Motorhome travel has never been easier. With so many caravan sites, free campsites, and holiday parks scattered all over the country, many people are trading in their car road trips for the luxury of self-contained motorhome facilities and holiday parks, as they explore Australia.
Whether you’re planning on staying exclusively in holiday parks, or going off the grid into nature free camping, every road trip around Australia needs at least a few days in a caravan park. If you choose right, they can be the perfect place to recharge your batteries, make use of the on-site laundry, fill up your water tanks, and make use of the dump point.
To get the full enjoyment of a caravan park, it pays to know how to choose the best one, as well as how to set your motorhome up properly when you arrive. That is why we have created this guide of our top tips for setting up your motorhome in a caravan park.
A bit of time spent setting up your motorhome when you first arrive will make your time there far more relaxing. Once you have had some practice, you will be a seasoned pro in no time.
In this guide we cover:
A good caravan park should be a convenient spot for you to get around and visit other attractions in the area. That being said, it is also good to consider your travel style. Do you want to be in the central hub so you can set up your campsite and be within walking distance of the supermarket/town? Or would you prefer to be on the outskirts a little closer to nature and to pack up your site and drive into town?
Most campsites will have information about accessibility issues such as unsealed roads or steep hills. Be sure to check these before you arrive so you can be sure your vehicle is capable of driving and parking there. If you are someone who has accessibility requirements, or who may struggle walking at night on certain terrains, it may be worth inquiring with the holiday park or checking reviews to ensure you can find a suitable park.
Campsites and holiday parks will vary in the amenities on offer, and some may be more important to you than others. If you’re travelling with kids, try to pick a caravan park with a playground and sites that specify they are child-friendly. If you’re bringing your pet, always choose a caravan park that is pet-friendly (not all of them are especially in peak travel periods).
Caravan parks differ in price from location to location but also within an area. Always be conscious of the park’s cost and book within your means. Be mindful when travelling during peak seasons that popular spots can book up well in advance, so it may pay to think ahead.
While it's not a hard and fast rule, it can be helpful to check a potential caravan park’s ratings and reviews online. While one bad review shouldn’t be the deciding factor of your stay, it can be good to hear from people’s past experiences at the caravan park to get a picture of travellers' experiences overall.
Most caravan parks will give the simple choice between powered and unpowered sites. However, if you are booking ahead, and/or there is wide availability, they may give you the choice of where you would like to be in the park. On such occasions, there are a few things to consider as you decide which motorhome site will be best for you.
In winter, or in wet conditions, a hard surface like concrete is preferred over grass to avoid getting stuck in muddy terrain. In these circumstances, it can be good to ask how hard the surface of the site is.
If you have a solar panel, try to pick a site that will get lots of sun and isn’t sheltered by trees (solar panels can be a great modification and refurbishment if you’re looking for a sustainable power option and want to take advantage of unpowered sites).
Want to save the hassle of setting up blocks under your wheels to sleep flat? The more even the site is, the less you have to worry about putting blocks under your wheels. If you want to pull out your awning and create a little sheltered area to eat outside, or just want a little privacy, consider picking a site with trees or a hedge surrounding it to block the wind and foot traffic.
Try to pick a site that’s close enough to the bathroom and kitchen for ease of use, but not too close that you have other campers walking past all the time. If you have kids, try to pick a site near the playground, or if you want to enjoy some quiet time, opt for a site away from the playground.
When you first arrive at a caravan park the first thing you should do is find the reception to check-in. More often than not, this will be near the caravan park entrance. Once you talk with an employee of the grounds, they will usually explain where everything is and give you a map outlining all the key features of the holiday park. If you are planning to arrive after hours, ring the caravan park in advance to organise your site number and any other details.
In many campsites, you may need to reverse into your designated spot. Driving a motorhome for the first time, reversing can be a whole new experience.
A few things to remember:
To make sure you get a good night’s sleep it's important to get your caravan/motorhome level. An easy way to check if your motorhome is level, put something circular on a surface inside and see if it rolls. If you need to level your motorhome, consider putting a block under your wheels.
Once your motorhome is parked and level, it’s time to connect to shore power. A shore power station can power your motorhome directly while charging your 12V battery at the same time. This will allow you to use daily appliances such as air-con, cooking equipment etc.
Your motorhome site should have a shore power unit located in a power box in the corner of the site. Find the power cord plugin on the side of your motorhome, and connect it to the unit with the extension cord in your motorhome. Check that the shore power unit is turned off before plugging in, to avoid overloading. Once the cord is connected, you can then turn the unit on.
Motorhome grey water storage is designed to be emptied regularly. If you’re staying put in a caravan park, it's a good idea to set up the greywater hose. This will mean that you can empty freely without worrying about it overflowing onto the campsite. Once you have located the hose, place it in the drain (usually located near the water and power), and connect it to the tank so that it can drain freely.
On, or near your caravan site, there will be a freshwater tap to refill your water tanks.
Find your motorhome’s freshwater hose (usually located in an external storage area) and connect it to the tap. Once the tap is connected, place the hose into your freshwater tank and turn the tap on. Once your tanks are full, it is courteous to disconnect and pack away your hose. These taps are usually shared by multiple sites so packing away will give the chance for others to fill their tanks. If you need to access the water tank for any reason, you can open the small compartment door on the side of your vehicle.
One benefit of travelling in a motorhome is that you will always have the convenience of your own bathroom wherever you go. This is a great feature when staying in a caravan park, as it saves you any long walks to the bathroom in the middle of the night. That being said, these tanks need to be emptied frequently. Before you hit the road, remember to empty your black tanks or toilet cassette into the dump point at the caravan park.
Each caravan park offers a unique experience, but that’s part of the fun. Once you’ve set up a few times, the process will become second nature. If you're looking for more travel tips and ideas of all the fun things to do in Australia on a road trip, then check out our travel guides and download the THL Roadtrip app to get planning.
If you’re still searching or looking to upgrade to the perfect motorhome for your adventures, check out the KEA website to see the range of motorhomes for sale including KEA ex-rental campervans for sale.
Have more questions? Feel free to stop by a branch or certified dealership to chat with one of our RV campervan sales teams. They have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to campervans, and will happily answer any questions you may have regarding RV buying tips, RV maintenance, price of campervans. They can also give you a walkthrough of the motorhomes for sale and the different campervan conversions on-site.