Choosing a touring caravan is both exciting and confusing! As you begin your hunt to buy the perfect caravan for your needs you will have many questions.
Before you go out viewing any caravans it’s essential to consider the following points:
- What Size Works For You?
- Single Or Twin Axle?
- How Many Berths Do You Need?
- What Type Of Berths Are Available?
- Is Your Car Suitable For Towing?
The most popular choice of touring caravan within the UK that we see either pitched up on-site or towed on the road is the ‘Standard Conventional Tourer’. More often than not, these caravans have been produced in the UK too; figures suggest that we have the most extensive manufacturing base in Europe.
However, some overseas models get imported here to supply some caravanners – some are quite quirky in design!
But before you fall in love with your dream design, let’s talk about which type of caravan is best for you and your needs.
What Size Tourer Do I Need?
Generally speaking, size-wise can vary from 3 to 7 metres long, supported on either a single or twin axle. Most caravans have a ‘single axle’ and can accommodate between two and six people.
Or you could go for a larger or ‘Super Size’ touring caravan with a ‘twin axle’, that would accommodate larger groups of people with much more living space.
You need to ask yourself these questions regarding size;
- What will you mainly be using the caravan for?
- Who will be using it?
- What kind of trips will you be taking and where?
- Will you go further afield into other parts of Europe?
Should I Get A Single Or Twin Axle?
Single Axle Caravans
Tourers that are built on a single axle could be as short as 3/3.5 metres in interior length.
If its a smaller caravan the living space is slightly restricted inside. In that case, you could perhaps consider extending this area by using one of the many awnings and extensions available on the market.
Advantages of a Single Axle Caravan
- Single axle tourers are constructed on two wheels – it’s definitely worth considering that they are much easier to manoeuvre on the road – especially in tight spaces!
- Single axle touring caravans can be towed by many more vehicle types than a twin axle.
- Fuel consumption will be lower. much cheaper to insure and easier to store.
Disadvantages of a Single Axle Caravan
- The payload (load that can be carried by the caravan) is far less than a twin axle caravan
- At times a single axle caravan will provide less stability than twin axle caravans.
Single axle caravans are probably the wisest choice for the absolute beginner when it comes to towing a caravan and touring about for the first time!
Twin Axle Caravans
The larger or super-sized touring caravans are less common, these tend to be fitted with twin axles. This is because of their length and weight; they need to be supported by four wheels too.
Advantages of a Twin Axle Caravan
- The overriding and appealing factor here is more living space and the ability to accommodate more people.
- Twin axle caravans benefit from being so much more stable whilst towing on the road.
Disadvantages of a Twin Axle Caravan
- Watch out when you come to pitch up on-site or park it up in storage – there might be some tricky manoeuvres involved!
- Whilst you can have a much higher payload with a twin axle caravan, unfortunately, the fuel consumption will be higher.
- All the costs associated with a twin axle will be more – and you are more limited with the choice of vehicle to use for towing it.
How Many Berths Do I Need?
Depending on the particular brand or interior design layout, most caravans can usually sleep anywhere between two and six. The caravan will typically have a small bathroom, kitchen and living area in its layout.
Clearly, it’s essential to choose the right number of berths to suit you and your situation.
A couple will only need a two-berth unless you want extra space!
Families will probably need anything from a minimum of a four to a six berth.
Also, remember if you plan to be sociable and invite guests it’s better to go for a larger berth, or perhaps you like to take the dog on holiday with you, he or she may want his or her own bed.
The best advice is to go for more room – just in case!
Alternatively, you may not have to go for maximum berths if you set up a sleeping area for people in the awning – somewhere to stick the guests (or the kids!)
What Type Of Berths Are Available?
In terms of what type of berth you can have, typically it’s possible to get the following:
Whether they are double, or single in size, they are often secured or fixed against something like the wall or corridor of the caravan. Sometimes a larger or more luxury berth may contain an island type double bed – so you can jump in on either side.
They don’t move, and so the great news is, they don’t need to be made up every day! They do tend to take up a bit more space though, but having said that, they mainly come with handy under bed storage areas.
Where should you stick the kids? Yes, that’s right the bunk bed option is ideal (and fun) for them, and it’s fabulous for space-saving. The ultimate space-saving arrangement is a triple bunk berth!
Pull Out Beds
Pull out beds can come as standard beds or bunk beds. They are part of a ‘pull out’ style mechanism often found in the living areas, this is because they can be used as a sofa in the daytime. The pullout is convenient for guests and larger families.
Conclusion: Try all berth/bed types before buying, some caravan beds can come up relatively small in length and it’s probably best to test the comfort levels out before buying!
Is Your Car Suitable For Towing?
The rule here is that your new caravan’s actual weight shouldn’t weigh more than the car you use for towing it.
It’s logically much safer to go with the heavier the vehicle and the lighter the caravan combination.
These days cars come with a handbook that will state the maximum weight you can tow, making it much easier to work out. Always check before searching for your new caravan.
The standard recommendation is that the total weight of your caravan (including any contents) must not be more than 85% of your car’s unladen (kerb) weight- refer to manufacturer guidelines on this so you can make your little outfit safe for the road.
Free Quick Start Guide To Buying A Touring Caravan
Before you go – do you want our free ebook on buying a touring caravan? It’s ready for download today!
It answers some of the most common questions about buying a caravan, together with a free printable checklist to help you on your journey to buying a touring caravan!