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Campervan vs caravan

Mar 2, 2022 | Insights

If you’re looking to explore our beautiful country, having a home on wheels makes sense. But how do you decide which one is right for you and your family? We help you weigh up the pros and cons of campervan vs caravan.


Caravans and camper trailers

A caravan is your home on wheels that doesn’t have its own engine and is towed by the family car. These come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from cool vintage models to state-of-the-art models complete with wardrobes, bathrooms and gas cooktops. They come with everything — including the kitchen sink!

A camper trailer is a compact, soft-top (or hard-top) tent on wheels that neatly folds down inside a trailer bed. Camper trailers are traditionally less luxurious than caravans but are popular amongst those looking for some 4×4 action on their road trip as they are more compact and lighter to tow. Their setup is quite basic and doesn’t include the luxuries of a bathroom, but they usually come with a pull-out stove top which can be enclosed by an annex. They can also be a great option if you have a tighter budget.


Motorhomes and campervans

A campervan (or class b motorhome) is a self-contained, recreational vehicle. Usually, the driver and passengers can sit up front, while the ‘living space’ takes up the back of the leisure vehicles. A campervan is the slightly smaller equivalent of a motorhome. While a campervan is perfect for a couple, a motorhome can be more comfortable for carrying a family.

Motorhomes have come a long way since the early days when at the most, they had some small cupboards and a foldout bed. A ‘proper’ motorhome can carry up to six people, store your clothes, cook your meals and comfortably sleep a whole family — many motorhomes even come complete with the convenience of a toilet and shower.

Finance One

Campervan or caravan?

Australia’s endless highways make taking your accommodation with you when you travel a practical option. You can stop whenever you like, camp in free sites, skip expensive hotel or online reservation fees and linger for as long as it suits you.
There’s no right or wrong answer when looking at the various types of camping options. It comes down to what suits your lifestyle and needs best. Here are some things to consider when making your choice:


What is the towing capacity of your vehicle?

Caravans are heavy, and you need a decent-sized machine to tow them safely. When looking at a caravan or camper trailer, take note of its gross trailer mass (GTM), which is basically its total weight. To work out if you can safely tow it, find out the gross vehicle mass (GVM) and gross combination mass (GCM). Basically, the GCM is the combined weight of your loaded vehicle plus the trailer. You cannot exceed the maximum weight of the vehicle, the trailer or the combined weight.

Many caravans will come fitted with electric brakes. If you are looking to buy any kind of trailer with electric brakes, your vehicle must be equipped with a brake controller, or you will not be able to tow it.

If you only have a small car and are considering investing in a mobile home, you may wish to skip the car+caravan setup and choose a campervan instead.


What is your budget?

If you already have a 4WD that can tow the weight, you’ll generally save money by purchasing a caravan instead of a new campervan. The running costs of caravans are usually cheaper too. When comparing maintenance, fuel consumption, insurance and registration, a caravan is generally friendlier for your budget.

If air conditioning is important for you, both options can come with an aircon, it might just cost a little bit extra.

When considering storage space, this will vary depending on the size of the caravan or campervan. It’s a good idea to have an idea of how much space you’ll need before committing to buy.

Some luxury model caravans can reach a high price, but generally speaking, a caravan is cheaper.


What style of adventure suits you?

If you love to pull up somewhere and then take your car for a 4WD adventure, it makes sense to have a caravan attached (which can also be unattached!). You can unhitch the van, lock it up, go to the local grocery store or even go on short camping trips in your car if you want to.

With a motorhome or campervan, this isn’t possible. However, you could purchase a mini 4WD or car and tow it behind your motorhome if that is an affordable option for you. You’ll see many setups like this on the open road. The smaller car can also come in handy for popping into the local town and not struggling to find a parking space. However, if price is a factor, this option can become expensive as you’ll have insurance, registration, maintenance and fuel costs to pay on both vehicles (which are a bit more costly than the expenses of a caravan).

For a laid back, cruisy road trip, a campervan would do just fine. For a dusty, bumpy, off-road adventure, a caravan (or camper trailer) may be the go.


What about set-up time?

There are completely self-contained campervans that don’t require you to do anything but step inside; then there are versions with pop-up tops and extendable sides. Some campervans are also more compact with not much interior space. These are not suited for much more than sleeping. This means you won’t be so comfortable if it rains during the day, and you have to be inside.

If you’d rather hit the ground running when you stop, a caravan may be more suitable for you as there is generally not as much set-up and shutdown required (although there are exceptions to this rule).

Both a campervan and caravan have exceptionally low set-up times.


Where are you headed?

In the campervan vs caravan debate, your destination is also worth considering.

Caravans work best at caravan parks, where you can hook up to power and water. These are a good option if you have kids, as there will generally be additional showers and toilets, plus some equipment to play on.

A campervan may work better for ‘off-grid’ travels, but of course, you will need your own power generator and water supply.

Both options are great for caravan parks. However, you’ll need power and water supply if you’d like to head somewhere more remote.


At the end of the day, when deciding between recreational vehicles and trailers, the decision comes down to what your family needs and what you can afford. Investing in this type of mobile accommodation is an excellent way to explore the country, stimulate the economy and enjoy some time away from your hometown.

Can I apply for a loan for a caravan or campervan if I have a bad credit score?

At Finance One, we offer loans for caravans and campervans, even if you have a bad credit history. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to discuss your eligibility to apply.

Apply for a Caravan or Campervan Loan

Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.

Normal lending criteria apply. Fees and charges are payable. Terms and conditions apply.

Finance One means “Fin One Pty Ltd – ABN: 80 139 719 903 – ACL: 387528”

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Makala Elliott

Makala is the Marketing Manager at Finance One. She has worked in the Finance and Lending industry for over 10 years, gathering a wealth of experience. She is passionate about helping Australians get back on track with their finances by passing on her knowledge.

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