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Explore Australia

With international travel on the back-burner, owning a boat, caravan or camper may give you the freedom to explore the beauty of Australia. We have put together the beginner’s guide you need before you decide to dive or drive.

Author

Gabrielle Chariton

From cruising the river ways and camping with family to finding your own private paradise, as the weather warms up and COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions are (hopefully) relaxed, many of us will be keen to start venturing beyond our own backyard.

Purchasing a leisure vehicle such as a boat, caravan or camper trailer can give you endless experiences. So if you want to create your own great escapes, what should you know before you press go?

Know how much it’s really going to cost

Buying a boat or a recreational vehicle (RV) such as a caravan or camper is an investment in your holiday future, but it’s not necessarily going to be cheaper than staying in a B&B or motel. That’s because, as well as the hefty purchase price, you’ll be up for a decent number of additional expenses which you’ll need to factor into your budget.

The biggies will be insurance, registration, maintenance and servicing, as well as increased fuel consumption while towing. A boat will need to be kitted out with safety gear; a trailer to get it from A to B, and you may also have to pay for a mooring or marina berthing.

After buying a new or used RV, you may want to upgrade with a shade awning, bike racks, solar panels, etc. But once you’ve made the investments up front, what you save per night is often a bargain, ranging from $20 per night at caravan parks, dependant on facilities, season and location, making the decision to travel easier on the back pocket.

 

Know the towing capacity of your car

Before you start shopping for a boat or RV, check your car’s user manual to find out what its maximum towing capacity is. The information you’ll be looking for is: 

  • the maximum weight of a trailer without brakes that can be towed by the vehicle
  • the maximum weight of a trailer with brakes that can be towed by the vehicle
  • the maximum tow ball load. 

Ensure the RV or boat you purchase will come in under these weight limits when fully loaded. Exceeding weight limits can void your insurance, could cop you a fine and will damage your car’s engine. 

 

Know how to be safe (on the road and on the water) 

When it comes to boating, safety is a huge responsibility – for yourself and everyone on board. Depending on the size and type of boat you’re taking out, this means knowing about the weather and tides, maritime alerts, operating a marine radio and navigation rules. You’ll also need to have all safety gear on board as mandated by your state regulations. 

According to the NSW Government’s Centre for Road Safety, there were 239 crashes involving a vehicle towing a caravan on NSW roads between 2014 and 2018. Towing a caravan adds weight to your vehicle and affects how it handles, so you’ll need to adapt your driving technique. Allow for the extra length and width when entering traffic and taking corners; take it easy on the accelerator and brakes, and maintain a longer stopping distance between yourself and the car in front. 

Know the best locations for the perfect holiday  

Once you’ve found your perfect RV or boat, it’s time to start planning your escape. With this type of travel it’s often as much about the journey as the destination. If you want to get off the beaten track and really find the serenity, check out NRMA Sloways – a guide to caravan-friendly back roads around regional Australia. And Stratton Finance’s inspiring guides to exploring our states and territories by boat and caravan will help you plan the perfect itinerary. 

It’s always worth doing some prior research to make sure the parks you intend to stop at have the facilities and amenities you need and are child and/or pet friendly (if required). For waterside locations, find out what water sports are permitted (such as, fishing or water-skiiing) and make sure you can easily access the boat ramps. It’s also a smart idea to memorise the dimensions of your RV, so you can immediately assess whether a campsite is spacious enough. 

Ready to begin your adventures? Stratton Finance can help get you on the road (or water) in the perfect vehicle. Visit www.strattonfinance.com.au to find out about their competitive financing options. 

 

Not an HIA member yet? By joining Australia’s largest national association for the residential building industry, you’ll get access to a range of member benefits, as well as industry products and business services designed to help you manage, operate and grow.

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