In June we attended the 2014 Queensland Caravan, Camping and Touring Holiday Show in Brisbane. We loved the concentration of all things caravanning, camping and touring, but the experience was both exhausting and exciting. Being from North Queensland, it was the first capital city show we had been to and I don’t think it will be our last.
What we liked most was the opportunity to look at dozens of different caravan manufacturers’ products, often within metres of each other - and that’s exactly what we spent two full days doing. At home there are only a handful of dealers in Townsville, an hour’s drive from our home town of Ayr. Even Brisbane-based buyers would have to traipse all over the south-east corner to look at what was on hand at the show.
I reckon that is the single biggest attraction for anyone even thinking about buying a caravan, motorhome or camper trailer. And you don’t have to be buying new. Check out the latest products at the shows to get ideas on size, layouts, colours, facilities and tricky ideas so that you’ll know what you want in your pre-loved RV.
Making the most of your time is a must. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from my single, big show experience.
1. Take a backpack for the brochures you’re bound to collect. The backpack is also handy for a few snacks and a bottle of water which can save you time standing in line at the food outlets.
2. It’s essential to minimise down-time, so if there’s something in particular you want to see, do your research on the show’s website beforehand and hit the ground running.
3. Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
4. If possible, time your visits to the show on week days to avoid the weekend crowds. Be there when the gates open.
5. Information overload can be a problem as you flit from van to van. Only collect brochures on the RVs that really interest you and scribble notes as you go.
6. If you’re a serious buyer, do your homework well beforehand and narrow your choice to four or five manufacturers and models. Don’t forget your list of essential features and specifications, that way you can concentrate on the vans that suit you and avoid wasting time on the unsuitable products.
7. If you plan to buy an RV in the next few years start visiting the shows now. One couple told us they had done most of their homework the previous year and this year they had their cheque book with them. A quick look at their preferred caravan to confirm their memories and they struck a deal with the salesman at a very good price.
8. Nearly all manufacturers offered special show prices. If you aren’t quite ready to buy yet, jot down the show price of your preferred van for future negotiations.
9. If you’re feeling a little weary from being on your feet all day, schedule in a few of the free seminars. Most are interesting (especially if you’re new to the RV game) and you get to sit and relax in a quiet, comfortable spot for the hour or so the seminar will take.
Limited time meant we missed out on so many interesting exhibits this year, so we’re already planning a more orderly approach to next year’s show. I’m sure regular show-goers will be able to add a few more tips to help us get the most from the show.