Choosing the right camper trailer

What to consider before buying a camper trailer.
Family camping with a camper trailer.

A camper trailer can be a cost-effective alternative to buying a caravan or motorhome, but there are a number of things you should consider before purchasing one. 

What’s your budget?

Setting a budget can help to determine the type of camper trailer that’s right for you.

Prices can range from a couple of thousand dollars for a second-hand camper trailer to more than $50,000 for a top-of-the-range model.

If you’re using a loan to finance your purchase, use a loan calculator to find out how much you can borrow and consider getting pre-approval before visiting dealers or private sellers.

How much can your car tow?

It’s vital to ensure your vehicle can safely and legally tow your camper trailer.

Check your vehicle’s manual to find its tow capacity before making a purchase. 

Larger vehicles, such as 4WDs, will generally be able to tow heavier trailers than a family sedan.

It’s illegal to tow a camper trailer which has a kerb weight above your vehicle’s towing capacity and doing so can void your insurance if you’re involved in a crash. 

If you’re not sure of a camper trailer’s weight or your vehicle’s towing capacity, contact their respective manufacturers.

Where are you going?

It’s important to take into consideration the types of holidays you enjoy. 

Whether you plan to stay in caravan parks or go off-road impacts the type of camper trailer you’ll need. Touring campers are designed to be driven on bitumen roads while off-road campers, as the name suggests, are built to tackle 4WD tracks and are often more expensive as a result.  

If you’re spending weeks at a time in your camper trailer you may be interested in creature comforts like a hard floor, a fridge and other built-in appliances and a full-size bed. If you’re planning on only staying a couple of nights in each location, a camper with reduced storage space that requires less time to set up may suit your needs.

New or second-hand?

Whether you purchase a new or second-hand camper trailer often comes down to budget.

A new camper trailer can be customised to suit your requirements and is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, but can be prohibitively expensive for the average family.

Second-hand campers are cheaper, but require a lot more research to find the one that’s right for you. It’s important to know what the camper trailer is worth and whether you’re receiving value for money. Ask the seller about the camper’s travel history, where it was stored when not is use and components including wiring, plumbing, seals and electrics. 

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.