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Caravans vs Camper Trailers vs Camper Vans: What’s The Difference?

Caravans vs Camper Trailers vs Camper Vans: What’s The Difference?

When going on a long road journey, it can get expensive having to constantly stop for the night at motels and hotels. Some people resort to sleeping in their car, but this usually isn’t very comfortable.

Caravans, camper trailers and camper vans can be a solution to this. They can serve as a portable bed on wheels – providing you with a good night’s sleep without having to spend money on accomodation. They’re ideal for avid road trippers who want the flexibility of parking up anywhere while still being able to sleep in a bed.

But which option should you choose: a caravan, a camper trailer or a camper van? This post explains the similarities and differences between the three options, so that you can invest in the right one. 


Caravans are towed behind on a trailer. They contain a bed and often other amenities which could include basic kitchen facilities, a toilet or even a shower. 

The cost of a caravan can vary depending on the size and contents. On average, they’re cheaper than camper vans, but slightly more expensive than camper trailers. 

Driving a caravan can require some skill and may require a separate license in some parts of the world. If you’ve never towed anything before, you may want to be wary of opting for a large caravan.

Camper trailers

Camper trailers are more basic than caravans – they usually contain nothing more than a bed. You can buy camper trailers for two or more people or small trailers for a single person.

They’re typically priced much lower than caravans and camper vans. That said, there are some more advanced options on the market.

Camper trailers are more compact and often better suited for rugged use. These Patriot Campers are a good example that is suitable for off-road use. Caravans typically aren’t made for rugged conditions.

Camper vans

Camper vans are vans with a bed in the back. Unlike a caravan or camper trailer, you do not have to trail anything behind you as it is all integrated into the vehicle. As a result, they can be slightly easier to drive.

The most popular and famous camper van is the Volkswagen camper. Traditionally, these were very compact and quite basic, however modern options are larger and a lot more sophisticated.

Motorhomes are sometimes labelled under the same umbrella as camper vans (often collectively known as RVs). Motorhomes however are much larger and usually contain much more amenities than just a bed. Mid-range motorhomes usually contain kitchens, toilets and showers, while high-end motorhomes may contain even more. Because motorhomes are very big, they can be a lot more challenging to drive than smaller camper vans and may not be suitable for certain roads. 

A camper van could be a replacement for your everyday vehicle or it could be used as a second vehicle. Either way you need to be sure that you can afford it, as it is likely to be a lot more expensive than a caravan or a camper trailer. 

Header Image source credit: Pexels. CCO Licensed.

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