy the outdoors but can put them on easily at night to keep mozzies out if needed.
We got the optional kids room which gives us heaps of room.
The main tent is 2.4x2.4 but can be made bigger. The annexe is 2.4x3.9 and can be made to 3.0 mtrs wide.The kids room is 2.1x2.1 and again can go bigger.
There are 2 draws which slide out the back.The draws are self supporting so they don't need legs under them. We had a sink put in instead off the plastic washing tub. We also changed the lift up lid on the pantry to a sliding lid.
In one draw is a 2 burner gas stove with grill(you can now also get an oven) the sink and an 80 ltr evacool fridge which runs as 40 ltr fridge 40 ltr freezer. The other draw has a bench top which slides forward and under that is food storage. Behind that section is general storage,pots,jugs, containers, other food and cooking stuff. In the end of the draw with the stove is a cutlery draw with plates, cups, bowls and cutlery. We can access the draws at any time so when we go shopping it is easy to put food away and have even cooked lunch while in the woolworths carpark. Funny to see peoples reaction.
It has battery power for going bush with a solar panel for charging and a 60 ltr water tank. (can add another tank if needed). Around the trailer there are lockable compartments all around so very secure. It has a pole locker which also holds my fishing rods. There are 2 jerry cans holders on the front and a large tool box which carries the hand winch, chain saw plus fuel, spare parts, bike helmets etc. The girls bikes tie down on top of the tool box. There are plenty of trailers that are built just as well as the o'briens but what sold us was the ease of putting up and down and the attitude/service from the staff.
Whatever you buy you will have things you don't like or compromise in some way, biggest trick is getting as close to perfect for your family as you can get. This changes to from hot weather to cold, Being near the beach or in the desert.
Take your time, look at trailers or caravans more than once cause you will notice different things the second time that you didn't notice the first time. Remember living in one full time is different to going away for 2-3 weeks. What you looking at doing is not a holiday, it is a lifestyle/adventure.
Sorry this is long winded but I hope it helps. When you have looked at a few and maybe narrowed it down abit come back here and ask for pros and cons on the ones you have chosen.
If your are interested we are putting together a web site www.kidsandall.webs.com . It is in the early stages but we will add more as we can. We plan to put on things we found useful or not useful. Places we have been, photos etc. Basically we want to put info on there to give people a starting point when looking at doing a big trip as we had no idea when we started and wasted a lot of time and money with stuff that was just dumb and have found other things on the road that are very useful.

Happy planning
Josh

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Follow Up By: The Holdsworth's - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 20:43

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 20:43
Thanks Josh,

I really appreciate you taking the time to pass on this info. I can see allot of planning happening to get this to come together.

The website sounds like a great idea. Especially for people like us. Am going to take all your advice onboard.

Safe travels

Ryan
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Follow Up By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 21:21

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 21:21
If you have any other questions or thoughts feel free to email us at kidsandall@yahoo.com.au Even if your wife has questions she would life to ask my wife as they often see things differently to us.
Do you have a departure date? We set ours fairly early so then everything we did from then on worked towards getting on the road. Allow plenty of time though cause it takes awhile.

Josh
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FollowupID: 632375

Reply By: Member - Old/new Girl (QLD) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 21:07

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 21:07
Hi There,
My two bobs worth
We started with tents then the camper then the wind up version now a pop top with 3 kids 6,8 &11. All have their good and bad points. However remember there is caravans and camper trailers for sale all over the country. Start small and upgrade then you will know for sure that you have what suits. Your going to know if the camper isn't for you pretty quickly. We still have tent that packs up on the roof of the car for those out of way places that the Van wont go and set up camp next to our friends with a very comfy camper. Gee sometimes I wish we could have both. Went away for easter with 4 other families with camper trailers bush camping. It rained and our van became the local child care centre equipped with warmth, food, DVD's they had a ball.
Cheers
AnswerID: 364385

Reply By: joff1 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:23

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:23
G'day Guys,

We are currently doing what you are about to do in an All Terrain soft floor camper.

I'm not going to say whether a camper is right for you or not but what I will say is that our camper is far more functional and practical than some of the full vans we have seen. That is not to say that all campers are fuctional, they arn't, some are genuine pieces of crap. Similarly, we have seen some vans that are really well layed out.

What I'm trying to say is that it isn't as simple as camper or van; As has been said previously, you need to decide where you want to go with your rig.

Probably more importantly though, as I have tried to point out to Andrew, you needed to know, or at least have a objective think about how you will deal with either mode.

It aint all beer and skittles out here on the road but it is a fantastic experience that will be with your family forever. Good luck with your choices and hope to see you out hear soon.

BTW, 6 months is just a flying visit. 12 months is an experience. More than that and you are living a lifestyle. Don't waste you money on 6 months if you can do 12 or more
AnswerID: 364497

Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:47

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at 17:47
We have not done long term travel with kids, so won't try to advise you there.

We had an off road CT (hard floor) for 4 years and recently changed over to an off road caravan (Kedron).

In the CT, we travelled for about 6 months each year. We now live full time in our van as long term travellers (have rented our home out).

There are advantages to both options and you can be comfortable in either. We loved our CT, and now love our van. We are more comfortable in the van, particularly when it is cold, wet or windy, but there is a bit less 'sense of adventure' with the van.

The main things are to consider:
storage space
- comfort for sleeping
- being weather proof as best you can
- toilet / shower needs and ease of use
ease of preparing and having meals when you are pushed for time or impacted by weather (When the weather is good, we prepare and consume most of our meals outdoors, often on / by the fire.)
- suitability of the rig for the type of roads you want to travel
- time and convenience of set up for simple overnight stops

These issues and most others can be catered for in either a van or CT, but in different ways and with different levels of effort.

Based on our experience with both van and CT, if the budget permitted it, I'd go for a van. But my experience also suggests it can be done well in a CT.

Good luck,

Norm C



AnswerID: 364501

Reply By: Travelling Pixie - Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:56

Thursday, May 14, 2009 at 12:56
we did a 3 month trip with kids last year

few points that i learnt:

- road-side (free) camping is not conducive to camper trailers as the sites are generally dusty and in a camper trailer or tent you are living closer to the ground

- camper trailer is colder and with kids we tended to go to bed early rather than sit up and get chilled. sometimes we got powered sites and used a heater in the tent

- out of the 3 months in the north of Australia we had only one night of rain to contend with and we were staying in that place for 2 more nights anyway

- in gusty weather the camper trailer/tent blew around alot more than the vans appeared to (when set up)

- there are numerous other pros and cons but at various stages along the trip i was wishing i had a van but at other stages i was glad of the camper trailer

for a 6 month trip with kids i would probably prefer a van and take a small tent to do those out-of-the-way campsites that you can't get to
AnswerID: 364820

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