What is Better For You: A Tent, Caravan or Camper Trailer?

camping caravan

It’s the age-old debate, and one that has no doubt divided families and lifelong friendships. When it comes to exploring our great country, the question remains: what’s the best way to see Australia out of a tent, caravan or camper trailer?

Some individuals would vehemently claim that nothing beats the feel of sleeping under the stars in a traditional tent; others argue that there’s a more modern (and lavish) way to enjoy outback living – through a fully-stocked caravan. Whatever option one swears by, there’s a hundred other individuals who’ll prefer the other.

If it’s your first time venturing outdoors or maybe you haven’t done it for quite some years, there’s no doubt that the camping landscape has changed. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each camping style so you can decide for yourself which one is best for your lifestyle and needs.

What to consider when travelling

First thing’s first: in order to determine what the best camping equipment investment is for you, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • What is your budget?
  • Are you planning a three-month trip or a weekend escape?
  • How many of you will be travelling together?
  • Where are you planning to visit/stay?

Once you’ve got the answers to these questions, you’ll be in a better place to determine which option is right for you.

Tent camping

Tent camping is the most traditional of the three structures. While there are many different types of tents, we will be focusing on the more standard style, being the cabin tent.

Cabin tents are a box-like design, with higher walls and partitions to create individual rooms for privacy. They are designed to equip more people than the traditional dome tent. When it comes to price alone, you can’t beat the time-honoured tent. Easy to pack up and with much less maintenance than its counterparts, you won’t be needing a 4WD to travel around with a tent. In days of past, pitching a tent would take a lot of effort, the strength of Samson and plenty of patience. Nowadays, you can find they will rise in a snap with just the push of a button, much like an umbrella. Not to mention, they’re also convenient and roomy. You can even move around in the tent without having to slouch or duck.

Pros of tent camping

  • The most affordable option
  • Can accommodate full families
  • Ideal for short-term travel
  • Some models come with partitions for privacy
  • Vertical walls make it easier to move around inside

Cons of tent camping

  • Flat roof styles can collapse under too much weight, such as snow (however, this may not be an issue if you’re camping in the NT)
  • Not ideal for windy weather conditions


Planning on a lengthier trip? Then a caravan might be better for you. Caravans come in a range of sizes and models, with two categories: pop-tops and full caravans. The former has a lifting roof section, as the name suggests. The latter is the more traditional style, and features solid walls all the way up to the roof. Most caravans are fitted with a double bed, a kitchen (which includes a stove, a fridge, microwave and storage space), a lounge area, and a shower/toilet. If you are choosing the larger model, you can expect an ensuite with separate toilet and shower.

There’s certainly appeal in a caravan. Offering better safety and comfort at night, you can lock up and sleep tight without a worry. With its large space and creature comforts such as a kitchen and bathroom, it really feels like a home away from home. Preparation is minimal: load with consumables and food and you’re ready to hit the road. However, these luxuries do come with a hefty price tag. Not to mention, there are ongoing costs associated with a caravan purchase. For one, you’ll be using up more fuel due to the greater weight, and you’ll also need to consider repair expenses and maintenance. Finally, diehard campers may find that a caravan cheats you out of a real experience of the great outdoors.

Pros of caravans

  • No set-up required at camp
  • More space for you to move
  • Many models come with kitchen, stove, fridge and microwave
  • Feels like home away from home
  • Ideal for long travel

Cons of caravans

  • Can be quite expensive
  • Ongoing costs associated with fuel and maintenance
  • Doesn’t offer the full, traditional ‘camping’ experience

Camper Trailer

Combining the best parts of a tent and caravan, a camper trailer is the ideal option for those who don’t want to dig too deep into their back pocket when it comes to equipment. Not only are they faster to set up than a tent, but they are also more reliable and easier to tow. However, they’re not as spacious as a caravan nor do they offer all the comforts.

While they are easier to tow than a caravan, you’ll still need to bring additional storage with you. An advantage is, if you plan on going off-road, a camper trailer is more tough and mobile than a caravan. It must be said that it does take more effort to set up than a caravan. Still, if you’re looking to upgrade your tent, you can’t look past a camper trailer. Offering more shade and a thicker canvas, you won’t be feeling the floor or hard stones in your back as you sleep at night.

Pros of camper trailers

  • Easier to tow on the road and offer better fuel-efficiency than caravans
  • Space-efficient while on the road and in storage
  • Access all areas means an off-road camper can go almost anywhere
  • Won’t break the bank to purchase
  • Allows for an authentic camping experience

Cons of camper trailers

  • Offers little to no security once set up
  • You won’t have all the luxuries that a caravan offers
  • Set up takes time and effort


Planning on taking a trip through Australia? If you’re buying a caravan, consider caravan and trailer insurance from CCI Personal Insurance. Contact us today for more information about the right cover for your needs.