Just Ordered our First Caravan

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Coachman Caravan

This is an awesome moment. Since autumn 2011 me & my wife were actively searching for the perfect caravan. We’ve visited several shops with used trailers. The switch to becoming a digital nomad required this. And it’s coming now. The crazy idea is becoming real.

Saturday 24th March 2012 — It’s here

After a quick check of one used caravan that just popped up on Burimex website, we (ok, mostly myself) decided to go for it and buy this good looking oldie. Even though the demand in spring is usually much higher than in winter, the combination of price and features was difficult to ignore. The truth is, that we already purchased a ton of things, like tow bar, camping catalogue, camping card, handy vacuum cleaner and plastic cutlery. So the caravan actually was last missing piece to the puzzle.

Oldie but Goldie

The Coachman Geinus 440/5 was not the newest. It’s been made in 1995, some 17 years ago. We fell in love with it in the moment we jumped in it for the first time. And that’s a good sign. I like to listen to gut feelings.

It’s fairly well equipped for the year and price around €4,600 ($5,500) including all the required extras as barrels, steps, gas bottles, cables and such. It’s definitely fair price to prove the idea — if it flies.

Why this Exact Coachman

Its many things that we needed to balance. The main being weight. It’s maximum weight is 1,160 Kg, which together with our BMW 5 Series, weighting 2,300 Kg fits exactly just under 3,5 tonnes and that means, we are fine with regular driver’s license (B class).

Coachman Genius Caravan Dimensions & BMW 5 Series
  • The beds are perfectly setup, including the fact that we’d like to put a baby cot in it somewhere (this turned unnecessary later)
  • The Caravan is in great shape, in our view, and the seller is also giving us 6 months guarantee, which is a great deal for an used trailer
  • Equipment is perfect, there’s everything we might need
  • There’s old version of towing bar, without stabiliser, but that doesn’t really matter much as we’d drive slowly anyway
  • We’re purchasing some required extras, such as safe, safety lock for door and wheel lock, 110 Ah leisure battery
  • We’ve skipped solar panels for now, as the battery should keep us powered for some 4 days without wall outlet and that’s just enough. No plans to boondock with such a small babies that we have (4 months & 2 years)

Coachman Genius 1995

Coachman Genius 1995 Equipment

  • Gas powered heating (newer trailers also have 240V heating)
  • 10 litres water heater (240V & gas)
  • Double glass windows, net covers, blind covers
  • 12V deep cycle battery compartment
  • Double bed in front, bench on the back
  • 2 foldable tables
  • Small fridge (240V, gas, 12V while car engine is on)
  • Sink, shower & chemical toilet
  • Tent to double the living space

Extras Purchased

  • Internal 70 litre water tank
  • 110 Ah leisure (deep cycle) battery
  • safe for our laptops, mobiles and tablets
  • door safety lock (the basic lock is made from plastic)
  • split cable rom 2x 7-pin plug (caravan), to one 13-pin plug (car)
  • extension cable with CEE connector, and regular 240V house reduction
  • two 5 litre gas bottles
  • hammer and some tools
  • metal step
  • set of car mirrors
  • plastic cutlery etc.
Caravan in Prague
Caravan parked in front of our apartment in Prague

What’s Better — Trailer or a Camper?

I’ve recently received a question: “Would you mind to explain a little bit more why you’ve chosen a trailer and not a camper car? Was it a money question?” — thank you David Spinar.

VW Transporter Van & Caravan

Here’s a few notes

  • Campers (camping cars) are great for trips with shorter stops (few days here, few days there)
  • Caravan (Travel Trailer) works better for families as you create a home base in a campsite and can travel with the car around the place, to shops, cities etc.
  • Camper cars and Vans are on the rise, so they currently make over a half of the market and growing
  • Most camping cars can drive faster than caravans, that’s better if you have less time and need to get back to work after a weekend trip
  • Camper is easier to park, to manoeuvre in smaller locations. And it’s always more welcome on boondocking and wile camping locations than a long train, that we own
  • Caravan is easier to keep in a campsite and all the tables, toys and tents around it, while you can use your car as any other local living in the neigbourhood
  • Parking in shopping centre garages (usually 2 metres high) is impossible with a camper (and with anything containing gas bottles)
  • If you need to go shopping, and you have a camper, you need to have a bike a scrooter or need to pack things, inside your home on wheels, before you can leave
  • Usual price of a new camper in Europe starts at €35,000 ($41,000) and trailer at about €11,500 ($13,700) and the ongoing maintenance is also cheaper for a trailer
  • Used camper could start at some €7,500 ($9,000) & used trailer at €3,900 ($4,600)
  • Trailer maintenance is cheaper & easier as there’s no motor
  • Caravan usually has more windows, lower floor and you don’t have to eat breakfast while looking at a steering wheel

For me personally, the main cause was that I just love to drive in a BMW. And because there’s no camper of that brand I simply didn’t have a chance to act otherwise. I didn’t want to lower my travel experience and I admit, that this decision is purely subjective and a little against the overall pragmatism that guide my decisions.

Why the Caravan must Work Out

  • We love to drive around, to travel by car
  • We don’t like flying and it’s not super comfortable nor cheap to fly with kids
  • Kids don’t go to school yet
  • Me and my wife, we can work from any location
  • I’m always honoured to break down my life’s stereotypes

And now, our hymn — thanks to Robert

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