Choosing a Caravan: The 10 Things You Need to Know – Part 1

Caravans, TCC News, Tips & Advice


Whether you’re a seasoned caravan owner or are looking to purchase your first ever van, choosing a caravan can be a bit of a daunting task! With so many things to consider, it can sometimes feel like you can’t see the wood for the trees. However, this is where we’re here to help!

The team at Tamar Caravan Centre have decades of experience in the industry and a wealth of caravanning knowledge behind us, so we know a thing or two about choosing a caravan! With this in mind, we’ve put our heads together to pool our knowledge and create a handy guide for anyone looking to buy a caravan. We’ll take you through the essential things you need to consider, explain why it’s crucial to choose your caravan based on the layout you love and provide advice on how to find out what your car can safely tow.

Read on to discover part 1 of our top 10 tips for choosing a caravan!

Choosing a Caravan: Image of a family sat at the dinette in a Swift caravan.


Whilst this seems like an obvious point, it’s a really important one. Before you begin to consider brands, models or layouts, you should identify how much you have to spend on buying a caravan. Take into account criteria such as:

  • The cost of monthly finance repayments – can you comfortably afford them?
  • The amount you could receive if you sell or part-exchange your current caravan

Once you know what you can comfortably afford, you can begin to consider manufacturers and layouts. Here at Tamar Caravan Centre, we’re a Swift dealership and stock everything from the compact Basecamp CCV to the Elegance Grande, the pinnacle of touring luxury. We also stock a range of quality used caravans from a wide range of manufacturers, so we’ve got something to suit most preferences.


There are countless different caravan layouts on the market, so it’s essential that you identify what’s important to you when you’re choosing a caravan. For example, do you need a layout with a dining area that can accommodate the whole family? Do you want something that has fixed beds for your convenience? Is it important for you to have a rear or side washroom? It’s a great idea to make a list of the things you need and the things you want so that you can narrow down your search.

Whilst you’re deliberating over layouts, it’s also a good time to check the headroom offered. As caravans can have sloping roofs to reduce drag, this can restrict the headroom in the front and back of the van. If you’re over 6ft, then you’ll need to check that you can comfortably stand in the shower, that you can comfortably stand up in the bedroom and living area and that you’re able to easily get in and out of dinette seats.

Choosing a Caravan: Image of a man and a woman sat in a caravan talking to a member of the Tamar Caravan Centre team.


Once you’ve thought about your layout requirements, the next thing to consider is how many people will be staying in the caravan. As caravans tend to come with a set number of berths (usually 2, 4 and 6), the general rule of thumb is that you need the number of berths to correspond with the number of people who will be sleeping inside it. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule! If you find a caravan with the perfect layout for your needs but it has more berths than you require, you can simply enjoy a bit of extra space. Conversely, if your ideal layout has fewer berths, you can opt for an awning to create additional outside sleeping room for occasional guests.


Now you’ve got a clearer idea of what kind of caravan meets your needs, you’ll need to make sure that your car is capable of towing it safely. The first thing to establish is the maximum weight your car can tow – this will help you to narrow down the kinds of caravans you can choose from. When you’ve seen a caravan you like, check the MTPLM (maximum technical permissible laden mass) and MRO (mass in running order) to see if your car is capable of towing it.

Also, if you plan to store your caravan on your driveway or in your garage, check to see if it will fit before you bring it home!

Choosing a Caravan: Image of a family running in the grass outside a caravan.


When you’re choosing a caravan, bear in mind that the age of the caravan and the price you’ll pay will dictate what’s included. What’s more, the kinds of features and functions within a caravan vary enormously depending on the model and manufacturer. You can reasonably expect features like heating and water systems in any caravan, though some of the more luxurious features aren’t always included as standard. As such, it’s important to think about the features you’ll actually use on a regular basis and ensure the caravan you choose has what you need. For example, if you’re not much of a cook and you plan to sample the local cuisine for dinner each night, you probably won’t need a top-spec oven.

Most manufacturers provide basic features as standard and offer the opportunity to purchase a ‘pack’ of high-spec and luxurious features to customise your van. For example, Swift offer the Diamond pack and the Lux pack, each of which gives you a number of additional home comforts.

Once you’ve established your ‘must-haves’ and you’ve found the layout that suits your needs, it’s time to start browsing caravans!


Check back next month for our final five tips on choosing a caravan!

Call us on 01752 341133 (or leave a message on our answerphone) with any questions or queries you may have. Alternatively, you can email the relevant department through our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

You can stay in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news and updates on reopening and our services. You can also take a look through our caravan tours, maintenance tutorials and how-to guides on YouTube, or via our Help & Advice page.

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