touring caravan interior

Buying a new touring caravan could be one of the most significant investments in our lifetime. It is important to make an informed and carefully considered purchase. So where to start?

In this Ultimate Guide, we run you through some typical touring caravan types, address the issue of towing capacity, debate the question of buying a new vs a used touring caravan, offer you a buyer’s checklist, and ask “where should I buy?”. Let’s begin!

Which type of touring caravan is best for me?

Settling on the right touring caravan involves a series of decisions. In this section we look at some of these key considerations.

Select your size

Swift Basecamp

Remember that size is not necessarily an indication of weight, as a smaller touring caravan with many mod-cons can weigh more than a larger caravan with less contents. Smaller caravans, typically 4m and under in length, offer the advantage of being easier to manoeuvre. The living area of smaller caravans can be enlarged with the use of awnings; fabric extensions which offer different ways to create space for relaxing, socialising, dining and sleeping.

Larger touring caravans of up to 7m are less manoeuvrable, but present the benefit of more living space for families and larger groups. If you are considering buying a ‘super size’ touring caravan manufactured overseas, you should note that there are size restrictions on touring caravans in place; both in the UK and mainland Europe.

Choose your number of berths

Two, three, four or even six berths? The number of beds which you need in your touring caravan is an important part of the decision making process. To help you decide, consider the questions below:

Is your touring caravan intended for a couple? In this case, a two berth caravan will be suitable.

Are you a large family? If so, four to six berths should be considered.

Could your family get bigger? You might wish to look at four to six berths, even if you don’t need them right away.

Do you host friends? If so, upwards of three berths could be wise.

Berth types

Caravan Touring Berths

There are a wide range of options when it comes to berth types, these include:

Fixed beds

These are beds which stay in their natural position and do not require a mechanism. Single fixed beds are usually found either side of the corridor down the middle of a caravan. Side fixed double beds lie next to the wall, while island double beds offer enhanced access on either side.

Bunk beds

Bunk beds can allow you to economise your touring caravan layout, and they are always a popular choice with children! Some touring caravans have triple bunks which allow even more space to be saved. If you are looking to maximise your sleeping space, bunk beds can be the answer.

Pull out beds and bunks

Some beds and bunks you will find are designed with pull out mechanisms which allow them to double up as sofas during the day time. This is another good option for large families and groups.

Single or twin axles?

Single axle touring caravans support two wheels, while twin axle models support four.

Single axle touring caravans are typically more maneouvrable, are able to be towed by a wider range of vehicles, and are cheaper to insure. But they can offer less stability than twin axle caravans, and also have a smaller payload.

Twin axle touring caravans can offer greater stability, a higher payload, and lower noseweight. However, they are typically heavier than single axle models, cost more and mean higher fuel consumption.

Can Your Car Tow a Touring Caravan?

The type of vehicle you intend to tow with can be an influential factor when buying a touring caravan.

A safe and stable weight limit for a car to tow is not necessarily as much as the maximum weight which is specified by car manufacturers. There is a simple rule of thumb which is useful in determining which touring caravans a car can tow:

The full weight of your loaded touring caravan should not exceed 85 per cent of the kerb weight of your car. The kerb weight is the total weight of the car excluding passengers and cargo, but including oil and fuel.

Towing and the law

The 85 per cent rule is intended as a guide, and is not legislated. In the UK, the legal weight ratio requirement allows drivers to:

·         Drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM.

·         Tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined weight of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.

The limits above apply to drivers who obtained a standard (category B) driving licence after 1st January, 1997. Licences obtained before this date normally allow the licence holder to drive a vehicle or trailer combination up to 7.5 tonnes.

New vs used touring caravans

The truth is, there is no right or wrong choice between a new or used touring caravan. Used touring caravans present pros such as a wide range of models from down the years, as well as lower price points. Meanwhile, new touring caravans can offer all the latest specs and innovations in aerodynamics, as well as the advantage of zero mileage.

Read on for checklists to use when buying both new and used caravans:

Buying a New Touring Caravan - checklist

There are a range of perks which you can expect as part of your package when buying a brand new touring caravan. At Salop Leisure, we offer after sales support, a workshop open seven days a week, and a free overnight stay on collection of a new touring caravan.

When buying a new touring caravan, here are some things which you should look out for:

Buying a New Touring Caravan - Checklist

1.       Expect a User’s Handbook with your new touring caravan. It should be new and un-used.

2.       New touring caravans should come with manufacturer-based warranties. These are typically ten years in length for the exterior and caravan chassis, and three years on parts.

3.       Ask about all the entitlements which are included in the after-sales support package. The best dealerships offer ongoing support for your new touring caravan

Buying a Used Touring Caravan - Checklist

When buying a used touring caravan from a dealership, there are also things which you should check for:

1.       Expect a User’s Handbook to be supplied with a used touring caravan.

2.       Look at the service history of the used touring caravan in the User’s Handbook. Compare this information to what has been advertised and make sure that it matches up.

3.       Check for a Vehicle Indication Number (VIN), which should be displayed by every touring caravan in Europe that was sold after 1992. The VIN is required by the Caravan Registration Identification Scheme (CRiS) .

4.       To examine a used touring caravan’s complete history, use an HPI check. You can then compare this information with what you see in the User’s Handbook. This can help in ensuring that there are no nasty surprises such as finance issues related to the caravan. To go to the HPI website, click here

5.       Gas cooking appliances contained within the used touring caravan should be accompanied with a certificate of compliance.

Where to buy a touring caravan

Salop Leisure Touring Dealer

Look for a touring caravan dealership which can offer you a choice of new and used vehicles, as well as a selection of models from the top manufacturers around the globe - Swift, Bailey, Elddis, Coachman and Lunar - to name a few. This can give you more options in terms of model, and a wider range of price points.

Only buy a touring caravan from a dealership which is fully licensed and accredited. Choose dealers which are approved by the National Caravan Council (NCC) as part of their Approved Dealership Scheme. This is a scheme run by an independent body which implements a strict Code of Practice.

The full list of dealers which are part of the Approved Dealership Scheme is available here

Salop Leisure is one of the UK’s leading dealers for both new and used touring caravans. Your first priority should be choosing a dealership which you trust. Look for evidence that a dealership has a proven track record in providing outstanding customer service over a long time period.

Browse our collection of new and used touring caravans online here, or call our friendly team on  01743 282 400 for more advice on the buying process.