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Caravans: try before you buy

Buying a caravan for that retirement trip of a lifetime can be one of the biggest post-work purchases you make, so make sure you do it right with a few test-drive options.

Living free on the open road can be the retirement dream. But do some thorough research before you slap the “For Sale” sign on the family home.

Choosing the campervan or caravan that suits your needs can be a daunting prospect.

You might have visited a couple of caravan and motorhome shows and talked to other grey nomads about their favourite rig. Or if you have your heart set on a particular van you may have even joined an owner’s group and asked for their feedback.

But nothing beats being able to try before you buy.

Some people are lucky enough to borrow a friend’s rig for a week or two. Fortunately, there are other ways to test-drive campervan living and vans of different shapes and sizes.

Websites, such as, list one-way campervan and RV relocations in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe. The daily rental is well below the usual for a campervan and sometimes the relocation includes a fuel allowance. If a ferry trip is required, such as for a Melbourne to Hobart relocation, that will usually be included.

There is a limited number of days allocated to complete the relocation, but in some situations you can add a few extra days and the kilometre allowance can permit some extra sightseeing along the way.

In November, is advertising campervan and RV relocations for $1-5 per day. Many have a $100 to $150 fuel allowance thrown in.

Best of all, you get to try out the campervanning lifestyle for a minimal cost and time outlay.

Other websites, such as, let you tap into the RVs, campervans and camper trailers that sit around unused between stints away. From $40 per day, people can hire directly from the van owner for short or longer periods. So you not only get to try different types of vans in different locations, but you could also pick their brains about the lifestyle and the best places to go.

Trying different vans helps you to work out which layouts suit you and your must-have features.

You might find that a shower and toilet is a non-negotiable if you like using free roadside camps. Or if you’re going to spend all your time staying in powered sites at caravan parks, you probably don’t need a van with a solar system and a big water tank.

By making those kinds of discoveries before you buy, you’re likely to save yourself some money in the long run.