Why You Should Start Caravanning!
If you have visited our website, you are probably already thinking of buying a caravan. Caravanning is increasingly popular as more and more families choose to holiday in the U.K. and explore the hundreds of thousands of campsites across the country. Caravanning is convenient, easy and fun and provides opportunities for getting away at the weekend for regular short breaks. Unlike motorhomes, caravans provide the ability to have a comfortable home base, whilst keeping your vehicle available for driving to the beach or around the local area. Modern caravans are so well insulated and heating systems so effective, that the caravan season now runs from early March to late October and many people use their caravan year-round and even for Christmas breaks. Caravaners tend to choose either to tour with their caravan, which means towing it to different campsites here and abroad, or siting it on a seasonal pitch on a campsite, using the caravan as an affordable holiday home, temporary accommodation or spare room. Whatever your circumstances, there is a caravan which will meet your needs and you may be surprised at how affordable modern, well-equipped caravans are.
Touring and Towing
Although towing takes practice, towing becomes much easier and less stressful if the tow car is a good match for the caravan. You will definitely need to check whether your car is a good match for towing and websites like www.towcar.info allow you to enter the details of your car, and match it to caravans held in the comprehensive database. Remember that towing a caravan effectively is about the combined weight of the caravan and the car, NOT the top speed or horse power of the car. Your sporty hatchback may have the power to pull a caravan forwards but you may find the caravan starts pushing you when you want to stop! (click here for our page on towing)
Many people choose to use our towing and pitching service rather than drive a large tow car and for a heavy caravan, the cost of the towing service can easily be set against the cost of running a big 4x4 car all year and fitting a tow bar. Piran Caravan Services offer a comprehensive towing package which can include collecting the caravan from customers’ homes, siting, levelling and setting up on pitches, delivery and collection to service centres and storage venues. Prices for this service are very reasonable (click here to find out more about our towing service).
No space at home on the driveway for your new pride and joy? This can be resolved by choosing to store your caravan with one of the many firms offering caravan storage. This varies from campsites who will store your caravan securely outside, out of season, to hi-tech, alarmed and camera-protected year-round undercover storage. There is a governing body for caravan storage called CaSSOA (Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association - click here to visit their site) who award Bronze, Silver and Gold ratings to storage sites, according to the security measures in place. Piran Caravan Storage has CaSSOA ‘Gold’ rated undercover storage.
How to Choose Your Caravan
As a potential new caravaner, the task of choosing a caravan can seem daunting due to the huge range of layouts, differences, similarities and prices. Caravaners requirements vary greatly and some people have specific likes and dislikes but it’s important to keep an open mind and realise that few caravans will tick ‘every box’. Choosing the right caravan is often an exercise in compromising on less important factors. Many new caravaners think that a higher number of berths equals more space inside a touring caravan. In practice, more berths means less space: those extra beds have to go somewhere and will actually take up living space! A spacious 2 berth caravan will often feel much bigger inside than a 6 berth, where every available inch of living space has been used for beds. A popular misconception is that a large well-equipped washroom is a necessity, when the majority of caravan owners never use the washroom, choosing to use the campsite facilities.
For most people, the key factors should be: price, condition, caravan weight/tow car match, numbers of occupants, type of use, and whether the washroom in the caravan is going to be used.
Caravans are usually priced according to age and condition, with newer caravans almost always being more expensive than older models. It’s a good idea to know your budget and raise or lower your expectations accordingly! When looking at secondhand caravans, keep in mind that some signs of use should be expected. Touring caravans, by nature, often pick up minor ‘battle scars’, even if the owners have been very careful. Don’t be put off if this does not affect the water ingress integrity of the caravan. However, significant damage can often be extremely costly and will lower the price. The more expensive the caravan, the greater the need for a full damp check!
Caravans under £1000 should be considered projects or ‘fixer-uppers’, as they will almost certainly be very old and/or come with previous or current ‘issues’. These are often a good buy, if the purchaser has the skills and time to make the repairs, or if the caravan is to be used as a site office or store room.
Some real bargains are around for about £2000 - £3000: these will usually be older caravans but should be very useable, with modern-enough equipment to provide comfortable and practical holidays. Even a caravan from the 1990s, if it has been well-looked after and properly serviced, should do the same job as a more modern caravan…you’ll just need to look past the upholstery and some of the fittings, which might be not be to modern tastes.
£3500-£5500 opens up the choice to include caravans from 2004 - 2007 which should have up to date service history, damp check records and be in good condition. This will include continental caravans by makers such as Burstner and Knaus which are characterful and usually very well engineered caravans, which have a bright, solid and well-built feel. They offer some very clever bed arrangements and often have the same internal equipment as U.K. caravans of the same age, so spares should not be problem. You will, however, have to get used to the continental exterior styling and the door being on the other side of the caravan.
£7000 - £15000 opens up a huge range of caravans, with excellent 2007-2009 caravans priced at around £8000 and high spec caravans 2 or 3 years old priced towards the higher end.
£10000 caravans offer a real alternative to buying new, with most of the same fixtures and fittings found in new caravans. Keep in mind that secondhand caravans do not depreciate in the same way that new caravans do. Many of our customers are very pleased to find that when they want to upgrade to a newer caravan, their caravan is still worth what they paid for it, after a year of use.
A Note On Extras
Many of our secondhand caravans come with a huge amount of extras including full and porch awnings, water carriers, waste carriers, wheel locks, hitch locks, hook-up cables, and a variety of other accessories. These desirable accessories are almost always required sooner or later and can run into the £1000s to purchase new. These extras do not increase the value of the caravan and are not reflected in the asking price. However, a caravan being sold with a number of extras can save you a huge amount of money and is therefore likely to sell quickly.
Damp is the biggest hazard when buying a caravan and all Piran Caravan Sales caravans have been serviced and damp checked by independent caravan engineers prior to sale. Damp is not always visible and the owner may be unaware that a damp issues exists. Unless you are buying a caravan as a cheap restoration or self-repair project, caravans with ongoing leaks or long term damp issues should be avoided as substantial repairs require significant time and money. Caravans which have had a leak but have been properly repaired are not necessarily a cause for concern, especially if the leak has been fixed under warranty or by an approved repairer. Caravans with serious damage to bodywork should be avoided but, depending on the construction, slight damage to corners or awning rails can be repaired effectively and can be considered as long as the asking price reflects this. All secondhand caravans are likely to have had a degree of use and slight scratches and small marks to exterior and interior fittings, depending on the asking price, come under ‘fair wear and tear’.
Size/Number of Occupants
Think carefully about the number of people using the caravan and the exact requirements. Will you be towing your caravan and is your tow-car suitable? How often will you be using the caravan? Will you be using the caravan for frequent weekends away, or going away for months at a time? You may think you need a large 5 berth caravan for you and your grand-children but would you be better off with a spacious 2 berth and a full awning for the occasions that you have extra occupants? A common misconception is: the larger the number of berths, the bigger the caravan. A 6 berth caravan is no bigger internally than a 4 berth and If you are a family with 2 children, you still may not need a very large caravan as there are a number of medium sized caravans which have very clever layouts and sleeping arrangements which are perfect for family holidays.
It’s very important to consider where you require the most space e.g. lounge area, kitchen, bedroom or washroom and also, which areas you are prepared to compromise on. Caravans have a finite amount of interior space within the length of the design so if an inch is used in one place, it will be lost in another. There is no touring caravan on the market which will tick every single box. Choosing a caravan is an exercise in ticking the most important boxes!
With layouts, the decision needs to be based on practical factors and personal choice. Standard layouts are based around both the number of berths and the distinguishing feature in the caravan e.g. fixed bed, large end washroom, side dinette, twin single beds etc and this dictates the use of space elsewhere. For example, a layout with twin single beds and a rear end washroom will result in a caravan will a long centre aisle, which feels open and spacious, but the lounge seating area will be smaller to compensate. Look at as many layouts as possible before deciding on what you need. You may think “I need a large end washroom with a separate shower” but if you are staying on fully serviced campsites with first class facilities, will you actually use it? That large end bathroom will take up space which you might have preferred in the living area.
Below are some of the most common and interesting layouts and a guide to who they are most suitable for.
4 berth fixed bed end washroom. Suitable for families with smaller children or couples who do not want to make up beds. Kitchen area is smaller to compensate.
4 berth twin beds and end washroom Suitable for families with older children, or couples wanting separate fixed beds. Note how the large end washroom sacrifices space in the lounge.
4 berth fixed island bed, side washroom.Suitable for a family with smaller children or a couple who don’t want to make up a bed every night and want to be able to easily get out of bed. Note that washroom is located opposite the kitchen to make space at the end of the caravan.
6 berth, twin lounge, side washroom. This is a large twin axle caravan. Suitable for larger families (up to 4 children) or 2 sets of adults.
4 berth, double lounge, side washroom, Suitable for couples wanting large living area or families with up to 2 children.
4 berth with side dinette and large end washroom. Side dinette converts to two bunk beds. Most suitable for families with 2 children or couples wanting a second lounge or dining area.
2 berth with end kitchen and side wet-room. Suitable for couples wanting a larger kitchen area. Washroom is smaller to compensate.
4 berth side dinette, large end washroom. Side dinette converts to two bunks, one above the other. Suitable for families with children or couples wanting 2 dining/living areas.
6 berth, fixed bed, side dinette. Suitable for families. Note smaller washroom.
4 berth fixed bed, corner wet-room. Suitable for couples who don’t want to make up a bed, or families with 2 children. No separate shower and wet room is smaller to make space.
4 berth, modern fixed transverse bed with large end bathroom. Suitable for families or couples wanting a spacious bedroom and washroom. Lounge seating is slightly shorter to compensate.
Popular older 5 berth layout with L shaped lounge and end lounge area with converts to double bed or bunks. Suitable for families or couples.
Spacious 2 berth with large kitchen area, and large end washroom. Suitable for couples needing a large washroom.