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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Caravan or motorhome: To tow or not to tow?

Caravan or motorhome? This has been the debate happening in our house for quite some time now. To tow or not to tow, has been the question.





Some of you will remember this time last year, after I had dragged my poor French-canal-boat-owning friend around the Sydney Caravan and Camping Show, I wrote this blog post contemplating life as a grey nomad.

Some friends love unconditionally. Thanks goodness.

The previous year, MLP and I had dragged Number 3, my brother's youngest, in her mid-twenties, around the same show.

Some nieces love unconditionally as well it seems!

This year it was just MLP and I, hoping, at last, to make the final decision.

Having never towed ... anything ... ever ... well, MLP has a few times for work ... a motorhome had lots of advantages. With this in mind, we have hired a couple of motorhomes, one relatively large and one camper van style, to travel across the country, Melbourne to Sydney and Adelaide to Perth, for family weddings. We loved our two trips. Both motorhomes were fun, easy, convenient and we learnt a lot in the process.

So, since then, we have spent an inordinate amount of time stalking our local RV centre (The American nomenclature seems to have been adopted by Australian sellers.), crawling through motorhome after motorhome, evaluating the pros and cons of different models, narrowing the field to a few select contenders.

Ultimately, the motorhome option seemed to come with the need to tow a small four-wheel drive vehicle to access those tricky spots where a motorhome cannot go. We knew this from our hiring adventures. Extended gravel roads with corrugations, tight turns at remote beach locations and motorhomes aren't the most salubrious mix.

So, we would end up towing regardless.

The to-tow-or-not-to-tow debate just died a quick death.

A motorhome is not the ideal vehicle to do your weekly shop, go to dinner, visit friends when not on the road travelling, so this option also seemed to come with the incumbent registration and insurance on, for us, a minimum of three vehicles: motorhome, MLP's car and my car. Ouch!

The $s were adding up. The little nagging in the back of my brain grew stronger and stronger.

Then, by chance, on one local-RV-centre-stalking occasion, I stumbled into a caravan ... a very lovely caravan. Surprise, surprise. I liked what I saw. Modern, stylish, clean lines.

And hence we started the caravan research.

Now, we were in and out of every caravan on the lot, evaluating the pros and cons of different models, narrowing the field to a few select contenders ... at the same local RV centre ... Oh, no. Here they come again!

But, at last, after around three years of research (There was no rush. We were waiting on MLP's retirement.), a decision has been made, a caravan has been ordered.

Our decision?

A 20 foot 6 inch JB Scorpion.


Why?

She ticks all the boy boxes MLP needs ticking. Correct suspension, number of solar panels, outdoor shower, et al ... it comes with every MLP requirement.

Inside we're doing a little tweaking to suit our lifestyle and a tiny bit of compromise to have a caravan that's not too long.

Want to have a look inside?

One tweak we've made is to have an L-shaped dinette. We want to be able to drop it down into a daybed to be able to sit together with our legs up to watch TV on those rainy nights when we're not outside carousing with other travelling gypsies.


A full gas oven comes as standard. Tick. I like to cook.

I'm moving the kitchen around a bit so I have the bench space connected to the sink draining board to prepare a meal. I'm sure some kitchens in caravans are designed by people who don't cook.


Full ensuite with washing machine.


Laminate bench tops that look like concrete.


At last, the search is over. We've ordered our gypsy-home-on-wheels. Yay! Now, the process of having it made begins.

There was a Mo√ęt stand at the Sydney Super Show. We had bitten the bullet and ordered our van ... so, we had to celebrate!

MLP dreaming of our new adventures.
The search for the vehicle to tow our van now begins ... but we may just have nailed that one this weekend.

Will this be the end to our forays to Caravan and Camping Shows? I hear you ask.

Erh, no, probably not ... I can hear the groans from my dutiful friend and Number 3.

For me, the most exciting part now begins, fitting out the inside so that when we step in that door we feel like we're on holidays.

Stay tuned for my adventures into researching, buying, sewing caravan goodies.

And, of course, when MLP retires, we can begin our trips into the great outdoors in 2017, probably for around three months at a time, plus a few mid-week adventures closer to home. The joys of retirement.



What's your preference ... motorhome or caravan?

Are you a Caravan and Camping Show devotee?

Got any tips to share with me about kitting out our new van?

Any tips about the best places to go?


See you again next week,