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Caravan advice....

(16 Posts)
HarrogateMum Sat 20-Aug-11 09:38:04

I'm not sure if I should be posting this in camping or not, but DH and I currently have a 1999 Conway Clubman Folding Camper which is great, but we have found ourselves looking enviously at the caravans on our recent trips away...

I think we have convinced ourselves that we will go for the caravan option ultimately but I know nothing about them. We have 3 kids so will need a 5 or 6 berth but there seem to be so many different layouts/options/makes/models/prices that I'm struggling to get my head round it!

So if you have a caravan, please tell me all about it, did you buy it new or second hand? Why do you love it? What make and model is it etc?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

ivykaty44 Sat 20-Aug-11 18:43:25

i love caravans and canmpervans, as for layouts I think it is personel as to what you like and what you also get used to.

I like a lounge at one end and hopefully a smaller lounger in the other - but if you have three children I think you would probably be better looking for bunk beds and a lounge that changes into a double and another bed somewhere - or an awning with a bedroom outside for the eldest - so he/she gets a bit of needed privacy as they grow.

I would start of second hand, get a few caravan magazines off the shelf in whsmith or see if your library keeps any back issues - and scoure the problem pages and the prices in the second hand pages to get a good idea of what you should be paying when you go and look. Also view in a few sales rooms and get an idea of layout - note the makes and layouts you like - then look around agian for second hand private sales as you will often get a lot of extras thrown in free on a private sale - therefore saving a lot of money up against a show room second hand sale

hocuspontas Sat 20-Aug-11 19:12:13

One layout I would avoid is those with a door near the back by the fixed bunks. It creates a horrible corridor down through the rest of the caravan, with children having to get past the cook in the kitchen area to get to the seating area. We were always on edge with hot food or boiling water.

Our favourite layout is on entry to the caravan you have the main seating area to your left, kitchen in front and everything else to the right (dinette or fixed bed, toilet, wardrobe etc)

We have lived with a 4-berth since the disaster layout above. When the 3 children were smaller they all shared one of the double beds or they slept on the two main settees with one child on the floor in the middle. When they got older they had a tent or an extension in the awning. So don't necessarily look at a 5/6-berths, I think 4-berths are more flexible, especially the one's that are the same dimensions as the 5/6 berths.

We currrently have an Elddis Avante 534 Riviera and the only thing that would improve it is an island fixed bed with the washroom running across the back. Our fixed bed at the moment has a corner sliced off so the washroom at the side can be accessed. Apart from that it is perfect! I would recommend a fixed bed. The storage space underneath is brilliant.

We have always bought new because we don't like the thought of sleeping on beds that other people have been sitting on!

HarrogateMum Sun 21-Aug-11 09:54:17

Thanks so much for your thoughts ladies, all food for thought!

MrsSnaplegs Sun 21-Aug-11 10:31:57

I would try to go to one of the caravan shows and have a good look round at the layouts. We ended up buying a vintage caravan to restore as it worked out to suit our needs better with layout. Luckily DH is very handy with fixing things. We hope it will be finished in the next 6 monthsgrin

mulberryless Sun 21-Aug-11 22:07:29

Hi there. We have just bought a 1976 caravan. Different space and layout. We looked at lots in sale centres and got scared of the prices. Good luck.

smith1 Mon 22-Aug-11 10:24:27

3 years ago we bought our first caravan. At the time Dcs were 2 and 5. We looked at loads of designs at a caravan showroom (or ten...) and decided on a lounge at the front and a twin dinette a the back. The front converted to a large double and the back into a double with a bunk bed above.
Last year we decided to upgrade as we knew we were going to continue using a caravan and bought a new Bailey Pegasus 546. The has a huge U shaped lounge at the front, a mid bathroom and kitchen, and at the back there are fixed triple bunks with a table and seating area next to it.
The big advantage for us with this is that when the children go to bed, there is a door which closes off their ‘bedroom’ so we don’t have to suit in silence for the night! They are able to have all their toys out at their end, and when they wake up in the morning will happily sit and draw or play games at their end without disturbing us. The downside is that we still have to make our bed every night, and there is a corridor feel to the middle, but the benefits hugely outweigh this.
It was worth us buying an older van first to see whether we would use the caravan much, but for us has definitely been a great investment! Good luck!

Honeymoonmummy Thu 25-Aug-11 09:59:36

Can I bump and shamelessly hijack this thread? We are also campers who are considering a caravan next year and at the moment it seems a daunting prospect to find out about them! Are there particular makes/ models which are considered good/ bad?

smith1 Thu 25-Aug-11 10:48:37

I don't thjink there are any particular makes that are better than others. Every brand has from a 'budget' range up to the premier range. It very much depends what you are after. If making the step from tent to caravan, the lower end models are still very luxurious - it may be that all you want is beds and a toilet! The top end ranges are very plush and are very much a home from home.
The other aspect depends on the car you will be towing with. The lower end of the market tend to be lighter so more flexible bout what cars can pull it. www.practicalcaravan.com/ gives lots of advice and can tell you the weights that your car can legally tow.
I would recommend looking at all the different makes around, and buying a fairly cheap one at first to see whether you enjoy it enough to justify the cost outlay.

borderslass Thu 25-Aug-11 17:16:56

When buying a caravan check for damp, start off cheap you may not like it, make sure you can tow it with your car and make sure you can tow it legally remember if you passed your test from 1997 onwards there is a limit to what you can tow without an extra test.

serin Thu 25-Aug-11 21:31:14

We have three kids and when they were small we had an Ace Jubilee with a double at the back for 2dc's and a fold out bunk above for the older one. This layout worked brilliantly until the boys got a bit big for the double and started to squabble.

We upgraded to a Sprite Musketeer with three fixed bunks at the back last year, the bunks run along the back of the van, so the van is much shorter than our last one and is therefore much easier to position on our drive.

However! Our DD (14) has now decided that she doesnt want to sleep in the van with us at all, and she has commendered the awning annexe tent for herself! With hindsight DH and I do wonder whether we should have just got a 2berth and put the kids in the awning! Much more privacy for all concerned and security is not an issue as our dog would not allow anyone near them.

sleepwouldbenice Fri 26-Aug-11 19:28:42

5 berth eldiss cyclone - 10 years old, 2nd hand from ebay for £4,500 incl 2 awnings and lots accesories

we like the single bunk over double bed option at one end for the 2 kids with the door that closes to give us privacy and peace and quiet!

Small bathroom in the middle (but we use the site washrooms for showers etc) and simple kitchen

then double bed / eating area which we leave set up as a bed if we are away for more than 2 nights as we put an awning up then and eat in the awning (rest of awning used for shoes, extra fridge for wine(!) kids outdoor toys etc

Hope this helps

sleepwouldbenice Fri 26-Aug-11 19:29:58

you can find lots of general info about caravan maintenance, layouts etc on the caravan club website

Fizzylemonade Fri 26-Aug-11 23:16:57

We are looking to buy a caravan for the first time in 18 months time so have started looking at stuff now.

I am assuming you are in Harrogate, so there is a caravan show 3rd and 4th September in East Yorkshire, about 1hr 30mins from you. We are going to that details

And we are booked into the NEC in Birmingham in October for the Caravan Show, which is huge. details

It is to give us an idea of layout and a feel for the different makes and models. You can grab quite a few caravan magazines in WH Smiths and the likes, we have started watching the Caravan Show on Sky, but if you have a look on YouTube there are loads of caravan sales places selling vans so they have filmed the insides of lots.

The Caravan Channel reviews lots of vans so point out the good stuff and the bad. We think we are going for twin dinette, where there is seating both at the front and the back and 2 tables so our boys can be down one end. However, the idea of making up 2 beds every night may get tiresome.

Good luck.

bacon Mon 29-Aug-11 19:33:25

Firstly your vehicle has to be capable of towing a caravan, ie there is a considerable difference in weight and a six berth will need some powerful car to pull it. Also the length is very important, you dont want to be pulling a van so long it has you stressed out! You must be able to do it also if it happens that you OH is ill or too tired. Most 6 berth are double axle and huge plus more to maintain plus servicing. Laden weight is important!

I would consider a 5 berth and incoporate a quality awning - say an Isabella (I dream!). As for layout - always a middle bathroom. Two end bedrooms and one bunk. I would avoid any fixed bunk as you need the space in the day.

You have to be realistic to what you want to spend - I spent £5000 and it hardly gets used so I couldnt justify anymore. E bay have loads for sale and you get all the accessories thrown in. Always ask for the last service sheet to check for damp problems.

I have an Avondale (went bust a few years ago). I would buy a Bailey (watch some are poor quality), Coachman - would be my preference! There is a difference to quality build

bacon Mon 29-Aug-11 19:45:43

I wouldnt fork out on glossy mags either - there are some brilliant free forums on the net and people can point you in the right direction on what to look for.

Dont worry about buying older vans with broken bits. If you buy good makes all replacement parts are available on the net. Most caravans has dents, scratches on the bodywork and you can sort this out yourself. Carpet can be replaced with laminate.

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