Caravan buying tips from Ropers Caravans: What to look for when you buy your first caravan

01. Alicanto Grande - Driving shot 1

There is never too early to think about the summer holidays and plan the places you want to travel to this year. I am already planning to return to Cornwall this summer, for longer than three days, but also to visit Scotland on a long road trip.

I love road trips, there is something special and relaxing about driving on country roads, discovering small villages and remote natural areas where there are no other tourists around. As I plan to explore more of the UK this year, I am also thinking of the high price I am going to pay on accommodation, especially during the summer months. So, an idea came into my mind… how about buying a caravan?

As a first-time caravan buyer without any experience, I asked the expert advice of Ropers Caravans to find out what one should know before making the big purchase.

 

New or second-hand?

08 Phoenix Opening Vertical Skylight

This is a tough question, but, as a first-time buyer, I would personally choose a second-hand caravan, at least for the first couple of seasons. Towing a caravan requires some practice and you wouldn’t want to get a scratch on your brand new acquisition, right? A second-hand caravan will be much cheaper than a new one, taking in consideration that a new caravan will depreciate with around 15% in value from the moment you buy it. If you travel with children on pets, the wear and tear of a second-hand caravan shouldn’t be an issue. Spilling juice on brand new beds however might break your heart a little bit.

Of course, you should buy a second-hand caravan from a dealer and not privately, to avoid any problems that might occur after the purchase.

A new caravan however can be customised to your liking, with luxury fittings such as solar panels, kitchen appliances and even BBQ stations. If you have the budget, just for go for it!

 

Where to buy your caravan from?

05 Phoenix Couple relaxing lounge

No matter which choice you make, buying a new or a second-hand caravan, you should always go to an authorised dealer. Buying online or on an auction site is very risky because you can’t see if the caravan has any issues. Also, if this is your first caravan purchase, you need a pair of expert eyes to check the caravan in an out, to make sure you are getting a good deal for your money.

Ropers Caravan World, based on Yorkshire, is a family run business operating on the British Market since 1981. They sell top of the range caravans from the market leader Bailey of Bristol but also have a large stock of carefully checked and prepared used caravans. Ropers Caravan World and Bailey of Bristol are experts when it comes to caravans and share the same family values, making them brands you can trust, even if you are a new buyer of have been caravanning for the last 30 years. Trust is very important when you buy your first caravan, as you need advice from experts.

 

Towing caravan or motorhome?

04. Alicanto Grande - Relaxing outside caravan

Depending on your budget, you will have to consider what type of caravan you are after: a motorhome or a classic towing caravan? Generally, a motorhome is going to be more expensive than a caravan and will cost more to maintain. A motorhome is more convenient to use on a long road trip, whilst a caravan is better suited for longer stays in the same area. Whilst you can just park a motorhome, a caravan will need to be unhitched and set up in a holiday park. However, a caravan gives you more freedom when it comes to day trips, as you can just jump in your car and drive around, without needing to tow it with you. On this aspect, is harder to travel around with a motorhome, especially if you plan on visiting smaller villages with tiny parking spaces.

Another thing you should think at when you decide what you want to buy is how many people will be going on holiday with you. A motorhome is great for a single person or a couple, but for a family, a caravan is more convenient, as it is more spacious.

 

Size matters

05 - Discovery - on pitch 2

Before settling on buying a caravan, you need to take in consideration what your car can tow. There is no point at looking at a large twin axle caravan when you own a small car with a 1.2 litres engine.

As a general rule, the weight of the caravan can’t exceed 85% of your car’s weight, and, together, can’t be more than 3500 kilograms. If the weight is more than that then you will need to take a category B+E driving test also.

 

Pick your specifications

23. Alicanto Grande - Interior Porto Lounge

Think of what type of holidays you will use your caravan for and decide on which specifications you need, based on your budget. I’m talking about how many beds, shower and toilet, sink, etc. Make a list of the things you can live without and then start to shop around for a caravan. When you buy a new caravan, you have the option to add different things on, besides the starter pack which most dealers include.

 

Is it a good investment for you?

04 - Discovery - On pitch with awning 1

Buying a caravan is going to be a large financial investment, both initially and in maintenance over the years. How many times a year are you going to use the caravan? If you take a lot of trips in the UK during the year with your family, where you rent holiday homes, buying your own caravan will make sense, as it will save you money in the long run. However, if you only go on holiday two weeks a year, mostly abroad, it’s not really worth investing in a caravan.

 

When is the best time to buy a caravan?

According to statistics, January and February are the best months to buy a caravan. This is when dealers are trying to clear their current stock before the new models arrive. This is the best time to grab a good deal or discount as well.

 

 

How about you? Do you own a caravan? Are you planning on buying one? Do you enjoy caravan holidays? I would love to read your opinions in the comment section below.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post written together with Bailey of Bristol. However, all the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

44 Comments

  1. I loved this article! My boyfriend and I have been toying with the idea of buying one and this was such a great start of things to consider!

  2. This is a great post! Growing up we’ve always had motorhomes or caravans. All the tips you mentioned are all so true! Especially about making sure you buy from a dealership, even for a used one.

    1. Our first caravan was a £500 rather dilapidated 2 berth with all the gear. We brought it to see if we liked caravanning. All we’d say when something didn’t work was ‘ it’s better than a tent’ . We upgraded to a 10 year old 2 berth before finally opting for a brand new dealer special 4 berth. Definitely worth starting out cheap and cheerful before splurging on a new modwl

  3. amazing post, I will say you can upgrade one to your liking also if you have the money and know how. I am excited for the day I can purchase one.

  4. Almost every school holidays as a child we went caravanning. The van would be packed and ready to go as soon as school got out. I like your idea of buying one secondhand to give it a go before committing fully.

  5. Great tips! My husband and I want to buy one this year so we can take the kids camping and use it, instead of a hotel room, when we go to Disney World.

  6. Camping is something that reminds me of my childhood. Would be great to at least rent a caravan soon and go on a trip as I am not planning to buy one (yet).

  7. This is a really great idea to travel from one place to another. It looks convenient and comfortable. This is really a good post and very informative. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This is a great post. My fiance and I talked about getting a caravan a couple years ago. We didn’t just because we didnt know where to start. Thank you for sharing… we may have to visit that conversation.

  9. Caravans are cool for beginnings but I am now interested in skoolies. Some of the school bus to mobile living units are cool to see!

  10. I have never been a fan of a caravan but I really fancy buying a campervan and seeing the world!

    Several of my family have done it and had the most amazing experience.

    Great tips here for anyone looking to buy x

  11. When my children were small we had a travel trailer (USA) and we had such fun going to different towns and jsut camping in the woods.

  12. I love the idea of having a caravan and going wherever you want. Unfortunately, the roads here are not that caravan friendly. If we ever to a place where I can finally buy one, this guide would be very helpful.

  13. I love this guide. I don’t own a caravan. It’s something I would like to do but I think the weather here discourages me. Some of these caravans are so plush right? I bet you get to visit some gorgeous sites

  14. We hired at motorhome when we last went to Glastonbury and it was a god send, but in future we’d just rent/ hire then as opposed to buying one x

  15. Im more than happy to buy a second hand Caravan but as its said, i would have to g to a dealer as i wouldnt feel comfortable, based on the size of my family it would need to be a bigger size.

  16. I think caravan holidays are a brilliant idea, so owning your own is a good thing to consider. Lots to take in to account before committing, but your guide is a great and helpful start.

  17. We had a caravan when we were kids but it didn’t last very long. Mum and Dad bought it on a whim and I suppose it wasn’t what they thought it would be. We got to holidays out of it and that’s all.

  18. Great tips, we would love to buy our very own caravan one day! We love holidays but when staying in a caravan on site the prices can be so high especially in the school holidays. Whereas bringing your own caravan makes it so much cheaper. It also means you have so much more flexibility. I think caravans are great for families!

  19. Oh great tips here . We have been saying for a few years about buying one . Will have a chat with the hubby and put some of these to him

  20. I never thought of this before and it seems interesting. This would make the road trip much better to enjoy it if you are going on a vacation trip. I will definitely consider these tips to get one. Thank you for sharing!

  21. Over the years, I have done several trips with the kids where we would encounter caravans and motor homes on the road. Now the thought of doing road trips across Europe in a caravan is so appealing to me that I might start planning to get one in 3-5 years time.

  22. This was such an informative post! I have always wanted a 5th wheeler (American) and your criteria for picking one was perfect. I always thought that I would rent one before buying, though, just to make sure I was happy with my investment.

  23. I really am more of a hotel kind of gal, but you have me interested! I didn’t know there were so many options. I think I could see myself considering this. Maybe we’ll rent one and try it out!

  24. We love a good road trip and have been considering buying a caravan – it just seems to offer you that little bit more freedom when on the road. These are really helpful tips.

  25. I so enjoyed reading this post. Caravans are almost unheard of in India and I don’t think I will ever buy one, but would love to dream about it !

  26. Right on the second hand dealer instead of a personal person. Make sure there is a good warranty and the choice is really an easy one! 🙂

  27. This is such a great guide for things to consider if buying a caravan. Personally I have always preferred tents to caravans but some times do consider buying a motorhome/camper van.

  28. Caravans are fantastic if you plan to do quite a bit of traveling! We do a lot of tent camping but as we have gotten older we have looked at the idea of a camper. We just dont go far enough for one though and we have a rather large family so we would need a larger one! Maybe as the kids get older this is something we will do. A very informative posting agree with starting off with second hand over brand new!

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