The main priority of our last few weeks of work was not to clear the desks but to decide on a suitable caravan and the best tow vehicle. Oh what an agony that turned out to be! We found that everyone is an expert in this field. Tow hitches, ball weights and braking systems gradually started to make sense and with the help of caravan magazines and web sites we began to sift the ‘wheat from the chaff’.
We knew that we had to decide on the type of caravan that would best suit us then buy the caravan even if we couldn’t tow it, before purchasing the tow car. For us this meant that we had to sell our beloved Subaru Outback, which had not failed us once in five years, the most reliable and affordable vehicle we’ve ever owned and trust me we’ve owned a lot. Sadly the time had come for the ‘Subie’ as it would only tow a very small pop top and we doubted that a van of that size would suit us if we were to embark on a long trip. We know of many people who have bought and sold plenty of vans and cars before they struck on the near perfect combination. We preferred not to go that way if at all possible.
The pop top configuration had its advantages, medium size, bright and airy and light weight, meaning easy and cheap to tow. Not to mention a reasonable outlay as we didn’t want to commit to an expensive van if we found that we didn’t like the lifestyle.
Brian and his brother headed off to the local market to pick up the week’s fruit and vegies. They arrived home many hours later with a measly bag of produce but excitedly shouting that they’d found not only a caravan but a car as well! We returned to the dealer and checked the caravan again. Although it would have been a very good buy, we decided to continue looking as dealer vans usually don’t come with as many extras. Whereas, when purchasing a van on Ebay or Gumtree there are often a few extra unwanted items thrown in. This is particularly relevant if the seller is retiring from caravanning.
The car on the other hand really fitted the bill, a base model Ford Territory with dual fuel, petrol and gas, only three years old and with a mere 59,000kms on the clock. The seven seats were a bit of ‘an over kill’ though, but they also folded down into the floor to give ample boot space.
The following week we found several caravans on the internet that could suit us, so we set off to kick some more tyres. The stand out was a little 17 foot Viscount Streamline pop top registered as 2006 and neat as a pin. Its weight a surprisingly low 1150kgs and in excellent condition, including a new rollout awning (I often wonder what happened to the old one). It also came with a full cover and a bra to keep the front clean whilst travelling. In addition there was a GMC generator and a solar panel. These were the sort of ‘extras’ that we had been hoping to get by buying privately.