What you need to consider before going on a road trip

If you don’t do some touring in Australia, you’ll miss out badly. There are wonderful things to see and do and amazing places to visit for a few days or even a few months. Before you decide how you are going to get about in Australia you need to make a few decisions. Ask yourself “should I get a caravan, a tent, a camper trailer, or a motorhome, or just go by car”?

Before you set off on a road trip you will need to consider the following:

How much time are you going to spend travelling each year? If you are going to spend several months travelling, you are going to want some creature comforts around you.

How much money can you afford to spend getting set up? It is impractical to spend many thousands of dollars on a flashy motorhome – then spend two weeks in it each year.

How fit are you, or how old are you? You might prefer to look at a small motorhome if you are a little on the frail side.

What do you envisage your travels to be; relaxing, exciting or a bit of both? If you plan to go on lots of organised tours then you will be spending less time at your “home base” and maybe you can go without some of the home comforts. If the reverse is true then you’ll want outdoor table and chairs to put under the tarpaulin or the caravan awning. I have my own ideas but so has everybody else. I’m going to tell you what I see as the pros and cons of some of these choices.

First, the caravan, it is expensive to purchase (but not as expensive as the average motorhome). There is an immense range of caravans to consider and the prices should reflect the options installed. Adding options later is more expensive and troublesome than getting them built-in during manufacture. If you are limited to a few weeks of travelling each year you may want to rule out motorhomes and caravans because of the initial cost – but if you are going to travel about for months on end, go for broke.

Don’t expect to automatically “get what you pay for” in a caravan. Many of them are roughly built unless you go for a top end, well respected brand (you need to ask lots of caravan owners for their stories before choosing a brand).

The caravan and the motorhome are pretty comfortable solutions if you are getting on a bit in years. The motorhome is easier to handle and set up at each stop but can be a little more difficult when driving around the local sights. A motorhome is often more economical on fuel than a 4wd towing a caravan.

On the other hand, a caravan can be left in a caravan park or free rest area while you go touring around the local sights in your car or 4wd – which may be easier than driving the motorhome. The motorhome is more capable and robust when it comes to “outback tracks”, unless you spend up big on a genuine “off road” caravan. If money is less of a problem, and the motorhome appeals to you, do what lots of Aussies do – tow a little car behind the motorhome. Don’t forget to consider the extra rego and insurance though.

Talking about registration, it can cost TEN times as much to register a caravan in NSW as it does in other states. The NSW government chooses to ignore the fact that caravans generally travel about one percent of the kilometres that business vehicles do – and yet the NSW government continues to gouge the caravanners about 60% of the weight tax that business vehicles pay.

Camper trailers open up the possibility of touring much deeper into the outback and they cost somewhat less than caravans. Younger fitter people will often choose a camper trailer. There can be a substantial set up time involved at each stop, and the next morning when moving on again. It’s not the way to go if you are not fit and healthy. There are very few places that you cannot take a 4wd and a camper trailer.

A friend of mine prefers to plan his trips well ahead of time, then make all the necessary bookings at hotels, motels and caravan park cabins then simply drive his car to each stopover. He saves a bundle on fuel and carries a few bags into his lodgings each night – but the cabins and motels are more expensive than caravan sites and free rest areas. My friend hasn’t spent a dollar on getting set up for a trip – other than phone calls, a good GPS and a few spare parts for the car. If you have a set amount of time to complete a trip then this might appeal to you.

Tents are for the young and adventurous. The work setting up camp can be significant, especially if it’s only for a one night stopover. Tents are more frequently the choice for travellers who tend to stay somewhere for a week or two before moving on. Never underestimate the power of the wind!! Use big tent pegs and strong ropes. Be nice to the people next door in case a storm blows up.

All in all there are many options available when you are planning a road trip. As you can see, there are a number of expenses you need to consider before embarking. It is so important that you understand and evaluate all the different options before making an investment in any type of vehicle. You should consult with relevant parties and understand any risks involved.

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DISCLAIMER: This is all based on opinion please research and consult with all relevant parties to make the best buying decision.