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What To Look For In Your First Camper Van: Buyer Tips

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You’ve finally made the decision to splurge on a caravan. Good for you. Welcome to a very exclusive club of people seeking a different method of travel — self-contained entirely, towed behind their vehicle. The unparalleled freedom of the open road is all that awaits. 

Maybe all of that is just a pipe-dream for you right now and you’re teetering on the edge of buying a caravan, this guide is for you. Buying your first caravan can seem like climbing a mountain as you have so much to learn that you were unprepared for. 

While it can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be, this should be a fun, new part of your life and you want to go into it with a positive attitude of enjoyment and hope and excitement at your new, freedom-giving purchase. Our handy little guide hopes to prepare you for your first purchase as much as possible. 

Pick your must-haves 

Before you make any kind of purchase of this sort, it’s important that you decide what you can and cannot live without in a camper van or a mobile home. Can you live without a sink? What about a refrigerator? How much space do you need for your bedding (if you’re not buying a blank canvas, what size bed do you want?) If you have kids, where are they going to sleep on your trips? 

There’s lots of planning to do before you even hit the market for a caravan. Figure out what you need and want, and what you can do without, and then go shopping. 

What’s your budget? 

In order for any vehicle purchase to be successful, you’ll want to figure out exactly how much you’re willing to spend on a caravan. Once you have that number, you can work out what you can get for that amount. If you have the money to buy a brand new caravan, then go forth and purchase.

But, like most people, you may want something a bit older, shabbier, but still with plenty of substance and miles left in it. Buying used also allows you the freedom to pick your make, model, and features, as well as buying something with a bit of history and character.

Can your car tow it?

Before you buy any caravan, you’ll want to know if your car can tow the thing. It’s important that you find out what your car’s maximum tow weight is and if indeed a tow hitch can be attached and what the associated cost will be (if one isn’t already attached). 

Towing a caravan of any sort requires some serious pulling power and some serious braking power as well. Whether you’re looking for an older model or not, your small everyday beater likely doesn’t have the capacity to tow anything. So, you might want to look at buying a cheaper used hauling vehicle like a 4×4 SUV or a truck.

Buy in the off-season 

The off-season usually means cheaper prices on all things: caravans included. At this time, dealerships will likely be looking to offload their older models that have been sitting and didn’t sell during the summer, or, private owners just bought a new caravan this summer and are looking to offload their old rig that’s taking up space on the property. Winter months are usually the time to make a second-hand purchase. 

Purchase private insurance 

Buying private insurance for your caravan might not seem necessary, but you’re certainly risking a lot more than money if your caravan is stolen, or damaged in a collision — memories that you’ve made and things that you own and store inside could all be lost irreplaceably. 

At the very least, the buying of caravan insurance will give you peace of mind that the things that you own inside are financially covered. 

Embrace the adventures 

It can be difficult for first-time buyers who’ve just made such a large purchase to embrace that purchase. We’ve all been there, but that need not be the case with your caravan. Consider it an investment in yourself and your family. 

Embrace the adventure. Don’t be scared to take it out on short trips before you engage in anything long-haul. Don’t let your fear hold you back. You’ve spent the money, now go and enjoy your new toy.

Felix Yim
the authorFelix Yim
Founder & Journalist of Society of Speed
A rich life, is a life where you can drive on sports mode and not worry about fuel consumption.