Family caravan or smaller van and Tents for the boys

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 14:34
ThreadID: 97078 Views:1896 Replies:3 FollowUps:4
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Situations change....a lot it seems.

I'm currently driving a 2002 BA ford falcon wagon with dickie seats in the back. I'm about to put my house on the market and move in with my man and his boy which will leave us with 4 boys soon to be 7, 9, 11 & 11. All boys are in joeys/cubs and two oldest about to move to scouts. One has no experience of camping as yet (new to cubs) whilst the other three are used to it. They do all have stretchers and decent sleeping bags though.

Anyway the fact that I'm selling up the house leaves us with the option of making my long time dream of buying a caravan come true. The question is with the boys getting older do we opt for a smaller van and some quick set up tents for the boys or do we get the big van with 2 sets of bunks so we have beds for all.

We are mostly looking at short weekends away and maybe longer trips in school holidays - just a cheap family holiday and mostly staying in van parks - possibly with 4 kids might be cheaper to get 2 sites side by side than pay for one with the extra 4 - which leaves plenty of room for the tents option so to speak.

Will the ford do ok towing or should we also look at upgrading it, which we will have to do eventually when youngest outgrows the dickie seat but at 18kg now we could keep him there for a few years yet.

Tempted to go the smaller van given that kids all spend time with their 'other parent' on the same weekend (usually) which means the man and I may occassionally run away for the weekend just the two of us. Either way its a big investment so I want to get it right. Obviously go looking at a caravan show will be on the cards when we get to that stage but first we need to answer the big van or small van + tents option

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Reply By: Member - Broodie H3 - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 14:45

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 14:45
We often take the grand kids away with us and they take our old tent and live in that while Granny and Pa live in the van, we have been doing this for a few years now and the kids love it, until pa says" clean up the mess in the tent" but it is great fun for all of us. Our van is 23ft and all meals are eaten in the van same as showers and toilet. the tow vehicle is a Nissan pathfinder and is a seven seater, so we are not all cramped on top of one another. My wife and I do go by ourselves on rare occasions,as we do like having one on one time with the grandee's. I hope this is a help to you.
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AnswerID: 491644

Reply By: Member. Rob M (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:16

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:16
Hi Jude,

Another idea would be to get a caravan that suits you and your partner and purchase a full annexe which the kids could sleep in. This way you can get away by yourselves comfortably when you want to, while still having the sleeping area for the boys.
A good annexe should not take any longer to set up than tents and you will fit on one site rather than pay for two. Stretchers that they can put their sleeping bags on are relatively inexpensive and don't take up too much room.
As for the car it depends on where you want to travel and how heavy the caravan is.
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Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:18

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:18
Hi Jude, The simple answer would seem to be.. go the smaller van & tents for the
lads. The big van thing may prove difficult..even to find a van that has two sets of
bunks plus may be a tall order, & perhaps testing the capabilities of the Falcon.
Highly regarded as a tow car, by the way. Neither option will answer how 6 of you
will eat together, but one larger tent may be a solution. Storage of tents can also
be an issue...not much room left in the car with 6 aboard, but maybe tents could
go on floor of van..first out/last in type of thing. Generally, you should have room in
most van parks to put up a tent on the same site. When looking at vans remember
that converting eating to sleeping is a real pain in the bum..try & make sure at least
your bed is always sleep ready. Good luck with it..the answer is amongst it all
AnswerID: 491647

Follow Up By: Jude&theboys - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 16:14

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 16:14
when dad went car shopping with me (my old 92 commodore died while visiting them so they helped me into the newer ford) he mentioned it was a good tow vechicle

should I be concerned at all that the towbar appears to have been fitted aftermarket? If I am concerned (i may have paperwork on it so will check first) how would one go about getting it checked?
FollowupID: 767173

Follow Up By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 16:24

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 16:24
Hi Jude, no, I wouldnt be concerned...nearly all towbars are fitted aftermarket.
As long as it is of approved standard & fitted correctly it should be fine. Having said
that, towing does put extra stress on components & it would be wise to have it
checked for correct fitting, wiring, & suitability for your van...your regular service
bloke should be able to give you a report......oldbaz.
FollowupID: 767174

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 00:46

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 00:46
Jude, there are several models of tow bar available for Falcons. If it is the type with a flat tongue bolted to the bar then it is possibly only of any use to take a trailer to the tip. The type suitable for van towing will have a 50 mm square hitch receiver hole, the tongue assembly will be a square socket to fit in the receiver and the two pieces kept together with a large pin. The tow bar should have a compliance plate on it with the towing capacity stated on the plate.

A full height van with bunks for all the kids will probably too much for the Falcon. There are smaller vans and pop-tops with fold out ends and convertible dinettes that may suit. These include the Jayco expander range and similar models from at least 4 other manufacturers.

When considering a van, look for the weight of the ATM on the compliance (ATM = aggregate trailer mass, which is the maximum legal weight for your van.) The ATM should be less than the maximum tow weight on the compliance plate on the tow bar. With the load you will have in the wagon it should be perhaps 10 to 20% less.

The idea of an annex for the kids to sleep in sounds like a good idea to me also (whether the van is an expanding one or not.)

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Follow Up By: Jude&theboys - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 08:26

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 08:26
Thanks for that Peter,

it is the one with the square hitch receiver. When I first got it Xmas b4 last the pin was rusted in. Had to spray with CRC and then temporarily remove the trailer plug so I had room to bang it out. Got a nice new one in there now and make sure it can be turned regularly. I'll have to get down and have a look for a compliance plate on it - actually my mechanic works from home and lives next door to the mans place, it's due a service so if I can't find it I'll ask him to look underneath while he has it up on the ramps.

So I think we have established that a smaller van is probably best. I hadn't thought of the annex as an option. Of course the sensible option next might be to ask the boys what they would like. But start with the fact that a van that is big enough for a bed each for them would be too big for towing and would actually give them less space than tent/annex.

thanks so much for your help

FollowupID: 767231

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