Outsiders Club

5 things to look for when buying a caravan or RV

10 May 2023
5 minutes

It’s an exciting time, but it’s also a major purchasing decision. And with so many manufacturers and models to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.

We asked James Field, Technical Liaison with Caravan Industry Association of Australia , the five things people should ask themselves before laying down the cash.

1. What do I want to do with my Recreational Vehicle?

Is this your retirement chariot, earmarked for your long-awaited trip around Australia? Or perhaps it’s a budget holiday option for your young family, so you can spend weekends together by the beach.

“The first thing you need to address is your why; why you want to buy a Recreational Vehicle (e.g. caravan). This will influence factors such as its size, capabilities and facilities,” said James.

“Do you need to be able to take it off-road? Will you always stay in a caravan park? Will you have access to power and water? Do you want to bring your boat or jet ski along for the ride?” he said.

Clearly defining your ‘why’ is the best way to start your purchasing journey. It keeps you focused and prevents the temptation to blow the budget on a model with ALL the bells and whistles.


2. Does this particular Recreational Vehicle suit my needs?

So you’ve thought about your ‘why’. You’ve browsed some caravanning and camping shows and visited some dealerships. And you’ve narrowed your search to a few options for further exploration.

Here are some more questions to consider at this stage:

  1. If you’re thinking about a towable option, can your current vehicle safely and legally handle it?
  2. Does it fit into your garage or will you need to organise offsite storage?
  3. Does it have a suitable load carrying capacity for your intended usage?
  4. Will it sleep everyone?
  5. Does it fit within your budget?

3. Does it offer style AND substance?

“When it comes to Recreational Vehicles, let’s face it; we all want them to look the part but it’s what’s underneath that really matters,” said James.

It’s vital to understand the nitty gritty of your shortlisted Recreational Vehicle. This includes (but is not limited to) the type of tyres, the running gear (chassis, type of coupling and suspension), as well as the wall and general body construction.

And if you’re buying second-hand, you’ll need to dig even deeper and ask plenty of questions of the owner/dealer. This includes understanding where the Recreational Vehicle has been, how it’s been stored and used, and whether you can still get spare parts for that particular model.


4. Who is the manufacturer, and are they RVMAP accredited?

The Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing Accreditation Program (RVMAP) is a voluntary industry compliance program managed by Caravan Industry Association of Australia. RVMAP Accredited Businesses are required to demonstrate consistent commitment to supply/manufacture Recreational Vehicles that adhere to relevant Australian Design Rules and Federal Compliance Regulations.

“These businesses have been through a thorough accreditation process, so it’s a helpful way to shortlist potential vehicles. Just keep an eye out for the RVMAP accreditation key badge near the entry door of the Recreational Vehicle,” said James.

5. Does it feel right?

Time to hit the road and take a few options for a spin. If you’ve never towed a caravan or driven a motorhome or campervan before, you might consider renting one in advance so it’s not an altogether new experience. That way, you can focus more on the product in question, rather than stressing about how to handle a larger rig.

“It’s important to choose a Recreational Vehicle you feel safe, confident and comfortable driving or towing. And one that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come,” said James.


And once you’ve made your purchase, a Reflections Holiday Park is the ideal destination for its inaugural journey. With 37 parks on prime NSW Crown Land, you’re sure to find the perfect spot; whether it’s bush camping in Country NSW or enjoying beachfront bliss on the NSW Far North Coast.

Find a park to suit you and hit the road in your new (and perfect for you) Recreational Vehicle.