Experiencing the outdoors can be a great time for the family – but when the sun goes down, where will you rest your heads? Here’s our breakdown of the options – tents, caravans, or trailers – and which is best; plus a newcomer that’s affordable and durable which you may not know about.
Tents – getting back to nature
Tents and swags – the great Australian tradition of sleeping in the bush is alive, albeit now with tougher, more environmentally friendly materials. Tents can range from a one-person swag all the way up to a ten-person tent that can house kitchens and covered latrines. Tents are the cheapest option by far, but require extensive set up every time you move about, and, depending on how much you spend, may not withstand more extreme weather. You’re also on the ground, and prone to nasties creeping in if you’re not too careful! They’re also insecure by nature – a sturdy knife or simple unzip of the front can give a would-be thief access to all your belongings.
Caravans – a hotel you can tow
A caravan is essentially a “hotel on the go.” Some caravans, especially the modern versions, may include living areas, kitchens, bathrooms, and other mod cons. If you are staying in well-appointed caravan parks, you may not need so many creature comforts. They are much more secure than tents, however. However, you’ll have to splash a lot of cash on a caravan; even more for used caravans as lenders are wary of financing something that might not have many years left in it. You’ll also use more fuel towing it (or your current 4X4 may not be rated for it), and if you want to go off road, you may have to spend more for caravans that are rated for unusual terrain.
Camper Trailers – the happy medium
A camper trailer is a smaller profile trailer with a canvas top that “winds up” or “flips over” to open a tent-like living space, which may also include electricity or water connections. It’s better for going off road, but will need good seals and debris protection to prevent all the off-road mud and dust from ending up inside the trailer. Some camper trailers may have full-fledged kitchens or simple hot plates, plus racks for equipment, kayaks, or bikes. Of course, it’s a cheaper alternative to a caravan, but you’ll have to fork out a bit of money (sometimes upwards of five figures.)
Roof top tents – the all-round alternative
Roof top tents are the all-rounder, designed for specific use on 4WD vehicles. All you do is fix a roof top tent to the roof of your vehicle, pull it out when needed, and push it back down when you’re on the move. They’re lightweight compared to camper trailers and caravans, and the design keeps you and your family off the ground and away from bugs and snakes. It’s designed with ventilation and comfort in mind, with most including a padded floor/mattress. You can also buy roof top tents with annexes for extra room. They’re sturdy, made of rip stop canvas, and are affixed to your vehicle at all times. In all, roof top tents are a cheaper alternative to camper trailers and caravans, and more durable and secure than tents.
Pictured: TJM Boulia Roof Top Tent
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