Understanding the Difference Between Camping Vehicle Options

Monday, Apr 20, 2015 at 14:56


If you’re planning a road trip around Australia like so many Aussies do each year, you’ll probably need to buy a caravan or invest in some other type of vehicle appropriate for the journey.

However, it can be difficult working out exactly what type of purchase would suit best. With all the different names out there, it can tough to decide whether you need to look for a used camper trailer, campervan, RV or something else all together.

If you’re keen to learn the difference between the many types of items available, read on for the lowdown on exactly what each vehicle features, and for what purposes it tends to suit best.

Very popular in Australia, caravans are self-contained units that are towed by vehicles such as a 4WD, truck, or large car. Caravans are available in a variety of sizes and styles, with some being pop-tops and others with a rigid design. They can suit couples up to families and work well for extended camping trips or even as permanent holiday homes.

When you’re researching caravans for a journey, take special note of the included features in each one. Some will be much more luxurious than others, both in fixtures and fittings, and in inclusions. Typically though, the majority of caravans will feature a double bed; a table with banquet seating around it (that can usually convert into another bed); and a kitchenette with a small fridge, a cooktop, a sink and some cupboards. Larger caravans will also tend to feature a toilet and small shower, plus potentially some extra bedding options in the way of bunk beds.

Campervans are camping facilities that attach to the chassis of a van and are separate to the vehicle’s front cabin. Smaller, and more compact than most caravans, campervans do still come in a number of sizes to suit different needs. Typically though, campervans will feature between two to four berths and are best suited to a couple or up to four travellers.

Being less bulky than a caravan, campervans are easier to drive and park, and are perfect for road trips that involve regular stops. Most of these vehicles will feature facilities such as beds or bunks; a small kitchen area with a fridge and cooktop; a compact lounge; and sometimes a toilet.

Motorhomes have a similar sort of design to campervans but are larger in size and fitted out with more facilities and features, as well as a turbo-charged diesel engine. Due to their size, some motorhomes will require owners to possess a Light Rigid (LR) driver’s licence.

Often very luxurious, motorhomes are built as whole vehicles which have a driver’s cabin area incorporated right into the design of the van itself. In addition, they tend to have quite spacious sleeping and dining areas, plus a toilet and shower, TV, washing machine and even their own water tanks. Due to their size and facilities, motorhomes are perfect for families or groups of friends.

Camper Trailer
Like the name indicates, camper trailers are trailers that are attached to, and towed behind, a car, ute, van or other vehicle. The most compact and basic of all the options listed, camper trailers are really more like a ready-to-go tent. The sleeping quarters will usually fold down into the trailer itself, and then are “popped up” on arrival at a destination.

Camper trailers are very popular for users of 4WDs looking for a portable, easy-to-use sleeping option for off-road trips. The products are available in either soft-top or hard-top options, and are most suited to one or two people. Features wise, they generally just have a floor made from PVC plus a mattress for bedtime and not much else.

A recreational vehicle, or RV as it is more commonly known, is a term generally used in North America rather than in Australia. The umbrella saying describes motorised vehicles used for camping purposes, and can indicate either campervans or motorhomes.

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