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darrenmcneill

1st Caravan - What Family Layout? How much to spend?

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Hello to everyone!

 

First post.  I have been loitering on the site and have been trying to find the answers to my questions but have finally decided it maybe easier just to post and get other people's opinions.  We are a family of 4 and the kids are (currently) ages 6 and 10.  We also have a puppy so will need to consider her in our decision.

 

I have 2 questions really......

 

1/.  What layouts do families find work best?  We have used the mother-in-law's caravan which has a fixed island double bed.  This seemed fine for us, but the double bed just ended up being more of a dumping place than a usable space.  Granted this was someone elses caravan so it is more difficult to adjust to it as you know it isn't yours.  I have had a look through some forum posts and have seen the fixed bunks with their own side area recommended.  I must admit I do like the look (and the thought) or the kids having their own section... personally I would like them to have their own caravan but that isn't going to happen!!

 

2/.  How much to spend? (New-ish Vs Older)   I know this is a million dollar question, and the prices vary so much.  I suppose what I am trying to establish is what "extras" or "benefits" that you get from say a newer model to one that is a few more years older?  I have looked on auto trader to view what is available (Starting at say £7k up to £15k - Can spend more if required but ideally I want to keep it sensible).  When looking at similar models (but differences in age) the layouts look the same, the setups look familiar, but the visual differences that seem apparent are maybe the colour schemes etc.  I would be happy to spend slightly less on the caravan and then spend money getting required upgrades that we actually want (So a very large air awning is a definite requirement).  I know a lot of things can be upgraded and we have taken note of the addition of under floor heating, larger awnings (air ones), motor movers etc etc.  I think what I am trying to establish is getting the balance right balance between the initial purchase price and then the upgrades available.  I know a lot of 2nd hand caravans will come with all sorts of extras from the previous owners but I would want them to be right for us.  As a job I buy and renovate houses, so I know that making something look cosmetically better is quite an easy thing to do, and although some of the newer caravan have the nice colour schemes and bling, they are easy enough to do yourself.  Its more what are the actual benefits of newer vs older? (May have waffled on a bit here).

 

 

Hopefully the above isn't too general and people can advise.... 

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Darren

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Posted (edited)

re 1, the best lay out is the one you like.

personally a double dinette is my preference. Windows at each end, table at each end, bed at each end plus a bunk bed. This generates a bit of space between the two ends, perhaps adults from children at some point. We use it so first thing as I wake early in the morning the wife is at one end in bed and I'm at the other doing some programming on my lap top

This does layout not seem to be the in thing.

 

We had this layout when we had children and it worked well...... for us

 

what is your tow car?

 

macafee2

Edited by macafee2

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Darren,

 

There will be (hopefully) tons of comments forthcoming so I will limit this initial response to areas I can pontificate on with confidence:-)

 

Our daughter has girls of (now ) 7 and 11 but they have been caravanning for about 5 years. When recently changing the van they decided to stick with a layout which has a seperate dinette / bed and 2 bunks so the girls can use the dinette as a play area. It isn't used for eating and it isn't used for sleeping unless they have someone extra staying. (put your own spin on that!) 5 or 6 berth vans will usually have that facility.

 

Despite your professional skills, I doubt there is much you can do to add facilities like underfloor heating! Caravans of all makes are basically very similar in terms of equipment. Some may have 'wet' cetral heating at the upper end of your price range but most will use blown air. They will all have a water heater, stove, bathroom facilities and so on.

 

If you haven't come across it, this site is useful for browsing -

 

www. caravanfinder.co.uk

 

It allows you to search by layout as well as maker etc. but I firmly believe that a local dealer with a good reputation is the first priority.

 

Good luck.

 

Jim

 

Having found a layout which you think will suit, choose your dealer first. In the used market (hopefully) most teething problems will be history, but you still want to be able to go back to the dealer if problems arise.

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I assume you have a B+E driving licence so will not be restricted.

With 2 children, bunks would be ideal and there are a few different layouts with them for example bunks at the side which make up from a small dinette. This usually means you still have a large washroom at the back.

The front seating area is adequate for the family of 4 to site together around a table, and it makes into a double bed at the end of the day. These don't have to be particularly large caravans and would easily be towed by your A6. A budget of £10K would get you a decent second hand caravan.

Whatever you do, and whether you buy it privately or from a dealer, get an independent qualified caravan engineer to thoroughly inspect and damp test it. Look on the NCC Approved Work Shop web site for a local Mobile engineer.

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Research air awnings before buying them. I have yet to meet anyone that are happy with them. Most that I've met has only used them once.

 

  • Confused 1

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For a first van buy cheap and cheerful with an expectation of changing in 12 months to what you really want rather than what you currently think you want. For your second van remember that your kids will grow alarmingly quickly.

6 minutes ago, AndersG said:

Research air awnings before buying them. I have yet to meet anyone that are happy with them. Most that I've met has only used them once.

 

Some of us really like them, but there are very few full air awnings, most are porch awnings. We started with a big porch but it died of overexposure to sunlight, like most awnings made of lightweight fabric. We currently have a full Dorema Daytona Air and annex for long holidays and a Sunncamp porch for shorter breaks. 

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19 minutes ago, AndersG said:

Research air awnings before buying them. I have yet to meet anyone that are happy with them. Most that I've met has only used them once.

 

Me! Me!  I like them.  Kampa  Rally air, now 6 -7 years old.  Sitting in it now. Survived last weekends storms. Used loads. Fantastic,  lived through wind and torrential rain on more than one occasion. Never leaked.  Also have a Vango Rapide.  Not had it as long as the Kampa, but very pleased so far.  As is often the case, the people  with issues are more likely to post than us happy campers.

nanamel

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We've got the double dinette fixed bunk layout (Sprite Major 6td).

 

We love it for the separation and the fact that you still get a decent bathroom in the middle

 

We eat at the second dinette (it seats three and we use a stool). The front lounge is huge. The kids do invade but they are only 3  & 7. The kitchen has enough space to work but the passage is narrow, that's the worst of it.

 

I'd check your kids fit the bunks in whatever you buy. Ours are fairly narrow. I've slept in them but it could be a sticking point with a large or picky kid. Adria do wider bunks as are some of the newer domestic offerings (8ft wide models).

 

We also liked the Bailey Ancona  (2016/2017). They have a lovely open feel inside. The bathroom is at the back though and the second dinette is much smaller. If you are summer caravanners with an awning though, it may well suit you better.

 

We wanted to buy second hand, back in 2015. However the layouts we wanted were only four years old and rare on the market, therefore expensive (£11k). It was only £3k more to buy new. That's changed, though if you set your heart on an 8ft UK model you will be in a similar position.

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Another vote for a double dinette with centre kitchen and bathroom.  The kids have their own end for playing and sleeping and you have your own end for the evenings.

Try to get as big a payload as possible because whatever you get it wont be enough.

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45 minutes ago, bubble2015 said:

Another vote for a double dinette with centre kitchen and bathroom.  The kids have their own end for playing and sleeping and you have your own end for the evenings.

Try to get as big a payload as possible because whatever you get it wont be enough.

Having had a similar separation with kids in the past it would be my preference also

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3 hours ago, AndersG said:

Research air awnings before buying them. I have yet to meet anyone that are happy with them. Most that I've met has only used them once.

 

 

We’ve not met but I’m delighted with mine and have been for nearly 3 years - no issues at all

As your eldest is ten and youngest 6 how long you are keeping the van will be an issue as I know a few people with kids that are getting towards double figures that find the top bunk too small on vans with fixed bunks

 

Given your thoughts on the amount you want to spend I’d be looking at a rare twin lounge layout like the Sprite Quattro DD

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Thanks to everyone who has commented!  Greatly appreciated.

 

The layout seems unanimous, and I agree that it looks to be the bst way to enable the kids to have their own space along with a space for the adults.  My intention is to get as big an awning as possible, as space is certainly something you cannot have enough of!  We would then use the awning as a dining/seating area.

 

I suppose the one question that has not been answered is:

 

2/.  How much to spend? (New-ish Vs Older)   I know this is a million dollar question, and the prices vary so much.  I suppose what I am trying to establish is what "extras" or "benefits" that you get from say a newer model to one that is a few more years older?  I have looked on auto trader to view what is available (Starting at say £7k up to £15k - Can spend more if required but ideally I want to keep it sensible).  When looking at similar models (but differences in age) the layouts look the same, the setups look familiar, but the visual differences that seem apparent are maybe the colour schemes etc.  I would be happy to spend slightly less on the caravan and then spend money getting required upgrades that we actually want (So a very large air awning is a definite requirement).  I know a lot of things can be upgraded and we have taken note of the addition of under floor heating, larger awnings (air ones), motor movers etc etc.  I think what I am trying to establish is getting the balance right balance between the initial purchase price and then the upgrades available.  I know a lot of 2nd hand caravans will come with all sorts of extras from the previous owners but I would want them to be right for us.  As a job I buy and renovate houses, so I know that making something look cosmetically better is quite an easy thing to do, and although some of the newer caravan have the nice colour schemes and bling, they are easy enough to do yourself.  Its more what are the actual benefits of newer vs older? (May have waffled on a bit here).

 

I have seen for example a caravan that has the layout we require for just £5,995 (Lunar QUASAR 615 2006).  Of course the decor is quite dated as you would expect, but the layout is perfect.  So back to the question... Newer or older?

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, darrenmcneill said:

Hello to everyone!

 

First post.  I have been loitering on the site and have been trying to find the answers to my questions but have finally decided it maybe easier just to post and get other people's opinions.  We are a family of 4 and the kids are (currently) ages 6 and 10.  We also have a puppy so will need to consider her in our decision.


 

children grow at an alarming rate so don't go for something that will fit them  now, like small bunks . There's a lot of choice out there, take your kids along and try for size

2/.  How much to spend? (New-ish Vs Older)   I would be happy to spend slightly less on the caravan and then spend money getting required upgrades that we actually want

take a good look at the payload, that's how much you have to put all your extra weight / upgrades, included in this is your battery 25kg,  water  and waste barrels 10kg, want a motor mover , 35kg.

(So a very large air awning is a definite requirement). 

OH helped a chap put up his very large air awning, it took 3 men to put it up as unlike the pole awnings it's all together and very heavy. We have a porch air awning BTW , had it 3 years and it's great.   

I know a lot of things can be upgraded and we have taken note of the addition of under floor heating, larger awnings (air ones), motor movers etc etc.  I think what I am trying to establish is getting the balance right balance between the initial purchase price and then the upgrades available. 

Payload, I would make a new list of what you would really like, you have to watch the weight in a caravan, mostly the payload is around 155kg, not a lot when catering for a family of 4 plus a dog.  

 

 

 

Edited by joanie

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We started off with a Bailey Pegasus 546   Youngest was 18 months when we got it and no 2 was 5 and no 1 8. It served us very well for 6 years. The triple bunks with the dinette gave them the own space. The only draw back was the wet room bathroom which meant we never really used the shower. 

 

When the triple bunks became a bit cramped we changed to a Pegasus 4 Ancona  which was great - other than it was 5 berth and no1 despite not being very tall outgrew the dinette bed as it’s not full length (check the dimensions!). 

 

We've now got a unicorn Segovia which  fits the bill and sorts all the shortcomings we had with the Pegasus.

 

We were lucky with the first one but it’s very easy to make a mistake as for some reasons some things just don’t work! 

 

Mike    

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18 hours ago, darrenmcneill said:

suppose the one question that has not been answered is:

 

2/.  How much to spend? (New-ish Vs Older) 

 

I think you answered it yourself.

 

If you can get the layout you want and are ok with the decor and kit AND the van is dry then I'd go with second hand. You are free to swap it whenever you want. If you buy new there's a bigger penalty when you trade in unless you keep it a good while.

 

Kit wise, I think that the recent blown air system from Truma (the combi) which came in the last 4 or 5 years is worth having if you are going to be all year vanners. It does away with the space heater and is effective and intuitive. 

 

You might find a van with the Alde system which has been around a long time, but it's not popular on family layouts. It's also a good system.

 

Fridges have got bigger over recent years, so worth bearing in mind.

 

Other than that, a working fridge, toilet and cooker are what you need.

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We're just back from our 1st caravan trip in almost 30 years.

Recently purchased a 2007 Avondale Dart 5 berth which has the double dinette/bedroom feature.With 2 grandchildren (6 & 4)in tow this was a godsend,they went to bed leaving the rest of the van to granny & granda.

The rear dinette coverts to a 4ft double with a single bunk above,and closes off with a sliding door,so could in theory sleep 2 adults & a child.

This layout probably compromises on bathroom space but we only used the toilet for sleeping time calls of nature & the WHB for hand washing.The on site facilities were superb and handily located so used them instead.

Found the Dart really works for us.

Edited by Keith Moore

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On 17/08/2019 at 19:25, macafee2 said:

re 1, the best lay out is the one you like.

personally a double dinette is my preference. Windows at each end, table at each end, bed at each end plus a bunk bed. This generates a bit of space between the two ends, perhaps adults from children at some point. We use it so first thing as I wake early in the morning the wife is at one end in bed and I'm at the other doing some programming on my lap top

This does layout not seem to be the in thing.

 

We had this layout when we had children and it worked well...... for us

 

what is your tow car?

 

macafee2

 

If you click on the OP's name badge it will show you his details - in this case its and Audi A6 Avant which will tow anything that he might set his eye upon!

 

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