Looking for the perfect caravan can be a daunting task. There are so many different brands and styles available that it can be quite overwhelming. Even more so if you are looking for a caravan to fit a family of 3, 4, 5 or even 6.
Not all caravans are made for families. There are a lot around that are designed for two people – the traditional grey nomads – and although they can be great vans, they only really allow for one kid if any, as you can usually make an extra bed from the seating area. However, that’s not always practical, especially if you don’t want to be making up beds every night, or you are a family of 4 or more.
There’s plenty of vans out there, but searching through all of the brands websites and then all of their different models to find those with bunks is time consuming and annoying. So we’ve done some of the hard work for you by compiling a list of some of the brands that have bunks, and what models you can find them in.
What size caravan should I get for a family?
This sort of question is kind of like ‘how long is a piece of string?’ It doesn’t really have an answer because it depends on how big your family is, how much space you’d like to have and how you are going to use it. You also need to consider how heavy the van is going to be and if your car can tow it. Bigger vans are going to be heavier (in some cases a lot heavier) than smaller vans.
There is a large variety of caravans with bunks these days that range from small 16 foot to 23 foot (and even bigger) monsters. Before making the decision of what size you need for your family, ask yourself these questions…
What is the maximum weight my car can tow? Not only do you need to look at the towing capacity for your car, but also the Gross Combination Mass (GCM) of the vehicle. All this information should be in your owners manual. It is vitally important you don’t go over these weights for the safety and legality of your setup. If the caravan you want to get is too heavy for your car, you will need to look at a lighter (and potentially smaller) model or look at upgrading your car. If you would like more information about car and caravan weights check out what is GVM, GCM and ATM.
How many beds do I need and do I want them permanently set up? Obviously the bigger your family the more beds you’ll need. Some caravans are designed to have permanent bunks set up and others have drop down bunks that get put up during the day or extra beds on the table. If you don’t want to be making beds every night, then you’ll need to look for something that has a permanent set up with enough beds for all kids. Most of the vans we’ve chosen for this blog are permanently set up bunks.
How am I using the van and how much storage space do I need in it? Are you going for weekend trips, a few weeks at a time or are you planning on travelling the country for a year? This will determine how much storage space you need. If you’re planning on living in your van full time for a certain period, you will probably find yourself looking at bigger vans with more space, than if you are only planning on doing a few weekend or school holiday trips a year.
What sort of bathroom do we want? One of the best advantages of having a caravan over a camper trailer or tent is an internal bathroom. These vary wildly in size depending on the size of the van. If you are after a bathroom with a separate shower (and this is a deal breaker) you’ll generally need to look at bigger vans. If you’re happy to have a shower, basin and toilet all in one room (and potentially needed to clean up a bit more water when you’re finished), then you can also look at smaller vans.
Can I survive with an east/west bed? If you look at a floor plan of a caravan the drawbar is considered ‘north’. Caravans built for two generally have what is called a north/south main bed. This means that your head is towards the drawbar side of the caravan and your feet towards the rear (or vice versa), facing north/south on the floorplan.
An east/west bed has your head on one side of the van and your feet on the other, facing east/west on the floorplan. This can mean that one partner has to climb over the other if they need to get up. Some people don’t mind this (and you may be used to that if you are upgrading from a camper trailer) but for some this is a big annoyance. Not all caravans with an east/west bed are like this and we have seen some with a little walkway at the bottom so you don’t have to climb over, but keep this in mind in your search.
Family Caravans with Bunks
When you are looking for a family caravan with bunks, it can get rather annoying having to search through so many brand’s websites to find the models that are suitable for families, if they have any at all. So, we have put together a list of the best family caravans with bunks so you can get a good idea of what is around. There’s also hybrids and pop-tops and many others that can suit families, but for ease of comparison we’re sticking with full caravans, with ensuite, for this blog.
Most family vans fit 4 people with a double bunk and 5 with a triple bunk. There are some brands that have a model with a 2 double bunks, enabling you to sleep 6.
Lotus have a number of caravans with bunks, in their Off Grid and Trooper range. They range from a 16’6” all the way up to a whopping 23 foot.
The two smaller 16’6” and 18’ bunk vans from the Lotus Off Grid family both have an east/west bed and have a bathroom with a shower and toilet in one room. The extra length in the 18’ allows for a larger upright fridge rather than the under bench fridge in the 16’6”.
The 19’ Off Grid model comes in 3 different floor plans but all have options of a double or triple bunk. 2 floor plans come with an east/west bed and one with a north/south.
The 20’9” Trooper model and 21’9” & 22’ Off Grid models have a north/bed and separate shower. They come in double or triple bunks.
The 23-foot Lotus has a set of double bunks for those families with 4 kids. It has a full bathroom at the rear of the caravan and a large kitchen/dining area. To allow for fitting in the 2 double bunks, the main bed is east/west.
If you want to go spacious, their Transformer series is their expandable range with a slide out couch and bunk beds. They start at 20’9” up to 24’9”.
JB Caravans have family vans in their Dreamline, Dirt Roader, Gator and Scorpion ranges. Which one you look at will depend on the size you’re after and whether you want an on-road (Dreamline), semi-off road (Dirt Roader) or full off road van (Gator & Scorpion). The floor plans over the models are similar and vary due to the size of the van, rather than the model.
The 18 foot JB caravans comes in a double or triple bunk with a shower and toilet in one room, although the JB design has a curtain around the toilet to limit the amount of water splashed on it from the shower. It has an east/west bed but has a walkway at the bottom which allows you to get out of bed without crawling over your partner. We are looking at a Gator X in this size when we upgrade from our current camper so if anyone from JB is reading and wants to chat discounts we’d be happy to talk. 😉
Going to a bigger size of 20’ or 20’8” caravan comes allows for a north/south bed and the 20’8” also gives you a separate shower. They both come in a double or triple bunk.
The 22’ versions have a north/south bed, separate shower and a larger living area. The 23’ Scorpion is the largest of their vans and gives the most living space with also a full bathroom and north/south bed.
Crusader has a bunk version in their Excalibur, Musketeer and Lifechanger models. They don’t have a smaller version and range from 20 to 23 feet. Because of this they all have a separate shower and most are a north/south bed. The one model that does have an east/west also has a small walkway at the bottom to prevent the partner climb.
New Age Caravans
New Age have bunks in 3 of their models, Big Red, Road Owl and Gecko. The Gecko has an east/west bed that expands out over the drawer bar, which means a little bit of setting up when you arrive, but allows for a smaller 16, 18 or 19 foot van with a full ensuite with separate shower.
The Road Owl model comes in 19’ with an east/west bed and a 21’ with a north/south. Both have an ensuite with separate shower. Big Red is a 23 foot long, north/south bed, full ensuite and a large living area (which is to be expected at that length).
Sunseeker have 2 models with bunks, the Desert Storm and Wild Child. The Desert Storm range has a 19’6” with an east/west bed (with walkway at the bottom) and a 21’6” and 22’6” with a north/south bed. All come with a separate shower in the ensuite.
The Wild Child range has a 18’, 19’6” and 21’6” with east/west bed (with walkway at the bottom) and a 21’6 and 22’6” with a north/south. There is also a 22’6” with 2 double bunks. All lengths have a separate shower.
Sunseeker design their vans for off road adventures and so have some great features, but this comes with a heavy final weight so do your maths on whether your car will take it.
Jayco have bunk versions in most of their caravan series. The Starcraft (19’), Journey (19’ & 22’), All Terrain (19’ & 22’) and Expanda (20’) all have floorplans for families.
The 19 foot versions come with an east/west bed, the 22 foot move to a north/south bed and the Expanda can accommodate 6 with beds at either ends that extend out as well as a bunk over the seating area. All have a separate shower in the ensuite.
Supreme Caravans include bunk versions in their classic, classic tourer and base camp models. They range from 18 to 22 foot.
The 18 foot models don’t come with a bathroom, so if it’s a must have you’ll need to go bigger with this brand. They do have a north/south bed though.
If you go with a 19’6” you’ll gain an all-in-one bathroom with a north/south bed or can get a separate shower if you choose an east/west bed. With a 21 or 22 foot model you can get both a separate shower and a north/south bed.
Elite have a range of both on and off road vans from 18 foot up to 26 foot. The 18’ foot vans have an east/west bed and anything 20’ and over has north/south. They even do a 26’ 4” van with double bunks if you need space for 4 kids.
The Adventure Seeker series is Coromals range of family vans. Coming in a 18’6” and 19’6” with east/west bed and a 21’6” with north/south. All have an ensuite with separate shower. If you’re looking for a semi off road version, the Thrill Seeker series has the same sizes and layouts, with a few extra features of off road living, but this also makes them heavier then the Adventure series.
MDC started with camper trailers but have added caravans the last few years. They have a XT16HR Family which is a 16’ van with an east/west bed. It has a interior bathroom but the cooking is outside the van.
They also have a XT17HRTDB which has a north/south bed which expands out and a double bunk, which is actually a fold down bunk over the seating area which forms the bottom bunk. This one does have an internal kitchen and bathroom as well as an external kitchen. There would be a bit of setting up with this model as you need to extend the main bed and make the kids beds too.
Retreat have a bunk versions in all their models and they range from a 16’9” in the Fraser and Whitsunday range all the way up to 26’ with 2 double bunks. The Daydream range goes from a 19’4” up to 22’6”.
The smaller 16’9” vans have east/west beds and all-in-one bathroom, with the 19’4” getting a separate shower. The vans 19’9” and bigger move up to a north/south bed and still have a separate shower.
Willow has bunk caravans in 3 of its series. The Boab series has an 18’10” east/west bed and a 20’ north/south bed. Both have a separate shower.
The Illawarra series comes in a 21’10” north/south bed although one side looks to be against the side wall. It also has a separate shower. The Conifer series has a 18’4” east/west bed and 19’6” north/south bed, both with separate shower.
Black Series Campers & Caravans
Another company that started with camper trailers and has moved into caravans as well is Black Series. They now have 4 caravans, but only 1 with bunks. The HQ17 (17’) has a north/south bed at one end and bunks on the other. It has an all-in-one bathroom and a very small kitchenette. They are designed for most of the cooking to be done on an outside kitchen.
Whether you’re looking to get away with 1, 2, 3 or even 4 or more kids, the right caravan will be out there. Choosing what one it is will depend on how big you want it, what you are going to use it for and how much your car can tow. Hopefully this list has given you a good place to start looking for that perfect family caravan.