8 campervans perfect for family road trips
With a fresh focus on domestic travel – and a new taste for isolation on top of that – 2020 surprisingly made campervanning a more wonderful prospect than ever.
It seems all of Australia has hit the road, with even the most dyed-in-the-wool overseas jaunters finding their bliss in local road tripping instead. Of course, caravanning and camping was already the most popular type of holiday with Australians, with the Caravan Industry Association of Australia reporting an incredible 60 million caravan/camping visitor nights clocked up in 2019 in Australia; then in 2020, a new boom in camper sales promised more interest in the lifestyle than ever before.
Thanks to COVID-19, more families are reportedly showing interest in ‘bells and whistles’ RVs that provide cooking, bathroom and comfortable all-round facilities that reduce the need to rely on shared facilities in holiday parks. This has also introduced a whole new demographic to campervanning: those who have lost the taste for hotels and motels, preferring instead to purchase their own accommodation to hit the road in.
Buying the right campervan is key to defining your family’s holiday flavour for years to come. Are you keen to go off-road, or would you prefer a five-star hotel on wheels? Can the kids be trusted to share a double bed area without too much fuss, or are they more suited to a configuration offering single beds? Here, we have fabulous options that run the gamut from compact fun to luxury touring (and even something amazing for larger families).
2021 VW California 6.1 Beach
A compact van that can sleep up to four
Not everyone believes bigger is better – and there is plenty of merit in a campervan that is small enough to park in the centre of town, in a regular parking space.
Join the waiting list if you’re interested in the fully customisable five- to seven-seater, which can sleep up to four comfortably thanks to the classic VW pop-up loft space that features a sprung bed base and decent mattress. The California has grown up since the old Combi van days, with stylish window shades in cockpit and lounge areas, programmable parking heater, a rather cool little hatch between the internal space and the upper loft, and some creature comforts such as very adjustable seats, and reading lights. It does everything you need in a great little package.
A four-berther with single-bed option
The name Winnebago may be synonymous with American RV touring, but the Iluka model has long been a very popular mainstay here in Australia. Moreover, the Aussie version feels local all over, from the Iveco Daily cab chassis and eight-speed gearbox to the name itself – called ‘Iluka’ after the beautiful coastal town in NSW’s Clarence Valley.
The 2021 model is offered as a new factory build so you can have the Iluka made to order with different dinette configurations and, most importantly, single bed layout in the main cab bedroom if you would prefer – this is a good option for younger kids who may not suit the upper over-cockpit bed area. Not everyone likes Winnebago’s dedication to the fixed bed in the main cabin, but this option makes it absolutely worth it. A separate shower and toilet also accommodate families nicely.
Suncamper Santa Cruz
A five-star hotel on wheels
If you have a family member baulking at the idea of leaving behind the coffee machine and other luxuries of home, the Santa Cruz may convert them to life on the road forever.
Between the mood lighting in the bedroom and bathroom, and sensor lighting illuminating your way in the evening, and the ensuite subway-tiled bathroom complete with dual shower – including a waterfall shower head, swivel toilet and vanity, and backlit mirror – the Santa Cruz may out-luxe your own home anyway.
You have a choice of kitchens: the internal kitchen has a tiled splashback, integrated pop-up coffee machine, dishwasher, fan-forced oven, microwave, huge pantry and an impressive cooktop (three gas burners, one electric); or the external kitchen for all your alfresco cooking needs, including an outdoor cooktop, sink and fridge, push-button awning, and external TV and speaker system. At night, view the stars out the electric skylight from your queen-sized bed or the additional double.
SLRV Commander 8×8
A two-storey, eight-person off-roader
It’s as if the Aussie family behind SLRV expedition vehicles turn all their specs up to ‘maximum’ – we suspect they used to play with Tonka trucks when they were kids. Now, their creations well surpass ‘Tonka’ grade, with the SLRV Commander 4×4 already combining luxury inside with expedition-level MAN truck toughness on the outside.
And then, they made the 8×8. Built upon a specially engineered four-point MAN truck torsion-free chassis, this single- or double-storey behemoth can navigate extreme conditions as the body and chassis can ‘twist’ independently, while air-suspended seats cushion passengers comfortably. However, it’s the double-storey version we really want to talk about, with the inside of this monster resembling a stylish apartment, including options for a leather lounge, induction cooktop, electric lift-up bed over the ‘club lounge’ area, and most fabulously, six beds up in the second storey. Yes, really.
Paradise Motorhomes Spark Series – from $178,000
For a different kind of accessibility, Paradise Motorhomes’ lower-priced series (from $178,000) is great for value-seekers or first-time buyers. The Spark series comes in two or four berths and still offers high-end features like an island bed, convection microwave, huge wardrobes and great storage for its size. The kitchen is a winner, with a stainless steel sink, burner cooktop, pantry and fridge.
Avida Motorhomes Esperance – $211,285
There’s fantastic news for families needing support for mobility or wheelchair access, with Avida Motorhomes now adding to its Esperance models the only wheelchair-friendly motorhome available in Australia (the Esperance C7994 WSL, $211,285).
The rear-fitted electric wheelchair lift, spacious bathroom and specially designed bedroom suddenly puts campervanning on the table for many families who wouldn’t have considered it before.
Jayco Optimum Motorhome – $231,990
Jayco Optimum Motorhome was the world’s first voice-activated RV, utilising Amazon Alexa to control lighting and offer virtual assistance, while you can Bluetooth your smartphone to control your electric awning, plus a built-in roof-mounted Wi-Fi extender keeps you connected no matter where you roam. You also have 360-degree cameras installed, which Jayco claims as a world-first in a production vehicle, so there are no blind spots – so helpful in a crowded holiday park when you’re parking for the night.
Apollo X-Terrain – hire
If you’re looking to rent a bells-and-whistles camper vehicle, Apollo’s newest hire is the X-Terrain, a cleverly outfitted Mercedes- Benz 4WD that pops up not one but two tents atop its roof (great for bigger kids who’d like their own tent space). From all the way up there, it creates quite a room with a view. It also features an impressively sturdy 270-degree awning around the back and side of the vehicle, rather in the style of a market umbrella, for all-weather comfort as it fully covers the pull-out kitchen at the back. The ute itself is built for comfort, perfect for families of four wanting to have an off-road Aussie adventure.
Browse our selection of great family accommodation options around the world