Caravan versus Poptop
We are finally on the road for our second lap of Oz. Last time we travelled in a pop top, beds come out the ends (official title) this time we are in a full van. I am loving the upgrade so I thought I’d share as a comparison for those in the planning stage.
Pop top $24 000 (3 years old)
Caravan $55000 (1.5 years old)
Pop top: the entry door is velcroed in place and if you know what you are doing you can pop your arm through and unlock it from inside. The canvas could be cut open to gain entry too. At times I felt unsafe if there was commotion going on outside.
Caravan: I’m sure if you wanted to gain entry into the van you could but I do feel much more secure with 4 solid walls where no one knows if there is someone inside or not. With the pop top you know someone is in there with the top up and the beds out the ends.
The quick getaway
We only have 15 weeks to do our lap and we like to move on quickly. Not only does the full van enable you to pack up and get going quickly but we feel much more refreshed when we arrive at a new destination because we haven’t done an aerobic workout at both set up and pack up to get all that canvas neatly inside. Not to mention the angst caused from trying to get the kids involved and make sure everyone chips in evenly.
Free camping
Different tow vehicles are set up differently for free camping so I’m not saying a full van is better in this respect …. but … having a toilet inside is great. Not many camper trailers have this option.
The full van moves around a bit more when passing trucks and the extra weight increases the fuel consumption. Over 22 0000km we calculated the increased cost of fuel at about $1450.
The full van has so much storage that we actually have lots of empty cupboards. In the camper trailer we had things packed on top, behind and underneath other things. We were always pulling things out to get to what we wanted. At the time it didn’t bother me but I now realise it was another factor that made the travel that bit more taxing.
I really liked my kitchen in the camper trailer. There was loads of bench space and it seemed to have enough of everything. The kitchen in the full van has a lot less bench space but if you clean as you go it’s no problem you just need to think about how you are going to make it work.
One of the main reasons we sold our camper trailer was because the kids were getting bigger and didn’t want to share the double bed any more. I wish I had tried the swim noodle under the sheet trick but hadn’t heard of it until after we sold. They are loving the bunk beds and the fact that they have a little bit of personal space. Hubby and I like not having to climb over each other to get out of bed in the middle of the night.
Thermal Properties
I’ll never forget the night we spent in the camper trailer on the Murray River. It was 0 degrees and we were free camping. Hot water bottles and layer upon layer were not enough to keep us warm. The beds out the ends allow the air to circulate around you which is ok in the heat but not what you want in the cold. Whilst I haven’t experienced these coldtemperatures this trip, we have all been hot when it’s been about 12 degrees outside.
Lunch stops
Lunch stops are much easier in a van. I remember standing on a slither of shade from a pole while travelling through the Northern Territory in the pop top. Hastily stuffing my sandwich in my mouth as i shooed flies away. Now we pull over, open up the van and choose what we want. You can put it all out and everyone makes their own. It saves us money because we never eat out for lunch. (If we weren’t prepared in the pop top we would sometimes buy take away). You can keep a box of ice creams in the freezer so you don’t have to pay $6 for a magnum in some outback places. Having said that, you just need to be prepared when you are in a pop top and have your systems set up so you have your food on hand. Overall
After our first trip I felt like I needed a holiday. I loved it but it was exhausting. If we had more time things might have been different but like I said we like to move on pretty quickly and we don’t have many down days. If I was on the road full time I would be much more prepared to accept these things but we want to make the most of our time on the road and to do this, a van is definitely our preferred tow vehicle.