Caravans, camping weekends, and road trips have become increasingly popular over the last few years – a trend that has only been accelerated by introducing Covid-19’s travel restrictions. Investing in a caravan allows you to enjoy a weekend or entire weeks away, in the middle of nature, with the people you love the most in complete safety. However, when you start looking into buying a caravan, it won’t take you long to notice that they are expensive.
Caravans are so expensive ($11,000 to $35,000) because they require craftsmanship, last for 10-14 years, offer luxury features, are secondary homes, and include high-tech gear (i.e., TVs and fridges). You’re also paying for the name when you purchase Airstream, Casita, and Winnebago caravans.
Caravans have become increasingly in demand over the last year, and this trend is not likely to fade away soon. Learn all you need to know before buying a caravan for your next trip!
Caravans vs. Motorhomes
If you have always been into camping and road trips, the travel restrictions implemented following the outbreak of Covid-19 might have caused you to take the plunge and finally buy a caravan.
Caravans are undoubtedly a great solution to enjoy weekends in nature or exploring nearby attractions in all safety and autonomy. However, when you start looking into the price of caravans, you will soon realize that they can be expensive.
When making such an investment, it is essential to look into your needs and what recreational vehicle is best suited for your lifestyle and uses.
Here is what you need to know to decide between a caravan and a motorhome.
Why Opt for a Caravan?
Caravans, also known as RV trailers, travel trailers, or camper trailers, are towed trailers that you can easily attach to your car, pickup, or truck. One of the most significant benefits of travel trailers is that you can attach them to your current vehicle. Once you have arrived at your destination, you can easily detach them and move around more freely with your car.
Instead, if you invest in a motorhome, you might be restricted where you can go as you will always be traveling in a larger vehicle. Many travelers and campers consider this a significant advantage that gives them the chance to explore their destination’s surroundings without worrying about a cumbersome trailer.
Why Opt for a Motorhome?
Motorhomes are large recreational vehicles that have also become more popular over the last year. When driving your motorhome, you might not have the freedom to detach the trailer and drive a more agile car.
At the same time, motorhomes are complete with ample living spaces and exclusive facilities. Since most of the furniture and facilities are fixed, you will be able to enjoy a well-thought-out living plan.
Additionally, when compared to caravans, motorhomes are more affordable. Indeed, for the same price, you might be able to get exclusive accessories such as a Wi-Fi connection and satellite TV.
How Much Do New Caravans Cost To Buy?
The price of caravans or travel trailers varies significantly depending on the type of trailer you have picked, its age, and the facilities you want to have in it. Undoubtedly, you can get started with a new caravan for under $20,000, but some models are priced above $160,000.
On average, a new caravan usually costs between $11,000 and $35,000. If you are looking for quality body construction, a 24′ RV trailer will cost you around $23,000.
However, more expensive caravans do not always equal better caravans! Indeed, it is crucial to understand what you will be using your caravan for and select those facilities that you really can’t do without.
Another essential aspect that should be considered when crafting your budget for your caravan is its floor plan. The floor plan is a crucial factor to keep in mind because it can make a difference in the kind of facilities you will benefit from and the number of travelers who can join you.
Here are some of the most popular caravan manufacturers and their models’ average costs. Make sure to check out their style because some of them can be very distinctive!
Casita Enterprises, Inc.
Casita travel trailers are some of the most iconic models, and they have been on the market since 1983. Today, they still maintain their vintage look, but you won’t ever be short of exclusive features and high-tech additions.
Casita offers five base travel trailer models, such as Inheritance, Spirit, Freedom, Liberty, and Independence. They are 17′ (5.18 meters) long, sleeping between 4 and 6 people, and available in various floor plans. The base price of these trailers starts at $25,694. This low price makes it a grand starting caravan for first-time campers. However, the living space these compact trailers offer might be limited.
Jayco trailers are among the most well-known travel trailers on the market, and they offer one of the most extensive collections of motorhomes, caravans, and 5th wheel on the market.
For each model, you will be able to pick every feature, from colors to style, facilities, and sleep capacity. You can always find a trailer for your needs in the Jayco collection; you will find models priced between $26,000 and $100,000.
Just like in the case of Jayco, you are likely to find a suitable caravan for your budget within Coachmen’s RV range. Just like other manufacturers in the industry, Coachmen RV focuses on bespoke floor plans and solutions.
Therefore, you will be able to secure a deal for less than $20,000 for a more basic floor plan. Or, you can opt for more expensive models that go above $100,000.
One of the benefits of a bespoke solution created by Coachmen RV is that you can count on the unparalleled quality of construction and durability with any model.
Winnebago is one of Americas’ most loved and iconic manufacturers of caravans and trailers. The company has been on the market since 1958, and they have over 50 years of experience building the best trailers.
Here are some of the models available today:
- Micro Minnie – $22,172
- Hike – $27,978
- Minnie – $32,232
- Voyage – $37,801
- Fifth wheel Voyage – $53,165
Naturally, these are just the starting prices for the basics models and floor plans. There are plenty of add-ons that you can benefit from if you wish to tailor a solution to your needs.
Airstream is an iconic manufacturer of RV trailers, and their signature is the shiny and extremely distinctive aluminum body of their caravans. Airstream RV trailers have been on the market since 1934, making them one of the first models to populate America’s roads.
Airstream trailers are not only high-quality models that combine a vintage look with the most advanced technologies, but they are also extremely recognizable. If you are looking to live in your trailer and travel full-time, Airstreams might be the ones for you.
In terms of prices, you will find:
- Classic (sleeps 5, 30′ to 33′ / 9.33 to 10.06 m) – Starting at $161,900
- Globetrotter® (sleeps 6, 23′ to 30′ / 7.01 to 9.33 m) – Starting at $99,300
- International (sleeps 6, 23′ to 30′ / 7.01 to 9.33 m) – Starting at $94,600
- Flying Cloud (sleeps 8, 23′ to 30′ / 7.01 to 9.33 m) – Starting at $81,200
- Caravel (sleeps 4, 16′ to 22′ / 4.88 to 6.71 m) – Starting at $64,000
- Bambi (sleeps 4, 16′ to 22′ / 4.88 to 6.71 m) – Starting at $51,400
- Basecamp® (sleeps 4, 16′ to 22′ / 4.88 to 6.71 m) – Starting at $39,100
How Long Do Caravans Last?
It can be challenging to determine how long your caravan will last. Indeed, many factors might come into play, including:
- Whether you have bought a new or used caravan
- How often and for how long you will be driving it
- What kind of trips you will be doing
- How many people use the caravan and their lifestyle
- Maintenance and care
Different estimates set the average lifespan of a caravan somewhere between 10 and 14 years. However, this widely depends on your level of care and use. If you are only using your caravan occasionally or camping weekends just off your town, you can make it last for much longer.
It is also worth considering the case of some iconic manufacturers such as Airstream. These vintage-looking, high-quality travel trailers are believed to have a lifespan of over 40 years. This longevity is mostly thanks to how they are built, including the aluminum body and their design’s craftsmanship.
Some of the common issues that you might deal with with an older caravan include:
- Moisture damage and condensation
- Mechanic issues
- Connectivity issues
- Bumps and breakages from road travel
- Breakages of internal furniture
While buying a well-constructed caravan might represent a significant initial investment, it is also essential to make sure that your money is well spent. Indeed, used or low-quality caravans can still represent a high cost and start to break down within months.
According to the Caravan and Motorhome Club, it is normal for trailers to have a much shorter lifespan than other dwellings such as motorhomes and tiny houses. However, some car and maintenance tips can help you extend its lifespan.
Some of the things to keep in mind include:
- Check the caravan’s body annually. Make sure there are no breakages and scratches that might allow moisture and water to penetrate.
- Make sure the caravan remains waterproof. You can do so by checking the body, insulation system, and windows.
- Service your caravan annually. It is essential to check that the caravan’s body remains functional and safe. An experienced mechanic can do so for you. Ensure the tires’ status is checked to ensure they still have enough grip on the road.
Undoubtedly, one of the most significant issues with caravans is dampness and moisture. Indeed, you should always check that the entire structure is waterproof. Not doing so might leave you with a wreck or lead to expensive repairs and maintenance issues. Additionally, if moisture and mold affect the furniture and walls, it might affect the trailer’s livability.
Do Caravans Hold Their Value?
If you are spending so much money on a caravan, you will want to know whether your investment will hold its value over time or not. However, unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula to know whether your caravan will be just as valuable as the day you have bought it.
Some of the factors that might affect its value include:
- The internal body’s condition
- The external body condition
- Whether it is easy to find parts from it
- Its age
- Safety features
In some cases, mileage can also affect its value because it can relate to more damage and use.
However, it is essential to make a distinction between used and new caravans. Indeed, new caravans are the most likely ones to lose their value when they leave the dealership!
Once they are no longer new and classed as “nearly new,” they lose the most significant percentage of their value. Just like a car, they are believed to lose around 15% of their value every year. Therefore, after ten years of use, your caravan will not hold much of its original value.
However, it is essential to understand that this is only true in the case of new caravans. So, if you have just bought a new caravan, you might watch it depreciating over time – and you are not likely to sell it for the same price you have bought it for.
For buyers, buying “nearly-new” caravans is something to consider. Since they have lost around 10% of their value the moment they leave the dealership, they will be cheaper than the retail price. At the same time, they have barely been used, which allows you to enjoy a caravan that is practically untouched.
Used Caravans and Their Value
Things are different when you take into consideration the value of used caravans. In fact, you will not be buying these vans at a full price, and they are already likely to have a few thousand miles under their belts.
Of course, you will be able to negotiate their price depending on their current condition. In turn, this will allow you to find favorable deals to meet your budget.
However, used vans are not likely to lose their value in the same way – especially if they are older than 5-7 years. And, of course, you might be able to sell them for a similar price – or even higher – depending on the care and maintenance you have been giving them.
Many expert buyers might purposely opt for an older, beaten-up caravan so they can convert it into a more modern dwelling for cheap. Of course, this is likely to increase its value if you decide to sell it, especially if you create a unique style, add tech, or improve the internal facilities.
Why Are Caravans So Expensive?
Caravans have been popular for thousands of years since nomadic populations and travelers used them.
It is undeniable that the price of caravanning has been increasing over the last few years. This price increase is linked to the facilities and technologies that today’s models boast and the rising interest in caravanning.
Indeed, many outdoors and travel lovers have started to see this as a new way to travel and live, and many more younger couples and families have converted to a more nomadic lifestyle.
Some of the reasons that have significantly increased the price of caravans over the last few years include:
- Increased profit margins and seasonality. RV trailers and caravans are most sold during spring and summer. During the winter months, sales drop substantially. Manufacturers and dealers tend to increase their profit margins to ensure positive cash flow throughout the year.
- Design and built. Since many individuals have started to buy caravans as their primary or secondary home, they are looking for a design that is not only functional but also appealing and comfortable. So, newer travel trailers have luxurious features that come at a cost.
- Longevity. While most caravans are designed to withstand continuous use for about ten years, some, such as the Airstream, are models designed to live for over 40 years. The high-quality building materials necessary to guarantee such an extended lifespan can increase the cost.
- Brand name. Some brand names such as Airstream, Casita, and Winnebago are considered highly valuable and might come at an increased price, especially due to their unique designs.
- Floor plans. when shopping for a caravan, you will notice that some floor plans are more expensive than others. Indeed, you might be able to get a fixed floor plan for cheaper. However, when you are looking to optimize the space and fit more facilities within fewer square meters, you might find yourself paying the price of such craftsmanship.
- Tech and accessories. Some modern caravans are not only a roof over your head for your camping weekends. They are fully-equipped travel trailers that offer you all the comforts of a modern home, including TV screens, cooking facilities, fridges, and LED lighting. These are all pieces of equipment that were not commonly found in older models and can significantly increase newer caravans’ prices.
Ultimately, if you are interested in caravanning but you are not sure whether that’s the right decision for your lifestyle, you will be able to find highly affordable models. For this, you might have to opt for older models with fewer accessories, but they can at least offer you a mobile home to enjoy.
Oppositely, suppose you are pursuing a nomadic lifestyle, and you are looking to make your caravan your main home. In that case, you can find more expensive models that offer all the comforts of modern technologies and facilities.
Cheap Caravan Manufacturers?
When it comes down to save on your caravan purchase, it is crucial to identify the sellers that offer you the best quality for your money. While some models might look cheaper at first, you should also be looking into how long they will last and the average repair and maintenance price you are likely to be paying over the years.
You can find out more about picking the right travel trailer for your needs and lifestyle in the video below. Alternatively, read on for a comprehensive list of cheap manufacturers with the best reputation.
If you are looking for an RV trailer to welcome your entire family, look no further than Braxton Creek. The company’s trailers are known for their exquisite craftsmanship and design. Within their models, you will always find compact trailers that offer the best values for families. You can always count on their excellent customer support and 2-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.
Coachmen RV is perhaps one of the best-known travel trailer manufacturers, and they offer several award-winning models, including Freedom Express, Catalina, and Clipper. While some of these travel trailers models fall in the luxury category, you can also find basic floor plans that can meet anybody’s budget.
Crossroad RV is a well-known manufacturer of travel trailers, toy haulers, and fifth wheels. While only focusing on this market niche, they create most of the travel trailers on the road. Since they are large-scale manufacturers, they have options that meet the smallest budget and some that are perfect for traveling in luxury. They always offer high-quality customer service and support.
Since 1988, Cruiser RV has focused on creating high-quality towable campers that are lightweight and fully equipped for long travels. Thanks to their yearly update and half-ton options, you can find affordable deals without having to compromise on quality.
Dutchmen travel trailers are manufactured to meet any traveler’s needs, whether you are planning short weekends away or live in these RV trailers. Some of the company’s iconic models, such as the Kodiak and Coleman, are lightweight enough to be towed by any vehicle. Still, they boast modern furniture and large windows for extra comfort and livability.
Forest River RV is the parent company of many other famous manufacturers on the market. If you are looking for the maker with the most options regarding floor plans, materials, and amenities, check out Forest River’s trailers.
Many of their models, such as the Cardinal Cherokee and Cedar Creek, are award-winning trailers.
Keystone RV Company
Keystone RV offers a collection of famous models such as the Bullet, Hideout, Passport, and Outback. The company’s main selling point is the unique design of its trailers and unparalleled customer service. If you are looking for your first travel trailer, this company can help you find the right one and connect with a local dealership.
Lance Campers mostly focus on truck campers’ production, but the company has also produced some of the best RV trailers on the market. Their caravans are known to be ultra-light and can fit up to 8 people on their larger models.
So, if you are looking for an extended family holiday, they might be the best trailers for your needs. One of Lance Campers’ most significant aspects is creating eco-friendly, sustainable, and toxin-free RVs.
With models such as the Hummingbird, JayFeather, and Eagle, Jayco offers options for any kind of traveler. Indeed, their smallest travel trailer is no heavier than 1545lbs, while the heaviest goes up to 11,725 lbs (5,318 kg).
Jayco is one of the best manufacturers of modern travel trailers that come with all the amenities and facilities you might need to travel in all comfort.
Gulf Stream Coach
Gulf Stream Coach is one of those manufacturers that primarily focus on affordability and convenience. If you are looking for a lighter RV trailer that can haul you and your family to your favorite campsite, look no further than these company’s models.
Thanks to the extensive collection of over 22 brands and 140 models, you are always likely to find a caravan that works for your needs.
Whether you are looking for a large toy hauler or fifth wheel, Heartland has the right trailer for your needs. This company primarily focuses on large models that are designed to haul entire families or vehicles.
However, you won’t need to compromise on drivability just because of these trailers’ extended sizes. Indeed, the company implements in each of its trailers a patented turning radius and universal docking centers.
If you have been looking for a travel trailer to buy, the chances are that you have encountered the KZ models. This company offers an extensive collection of campervan, motorhomes, and travel trailers, including the Connect, Escape, and Sportsmen models. The KZ models are fully personalizable and allow you to choose between lightweight designs or trailers with more facilities.
Producing travel trailers since 1968, Palomino RV is one of the best manufacturers in America and the world. While the company’s travel trailers are not as immediately recognizable as famous brands such as Winnebago, Casita, and Airstream, they are sturdy, durable, and, more importantly, incredibly affordable!
Bonus: Winnebago and Airstream
As we have seen above, Winnebago and Airstream are the most iconic travel trailers on the market. While they offer basic options for no more than $30,000, they cannot be considered among the most affordable manufacturers out there.
Nonetheless, it is essential to keep in mind that these historic companies have become so famous thanks to their models’ durability and longevity. Therefore, if you are looking to move towards a nomadic lifestyle and you wish to live in your trailer full time, these might be better investments than a cheaper option might seem.
Should You Buy a New or Used Caravan?
It is never easy to decide whether buying a new or used caravan is the best option for your needs. Many factors come into play, and budget and personal preferences are undoubtedly essential elements.
At the same time, it is essential to avoid some rookie mistakes, such as thinking that an older caravan is always cheaper. Or that you need all the facilities and amenities possible.
Below, you can find a breakdown of the pros and cons of buying a new or used caravan to decide on the best option for your needs.
Buying a New Caravan: What You Need To Know
Buying a new caravan is an excellent option if you are already familiar with this type of holiday or lifestyle. If you have fallen in love with the joys of camping and traveling by road, you might decide to make an investment and enjoy all the luxuries of a modern home.
Here are the pros and cons of this choice:
Pros of Buying a New Caravan
- You can select the right floor plan for your needs.
- You can benefit from all the newest appliances and technologies.
- You can select the interiors’ materials and style.
- There won’t be any damage to the vehicle.
- The cost of repairs is kept to a minimum for years to come.
- You can find dealers’ specials and discounts.
- Furniture and interiors are in excellent condition.
- Insurance can be lower thanks to added safety features.
- They are lightweight – which makes your vehicle more fuel-efficient.
- You have a new, customized trailer for your upcoming adventures!
Cons of Buying a New Caravan
- They can be extremely expensive.
- The dealer might add a significant markup.
- It depreciates within the first months of driving.
- You won’t be able to sell it for the same price.
Who Is a New Caravan For?
A new caravan is for someone who has already been experiencing the outdoors and knows what to expect. Additionally, if you have already been camping before, you know that your investment won’t go to waste.
Naturally, the more you are using your trailer, the more your investment will be worth it! If you think of living full-time in your trailer, it is recommendable to buy a new, customized version.
Buying a Used Caravan: What You Need To Know
Used caravans are an attractive option for those who are new to this idea. Without the price tag that comes with new caravans, you can try this lifestyle and holiday style in all serenity. And, because the caravan is worth much less, you won’t need to worry too much about depreciation.
Pros of Buying a Used Caravan
- It is cheaper to buy.
- You won’t have to deal with a dealer’s markup.
- You won’t have to worry so much about depreciation and loss of value.
- It is an excellent investment for occasional trips.
- There is less responsibility if something goes wrong.
- You might be able to find vintage models.
Cons of Buying a Used Caravan
- Older models might be heavier and not as smartly fitted.
- The materials used might not be as high quality or resistant to wear and tear.
- You might have to deal with moisture and insulation issues.
- You won’t have some of the luxuries of a modern trailer.
- They can be more difficult to buy.
- The price of repairs and maintenance can be much higher.
- Pieces and spare parts can be hard to find and expensive.
Who Is a Used Caravan For?
A used caravan is the perfect option for those travelers who are new to the idea of this way of living or traveling. If you are just trying to see whether camping and caravanning are for you, the lower investment can be attractive. Used caravans might also be a good fit for someone who takes short and occasional trips nearby.
Tips To Save When Buying a Caravan
The sections above have given you all the guidelines and tips you need to save when buying a caravan. However, if you are looking for some extra information to save more on your purchase, check out the ones below!
- Buy a caravan from a private seller. Buying your caravan from a private seller might help you avoid the markup that makes some models so expensive. However, this is a better option for experienced people who recognize a good deal when they see it.
- Pay the full price. If you are shopping at a dealership, paying your caravan in full, and avoiding installments can help you avoid any interest rate.
- Understand what you will be using the caravan for. Avoid unnecessary features that you don’t need. Factors such as AC or Satellite TV might increase your trailer’s price and not make your experience better.
- Find a dealer-special caravan. Dealers’ specials are base models to which the dealer adds individual specifications. Instead of paying for each accessory, you might be offered a discount on a set of features. While this increases the caravan’s price by a few hundred, you can get many more features for cheaper than it would be to buy them individually.
- Compare different models. If you are buying your first caravan, don’t stop at the first trailer you see! Make sure to check various models to find the best deal with the specs you need for your lifestyle.
- Add security features to minimize insurance. Insurance can represent a substantial cost of caravanning. Adding safety features to your vehicles, such as double mirrors and locks, can help you decrease this price.
- Join a club. Joining your local caravanning club is the best way to get in the loop of experts and amateurs. So, you can get to know the best deals and tips for finding cheap caravans in the area.