Family caravan with bunks - How big is too big??

Hello, my husband, me, and 4 kids ages 7, 5, 3,3 (and 2 dogs- can't find dogsitters!) are travelling around for a year starting December this year. We will spend most of our time in caravan parks or State forests, maybe spending 3-5 days here or there away from a caravan park. We are in the final stages of ordering a caravan with 4 bunks, QS bed and shower toilet. I am wondering 2 things:

1. We are new to this and do not know how big is too big? we have had a design drawn up with a shower/ toilet combo next to the main bed which makes the van 23 1/2 ft and then another design with a separate shower toilet which makes it 26ft.

2. What sort of extras do people think are useful for this length of trip away? ie outside picnic table, extra power points etc.

Many thanks in advance

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Reply By: Member - Malcolm (Townsville) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:14

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:14
Two points you should know before buying the van:

What sort of vehicle are you going to tow with?

Make sure you calculate the GCM (Gross Combination Mass) that means the weight of the van, vehicle and ALL the goodies you are going to take with you.

Too heavy and you just may have to leave the kids and dogs at home ;-)


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Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:43

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:43
As tempting as it is to just go away with the 2 of us...

We are buying a diesel landcruiser for towing so it is no so much the weight. It is more that one of the caravan suppliers suggested that we might not get good sites at caravan parks with such a big van. Any thoughts? Also any thoughts on extras/ things we should include? We have no idea as we have never done this before.

In reply to the other reply re leaving the dogs at home, I understand it will be limiting but they are old dogs so cannot be left happily by us for a year and the kids will already mean that our trip will be slow and a bit limited. Did you find that there were kennels available?

Thanks for replying so quickly. I appreciate it.
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Follow Up By: Member - Malcolm (Townsville) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:53

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:53
You really must consider your vehicle and van in combination. Even a LC with 3000/3500kg towing ability can max out very quickly, especially with a 26' van. Don't buy your van and then find you actually need an F250 to tow it.

The van supplier is correct re van parks. I had a 20' van (now sold) and even with that 'small' van found some parks very restrictive.

When I went around Oz I took a 2300 watt generator with me. Used it twice. Had to lug it in and out of the van at every stop. Never again.

LOL.. Take the kids and dogs with you.

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Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:09

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:09
Thanks for the advice re the generator. That was something I was wondering about.

Re the weight of the van, I will ring the company and ask them a bit more about this. Forgive my ignorance, but say if the can is advertised at 2350 tare weight, how much weight do you think you would fill it up with?

Also, to get the smaller size, we would need to push the main bed to side and put in a shower/ toilet combo next to the main bed. Do you know of anyone who has done this and did they find it a pain?

I am sure you are shaking your head by now wondering how we are even going to make it out of the driveway, let alone around the country!
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Follow Up By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:41

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:41
"Re the weight of the van, I will ring the company and ask them a bit more about this. Forgive my ignorance, but say if the van is advertised at 2350 tare weight, how much weight do you think you would fill it up with? "

That's not a question for people on this Forum. Only the manufacturer can answer that.

Ask him for the TARE and ATM weights. The difference is your payload. Ask him to confirm if the TARE is with EMPTY water tanks. Each litre of water weighs a kilo.

You have a steep learning curve ahead of you. A detailed discussion with the manufacturer is important.

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Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:21

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:21
Thanks for the advice. We do have a steep learning curve ahead but we figure there are also a lot of people out there who have plenty of valuable advice to share. So far I have had lots of good advice from only posting one question on this forum.
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Reply By: 93 Navara - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:30

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 17:30
Took a dog away once, never again. Too limiting, had to put him in kennels off and on. I'd have another shot at a temporary home for them.
AnswerID: 373636

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:10

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:10
Not really an option unfortunately. Did you find that there were many kennels around? Where did you leave your dog while you went out in the day? Thanks for your help.
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Reply By: Member - Royce- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:32

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:32
Lots of van parks and most state forests won't allow dogs.
2!! I hope they're not big ones? Sound like they need new homes. Life will be busy enough with the kids!
AnswerID: 373646

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:24

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:24
Dogs are allowed in Victorian State Forests, & a lot of caravan parks allow dogs.
FollowupID: 640830

Reply By: ozwrangler - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:44

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:44
We're preparing for a trip, too.

We're in a similar situation with dogs, but only 2 kids.
At $42/day for 2 dogs, long-term kennelling isn't an option.

Size of dogs is a major factor- one of ours is about 7kg and fits anywhere, while other is a gangly 24kg who needs about 4X the space, especially if stretched out in hot weather.

Sorry, can't advise on vans as we're also new to this.

Camps Australia Wide (no. 5) book includes info on dog-friendly parks/ rest stops/ state forests etc People tell us this is a great book to have.

We also have Travelling with Dogs (NRMA) book + use forums at

Although books say parks are dog friendly, dogs aren't permitted during school holidays at some and one stated "not on weekends". Some phoning ahead also required, I think?

AnswerID: 373647

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:19

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:19
Good luck with your planning. The books sound good, I will look into them. Be sure to let us know how you go. I am not a plan ahead person but have finally given in and accepted that we will need to travelling with such a clan
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Reply By: Member - Johny boy (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:45

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 18:45
Hi there, as was stated before just remember all the stuff you will take with you for such an extended trip as it all weighs something and will add to your load and I'm just wondering ...what breed of dogs do you have as I can see you will only have 2 seats left over once all the family jumps in and those dogs are gonna get restless on long trips arnt they ?? I have a fridge in the back of my cruiser as I need it for those day trips without the van have you got much gear inside the car with you ? I'm taking my wife and 2 boys around oz for 9.5 months and we had to decide to leave our dog behind as you cant even get out of your car with the dog in a National park and there are some fab N/Ps to visit in this country !!
good luck with your planning and I hope to see you guys on the road somewhere :)
AnswerID: 373648

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:17

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:17
Thanks for your help. We have a border collie and kelpie- both 13 years old so quite mellow (due to their age, not their breed!). Ideally we would travel without dogs but we have no other option. So it is either not go, or travel with the dogs and accept that it will take a bit more planning and we will miss some great places. But still we figure that is better than missing out altogether. It will be squishy in the car but with 4 kids so close in age, squishy we are used to.
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Reply By: Tenpounder (SA) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:20

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:20
Hi there. About dogs: we have a spaniel, and took her with us last year to the Kimberly and Pilbara via Alice and Katherine and home (to Adelaide) via the Nullarbor. We had two problems with Lexie: one was the relatively few kennels/boarding options; the other was ticks. Too many of the best places were National Parks. So yes, it was a problem. So much so I would not want to repeat the problem; but then I would not wish to leave her behind for such a long time (11 weeks). So no, I don't have an answer.
Only one comment about weights etc.: with four kids and two dogs, there won't be much spare room in the LC. So that means you cannot distribute the load between van and vehicle - it will all have to go in the van.
Some so-called 'Tare' weights are a joke, and have nothing to do with the real weight of the van even empty. Then there's the issue of what was included in the van when its Tare was weighed (if in fact it was ever weighed!), such as water (as mentioned) or gas bottles, or airconditioner or awning or bike racks.
All this before you start to add a generator, bikes, food, tools, spare wheels.
So don't be surprised if the real empty weight is 2400 to 2500 kg, before adding your equipment, personal possessions and food. Which probably doesn't leave much in terms of both ATM and GCM.
26ft is, well, huge! I'd be very keen on a test drive before I signed up, especially since you have had no previous taste of what is involved. Your van will be ten feet longer than ours, and even that seemed immense at first, especially travelling backwards, which happens to all of us sometimes.
Hope it all worksout!
AnswerID: 373656

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:41

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:41
Thanks for your advice. There does seem to be no easy answer to the dog issue. We are also from Adelaide and will cover some of the same areas as you. One question about dogs- when you are out during the day, do parks permit you to leave the dog in the annex?

We will re-look at the weights etc. It might be that we should go for the smaller van. It is very difficult to get clear advice from the people selling the caravans as obviously they make more money from the larger ones. The smaller van (which is still 23ft) has a shower toilet combo. Any experience with these? It is a difficult decision really as there is a trade off between wanting to be comfortable and being totally over the top with what you buy and spend. I am sure it will work out but I don't really want to be 2 weeks into our holiday and find we have made the wrong choice.
FollowupID: 640788

Follow Up By: Tenpounder (SA) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 20:08

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 20:08
Thanks for the compliment of seeking some further response from me! If you would like, we can talk over the phone (email me at with your number) about dog things. But basically, leaving dogs on site is often specifically outlawed, and not often practical, especially with close neighbours. But ye, we do it from time to time (but don't tell anyone).
We are not experienced: we have a van which we bought very second hand about 5 years ago, and we've done 40,000 km since. There's just two of us plus Lexie, and we have a 17'6" single axle poptop, which is the other extreme. We found out how much we didn't know, once we took delivery and went on a few trips. We don't have S&T, but we don't have four kids either!
Quite apart from legal towing weights, it is very reassuring to feel the towing vehicle can handle the van without dramas: this tells me that the van weight should be significantly less than the tow vehicle. We also have problems at times with the van grounding on humps and bumps, and presumably a big van would be more prone to dragging its tail on spoon drains and the like. Small town roundabouts, and wrong turns in towns are nightmares without considerations of size.
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Follow Up By: paulnsw - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 07:30

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 07:30
If you think a Landcruiser is going to handle a 23' or 26' van 4 failed contraceptives and 2 dogs and all your gear you are into big time dreamin.
Fact is you will be an accident looking for a place to happen.
FollowupID: 640839

Reply By: disco driver - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:53

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 19:53
Much as I hate to say it, I don't think that you will be legal unless you tow with something huge (F350 or similar).

Your biggest problem will be staying under the GCM for your outfit, that is:- your tow vehicle and everything in it including 6 people, 2 dogs and luggage and your caravan and everything in it, including food, water, clothing, gen set?. etc may well exceed the allowable GCM for your tow unit.

Exceeding the GCM is generally frowned upon, (it is illegal), by the police and certainly by your insurance company who can and probably will use it as a reason not to cover you, should anything unforeseen happen.

Going off on a tangent, have you considered a large converted bus/coach with sleeping for 6, possibly a bit more room internally and possibly around the same cost as buying a Landcruiser and a custom built caravan.
You could tow a trailer with a smaller vehicle on it if necessary.

Just a thought or two for you to consider.

AnswerID: 373666

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 20:12

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 20:12
Thanks for you advice. We obviously need to make a lot more enquiries regarding weight. Maybe obvious to you but not to us... does the weight in the car count towards the total weight that the car can tow or is it just what is towed behind the car? We have looked at the converted buses a bit- only seen them on ebay really. They do look fabulous although maybe a little pricey. Is there anywhere else that you have seen them advertised? Thanks for your help
FollowupID: 640797

Follow Up By: disco driver - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:07

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:07
To help you in your considerations there are 3 weights that you must consider in your planning.
1. The MAX allowable weight (mass) of your loaded vehicle, this includes towball weight
2. The MAX allowable weight (mass) of your loaded van
3. The MAX allowable weight (mass) of the combination.

Exceeding any one of these three weights is illegal and will void your insurance.

I don't own a Toyota Landcruiser so I can not tell you the MAX allowable weight for them, someone on this forum will be able to supply you with this data but you will also find it in the vehicle owners manual. Similarly you will find the Gross Combination weight (vehicle+van+everything in them both, including people) listed in the owners manual as well.

Hope this helps

FollowupID: 640835

Reply By: Atta Boy Luther - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:08

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:08
Advertise the dogs to go to a good home . I know they are pets but you have 4 kids to look after as well .
AnswerID: 373677

Reply By: Steve - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:24

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:24
I would have a look at some of the European-style vans. Some are pretty well-made despite their light weight. I suppose it depends on the type of travelling you intend to do. Long and sustained trips along corrugated roads might not be a good idea although I believe some of them will stand up to a fair amount. The reason I suggest this type of van is not only it's light weight, but their innovative design systems typical of British/European vans. Beds pull from out of the wall, thus saving space, size and therefore weight. It's a slight chore to pull the bed out at night but when you look at the alternatives, you're only sacrificing 5/10 mins every night and saving yourself a lot of weight to pull and a lot of length to tow and park. Brands like Burtner, Geist and Adria (good value) for starters are worth a look.

Regarding the doggies, we've travelled with ours for years and although you have to sometimes miss out on certain areas, a surprising amount of places do take them, especially away from the popular east coast areas. If you look through the archives you'll find others have travelled extensively around the country with their pets. You just have to look a bit harder and grab yourself a couple of good guides like Camps 5, Craig Lewis and Cathy Savage do another which I think is every bit as good along with the ones the tourist info put out you should be ok. We have been to places like Lawn Hill/Adel's Grove where the campsite owners will keep an eye on your dogs in a pen just outside the office whilst you go to the gorrge. Other dog owners will sometimes look after your's for a day if you return the favour. Several sites we've been to are happy to let a member of staff keep an eye and take your dog for a walk for a small fee.
AnswerID: 373679

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:14

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:14
Thanks for your advice and positive comments. I will look into these vans. We actually looked at a Geist one that looked great- huge windows particularly were appealing. But so far we are yet to find one to fit all the kids in!! I am glad to hear that you have travelled with the dogs over the years. We do accept that we will not see everything but figure that within our limits, what we can do will still be a lot better than staying here and working for the year. We are travelling from Adelaide to Sydney initially. Any good suggestions for dog friendly places along the way? One more thing, do you have an annex that your dogs sleep in? Just trying to work out the logistics for this crazy family of ours!! Many thanks
FollowupID: 640817

Follow Up By: Steve - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:42

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:42
I'm sure the Burstner or the Adria do a big one - try Googling for their website. They usually show layouts.

This is our 5th van and the first time we've gone without an annexe. Always under-utilized for us. The dog in the annexe? Jeez mate, they might put me out there but not the hound. He gets a nice cozy spot at the bottom of the bed. Then again, he's only a Jack Russell.
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Reply By: Gone Bush (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:29

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:29
You really have a LOT to think about. One is: are we taking too many people/pets and expecting to put them all into a caravan.

You are talking about vans between 23 feet and 26 feet long. About the longest van you should put behind a Landcruiser is about 20 feet. You should hark back to your high school physics and think about MASS and MOMENTUM. If you have to swerve and brake suddenly while underway you will have this huge, heavy pendulum (your van) hanging off the back of your Cruiser. Instead of your Cruiser PULLING your van, your van will be PUSHING your Cruiser. Your van brakes can do just so much and it is very likely to push your Cruiser off the road in a jack-knife action.

An extreme illustration of what I’m talking about: imagine a marine tug in front of a supertanker. The supertanker, by virtue of its MASS and MOMENTUM needs many kilometres to slow down to a stop. If the tug can’t get out of the way (like your Cruiser can’t because it is connected to your van) the tanker will just push it aside into the ditch. It will be even worse if you have created a perilous situation by having to swerve your Cruiser to avoid a hazard on the road.

In a lot of ways, for that many people, you should be thinking of a motorhome.

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Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:18

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:18
Thanks once again for your advice. We actually love the look of some of the motorhomes but worry that they might not be so practical. Because most people tow a small 4WD behind them whereas we would need a landcruiser to fit us all in. One too many kids in our family for standard! Having said all that, do you know of somewhere I could view the motorhomes (2nd hand) other than ebay? I do take your point. We are trying to fit a lot in one van. And there is something that seems very exciting about a motorhome-like the Griswalds or something
FollowupID: 640818

Reply By: Karen & Geoff - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:41

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:41
Can I ask what brand of caravan you guys are looking at ordering?
AnswerID: 373683

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:24

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:24
We have been quoted on a Galaxy, a Kingdom and an Island star. So far the Galaxy from Aussie Adventure caravans has come in cheapest but we have not made a final decision yet. We did look at the Jayco expanda and decided that the kids might kill each other if they have to share a bed. So what we will probably get is a 23 1/2 ft van with either a porta loo and outside shower or a shower toilet combo next to the QS bed with the bed pushed to the side. Not sure really as we have never travelled in a caravan before. Do you have any suggestions?
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Reply By: Member - The Bushwhackers -NSW - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:50

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 21:50
Hi, only have 2 suggestions for you to consider...
1) You have 4 children & 2 dogs, you need a van to accommodate them, so it will be sizeable through necessity. Take into account the technical info that the good people here have pointed out re weights etc, then buy what you consider will be comfortable for you and your family. Yes things may be awkward due to the size of the rig at times, but you cant go around, with 4 kids, in a 2 man tent!
2) Consider whether you REALLY want to go.... by the tone of your posts and replies to advice, I'd say you really do. So... DO IT!
Like I said, take into account the technical stuff the people have pointed out, buy whatever suits you and these 'restrictions', pack up, and go and have the time of your lives. Sure, the dogs will restrict you in some ways, sure the size of the van will too, sure having 4 children on the road may make for uncomfortable situations at times, hey! life wasn't meant to be breezy (well, not all the time). Look at the positives, all your family will be together, including the family pets, you're going on a big adventure, have fun.
Frequent this site, and ask question after question, make sure you are as prepared as you can be, nobody here will mind answering you to the best of their knowledge and/or ability.
Enjoy, Dave
P.S. as my son always says to me before I go away, 'take lots of pictures!'
AnswerID: 373684

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:21

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:21
Thanks for your nice comments. It does get a bit overwhelming at times getting advice from people who know a lot about vans and travelling but you are right, we are definitely leaving in December for 1 year and plan to have a fabulous time. Having 4 children, we are used to restrictions on what we do- throw another 2 dogs in the mix and life just got a little crazier but life is always fun for us. On the van, one thing we did consider was whether we actually need a shower or toilet. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks.
FollowupID: 640820

Follow Up By: Member - ross m (WA) - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 12:49

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 12:49
I would get rid of the toilet and shower to trim down on weight and length. If you are staying in parks you will not need them.
Some parks have ensuite facilities for vans at extra cost.
No shower,no toilet = no cleaning
You could maybe keep a porta potti and quick erect shelter for o/night stays on the road

Maybe you could look for a shorter van with a good kitchen and all sleep in a 2 room annex.
Of course it depends on how long you plan to stay in each place and what the weather will be like
FollowupID: 641117

Reply By: jvb1 - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:02

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:02
hi, just found this link from another forum about fishing (on this site) with some info you may want to check out, or make contact with.
Hope Matt and Caz dont mind.
AnswerID: 373686

Follow Up By:- Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:28

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 22:28
Fantastic! Looks like they are having a ball. It just makes me even more excited. Just add a couple of extra kids, 2 dogs and that's us!
FollowupID: 640823

Follow Up By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:41

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:41
No Worries, only to happy to help - its a GREAT lifestyle!!!

FollowupID: 640921

Reply By: Member - Old Girl (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:15

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:15
Buy your dogs some charcoal bites. Our dog is 6 and can clear the car very quickly. We take him on small trips but he is staying with nanna when we go for the big one. Something to remember is your weight that gets loaded up in the car not to mention the van. The roof rack if you have one is so easy to load up and so dangerous if you dont know what your doing. Have you had experience towing. There is so much to consider. Which way are you heading. We have three kids and travel with the 17"van, tent swags and bikes. It all adds up. I keep thinking about the families that travel around with a camper trailer for two years with kids. They seem to manage.
AnswerID: 373691

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:03

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:03
Thanks for the advice. Maybe we should give the kids a couple of charcoal bites too! No experience towing but we will do a course before we go. We are heading from Adelaide straight to Sydney for Christmas and then north from there. Unsure after that. It will depend a bit on whether what accommodation we can find with the dogs. But wherever we go, it will be a slow trip.
FollowupID: 640842

Reply By: Horacehighroller - Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:48

Wednesday, Jul 08, 2009 at 23:48
I'm not a greatly experienced caravanner, AND it's many years since the family used one, AND it was only for short breaks (weeks not months)

BUT - as highlighted above,

a landcruiser and large caravan 22-26'

PLUS clothes and linen for 6 people,

PLUS bikes/scooters/scateboards/toys for the kids,

PLUS necessary vehicle spares (belts/filters/spare tyres) plus caravan extras (LPG Bottles/BBQ?/Hoses for fresh and waste water etc etc etc)

PLUS personal items (Hair Dryers/Laptop/Mobiles and the respective chargers)

is GUARANTEED to exceed the gross vehicle weights of both the car and caravan.
(Even at the legal gross weights an inexperienced operator would find it a nightmare to drive.)

In summary I have to agree with advice posted above that you should seriously consider a LARGE motorhome which will allow you much more internal space and an enormous increase in carrying capacity (weight).
(You will require an "Heavy Vehicle Licence" to drive one.)

As stated above you will also require a tandem trailer and a vehicle large enough to safely and legaly carry your family but it won't need to be anywhere near as large as a Landcruiser.


AnswerID: 373701

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:10

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:10
Thanks and I think we might need your wish of "Good Luck". We will look into motorhomes but I worry that it might restrict our travels even more. But they look like heaps of fun!
FollowupID: 640844

Reply By: Bap - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:44

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:44
Hi, Sounds like you have lot's of research to do! The trick to keeping the weight down is to really think through what you will need. We also have 4 kids ages 13,11,10,7. We have a Patrol and have had a lot of fun family trips. You really don't need that much! We travel out in the bush without towing anything, just a and tents, and are able to be fully self sufficient for up to 3 weeks, ie carrying all food, water etc so that we don't go near a shop for the whole time. Also have made a trip towing a camper trailer. I know it is a different scenario, much longer trip, but the point is, don't take it unless you really need it.

Regarding the van, why a toilet and shower? If you are going to parks you will be using them anyway rather than squashing into a tiny cubicle.

Obviously some people travel with pets, but personally would never do it.

You may want to hire or borrow a van between now and when you go, and take a small trip. I think this would be the best process for learning, and you will realise what is important for you! Every person has a different style and want different things.
Hope this helps somewhat.
AnswerID: 373702

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:15

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:15
I agree that given the choice, I wouldn't travel with pets either. But my husband has a year off work and if we wait for the perfect time to go (ie once the pets have died!- sounds bit rough) then we will never go. So, pets it is!

We haven't definitely decided re the shower and toilet other than all of our children are young and could not go to the toilets in the van parks alone. So trips to the toilet with all kids many times a day and night is not my idea of fun. Have you had experience with a porta loo? People have suggested to me that you could just keep it under the bed for night use.

I am glad that you have enjoyed travelling with 4 kids. Should be an adventure for us!

FollowupID: 640845

Reply By: Lex M (Brisbane) - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:49

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 00:49
Some mass (weight) definitions here.
AnswerID: 373704

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:16

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:16
Thanks, will get my husband to look into this.
FollowupID: 640846

Reply By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 06:54

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 06:54

Go the Jayco expanda. With your kids being so young and therefore small the expanda would meet your needs. Instead of having a double mattress at one end just get two single mattresses and turn them north/south instead of the current east/west configuration of the double. Then the 7 & 5 kids will have their own beds with a little space in between. The two 3 year olds would easily fit head to toe on the converted table/bed. And you can get one with a shower/toilet and slide out lounge section all in around 16-18 feet when towing. This will reduce the length you have to tow making it safer, I do agree that getting beyond 22ft internal is a lot to manage.

Even though you would have a reduced length van yopu still end up with all the space you need once fully opened up plus a reasonable sized annexe that kids could sleep in in the warmer climates; plenty of options.

As others have said you still would need to watch your weight. Do a couple of short trips to sort out what you actually use and need and what you can leave behind.

Happy travels, wish I was doing it!!!!

AnswerID: 373706

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:18

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:18
Thanks for that. i never thought about putting 2 single mattresses on the end. Great idea! There is actually an expanda which has a bunk aswell as the ends so there would be no need to convert the table. Do you recommend taking an annexe? That is something we were not sure of. Thanks for your help, Leah
FollowupID: 640847

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 12:40

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 12:40
I would take an annexe. If you are camped somewhere for a few days and the weather turns sour it is good to have the extra space. 6 people and 2 dogs in a van on a rainy day - not the best!!!!!
FollowupID: 640885

Reply By: Gavjo - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:08

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:08
Hi, we did it 4 two years with 2 kids and one dog. Our van was a 24footer shower toilet combo. I recall seeing a few years ago a van approximately 20 feet with a L shape set up at front with bedding for three and wardrobe. Your 2 three year olds could share the bottom bunk on left, 5 year old on top bunk and 7 year old above the wardrobe across the front. To the right was the toilet shower. A mid mounted kitchen and a fold down bed from side wall at the rear. I recall this set up was a great idea for saving on length and weight. It also serves as a great way of opening up space inside the van. I think Avan make a van in their pop top range with A/Cond and posibly toilet with the reverse set up, double fold down at front. Seen these a couple of months back second hand on ebay for around 30 thou in great condition. Just do it, u will have a great time and I understand the dog thing.
AnswerID: 373711

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:23

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:23
Thanks for your encouragement. I think I will get the kids looked after for a couple of days next week and spend some time going to every caravan place to look. Did you find that 24ft was good? Did you like the shower toilet combo? For 23 1/2 ft, we can have a QS bed up front with shower toilet combo next to bed, then kitchen are etc, then 2 bunks side by side at other end of the van. What did you tow your van with?
FollowupID: 640848

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:24

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 08:24
Actually the other thing I was going to ask was whether there are any places that you recommend visiting (with dogs) and also what did you do with your dog when you went on daytrips. Did you do any free camping? Thanks, Leah
FollowupID: 640849

Follow Up By: Gavjo - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 09:03

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 09:03
Hi again, we pulled our van with a Ford Dual cab Transit tray back with a 6 speed gearbox and a 2.4lt turbo diesel four cyclinder dual rear wheels but not 4 wheel drive. In all 50feet in length and we carried far too much stuff that we didn't need, we had the room so we thought why not. Our van was great, heaps of storage etc, but we packed too many toys, when we got back we found things that we forgot about. Biggest suggestion on loading the van is dont go out before leaving buying up stuff that you think u may need. Get these things along the way when u need them. Even clothing, kids were growing so quick we ended up doing the op shop thing just like a lot of other families we met along the way. Roadside camping is great, don't need a genie we had one but never used it. A good battery pack and solar is the way to go, unless you are in a real hot spot and u need your a/c on which a genie is needed. As far as the dogs go, I once travelled around oz with three before kids, if they are quiet u may get into parks that advertise no dogs. Just ask. I assured park owners that the dogs were trained and even offered a bond. As for when we travelled with one dog, we often took her with us on day trips and left her in the back of the trayback (with canopy) and she was good. Quiet and security. Unfortunately in Townsville she needed to be put down due to braking her back. Shower and toilet r great bcause u dont want 2 b taking the kids to the toilets in the midle of the night. To save water in bush camping we put a plastic tub in the shower and let the kids share the water.
FollowupID: 640853

Follow Up By: Gavjo - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 09:29

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 09:29
I ran out of space. U guys are spending a year to see as much as you can. Sure seeing great places is good but some of the best times u will be having is spending the time together with a campfire next to the beach, river or outback. U will meet people with the top of the range of everything and people with next to nothing. I was surprised with the amount of families on the road. U will run into people that u meet in the odest of places. The kids will learn heaps and will remember things for years.
The van u were talking of sounds good, as long as there is enough space u can all enjoy inside on those rainy days. (beware of cabin fever) This usually sets in after a few days of being stuck indoors because of weather. U will spend mast of your time outside. If you need further info just ask
FollowupID: 640857

Reply By: Member - John & Sally W (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 13:48

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 13:48 is a good place to start if you want a second hand van. Lots to choose from with lots of photos and contact names and numbers to go and look. We travelled with 4 kids, no dogs though, and not full time on the road. We did have a few extended holidays of 4 to 5 weeks away. We had a Jayco Dove. Pretty squashy. As suggested in another post, op shops are great for circulating end of season clothes. Saves having to carry wardrobes full of both seasons for 6 people. If you are not going remote you can hit the local IGA or Friendly stores every few days. This cuts down on carrying extra weight in food. An annex is a bit of a pain and takes up a fair bit of room and adds weight, an awning is good. We carried a small light tent for the kids to play in when we arrived at destination. Another alternative could be one of those fly screen tents. (flies can be bad for little ones' eyes and for spreading tummy bugs) We didn't take any bikes or scooters away. We tried to stop at parks for meal breaks, some colouring in stuff, books, balls and sand pit trucks are good. I made our kids their own bags that hung off the chair in front of them. Most van parks have an area for kids. Must admit a toilet and shower would have been heaven but we survived without. Stay calm and above all don't panic. Oh and don't forget a really good first aid kit plus some first aid knowledge.

Cheers, Sally
AnswerID: 373751

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 14:07

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 14:07
Thanks for your advice. Did you find the Jayco caravans good? We will get an awning- do you mean fly screen that attaches like an annex or a little tent for the kids? If there is such a thing, a fly screen annex would be good since it would save weight but still keep the kids a bit contained. I will look at that website for 2nd hand vans. Cheers for your help, Leah
FollowupID: 640895

Follow Up By: Member - John & Sally W (NSW) - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 17:57

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 17:57
Our Jayco was a bomby old one but still got us away. You can get flyscreened/floored annexes made up that just attach to awnings. Have seen a few vans that come with these. Can buy fly proof kitchens shaped like a dome tent for about $200 with a floor in. Might be a cheaper option than getting one made up.
FollowupID: 640930

Reply By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:35

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:35
Hi There,

We are currently travelling oz have been on the road full time now for 8mths, we have a triple bunk retreat daydream it has sep shower/tiolet and queen size bed, we plan to be away at least 2yrs but not limited as the kids are home schooled. Our van is 23 foot long we tow it with a 97 80's turbo diesel cruiser.

Our van has 7 double power points however we don't use them all. We have a table for outside cooking on the 3 burner gas stove. I also have (because we are living in the van for a long period) a Gas oven, grill and stove top, seperate Fridge and freezer (184 ltrs I think). Our van came with a microwave however I don't use it much (never did at home either). We have 2 9kg gas bottles on the van, a gas light for free camping.

Hope this helps, please feel free to email me at if you have any other Q's.

AnswerID: 373774

Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 18:27

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 18:27
Hi Caroline. Do you by any chance know the all up weight of your rig with full fuel and water as it is now?.

I'm curious because I'm looking to buy a large van in the next couple of years and weight seems to be the biggest hurdle.

The van manufacturers (imho) don't allow for sufficient "load".

Thanks, Peter
FollowupID: 640940

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:45

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:45
Yes, I would be interested to know that also. Peter, what were you thinking of towing your van with? We have not bought a car yet but thought that a Diesel landcruiser would suffice given that it has a 3tonne towing capacity. Advice from 4WD dealers and caravan salespeople is that it would be fine and then the advice from this forum is different to that. It is hard to get a clear answer.

Caroline, I have seen the option of an external BBQ. Do you think that this would be a useful addition? Do you use an annexe? Thanks for your answer, it has given me a lot of good advice.
FollowupID: 640963

Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 02:53

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 02:53
G-day "posted"(sorry, don't know your name.)

I was hoping to use our current 100 series LC but am concerned we might have to upgrade to a F250 or similar if we do get a large van.
The bigger tow vehicle then restricts where you can go offroad!

FollowupID: 641214

Follow Up By:- Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 07:36

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 07:36
Hi Peter, Leah here. Have you had any advice about how big the van should or should not be with the Landcruiser? All the advice I am getting from dealers is that it will be fine but of course, they want to make a sale! And the F250 seems really expensive. It is very confusing isn't it.
FollowupID: 641217

Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 12:11

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 12:11
Gday Leah,

My concern is not about the "bulk"of the caravan - only the weight.

As others have pointed out the Landcruiser's GTW is 6Tonne.(Not 100% sure with the new 200 Series.
The car alone (after loading your family, full fuel etc) will be at it's maximum GCW (3.2 ish) so the weight of the caravan with all it's contents can only be 2.8 Tonne.

Yes F250's are expensive - but the only other option is less weight somewhere (van or contents?)

"Ahhh, the trials & tribulations ........"


FollowupID: 641237

Follow Up By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 13:04

Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 13:04
Hi there,

We do not travel with water tanks full (we have 2 x 95ltr tanks)
It also helps if you distribute the weight evenly in the van and car
FollowupID: 641392

Follow Up By: Horacehighroller - Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 09:11

Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 09:11
My post above is NOT correct.

The Gross Combined Weight (GCW also known as GTW - Gross Train Weight) is not 6.000kg but 6,680kg (100 Series) or 6,800kg (200 Series).

Therefore the landcruiser is NOT entirely the problem other than the fact that it's GVW will only allow fuel, passengers and dogs, so all the luggage/extras must go in the van.

You therefore need to find a van with a high capacity for your contents.

The "Tare" wight on most vans seems to be seriously understated (presumably so prospective purchasers are misled into thinking it can be towed by a smaller (cheaper) vehicle.

My apologies for the previous incorrect figures.

FollowupID: 641528

Reply By: HGMonaro - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:46

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 16:46
Hi Leah,

Just reading thru the replies some do sound a bit negative but they are only trying to help. Vehicle weights (and associated stability and braking not to mention insurance) are very important both for your own safety and everyone elses. It's one thing to write yourself off, it's another to take another innocent family with you! By identifying these important items, you hopefully can find what you need in a useable package so that you enjoy your trip rather than worry all the time. You haven't said what your hubby does or his experience (or yours either, cause you might have to drive too) towing... he might be a truck driver for all we know and be more capable of driving a big rig than most. Making the right (or somewhat right!) decisions know could save you a lot of money down the track. You wouldn't be the 1st person to have to upgrade their car to pull a van they went and bought! Not to bad if you're upgrading an existing vehicle but a costly excercise if you went and bought one especially for the task and it didn't fit the bill!

More specifically, I can't remember anyone recommending a 5th wheeler in discussions so far probably because of the number of kids you need to seat. I wonder if there's a small truck with seating for 6 (dogs could travel at their feet/ in the 5th itself / special cage or compartment built into the fiver) A little bit of imagination might be needed, but if your prepared to get a van built and by a Landcruiser, now is the time to explore all possibilities, although to get something built, time is running out! With a 5th wheeler you could leave it at a C.P. whilst seeing the surrounding area. If you went for a motorhome towing a vehicle, that vehicle is still going to have to be big enough for 6 seats and the mutts. Not sure what fits the bill there.

Regarding the bed ends of an Expanda. We have a little wind-up camper with similar sleeping arrangements and had the matress split into two for our kids. This way they get tucked in seperately and don't annoy each other too much (except when they want to... hey they're boys!!!).

I'd probably leave out the shower and toilet as nice as they would be too have with the kids. Showering 4 kids regularly would be time consuming... actually I think I've changed my mind on that!!! Wet shower cubicles are a bugger with little kids, at least in your van you can put them on a towel while you dry them.

Cheers, Nige
AnswerID: 373776

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:54

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:54
Thanks for your advice. The comments have been so helpful on this forum and I am sure all given with the best of intentions. It is hard to decide and we do need to decide very soon. The advice we have is that a 23 ft van which has a weight of 2300 would be fine to tow with a landcruiser which can tow up to 3 tonnes. However, I did just today see a family our size with a picture of a small truck they towed a van with. So that is always something to consider. And yes I agree with the motorhome towing issue- that is what initially put us off the idea since we would need to tow a 6 seater 4WD which means an expensive purchase all up and a very long vehicle. And re our towing experience- everyone has been right to assume that it is none. Neither of us have ever holidayed in a caravan before so while we have a lot to learn, there is also a lot of fun for us to have. Re the shower- I am not so fussed about the shower but more the toilet- an essential in my view as I cannot be bothered carting 4 kids to the toilet at night. But they all seem to come with a shower too so we figured why not? So much to decide really and I am sure that no matter what planning we do, there will always be things we wished we could change. But every bit of advice we can get before we go is great so thanks so much. Leah
FollowupID: 640966

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:55

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:55
A 23 ft van would be very hard pressed to have a Tare of 2300kg let alone an ATM of that
Our 21ft 6in (outside) 19ft inside Roadstar is rated to ATM of 2800kg and we had a hard job to get it down to that when we left home.

As said previously a 100ser can tow 3.5tonne but has a GCVM of 6680kg

So a fully loaded 3260kg cruiser can tow 3420kg legally

You should not exceed either for your own piece of mind.

A 1HZ 1998-2002 or a barn door model can weigh 3160 fully loaded.

However it has all the get up and go of a tortise on Valium.

FollowupID: 641289

Follow Up By:- Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:19

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:19
Hello there again. What do you tow your van with? Our advice was that the van we are looking at being built is 2180 but I am assuming 2300 as a worse case scenario. It can then hold 400kg which I know includes water etc. But this still seems within the legal limit of a landcruiser. So many things to consider!!
FollowupID: 641295

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 18:15

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 18:15
We have a 2005 GXL Turbo Diesel landcruiser as shown in the pic in my posts.

As I said in my last post its not the weight of the van which is the problem its getting everything you need in it and still stick to the allowable weight.
As i said try and get it uprated and most of your problems will go away.

After trying to stay within limits for two of us I cant think how you can pack for 6 and stay within 400 kg I dont think its possible as you are severely limited in what you can carry in the car.

FollowupID: 641311

Reply By: Member -Dodger - Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 17:00

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 17:00
Just a hint.

Get all your gear that you think that you will be loading into the van.
Pots, Pans, clothing. cooking utensils, toys. electric games computers and anything else you may think you need then weigh each item or boxes of items add it all up and see what you get. Then add the number of litres of water the van tanks hold ( each litre = 1Kg) Plus gas weight in bottles then add all this to the tare of the van and see what you come up with.
Your going to be in for a shock I'm sure.
With a 26ft van you will have a lot of trouble in van parks and even getting into State forests because of length and turning circle.

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

Lifetime Member
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AnswerID: 373780

Follow Up By:- Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:56

Thursday, Jul 09, 2009 at 19:56
Thanks for your advice. Sounds like a great idea and certainly takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. I think we will go for a 23 1/2 ft van. Do you think we will have problems with these in the parks?
FollowupID: 640967

Follow Up By: Member -Dodger - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 08:08

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 08:08
IMHO 20ft van is large enough to handle however with tin lids you may just have to go with 23 1/2 ft.
When thinking of the room required length wise add at least 4ft for the draw gear and 1 1/2 ft for rear bumper tyre carrier. giving this van a total length of 29ft or near 9 meters. so a large site is required. Having said all this there are those that manage long lengths well. Just take it easy and do a few short trips first so that you get to know what you need and do not need.
Another traveler told me that you should on your shake down cruise take everything you think you need and as you use it mark it with a texta then when you get home unload the van and only reload those things with the texta mark on them.


I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

Lifetime Member
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FollowupID: 641064

Reply By: Von Helga - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:32

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:32
Buy the "Camping with Dogs" book.
State forests allow dogs, National Parks don't.
AnswerID: 373912

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:37

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:37
Firstly a correction A 100ser can tow 3500KG

Secondly getting a 23ft van into a lot of van parks is a bit tough.

Our van is 21ft 6 and is 25ft overall We have been refused in some parks when its busy due to a small number of sites for large vans.

Dogs may be allowed in some parks but are not necessarily appreciated by your neighbours.

You are also generally not allowed to leave them and take off for the day.

Also it is a bit hot up North to have them in a car for extended periods like when you go shopping.

Ticks as stated are also a problem.

Weights generally the tare is only a fictitious figure for a model of a van and not necessarily yours.
A tandem van is normally allocated 400kg load over tare.
This might seem a lot till you take

180kg water
30kg gas bottles and gas
23kg water in hot water system.
??? contents of fridge

??? clothes and extra linen and towels
??? Annexe ( quite heavy)
Chocks and hoses and bits and pieces
Toaster Iron?? BBQ Pots and pans.

It all adds up.

Buy the latest edition of Caravan and Motor home.
There is an arrticle in there by a guy who did the figures and its quite interesting.
His was an off road van with a higher load capacity but will give you the idea.

Weights again The gross loaded weight of a 100ser is 3260kg
Payload is 672kg for an Auto
So by the time you hook the van on with about 280 kg ball weight you will be drawing straws to see who stays at home with the dogs.

The GCM is 6680kg that is the loaded weight of both

Roof load is 200kg including weight of rack and is still part of the 3260

Those figures are for a Turbo diesel and an old 1hz is less.
Was talking to a guy at Ularu who has a 33 ft van and I asked him how it towed in a wind.
Answer Exactly like a block of flats.
Even our van was a handful on one day from Adelaide to Port Augusta on a wet day with a strong side wind all the way.
We were going to buy a 28 ft until a few people said Dont expect to get that in many parks..

Seems a big ask if you are inexperienced and going north at Xmas into the wet is also questionable.

Not being negative just realsitic after buying a car too light for the van we bought
Even on this trip we had to ditch stuff as we were over weight and there is only two of us


AnswerID: 373914

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:52

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 10:52
Forgot to say that the fuel in the Cruiser is also part of the load so you have

145kg fuel
260 kg ball weight
90kg you
50kg wife
120 kg 4 kids
665 kg before any gear or dogs
Think you may need a n F 250
FollowupID: 641078

Follow Up By:- Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 11:37

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 11:37
Thanks for your help. That is exactly the sort of advice we need. Re travelling plans, we will stay in NSW until about May so anticipate missing the wet season. The reason we are heading straight from Adelaide to Sydney in December is that we are having a family xmas in Sydney.

What have you seen towing the larger vans? We haven't bought the landcruiser yet. The reason I ask is that we have certain problems. We have 2 kids who all need beds plus some form of annex for the dogs. The children are 3,3 5,7 so all need a seat in the car where there is an anchor point for a harness or car seat. We have looked into motorhomes but then we have to tow a large trailer and 4WD which can seat 6 people. We also have no other option other than to take the dogs. So if anyone can solve this for us, it would be great!!

And no I don't think you are being negative. We are in a bit of a bind and need to make a decision fast so all help is appreciated. Cheers, Leah
FollowupID: 641092

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 15:19

Friday, Jul 10, 2009 at 15:19
Anothe maybe problem is that a cruiser only has two connection points for car capsules They are behind the middle row and Im pretty sure there is none behind the fold downs at the back.
Whether you can put two capsules on each one is debatable.

Personally I think with all the gear you are going to need it will be almost impossible to stay within legal weight limits in that size van.
A 5th wheeler is probably the best alternative as You can unhook and go sightseeing but with 4 kids and dogs in a crewcab ???????

We went overseas for several months and had two youg dogs. We put them in a kennel for the time and the girl there said they had a great time.

She also said dogs memory is only a few days but they will recognize you on return.
When we went to pick them up even though they were pleased to see us they seemed quite happy to stay with their new mates.

I think you would have a far less stressful holiday without them and the dogs would probably thank you for it as well.

FollowupID: 641140

Follow Up By:- Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 07:33

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 07:33
Hello again. We do have that problem with the car seat in lots of cars. Thinking about it, a tray top ute/ small truck (how scary!) would be good because we could put the dogs in the back. you know of any of these where 6 people could sit across the back- 3 of them in carseats?

We will begin with the dogs and put them in kennels once we are travelling at various destinations. Also when we are in areas where there are lots of National Parks and few doggie sitters, we are flying them back home to the in laws for a month or so. Complicated but our best option.

Thanks once again, Leah
FollowupID: 641216

Reply By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 15:39

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 15:39
Hi Again,

I can't speak for everyone else - however we have a 97 TD lancruiser it tows our 23ft caravan just fine - we have had the ball weight ect checked, the kids bikes are on rhino racks on the cruiser. I would NOT BE without my toilet and shower (the girls shower together most nights). We don't have an external BBQ table but wish we did, we do have an annexe and use it when we are staying a week or more in one spot.

We free camp a lot as most CP's will charge anywhere from $4 - $9 extra per night per child.

We carry enough clothes for us and have had to buy new clothes for the kids (we keep feedin em they keep growin) but we donate their old clothes to Vinnies ect.

We have been on the road now for 8mths and not looking back

AnswerID: 374068

Follow Up By:- Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 15:50

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 15:50
Thanks so much for that. I was just sitting here wondering what to do. We went out today and visited 4 car yards (who stocked landcruisers and F250s) and then 2 caravan dealers and then a towball company who all said that as long as we stick to 400kg in the van and only put about 100kg in the car (after allowing for the weight of people, dogs, fuel etc) then we should be well within the limit. The only advantage as far as they could tell us was that the F250 could hold our dogs in the tray back and we could put some other things in the back of the ute also.

We did look at the external BBQs today and they did look good. What sort of van do you have? DO you find that you have trouble getting it in to van parks at 23ft (today a couple of caravan dealers told us that 21ft is about as big as we should go to be accepted most places).

Thanks for your input. You have given me some hope!
FollowupID: 641274

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:43

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:43
Pardon the pun but you havent got a dogs show of getting 100kg in the cruiser after u all get in.

Read the weights I posted They come to 15 kg under maximum with no gear at all. Only alteration would be minor variations of what I posted and I didnt allow for the dogs.

Dealers will tell you that and no one can say that if they dont know the ball weight of your van.

Just like the ones who say when you tell them

"OH the van weighs 2564 ATM and my car can only tow 2500kg".

90% will say Just dont fill the water tanks and u will be OK

If the ATM is more than the cars OR the towbars capacity you cant legally tow it full empty whatever.
Like wise if your combined vehicle weight is over the legal amount you will have to ditch something.
More and more insurance companies are weighing damaged rigs and if its over it can give them an out in paying your claim if they say the weight contributed to the accident.

Also a F250 wont stop you going as many places as a bus or a motorhome will Look up Motherhens posts She has one and seems to get more places than I do in a cruiser.
Best of luck but you really are pushng the load limits a bit fine.

In saying that I see rigs every day which quite obviously exceed the limits by quite a bit. Van with extra tool boxes full to the brim.
Cruiser packed solid, with a tinnie on top with all the gear packed under it.
It actually surprises me how they get some of them to move.

I prefer to be legal and alive.


FollowupID: 641287

Follow Up By:- Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:12

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:12
Hello once again. I agree with you - we want to be legal and alive! We have 4 little ones with us also. To be honest, anything is going to be tricky. We saw the F250 today and it would mean converting the front seat to a bench and putting our 7 year old in that, which is a safety compromise by putting him in the front. Looked at small Hino truck dual cab to tow a fifth wheeler but that is so long we would feel like a semi trailer.

Anyway, this is what we were told today. I am not saying you are wrong, but this is just the info we were given.

Van weight 2280
Length 23ft internal measurement
Towball 230- but it is custom made so while they estimate 230, I will work off 280 just to be safe

Car- Landcruiser GXV

2405 kerb weight (although they only gave us the petrol, not the diesel weight) I am not sure if it is different.
3260 Gross vehicle weight
which I was led to believe gives us 844kg we can put in the car.

So 300kg people and dogs
145 kg fuel
280 tow ball assuming maximum

Just leaves 50kgto put in the car, up to 100kg if their towball estimate is correct at 230kg.

If this is not correct, please advise me because I need to know before purchasing our car.

Finally, I was told by 2 Toyota dealers that Toyota is one of the few cars that can tow 3500 behind the car, as long as the car is kept at this limit, regardless of the weight that is in the car.

Thanks once again for your help, Leah
FollowupID: 641293

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:36

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 17:36
Im not saying your figures are wrong either just going from experience of looking at lots of different makes before we bought one.
I would not buy the tow car till the van is built and weighed.

The dealers are partly correct in that the car can tow that amount PROVIDED THE GCVM is not exceeded so there is limitations despite their remarks.
I honestly dont think there is a problem with the van weight as you can tow more than it will weigh.
The problem is fitting all the gear you will need in and legally.

You could ask for the van to have a 3 tonne chassis and brakes and everything else rated to 3 tonne.

THEN if it only tares at 1900 as they claim (and I dont see it doing that) you have a much larger capacity for gear as you wont get much in the car as with all the bodies if you do have capacity you wont have the room.

The only thing that will be smaller is your bank balance as all these things cost but are definitely doable and are very sensible to get done when building rather than trying to do it like i did , later on.
If you email me at i will send you a PDF file of the weights and specs of the Cruisers

FollowupID: 641306

Reply By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:13

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:13
Hi No Worries it is a HUGE exercise and can be stressful. We have a Retreat Daydream its 25ft from drawbar to spare tyre. There has only been ONE occasion where we were knocked back and he pointed us to a CP just up the road that could accommodate us (bear in mind we when we started we went "the wrong way round" Longreach in December ect) we are now chasing summer and are currently in Kununurra and there are a quite a few people here so we needed to book ahead.

Also it just depends on driver ability - Matt has had many years trucking experience so if we can't get a drive thru site its not an issue for him. We find with CV mirrors get the truck ones they are the best.

Ask as many Q's as you want I will try answer the ones I can. Its truly a great experience and our two girls are LOVING life on the road - we ask them if they want to stop and settle and they scream NO!!!!! WAY!!!! not sure how we are going to settle down again.................mmmmm perhaps we will be permant Gypsie's

AnswerID: 374069

Follow Up By: Member - Matt & Caz H (QLD) - Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:16

Saturday, Jul 11, 2009 at 16:16
Ooops I meant Permanent!!! PS it took us about 6-8 weeks to get used to living in a van and living in each others pockets!!!

FollowupID: 641279

Reply By: Member - 7Keads (NSW) - Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 15:11

Sunday, Jul 12, 2009 at 15:11

I have only just come across you're query, and though I might be able to tell you of our experiences as a family travelling with a caravan and 5 kids, all boys 12,10,8 & 5,5. We travelled last year thru vic,sa,nt,wa and nsw pulling a 23 ft van with a 100 landcruiser - we spent about 6 months travelling and had a great time. It took us about 12 months to get organised (we run our own business), and in that time had to purchase both tow vehicle and van. With that wonderful thing called hindsight, we wouldn't tow such a big van again. Although we were very comfortable, (our van had a queen size bed, dbl bunks and toilet shower), we could have made do without the toilet & shower + this adds a lot of weight to a van, with the extra water. With kids you do tend to have a lot of extra gear to carry - originally we had bikes, a boat, scooters, etc - we dumped all of this at a friends place about 1/3 of the way into the trip just to lighten up. The cruiser was a very comfortable vehicle, and towed well, but there was no escaping the fact that a big van will certainly slow you down if you want to have some sort of fuel efficiency. I know having little kids, the thought of not having a loo handy is scary - but if you are going to stay mainly in caravan parks then you will have access to loos and showers anyway - and bonus, you don't have to clean them!!!! In short, we will travel again, prob not for such a long period of time, but we have sold our van, and bought a camper trailer - we also found that with our caravan, we were limited to where we could camp when we did freecamp - v hard to get down near a river with a 23 ft van on behind you!
AnswerID: 374193

Reply By: Horacehighroller - Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 09:37

Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 09:37
Hi again Leah,

I revised one of my posts above as I had incorrect figures for the Gross Combined Mass of the Landcruiser.

Two final points:

1. Diesel Landcruisers are approx 100kg heavier than the petrol.(Re your post above)

2. If(when) you sign a contract for the caravan ENSURE that the dealer specifies on the contract the figures for the "Tare" and "GVM" of the van.

They will try to avoid specifying the "Tare" with the argument that (because of your design) they will not have an accurate figure until the van is completed, however any manufacturer should have a goog idea of the likely weight.
Therefore ensure that they specify a Tare weight which will NOT be exceeded.

With these weights you can then accurately ascertain wether the weight of all your "contents" wil fall within the allowance.

As advised above you may need to pay for an increase in the GVM of the van.


AnswerID: 374290

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