Tips and Tricks

Motorhome or caravan: which one to use on your Northern Territory camping trip?

Australia’s Northern Territory. A vast outback desert landscape home to the chasm of Kings Canyon in the south, the culture-rich Tiwi Islands in the north and the iconic Ayers Rock at the heart of the state. If you thrive on adventure and absolutely love the great outdoors, the Northern Territory is the perfect place for you.  From full day fishing charters and scenic camel rides in the desert, to exciting crocodile cruises and waterhole swimming trips, Australia’s outback region has something that will make any camping trip one to remember.

It’s clear that when it comes to road trips and camping Northern Territory should be at the top of your destinations list. However, there is one question that polarise Aussie travellers. A debate so strong it has created a divide among seasoned campers and breeds confusion in those heeding the call of the outdoors for the first time.

The Olgas, NT. (image via

You’ve got your Northern Territory camping trip planned to a T except in one aspect: Should you bring a motorhome with you on the camping trip? Or a caravan? Which vehicle is superior when it comes to road tripping the great Australian outback?

We are peacekeepers here at Campstay so hold your horses, motorhome fans and caravan owners. To hopefully quell the arguments set forth by both sides, we veer away from the forums and blog comments to focus on aspects that matter most when you’re deciding whether to drive a motorhome or tow a caravan on your upcoming camping trip.

Manoeuvrability and Mobility

Mobility and manoeuvrability is where motorhomes and caravans differ the most. So before you decide which one to rent or buy for your upcoming NT camping trip, it may be a good idea to ask yourself, how do you see yourself spending your holiday? Do you plan to drive around local attractions before or after you’ve camped, or do you plan to park, set up camp, and stay put?


Using a caravan involves spending time and effort latching and unlatching the van from your car every time you arrive at camp sites. It takes longer to set up and pack up your vehicle, which can be a bit of a challenge if you’re pressed for time. And – don’t attempt to deny this, caravan owners – it’s difficult to park your car when you’re towing a 5-metre (17 feet) caravan behind.

So think about your drive up to the campsite. Do you have young children and may need to make frequent stops? If so, then the factors above can cause difficulties especially if you’re using a caravan for the first time. However, if you’re planning to arrive at the camp site and stay put for several days, then this vehicle is an ideal choice.

Don’t forget though that you can still go exploring with your car when you unhitch the caravan from it. In fact, many travellers consider this as the biggest selling point of caravans because they can get to more remote locations with their smaller, personal vehicle. Being able to unhitch the van after you’ve arrived at the campsite is also convenient when you need to make a quick run back to the local store for supplies.


A motorhome on the other hand allows you to move from one place to another and stay at various places for shorter periods of time. For example, you could spend a morning jumping into waterfalls at Litchfield National park, gather everyone back into the motorhome to travel for a little over two hours to Kakadu National Park, and spend the rest of the day exploring ancient rock art and go birdwatching before tucking in for the night.

In addition, motorhomes don’t require as much setting up as a caravan. This makes them ideal choices for people with disabilities or have limited mobility. There’s no need to get out and disconnect the van from the car. All you have to do is drive to your destination, park at a campsite, and you’re done.


Rental Or Purchase Cost And Other Expenses

Right off the bat we’ll tell you that caravans are cheaper. Yes, motorhome enthusiasts, you read that right. Caravans – whether you’re renting or buying one – is the more affordable option. Caravans are also cheaper to insure, so if you’ve got a limited budget for this road trip, caravan rentals may be the right choice for you.

Now this may seem as an unfair statement, especially when we’re only looking at the price difference. A motorhome is a towing vehicle and a holiday home combined, and provide on-site conveniences that caravans do not. This more than makes up for the price difference.

Imagine not having to worry about building a campfire because you can cook food inside your motorhome. You don’t have to get confused with pitching a tent because there are comfortable beds available inside the vehicle. This means you have more time to enjoy your stay in the best holiday parks Northern Territory has to offer.

Storage And Passenger Count

The number of passengers that will use the vehicle at one time is another factor to consider when you’re choosing between a caravan or a motorhome. Motorhomes are ideal for small groups, couples and even single travellers because there’s no need to unlatch the van from your vehicle when you make a stop.

On the other hand, caravans are easier to store than a motorhome. Because caravans are much smaller than motorhomes, you can easily park one inside your garage or park it outside and secure a tarp over it, to protect the van from the elements.

Summing It Up

Choosing a motorhome or caravan for your camping trip to the Northern Territory is not a matter of determining which vehicle is superior. Both have their pros and cons, and your final decision should base on your travelling style, needs and budget.


Do you need a little help planning your next holiday? Campstay can help you find, compare and book holiday parks and campgrounds. Check out our website here, or download our android / itunes app. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or join our group – Holiday Park recommendations Australia.

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