Changing your motorhome to a caravan...

From motorhome to caravan? That's a big question!

Like everything, there are pros and cons for a motorhome vs a caravan, and specific lifestyles suit one or the other better. It depends on the individual which way you'll prefer to go. Check out our blog if you're new to the lifestyle and trying to decide.

We've always preferred a motorhome – the ease of jumping in and heading away or pulling off the road to stop for the night and not having the challenge of being quite a long rig. However, despite our natural gravitation and enjoyment of the motorhome, we've been considering exchanging our 2015 TrailLite motorhome, for a caravan. I had several conversations at the recent Motorhome Caravan and Leisure Show in Christchurch with people feeling the same. 


The reasons people might consider changing from motorhome to caravan 

  1. Get greater access to some more remote, off-the-beaten-track spots. 
    A long-time motorhome owner mentioned moving to an off-grid caravan to get to some remote locations around the Farewell spit. The sites are only accessible by 4wd with gravel and ford crossings, so a high ground clearance was an essential requirement. Click here for farewell spit information.
  2. More space
    A 7m caravan built to maximum width feels more spacious than the equivalent motorhome. The main reason for this is the space that the cab takes up in the total length. A benefit of the motorhome is that you can usually use the cab space with swivel chairs that integrate into the lounge. The drawbar, which can store gas bottles or a locker, is the extra length that doesn't always add to the feeling of space. That aside, all in all, a caravan tends to have a more spacious feel. Space was a key consideration for us. 
  3. Family-friendly floorplans 
    As our family dynamic changed- a toddler with more space to move around and a bunk bed in a separate area seemed easier to achieve in the caravan. While some great family-friendly floorplans are available in the TrailLite built range, they are from the top-of-the-line 700 series with slide-out. In the caravan option, there is more choice for bunk beds and options where you can put the kids to bed and stay up in the lounge. 
  4. Have the car 
    Being able to park up, leave the caravan, and use a vehicle to explore or nip to the shops is a functional element that people like when deciding between the two. Also, having the car seats already secured when traveling with kids is a positive.


There are plenty of reasons you might be considering exchanging your motorhome for a caravan. No matter how many years of experience you have in motor homing, it's still important to do your research like you're a newbie. While the lifestyle is similar, some essential elements are quite different and thus need consideration. 

We've decided not to move to a caravan just yet, and the main reason for that was the availability and price of what we were looking for. While a large variety of floorplans are available when browsing Trade Me, there seem to be only a few quality second-hand options. There were a few other things that influenced our decision: 

  • Tow vehicle
    For people without a suitable tow vehicle, the cost of buying a caravan and a car can quickly increase. There are some great lighter caravans ideal for towing with even a small SUV; however, we couldn't find what we were looking for without needing to upgrade our vehicle. That added some cost to the idea. It's not entirely off the cards for the future, but off the agenda for now.
  • Trade Me
    It is pretty overwhelming searching through pages and pages of caravans online, and it's not easy to spot what is a good choice and what is a bad one. In the caravan space, there are a lot of low-cost imports, older caravans and unique brands, making evaluating the pros and cons of each product more difficult. There are almost double the number of caravan pages as there are motorhomes, so if you're not quite sure about your search criteria or how to narrow it down, it can be challenging. Speak to a TrailLite product consultant. 
  • Value
    When specifically thinking about changing your existing motorhome for a caravan, it can be hard to compare value. Some people might spend more on a caravan than they'll get second-hand for their motorhome or vice versa. The changeover cost is an important consideration and something you'll want to set a budget on. If you are changing to get some money out of your lifestyle pursuit, you'll want to ensure you're realistic about the amount. Caravans like motorhomes have increased in value, with rising costs of new products, inflation, and the shipping costs that have plagued the country over the last few years
  • Rising prices
    You may not be able to purchase the caravan for the price you had hoped. The key here is to make sure you buy and sell on the same market, which seems obvious, but for those who sold up a few years ago and are now trying to come back in, it can be challenging to wrap your head around the pricing changes. 
  • What model do you want?
    There seem to be a lot of brands, models, and floorplans when it comes to caravans, and it's essential that you know what you are looking for, and that you compare apples with apples. A UK-built caravan will have different unique value propositions than an American-built one or a fifth-wheeler. As a motorhome owner, you'll have a solid base knowledge of self-containment requirements, lifestyle, where you want to go, and how you use a product like this. However, some education is still required. There are some differences between motorhomes and caravans and getting advice is essential. Check out reviews of the brands you're considering, to see how they have performed in NZ conditions and if there are any significant issues.

Over the years, I've noticed that as people become more confident in the motorhome or caravan lifestyle, they tend to make decisions to change more quickly. Like any big purchase, it's always the first time, which is the most challenging or requires the most research. However, a big thing to remember is to ensure you do your research every time and are clear on the reasons for wanting to change. Write them down and list the pros and cons of your choices – stick with what you've got or move. Is it worth doing if you don't achieve those objectives with a change you're considering?   

Always get a valuation for your existing motorhome to ensure you're clear on the changeover cost or benefit. It's a great place to start completing a valuation request through TrailLite Group. If you don't achieve the objectives, you've written down, is a change worth doing?  

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