Discover which touring caravan layout works best for you

Choosing the right caravan layout for your needs is a crucial part of buying a tourer.
First-time buyers often make the wrong choices, prioritising cool looks or features, or underestimating the space they require. Only later, after a few trips, do they realise that the floorplan doesn’t quite suit their needs and is cramping their lifestyle.

Often, they’re not big issues. The caravanner just realises another layout may work slightly better, so they plan to update their tourer.

two-berth caravan interior

We’ve broken down the caravan layout choices into the four main sections: lounging and dining, cooking, sleeping, washing, oh, and we’ve also included a short section on ‘other considerations’.

In this caravan layout guide, each part reveals the main options you can choose from.
Caravanners should bear in mind that compromises often need to be made, as it’s almost impossible to have lots of living space in every part of the tourer. I’d argue that only couples who tour in four-berth caravans can have a tourer perfectly suited to their requirements.

Lounging and dining in a caravan

Many British-built tourers feature parallel sofas with a centre console at the front – for storage and occasional dining areas – or U-shaped front lounges with no cabinet.

The cabinet design is ideal for couples who don’t need the extra seating areas, and can dine at the pull-out table top, without the hassle of erecting the fold-up table. However, families, may appreciate the extra seating a U-shaped lounge offers.

caaravan lounge

One of the nicest things about couples’ caravanning, is that they each have a sofa to recline on, feet up. This is great for reading, relaxing, or, and watching TV. If this is your plan, ensure the sofas are long enough to accommodate you in comfort.

As a family of four, when the kids were smaller, we liked to make up the front bed, then use it as a vast sofa, and all snuggle up on it with cushions and throws to watch a movie. It doesn’t get more ‘hygge’ than that!

Buccaneer Bermuda interior - l-shaped lounge

‘L-shaped’ lounges have become popular in luxury caravans and some two berths. This design delivers lots of legroom, which might suit six-foot-plus caravanners. A number of Coachman Lusso and Elddis Buccaneer tourers have embraced this floorplan.

German caravan interior

A few British vans and many European ones feature C-shaped or G-shaped lounges with tables, which can be more like the booths you find in restaurants. This design feature is one that reflects a popular European preference for eating and living outside their caravans as much as possible, when in the warmer climes of southern Europe.

caravan interior for kids

Some larger caravans offer two lounges, one at each end of the caravan. This layout suits families with older children, who want their own privacy and space. Ideally, the spaces can be separated by a solid or concertina door, to minimise any noise.

An alternative to this is a kid’s area at the rear of the van, which typically includes the washroom, bunk beds and a small lounge/diner area. Having their own space keeps kids (and therefore adults) happy!

Bailey caravan interior

caravan interior with pop up dining table


Most caravans combine lounging and dining with space for a pop-up table between the two sofas. The table is usually stored in a cupboard or under the double bed.

If you are an XL-sized caravanner like me, you should consider space and legroom, to make sure you can accommodate four or more people around the table comfortably. Usually, the centre console can be used as extra surface space for condiments, bottles , and dishes of food that aren’t being used.

caravan interior with dinette

Side-diners/side dinette are popular in family vans. Often, they’re positioned opposite the kitchen and appear to have reasonable space for four people to dine.

In reality, once your kids reach school age, dinettes can be a bit limited, especially as there is usually a portion of inner wheel arch, or some pipe-concealing trim, protruding into the diner’s leg space.

In my experience, unless your kids are small, many dinettes are really only sensible for two people. That said, the extra table space is handy when cooking.

u-shaped caravan dining area

A small number of UK vans do have a larger style of side-diner with ‘wrap-around’ seating, while the diminutive Elddis Xplore 304 has a great side-diner space for two to dine in comfort.

In general, smaller caravans tend to have smarter solutions to make the most of the limited space on offer.

caravan kitchen area

Mastering the Art of Caravan Kitchens: A Key Component of Your Ideal Layout

You should decide how important cooking in the caravan is to you, as this will dictate how much space you need in the kitchen area. Are you a budding Nigella or Jamie, who requires lots of space for preparation, or do you prefer to take prepared meals for the weekend that you can just warm up?

We do a mix of both, but also tend to cook outside on the barbecue as much as possible.
Apart from some two-berth vans, where the kitchen is against the back wall, many popular caravan layouts have kitchens in the middle.

caravan layout - kitchen area

Things to think about in the kitchen department, include:

  • Is there enough space for people to get safely past you when you’re cooking?
  • How much worktop space do you need?
  • Is there any work surface or table/diner behind you?
  • How many burners does the hob have?
  • Is the fridge big enough?
  • Is there plenty storage in cupboards and lockers?
  • How high up is the microwave?
  • Is there an extractor fan fitted?
  • Or a window directly behind the hob?
  • Are there enough power points?

Bailey Pamplona interior

In my experience, you need all the prep space you can muster, so fold-up worktop extensions and worktop sink covers are both useful. My advice is to do all your prep, then cook. There’s rarely enough space to do both at the same time.

island bed in a caravan

Decoding the Best Bed Options for Your Caravan Layout

The bedroom department is where caravans offer the most choice.
For starters, do you want a fixed bed or a make-up bed? Are you happy to construct your double bed each evening?

I’m too lazy for that, though, when we had the Adria Thames, we left the front make-up double bed in place all day, as we were in a warmer location and living outside.

Caravan lounge before making up the bed

caravan lounge with the bed made up

Choosing a make-up double-bed over a fixed-double bed, does free up a lot of space for larger washrooms, kitchens, and side-diners, so, if you don’t mind the extra effort, they can be a great choice. Just work out where you can store the bulky bedding conveniently.

If, like me, you prefer the convenience of a fixed bed (and all that lovely storage underneath), you have a lot of options to choose from.

caravan island bed

The first is, do you want an island bed (where you can walk around three sides) or a French bed, tucked-up against three walls, where both occupants access it from one side?

The latter takes up less space, but you have to climb over your sleeping partner to exit the bed when nature calls! Again, it’s convenience versus van space, and only you can make that call.

Many island beds which come off a sidewall, feature an extending/retracting bed base, which allows you to have a wider walkway through to the rear washroom during the day.

French bed in a caravan

French beds tend to be situated next to the washroom towards the rear of the caravan, while island beds typically protrude from the side wall or back wall, and can be paired with a rear washroom or mid-washroom.

Most French beds have a section of the mattress cut off to allow easier access past them. I’ve never had an issue with it, but check that you are comfortable with this design feature.

caravan en suite

The ‘en-suite’ washroom crosses the middle of the van, so there’s one door into it from the front, and another door or doors connecting it to the rear bedroom. My kids are very noisy sleepers, so I like the idea of solid bedroom door(s). The other benefit of this design is that front-bed occupants, don’t need to go through your bedroom to access the loo.

In some tourers, the en-suite arrangement, features a shower in the corner of the bedroom.

single beds in a caravan

In recent years, twin-single beds sleeping areas have become a more popular option in caravan design. As we get older and a good night’s sleep becomes a more valuable commodity, many couples make the choice to sleep separately.

All the major manufacturers offer twin-single bed options, usually along with a rear-end washroom, and the major benefit is that you won’t disturb your partner if you have to get up in the night.

pic 20

caravan layout

Kids’ bed choices depend very much on the size of your sprogs. When ours were younger, we’d pop them both in sleeping bags on the make-up front double. As they got bigger, they went into bunks, but they soon outgrew those, so they then used the front sofas as single beds. As the boy passed six-foot, we had to create a bed extension, using cushions to support his feet, before chucking him into a pup tent!

bunk beds in a caravan

Bunks are great until the kids reach the age of 10-12. You have two options: fixed bunks and make-up bunks. The latter is often found over a side diner and a bit of a pain to erect, plus you have to store the mattresses. In general, only large families who need five or six berths are likely to use these fold-up beds.

Finally, always take a tape measure with you to check frame/mattress sizes. I favour the mid-washroom layout, as it creates a double-barrier from the front of the van where kids or guests might be sleeping. However, many of the accompanying beds are only 5’10” long, and I’m 6’2”!

caravan layout en suite layout

Exploring Optimal Washroom and Toilet Layouts for Your Caravan

There are two main factors to consider regarding the washing and loo layout in your caravan: where the facilities are positioned, and how they are delivered.

You typically have three choices when it comes to the delivery of washroom facilities:

  • An all-in-one washroom, where the loo, basin, and shower are all in one space.
  • A very compact space containing the three facilities (basically a shower-room space with a loo and basin in it!). As it saves a lot of space, this can be an effective choice if you are happy to use the site facilities, and just need the loo for night-time convenience.
  • Two separate rooms, one containing the shower and the other with the toilet and basin.
    Also, a few modern caravans feature an en-suite arrangement, with the shower cubicle in the corner of the bedroom.

caravan washroom


caravan washroom compact

caravan en suitecaravan layout interior

The second factor is the position of the washroom and loo. As always, the best layout is a very personal choice, with each option having its own merits: the rear washroom is well away from the living and cooking areas, while a mid-washroom separates the bedroom from the front make-up bed(s).

Some larger caravans have the toilet and basin in a room positioned centrally, while the separate shower room is on the other side of the caravan corridor.

caravan toilet

While most washrooms are compact, Thetford and Dometic caravan toilets feature a swivel seat so that they can be adjusted to ensure sufficient leg-room.
Larger families may find that separate loo and shower rooms can speed up the whole morning ‘ablutions’ process, as they can be used at the same time.


caravan cupboard storage

caravan storage cupboard

Caravan cupboard

Key Factors That Take Your Caravan Layout from Good to Exceptional

The four sections above are the obvious layout considerations, but there are other important factors to think about.

Storage space is perhaps the most important of these and shouldn’t be underestimated. Always check that you have enough payload space in top lockers, drawers, wardrobes, under sofas and beds, and in externally-accessed lockers, like the front gas locker.

In recent years, eight-foot wide caravans have grown massively in popularity. The extra few inches of internal space makes a surprising difference to the accommodation, creating the sense of being in an apartment rather than a caravan.

caravan lounge

Dog lovers should also factor in space for their beloved pets, remembering you’ll need space for a dog bed and bowls.

Of course, using an awning makes a huge difference to your caravan layout choices, as they can double the amount of living and storage space available.

Awnings can be real game changers, especially if you add a bedroom annexe. With an awning, warm-weather caravanners may never need to use the caravan lounge.
European caravans, like those from Hymer and Dethleffs

caravan interior

Concluding Thoughts: Navigating Choices for Your Ideal Caravan Layout and Embracing the Adventure with Raymond James Caravans

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing your ideal caravan layout. Just be mindful that you can rarely have it all, compromises will have to be made, and there’s a good chance you won’t get it right first time.

Safe to say, practicalities will inevitably trump luxuries in the long term, so, while ‌ mood lighting is lovely, it’s more important that your bed is long enough! Have a good think about your priorities, and how you’ll use the caravan. Make a list of essentials and ‘nice-to-haves’ and you can start shortlisting your perfect layout from there.

In summary, finding the perfect caravan layout can seem overwhelming, given the wealth of options available. This guide aims to help you navigate these choices, highlighting the importance of prioritising your specific needs.

However, nothing beats a personal consultation with experts. For that reason, we highly recommend a visit to Raymond James Caravans. Their friendly, experienced team understands the intricacies of caravan layouts and are ready to help you in making the best decision for your lifestyle.

So, why not make your caravan adventure even more exciting and memorable? Visit Raymond James Caravans today, and let them guide you towards your ideal caravan layout.

The author

John Sootheran

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.



There’s a huge range of caravan styles to choose from. You could pick a titchy teardrop, a titanic twin-axle, or any size and style in between. John Sootheran explains the pros and cons of each.

Matching a caravan to the touring lifestyle you’re pursuing is easy, as there are so many brilliant choices out there. I’ve split this guide into six sections:
• Teardrop trailers
• Folding and pop-top tourers
• Trailer tents
• Small caravans
• Family vans
• Luxury and lifestyle tourers

Read on to discover which option might be best for you.

teardrop caravan

Teardrop trailers

Tiny teardrop caravans score highly for cuteness and ease of towing, but they don’t offer the same level of practicality as regular caravans.

In some respects, teardrops are a step up from camping, as you’re sleeping off the ground in a comfortable environment. But they’re really only for sleeping and relaxing in, as you can’t stand up inside. You’ll also have to head outside to cook, and use the campsite facilities, as there’s no loo or shower.

For the more adventurous caravanner, teardrops are a great option, especially when touring in warmer climes, as you can live outside most of the time.


  • Compact and lightweight, making them easy to tow and manoeuvre.
  • Sleek designs deliver aerodynamic advantages and excellent fuel efficiency.
  • Simplicity of construction means lower maintenance and servicing costs. Storage is also easier and cheaper.
  • Cosy interiors typically include sleeping accommodation and basic amenities.
  • Affordability makes them an attractive option for first-time buyers or those on a tight budget.


  • Limited interior space restricts the number of occupants and storage capacity.
  • Lack of integrated bathroom and kitchen facilities may require the use of external amenities.
  • Minimal headroom can be inconvenient for taller individuals.
  • Smaller size may limit comfort during extended trips or unfavourable weather conditions.

Check out…
W diddyvans.co.uk
Google ‘Teardrop Trailer’


eriba caravan

Pop-Top and Folding Vans

These compact tourers feature clever mechanisms, allowing you to quickly and easily expand the living space inside. The result is a small and easy-to-tow caravan while on the road, and a more-roomy living space once on pitch.

Folding caravans look like medium-sized trailers before the sides and roof are folded-up into place. Once ‘erected’ they look rather boxy, but they do their job well and have windows and a full-height door like a regular caravan. The benefits include a low weight, easy towing and they’re simple to store.

Pop-top caravans, like the Eriba, take a different approach, with a pop-up roof section that’s folded flat while on-tow, but can quickly be unclipped and elevated to add 12-18inches of extra headroom inside. Normally, the roof panel is solid, while the side sections are made from a durable fabric.

Once you’ve had a cutesy Eriba you may not want to go back to a standard caravan. As they say: “Once you’ve popped, you can’t stop”!


  • Compact when folded, offering low MTPLM weights, plus easy storage and manoeuvrability.
  • Quick and easy set-up process, allowing for faster deployment and convenience.
  • Expanding living space when unfolded, providing more room for occupants.
  • Integrated amenities, including lounges, kitchens, and bathrooms, delivering increased comfort.
    Once ‘popped’, caravans with elevating roof sections can accommodate caravanners over six-foot tall.
    The Eriba is considered a design classic, which holds its value very well.


  • Limited insulation in some models may result in them only being two-season tourers (except for the hardiest caravanners).
  • Relatively smaller interior space compared to conventional caravans.
  • Folding mechanisms and pop-top roofs may require occasional maintenance.
  • Folding caravans have a greater number of joints where moisture could get in.
  • Even when expanded, both types of caravan tend to be on the compact side.

Check out…
W trigano.fr/fr/caravanes/silver
W goburcaravans.co.uk (pre-owned caravans only)


Opus trailer caravan

Trailer tents

Trailer tents make a comfortable half-way house between camping and caravanning. They’ve been popular for decades, as they deliver most of the amenities you’d see in a caravan. However, the roof and most of the sides are entirely fabric.

One trailer-tent stands out in particular, and that’s the Opus Air folding camper. This clever camping vehicle starts off as a full-on, Action-Man-spec trailer, but converts in about five minutes into a vast living space, containing a lounge, kitchen and two double beds (and that’s before you add the vast optional awning).

Opus Air features air-beam technology and inflates quickly to create an impressively rigid structure. In trailer format, Opus can be loaded with outdoor gear like mountain bikes, surfboards or canoes, to increase its already substantial ‘cool-quotient’!


  • Versatile and lightweight design allows for easy towing and setup.
  • Expandable living space, with the option to add annexes for additional rooms.
  • Quick and straightforward assembly process, making them ideal for shorter stays.
  • Considerably cheaper than caravans offering equivalent space and spec.
  • Easier storage and parking due to their compact nature.


  • Some trailer tents can take longer to set-up than a traditional caravan, though the Opus Air doesn’t.
  • Limited insulation and weather resistance may pose challenges during extreme conditions, and limit year-round usage.
  • Integrated facilities are sometimes minimal, necessitating trips to the campsite loos and showers.
  • Less durable construction compared to solid-sided caravans.

Check out
W camperlands.co.uk

Swift Basecamp

Small caravans

The small-caravan sector has a huge range of style options within it, and they can offer a cool and trendy alternative to ‘white box’ caravanning, the image of which puts some people off.

The previously-mentioned Eriba is a great option in this sector, but there are also some brilliant adventure caravans like Knaus’ Sport & Fun and Swift’s excellent Basecamp. These two offer all the benefits of comfortable and cosy caravanning, but in compact and sporty packages.

Knaus Sport&Fun

They’re ideal for the outdoor enthusiast who likes the idea of a campervan, but doesn’t appreciate their lack of practicality and versatility, or the huge prices.

A well-spec’d small caravan can be bought for less than half the price of a campervan, and, once you’re at your destination, you have your tow car to travel in, not a van!

Other great brands worth a gander are Wingamm with its Rookie, the GoPod Going, or the Jetstream from the excellent Polish brand, Freedom.

Barefoot is another superb small caravan, but I’ll cover that in Lifestyle Caravans.


  • Small footprint and lightweight construction offer excellent manoeuvrability.
  • Reduced weight allows for towing with smaller vehicles, saving on fuel costs.
  • Efficient use of space ensures comfortable living areas within a compact design.
  • Integrated amenities, including kitchens and bathrooms, provide convenience.
  • Ideal for solo travellers or couples seeking a minimalist lifestyle.
  • Clever design touches offer excellent sports-equipment storage in some small vans.


  • Limited interior space may feel cramped during extended trips or when inclement weather forces you inside.
  • Restricted storage capacity requires careful planning and organisation.
  • Limited headroom in some small vans may be an issue for taller caravanners.
  • Lower overall weight may make them more susceptible to wind turbulence when towing.
  • Washroom facilities may be compact, and the smallest vans may only offer a portaloo option.Check out…
    W freedomcaravansnorth.co.uk
    W go-barefoot.co.uk

Bailey Caravan

Family vans

These are the traditional (usually white) caravans that account for most touring caravan sales in the UK. The design of these caravans has evolved and been perfected over the decades, to the point where they offer the very best combination of size, weight, facilities, practicality, and comfort.

They tend to come in a weight range from 1100kg to 1700kg (MTPLM).

Typically, they’re available in two to six berth layouts, so ideal for couples or larger families. British-built models feature extensive lounging, cooking, sleeping and washing facilities, with even budget models delivering excellent comfort and versatility.

There’s a wide choice of bed options available.

For starters, you should decide if you want fixed or make-up beds. Fixed beds remove the hassle of ‘building’ your bed every night, but they do take up more space. From there, you can select double beds, single beds or bunks.

Almost every van offers extensive kitchen, dining, washroom, and loo amenities, but these come in a vast range of lay-outs, with different elements prioritised. You’ll find more information in our Ultimate Caravan-Layout Guide.


  • • Spacious interiors with dedicated sleeping and dining areas for the whole family.
  • • Ample storage options to accommodate personal belongings and equipment.
  • • Enhanced insulation and weatherproofing ensure comfort in various climates and seasons.
  • • Integrated facilities, including larger kitchens and bathrooms, cater to family needs.
  • • Wide range of layouts and configurations available to suit different family sizes.


  • The larger sizes require a suitable tow vehicle with adequate towing capacity.
  • Increased weight may affect fuel efficiency and require more robust towing equipment.
  • Manoeuvrability can be challenging, especially in tight or crowded spaces.
  • Higher initial cost compared to smaller caravans or teardrop trailers.
  • Almost always some compromise to be made in selecting the best layout.

Check out…
W coachman.co.uk
W elddis.co.uk
W swiftgroup.co.uk

Airstream caravan

Luxury and lifestyle tourers

Each major British caravan manufacturer offers several luxury tourer options in its ranges.

The Buccaneer range from the Elddis Group is one of the best known, and typifies the luxurious interiors that you can expect to find in this sector.

Since the 2019 model year, every manufacturer has offered eight-foot-wide caravans. These are just six inches broader than previous models, but that makes a huge difference inside, giving the feel of a luxury apartment rather than a tourer.

Check out the Buccaneer collection; Bailey and Swift’s Grande ranges, Coachman’s Laser Xcels, Elddis’ 800-series vans and Adria’s Adora and Alpina eight-footers.

The extra three inches of width at each side makes a negligible difference when towing.

Barefoot Caravans

Luxury vans feature high-quality fixtures and fittings inside, along with superior panel and fabric finishes. They also tend to offer more appliances and equipment, from motormovers and solar panels to auto-levelling and air-conditioning.

If cost and weight aren’t an issue for you, check out the extensive specifications on offer before you buy. Of course, cramming all that extra spec and equipment in, inevitably results in a bigger and heavier caravan, so check that your tow car can pulling your preferred option.

For the heaviest vans, you’re looking at a large SUV, such as a Range Rover or VW Touareg, or a hefty pick-up, like the Nissan Navara or VW Amarok. Most luxury vans run on twin-axles, which makes towing safer and more stable.

Many modern luxury caravans are now nudging the £50,000 price point, so it’s important that you make the right choice.

Lifestyle caravans are increasingly popular. That might be an iconic polished-aluminium Airstream or the uber-cute Barefoot two-berth, which is perfectly designed for festival living!

You pay a premium for this type of caravan, but, if image is as important to you as versatility and build quality, then these vans are well worth considering. And remember, thanks to their rarity, they’re likely to hold their value well.


  • Premium features and high-quality materials offer a luxurious and comfortable caravanning experience.
  • Spacious and well-designed interiors provide ample living space and storage.
  • Advanced amenities, including fully-equipped kitchens, luxurious bathrooms, and entertainment systems.
  • Enhanced insulation and climate-control systems ensure year-round comfort.
  • Superior craftsmanship and attention to detail create a stylish and sophisticated ambiance.
  • Labour-saving devices enhance the caravanning experience and can extend older participants ‘caravanning years’.


  • Higher price points may be prohibitive for budget-conscious buyers.
  • Increased weight may call for a larger, more powerful tow vehicle.
  • Larger dimensions may limit storage options.
  • Complex systems and high-end features may require additional maintenance and expertise.
  • Less manoeuvrable compared to smaller caravans, requiring more planning when selecting sites.

Check out…
W go-barefoot.co.uk
W adria.co.uk
W swiftgroup.co.uk
W airstream-uk.co.uk


In the realm of UK-made touring caravans, each category offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Teardrop trailers appeal to those seeking simplicity, affordability, and ease of towing.
Folding and pop-top tourers combine compactness with expandable living space and integrated amenities.

Trailer tents offer versatility and affordability, but require more time for set-up. Compact caravans cater to solo travellers or couples seeking efficient use of space.

Family vans provide spacious interiors and dedicated family-oriented amenities. Luxury and lifestyle tourers offer the pinnacle of comfort and sophistication, albeit at a higher price point.

By considering the pros and cons outlined in this article, prospective buyers can align their preferences and requirements with the diverse offerings of UK-made touring caravans.

Whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure, exploring with the family, or indulging in a luxurious getaway. There’s a touring caravan perfectly-suited for your travels throughout beautiful Britain and beyond.

The author

John Sootheran

John Sootheran is a seasoned caravan and motorhome journalist who previously edited Caravan magazine, and now writes for Britain’s best-selling caravan magazine, Practical Caravan, along with Practical Motorhome and the Camping & Caravanning Club magazines. He also works with a number of major caravanning brands.

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