The Cost of Caravanning

Cost of Caravanning in Australia (Full Breakdown)

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It’s easy to assume that the main cost of caravanning is simply the initial purchase. After that, you’ve got a free pass to unlimited holidays all around Australia, right?

Well, not exactly.

While the caravan purchase is the biggest piece of the pie, there are some other costs of caravanning to consider before jumping in. Things like the tow vehicle, registration, insurance, finance repayments, roadside assistance, accessories, servicing, campsite fees, fuel and storage all need to be included in the budget.

Here I lay out all of the costs associated with caravanning to help you make the best financial decision for your situation.

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Cost of Caravanning

Purchase Price of the Caravan

The first and largest cost of caravanning to consider is the actual purchase price of the caravan.

Unfortunately, caravans are a lot more expensive than they used to be. But, to be fair, many come standard with all of the resources required to camp off-grid, without ever needing to pay for caravan park facilities, if that’s the style of camping you’re looking for.

Buying New

To budget for buying a new caravan, you can be looking anywhere from $35k for a small pop top to well over $100k for a full-sized caravan with all of the bells and whistles.

Just to give you an idea, here are the 2024 prices for a variety of new Jayco caravan models:

Journey – POP TOP12 ft$35,995
Expanda – POP TOP17 ft$65,995
All Terrain – POP TOP17 ft$75,155
CrossTrak – HYBRID14 ft$53,455
CrossTrak – HYBRID16 ft$58,455
Work’n’Play – TOY HAULER17 ft$77,855
Basestation – TOY HAULER23 ft$90,223
Starcraft – CARAVAN19 ft$61,255
Journey – CARAVAN22 ft$87,623
All Terrain – CARAVAN22 ft$95,523

If you’re interesting in seeing all of the available styles in Australia, check out my other post on the 12 Different Caravan Types.

Buying Second Hand

If you’re looking to reduce your initial outlay cost by buying second hand, I’d say that’s a smart financial move.

Brand new caravans can lose up to 25% of their purchase value within the first 1 – 2 years of driving out of the dealer’s yard. But in today’s second-hand market, much like cars, caravans are holding their value very well. You will still need a decent budget even for a second hand van, especially if it’s less than five years old.

Things to look for when buying a second hand caravan:

  • A van that’s already modified with the accessories you want (e.g. extra water tanks, solar panels & batteries)
  • A regularly used caravan (unused caravans can result in stiff slide-outs, unnoticed water ingress etc.)
  • Pre-existing problems (rust, cracks, faulty appliances, internal water damage, mould)
Caravan Buyers Guide (15-page)

Caravan Buyers Guide

Take the stress out of buying a caravan with this interactive step-by-step guide!

  • 15-page Guide
  • Checklists to tick off
  • Interactive prompts to fill out
  • STEPS INCLUDE: Budget, Set-up, Towing Weights, PPSR Check, Handover, Hitching Up & more!

Tow Vehicle

As well as buying the caravan, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve got a suitable tow vehicle. You can go either way with this…

Two Options with the Tow Vehicle:

  1. Buy a caravan that will suit your existing vehicle, or…
  2. Upgrade your vehicle to suit the caravan you want to buy

Before rushing out to make a big caravan purchase, it’s important to understand your towing weights so that you buy the right fit for the tow vehicle or vice-versa. Here’s the Full Guide to Caravan Towing Weights.

There are also some bare basic essentials that the tow vehicle will require before you can hitch up the caravan and drive away.

Tow Vehicle Essentials:

  • Rated tow bar
  • Electronic brake controller
  • Trailer plug to power rear caravan lights
  • Anderson plug to maintain the van’s batteries & fridge while driving
  • Towing mirrors

Beyond that, there are a whole range of 4WD accessories that may be needed or wanted to further enhance your caravanning adventures. I know how easy it is to get carried away with accessories – but you really don’t need it all!

Nissan Patrol Accessories
Tow Vehicle mods & accessories

Additional 4WD Accessories (optional):

  • Bull bar
  • Roof racks/ basket
  • Snorkel
  • Side steps
  • Winch
  • Rated recovery points
  • UHF (essential for outback travel)
  • Reversing camera (helps with hitching up)
  • Air compressor (for airbags & tyres)
  • Spare wheel carrier/s
  • Awning
  • Fridge/ freezer with slide-out or drop-down mount
  • Second battery with roof-mounted solar panel

You can see our full Patrol set-up for a more detailed example.

As you can see, there are at least a handful of additional expenses involved with setting up your tow vehicle in preparation for the caravan. How far you go with this step is entirely dependent on what style of travel you plan on doing and how much you’re willing to spend.

Finance Repayments

Given the high entry cost of caravanning nowadays, financing the purchase is quite commonplace for those who can afford to service the loan. If this is you, then you will have to factor the ongoing finance repayments into your caravanning costs until the van has been paid out.

For more on this topic, here’s everything you need to know about Financing a Caravan.

Caravan Insurance

While having caravan insurance is not a legal requirement in Australia, I would not recommend being without it. Comprehensive cover will make sure that if you have an accident while driving, or something else happens to the van while travelling or even parked up at home, you will be covered for most eventualities.

Comprehensive Caravan Insurance Inclusions:

  • Accidental damage
  • Intentional damage
  • Storm or flood
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Earthquake
  • Towing costs
  • After accident clean-up
  • Emergency accommodation, transport & repairs
  • Locks & keys
  • Contents inside caravan (capped)
  • Food spoilage (capped)
  • Animal death or injury
  • Caravan park fees (due to insured event)
  • Counselling fees
  • Legal liability ($20 – $30 million)

To give you an idea on pricing, the average cost of caravan insurance for a 2022 Jayco Journey (19 ft) is $1,822.88 per year. Read the Full Guide to Caravan Insurance for more information.

Caravan Registration

Next is the annual caravan registration fee that needs to be paid. Below are the caravan registration costs for each state as at January 2023.

For more on rego requirements and costs, check out Caravan Registration in Australia.

ACT Caravan Rego
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
1,505 kg – 2,499 kg$527.00
2,500 kg – 2,504 kg$789.10
2,505 kg – 2,794 kg$789.10
2,795 kg – 3,054 kg$887.40
3,055 kg – 3,564 kg$1,043.40
3,565 kg – 3,814 kg$1,115.20
More info & pricing at Access Canberra →
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
976 kg – 1,154 kg$264
1,155 kg – 1,504 kg$305
1,505 kg – 2,504 kg$465
More info & pricing at NSW Government →
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
1,001 kg – 1,200 kg$202.80
1,201 kg – 1,400 kg$221.80
1,401 kg – 1,600 kg$240.80
1,601 kg – 1,800 kg$259.80
1,801 kg – 2,000 kg$278.80
2,001 kg – 3,000 kg$354.80
3,001 kg – 4,000 kg$443.80
More info & pricing at NT Government →
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
> 1,020 kg$152.05
1,021 kg – 4,500 kg$259.90
More info & pricing at QLD Government →
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
> 4,500 kg$95
More info & pricing at SA Government →
TASMANIA Caravan Rego
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
Trailer over 500 kg with GVM under 4,500 kg$156.97
More info & pricing at TAS Transport Services →
VICTORIA Caravan Rego
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
> 4,500 kg$62.40
More info & pricing at VIC Roads →
Caravan Tare WeightFees (12 months)
> 4,500 kg$6.38 per 100 kg
More info & pricing at WA Department of Transport →

Roadside Assistance

Most people will already have roadside assistance for their vehicle, however there is one main reason that you want to make sure you have it for your caravan as well.

In the case of breakdown, if you need to get towed somewhere, you’ll want to make damn sure the car and the caravan can both be towed to where you need them to go.

It’s important to make sure the caravan is covered for being towed in the event of a breakdown.

Here are the Three Caravan Roadside Assistance Options:

  1. Get standalone caravan Roadside Assistance
  2. Upgrade your current Roadside Assistance to the premium membership (if it covers car + caravan)
  3. Buy a new caravan from a manufacturer that includes Roadside Assistance for the first 12+ months

Either way, the additional cost of a higher level of roadside assistance to cover the caravan will need to be included in your caravanning costs budget. Here’s everything you need to know about Caravan Roadside Assistance.

Modifications, Gear & Accessories

Bingara Free Camping, NSW
Gwydir Riverside Camp, Bingara NSW

There are more items involved with caravanning that just the caravan.

If you want to be able to camp off-grid for copious amounts of time, having a good solar set-up is key. If you want to be able to sit outside in comfort then outdoor flooring and some quality outdoor furniture are a must. To be able to fill up the water tanks and discharge your grey water, hoses are required.

The list goes on…

You can definitely save some money by purchasing a second hand caravan that already has the mods and accessories you’re keen on. But more often than not, especially if buying new, there will be things you want to add to the caravan to suit your purposes and comfort level.

Here are 50 Popular Caravan Accessories to get you going!

Servicing & Maintenance

The recommended frequency for caravan servicing is once every 12 months or every 10,000 km, whichever comes first.

A good ballpark figure to budget is $500 for a standard caravan service. If you’re handy and can do it yourself, you can save most of that money and just pay for parts and materials.

As with all trailers and vehicles, some years there will be more expenses than others, including a new set of tyres every couple of years.

For the more on servicing, have a read of these Caravan Maintenance Tips.

Tyres– Check wear & tear
– Ensure correct tyre pressure
– Replace as required
Wheel Bearings– Re-pack & grease every 12 months or 10,000 km
Rims– Check for stress marks, cracks, corrosion etc.
Brakes & Breakaway System– Adjust & replace parts as required
– Ensure breakaway system is working
Suspension– Check for any issues
– Repair & replace as required
Jockey Wheel & Hitch Coupling– Lubricate moving parts
– Check for corrosion, rust etc.
Underbody– Check chassis for cracks
– Check for loose wires & pipes or any damage
Exterior– Check seals & rubbers
– Replace as required
Lights– Ensure rear caravan lights are working
– Fix any wiring issues
– Replace bulbs as required
Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Caravan Maintenance & Service Log

Log and track all of your caravan maintenance and servicing requirements.

  • 7-page Planner (digital & printable)
  • Caravan Service History Log
  • TICK OFF checklists
  • COMPLETE maintenance tasks
  • ADD in extra tasks
  • RECORD maintenance & service dates

Campsite Fees

An obvious cost of caravanning is the outlay for campsite fees.

I wish I could give you an average campsite fee to help work out the budget, but there are just too many variations. Fees can range anywhere from $10/ night for a rural Low Cost Camp, to $87/ night for a family staying in a Big4 along the east coast.

If you’re planning on using caravan parks, here’s the low down on Caravan Park Memberships and whether they’re worth it or not.

Of course there are loads of absolutely amazing Free Camps all around the country. If you’ve got your own amenities and resources onboard, you’re only limited by how far you can tow the rig!


There’s no getting around it, towing an extra couple of tonne behind you is going to have you chewing through the fuel quicker than usual.

I recommend using the free Fuel Map App to help track your fuel usage. From there, you’ll be able to work out an average of how much extra you need to budget in for fuel when caravanning.

How the Fuel Map App works:

  1. Open up the app as you’re sitting at the servo fuelling up for your next caravanning trip
  2. Input the kilometres on your dash
  3. Input the number of litres of fuel you just put in
  4. Input the cost of the fuel
  5. Do this every time you fuel up while caravanning (plus at the end of your trip if you’re on holidays)
  6. The app will give you the average litres/ km used while towing


Most people store their caravans on a patch of grass on their property, because, well… it’s free.

To help look after your caravan it’s worth investing in a good caravan cover. This will stop bird and bat poo from eating away at the paint, as well protecting from trees branches, sap and leaf litter, which encouraging mould and mildew.

Caravan Cover
Caravan Covers →
(Caravan RV Camping)

If you don’t have room on your property to store the caravan, the next option is to consider if any friends or family have the space and willingness to do so. Beyond that, you would have to pay for the van to be stored somewhere, which adds an extra expense to your cost of caravanning budget.

Here are 30 Tips for Storing a Caravan, which will help too look after your RV, plus maintain it’s re-sale value.

Caravan Storage Checklist

Caravan Storage Checklist

Prepare your van for long-term & short-term storage with the Caravan Storage Checklist.

  • 100 pre-filled tasks to complete
  • Checkboxes to tick off
  • Add in extra tasks
  • Download once, use over-and-over again
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Costing Up Your Own Caravanning Budget

Obviously everyone’s caravanning costs are going to look different. There are many variables at play, which all need to fit in with your personal needs, wants and budget.

To help you work through your own expected caravanning costs, I’ve put together the Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet. You can input all of your anticipated costs related to the initial set-up, as well as costs on the road. From there, the spreadsheet will automatically calculate the totals.

The beauty of the spreadsheet is being able to play around with the figures until you reach a combination that works the best for you.

Big Lap Budget Spreadsheet

What’s Included:

  • Vehicle & Caravan Set-up Worksheet
  • Travel Expenses Worksheet
  • 9 Calculators
  • 150+ Variables
  • Automated Summaries
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Buying vs. Hiring a Caravan

After laying out all of the costs of buying a caravan, setting it up, then maintaining it year after year, is it really worth it?

Buying a caravan doesn’t always make financial sense. It’s a huge chunk of money to spend on a large item that will absolutely depreciate as the years pass by.

However, not everything we do in life has to be based on financial gain. We also need to take into account the investment towards joy, adventure and positive experiences.

If you’re trying to weigh up whether it makes more sense for you to buy a caravan, versus just hiring one as needed, here are some points to consider:

  • Spontaneity – do you want to be able to hitch up at the drop of a hat and take off for the weekend?
  • Organising trips in advance – are you happy to organise your trips in advance in order to book a hire van?
  • Storage – do you have space to store the caravan?
  • Annual uses – how many times per year will you realistically be able to use the caravan?
  • Annual costs – is it cheaper per year to maintain your own caravan or just to hire one as needed?

To compare the costs of buying vs. hiring a caravan, jump onto Camplify and get some quotes for the type of caravan you’d be likely to hire. Cost up an average budget based on how many times you think you’d use the hire service throughout the year. Don’t forget to add in fuel and campsite fees.

To work out the cost of caravanning with purchasing your own van, use the Budget Spreadsheet above to input the figures and let the calculators do the work for you.

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3 thoughts on “Cost of Caravanning in Australia (Full Breakdown)”

  1. What a great collection of caravanning information etc. Well done!! Leaving for the big lap in several months and will certainly be going over everything contained in here. Thanks very much 🙂

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