I must credit this photo to my beloved son, Tan Chong Hee at the age of 6, this photo was amazingly capture by him with hand phone.
Finally one of my dreams come truth, the caravan tour. This is my first time driving caravan in New Zealand. I have brought my family of four along to travel with caravan for more than 800km in 7 days. It gave me a chance to fully experience the caravan and have the campervan life. Keep my introduction short, this post will give you an idea how’s the caravan life and concern you need to take attention if you wish to buy a caravan, especially in Malaysia. It is hard to imagine how it will be until you really experience it.
Caravan interior facility: https://vimeo.com/234312175
Before going into the detail, let me briefly introduce the caravan that I have rented during our holiday. This is a 4 berth caravan for 4 adults or 2 adults and 2 children. (There is a different in New Zealand of vehicle for 4 adults or 2 adults & 2 children and 4 adults only vehicle. 4 adults meaning that the vehicle cannot equip with baby booster or child car seat and children below 8 are not allow to sit in the vehicle). This Mercedes caravan equip with self-contained toilet, fridge, stove, kitchen basin, microwave, oven, TV, sofa, heater, water heater, 240v power supply and large storage space. It is very convenient to have self-contained vehicle on board, especially driving in New Zealand where you can use it whenever you need it. The traveling journey in the highway does not have a public toilet as convenient as in Germany or in Malaysia. Another best part of this vehicle is the fridge. The fridge also has a freezer that allows you to store your ice-cream and raw material. My favourite of this vehicle is the sofa at the back. Some of the caravan does not have the sofa at the back. The sofa at the back has 3 sides of window allows me to enjoy my wine with the panoramic view of New Zealand scenery. I have not enjoyed enough as most of the time I was on the driver seat.
Self contained certified vehicle sticker
It looks good that you have a mobile home, mobile toilet with you whenever you go but there are several things to concern before you make your decision to purchase the caravan, especially in Malaysia.
Safety is the main concern if you wish to camp your caravan by the road side of Malaysia. You have to make sure that it is secure enough to park your caravan. Part of the caravan storage area from outside of the vehicle is just clip and no key lock. Things can be gone missing if there is no key lock for the compartment that can be access from outside.
The caravan that we rented has no air conditioning but only heater. At 4 seasons countries the summer atmosphere is between 20 to30 degree Celsius where else Malaysia is hot and humid, which is 30 to 35 degree Celsius. Air conditioning definitely is must at all time, instead of heater. Therefore buying a caravan in Malaysia, air conditioning is a necessity! If the vehicle is equip with air conditioning; then there comes another concern which is the power consumption. Everyone knows that energy consumption is high if we switch on the air conditioning and the caravan will depends on the battery pack after the engine has been switched off; unless for luxury caravan that has a built-in power generator.
For countries that are popular with caravan, it is much easier to lookout for Caravan Park to camp your vehicle. There are several of choices such as: free campsite, paid campsite or luxury paid campsite. Those paid campsite provides the charger to charge your caravan that allows you to use some of the facility inside your caravan, we will discuss that more detail later. Where can we get the power supply from the public in Malaysia? The alternator will charge your battery while you are travelling. But the battery will only be fully charge after 2~3 hours of engine run. Other than air conditioning, TV and refrigerator are power consuming item needs to be considered.
LPG gas and Power supply plug
Question, how many litres of water do you use to bath? Take a guess? There are only 100 litres of fresh water in the tank and 100 litres of waste water tank. We experienced that a family of 4 baths with minimum water usage, and it just empty up the 100L water tank. Our holiday period atmospheric temperature is between 8 and 17 degree Celsius, the environment condition allows us to bath once every 2 days but can you do it in Malaysia? The next possible solution to keep you fresh is “outsourcing”, which means bath at public toilet. Before your caravan journey starts you have to do a lot of survey to search for the caravan campsite or the public toilet with shower. We did try to use the public toilet for bathing during our trip in New Zealand, but it takes us to travel for an hour to the destination. 1 more concern to be consider, where can I fill up my 100 litres of fresh water tank? 2 days 1 night trip might allow you to use up the 100L tank of fresh water and go back home, but what if you are traveling more than 2 days? One of the ideas is to top up at petrol station or highway R&R. I have not tried to fill up 100L water tank at petrol station before; anyone has the experience may share with me.
Fresh water supply
This should not be a huge problem to own a caravan in Malaysia. You can discharge your waste water (grey water) at any drain or public toilet. Grey water is the waste from bath and kitchen sink. But for black water (toilet waste) it is advisable to dispose at any public toilet in Malaysia and clean it up with pipe water. Make sure you have the toilet chemical to keep hygiene. It is advisable to dispose the toilet waste every 2-3 days for hygiene purpose. In foreign country you are not allow to dispose your waste in the toilet, they have a proper dump site for you to dispose it. Without a proper waste management, you will be “awarded” with tickets.
LPG means liquefied petroleum gas which is also the household gas that use for cooking. This energy is widely used in caravan. This is a very important energy source that supporting 50% of the caravan facility while the caravan engine is off. Refrigerator, heater, water heater, oven and stove are connecting to the LPG cylinder. There are 2 LPG cylinders in the caravan, which 1 in use and 1 spare tank. The LPG cylinder size is smaller compare to household LPG tank which make it uncommon in Malaysia. Alternatively, you can source for the LPG vendor to insert the liquid petroleum gas into the cylinder. This small size LPG cylinder is common in any petrol station or some of the grocery shops in New Zealand.
Internal 240V incoming power supply:
There is no converter for my rented caravan. Some of the luxury caravan has a 12V converter that converting 12V power supply to 240V/110V AC power supply, where you can use the power supply to charge your camera batteries and laptops. Therefore we only can use the 240V plug whenever the caravan is charging. Without the 240V power supply, microwave oven and the 3 pin plug will not be functioning.
Incoming 240V inside the Caravan
The battery capacity is very important information if you are purchasing a caravan for your own. I have insufficient information about the battery pack for the caravan. The larger the battery capacity of your vehicle, the more benefit you have. While you are charging your vehicle via 240V incoming power supply, you will see the meter is showing 13.8V to 14V. After unplug you will see the meter is showing 12.8V~13.2V. The battery will be in critical stage when the meter is showing 12.2V. With 12.2V all the heating devices will not be working. And if it is below 12V, the battery is flat, you can’t even spark to start your stove for cooking, and not even you can flash your toilet bowl.
Battery meter after charged and power supply was unplug
I am a caravan lover, and I can't describe how much I love to own a caravan. But after a caravan adventure trip experience in New Zealand, it gives me the chance to further understanding and consideration in order to purchase a caravan in Malaysia. Good luck to those who are wishing to purchase a caravan.