Camper Trailer Vs Caravan - How To Choose The Right One For You?

If you’ve started looking for your dream home on wheels, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the seemingly endless possibilities! From campervans to caravans and motorhomes to camper trailers, there are so many options available that it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. We’ll break down two of the most popular types, camper trailers and caravans, so you can decide which one is best for you.

Caravans

If you’re in the market for a caravan, you’ll have no shortage of options - with over 100 manufacturers represented in the Australian market, your hardest decision might be deciding between so many great options. 

Main features

There are essentially two main types of caravans: pop-tops and full caravans. Pop tops have a lifting roof section that you’re able to pack down while you’re driving around. They were popularised during the 1970s to reduce wind resistance during the fuel crisis. By comparison, full caravans are a more traditional style and have solid walls all the way up to the roof. The main benefit of these caravans is that there’s no set-up required when you arrive at the camp. 

Regardless of whether you buy a pop-top or a full caravan, there are a number of features that you’ll most likely have:

  • A double bed (or an option for two singles), and in larger caravans you might have multiple beds or bunk beds
  • An extensive kitchen (normally including a fridge, stove, microwave and storage space)
  • Lounge area
  • Shower and toilet facilities

If you’re wanting to take your caravan off the beaten track for the ultimate camping experience, you’ll have to buy a specific off-road caravan. Depending on what kind of terrain you’re planning on travelling on, you’ll have two options. You can upgrade an existing caravan to be able to handle some light-road driving - this might include getting all-terrain tyres and adding ground clearance. However, if you’re really looking for a caravan that can do it all, you’ll probably need to buy a dedicated off-road caravan that’s built with rough-terrain use in mind.

Advantages of caravans

Quicker set up and pack down time

One of the big advantages of a caravan is that there’s pretty minimal set up and pack down time, especially compared with a campervan. In most cases, you can just drive straight into the campsite and you’ll be ready to go. Also, if you’re stopping for lunch in the middle of the day, you can make a quick meal and get back on the road, whereas with a camper trailer you’d have to take a bit more time to unpack the kitchen. 

Fully contained

Another advantage is that caravans are pretty much fully contained. You’ve got your bathroom, kitchen and sleeping area all in one place, making you less reliant on campsites and giving you a lot more freedom. This has the additional benefit of giving you maximum luxury and security on your road trip, not to mention plenty of storage space! You’re also not as exposed to the weather as with a camper trailer, which is a great advantage if you’re travelling in more extreme climates or are travelling with kids. 

Drawbacks of caravans

Impacts of the weight of the caravan

The sheer weight of towing an entire home on wheels can have a number of impacts, depending on the size of your caravan and your car’s capabilities. The larger and heavier the caravan, the more stress that will be placed on your vehicle and your fuel economy (and even your own energy while driving!). Depending on what type of car you have, you might find that your options are somewhat restricted by the amount of weight your car is able to tow. 

More expensive

Though caravans do come with a large number of amenities, this is inevitably accompanied by a larger price tag. If you’re looking for a caravan on the cheaper side, it’s a good idea to consider buying a second-hand caravan. Additionally, you’ll likely end up spending a lot more money on petrol compared with a camper trailer. 

Learn: The Cost of Caravan Ownership

Camper trailers

While caravans are a great option, they’re not for everyone. If your priorities are versatility, affordability and adaptability, a camper trailer could be the perfect choice for you. 

Main features

There is a wide range of camper trailers available on the market to suit all varieties of preferences and budgets, but most share a few basic features:

  • A kitchen
  • Variety of storage spaces
  • A bed/sleeping area
  • Shower area (occasionally)

Camper trailers can generally be divided into two main types: soft-floor campers and hard-floor campers. Soft-floor campers tend to be the cheaper option and have a tent section that folds out onto the ground, as the name suggests. By comparison, a hard-floor camper will have a fold-over lid that becomes the floor/bed base and will usually also have a type of lounge area.

The shower (if applicable) and kitchen areas are almost always fitted to the outside of the trailer or are able to be pulled out, to optimise space. While they may take a bit longer to set up, camper trailers can be just as comfortable as any other type of RV or caravan option! 

Advantages of camper trailers

More affordable option

One of the main advantages of a camper trailer is that it’s most likely going to be much cheaper than a caravan. This makes it a great option for first-time caravan owners or individuals who are a bit more budget-conscious.

Better off-road capabilities

Although you can buy caravans that are designed to go off-road, the size and nature of camper trailers makes them inherently better at navigating more difficult terrain. Camper trailers are also more fuel-efficient than caravans because they are far lighter. 

Drawbacks of camper trailers

Longer set up and pack up time

Your personal circumstances will probably dictate how much of an issue this is, but it’s important to note that a camper trailer will take longer to set up and pack up than a caravan. Though it’s definitely a consideration, the difference in set up/pack up time between a caravan and camper trailer is often around just 15 minutes (but bear in mind that all camper trailers are different!). 

More exposed to the elements

While for a lot of the time, the outdoor living aspect of camper trailers can be extremely appealing, in the case of extreme weather conditions like heat waves or heavy rain, camper trailers can become much less practical. If you choose a camper trailer over a caravan, make sure you’re prepared in the event you experience less than ideal weather conditions. 

Camper trailers are also much smaller, so your living space is going to be quite small compared to a caravan. This also means that you’re going to have less storage space.

Caravan vs camper trailer: which option is right for you?

There’s a lot to consider when deciding between a caravan and a camper trailer, so before making any decisions, it can be helpful to first ask yourself a number of questions about what you’re looking for in your new vehicle.

  • How much are you willing to spend in total? 
  • If you’re taking out a loan, how much are you willing to spend on monthly repayments? 
  • What is your travel style?
  • Who will you be travelling with? Will you be travelling with kids?
  • Have you owned a camper trailer or caravan before?
  • How often will you be using it?
  • Where will you be travelling?

Frequently asked questions

Can Driva help me finance my camper trailer or caravan?

Absolutely! Once you’ve done your research and decided what type of vehicle you’re looking to buy, Driva can help you secure finance for it. We work with a panel of 30+ lenders so no matter your financial situation, credit score or personal circumstances, we’re confident we can find you a great loan and a competitive interest rate. 

If you’re looking for a second-hand caravan or camper trailer, Driva can help you finance that too! To get started, simply tell us a few details about you and the type of caravan or camper trailer you’re looking to buy and we can give you personalised quotes in less than one minute. 

Where should I buy my caravan or camper trailer from?

Online marketplaces are becoming more and more popular, so you might like to check out websites like Gumtree, TradeRVs, Caravan Camping Sales or Facebook Marketplace. You can also visit your local dealerships and caravan manufacturers. 

Driva can also connect you with a large number of dealerships around Australia that have access to great deals on a range of new and used caravans. If this is something you’re interested in, feel free to have a chat with one of our friendly team members. Give us a call on 1300 755 494 or email us at hello@driva.com.au.

What are the costs involved with owning a caravan vs a camper trailer?

One of the main differences in cost will be the initial cost of purchasing the caravan or camper trailer itself, as caravans tend to be considerably more expensive. However, both options will incur a number of ongoing costs including registration fees, insurance, petrol, maintenance and repair costs, caravan park fees and running a generator. 

What are my other options (apart from camper trailers and caravans)?

Caravans and camper trailers are two of the most popular options for those looking for a home on wheels. However, there are also a number of other options available. These include motorhomes and campervans. 

Motorhomes are essentially the combination of a trailer and truck, so are sturdier than caravans and better at driving on difficult terrain. However, they’re also a much bulkier and less fuel-efficient option than a camper trailer or caravan. 

Campervans are like a smaller and cheaper version of a motorhome. They are either purpose-built or converted from a regular van, and are a popular option among tourists, couples and solo travellers.

Summing up

Regardless of whether you’re looking for a caravan or camper trailer (or any other type of home on wheels), if you’re looking for a loan to help finance it, Driva has you covered!

To get started with a caravan loan, you’ll just need to tell us a few details about you and the caravan you’re looking to buy, and we’ll be able to give you personalised rates from our panel of over 30 lenders - and all without affecting your credit score. Calculate how much you could save in just a few minutes and get started today. Once you’ve received your personalised rates and decided which lender you want to go with, the approval process normally takes between 2 hours and 2 days depending on the lender. 

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