How to organise your caravan layout
Square footage matters when choosing a new touring caravan, but it’s not the only thing to think about. How that floorspace is actually organised – i.e. the type and positioning of beds and the location of showering and other facilities can make a big difference to your holiday experience.
You’ll find plenty of layout options to choose from. To help you make sense of it all, here’s our insider guide to the most popular ones, who they are suitable for, as well as some tried and tested tips for cutting out caravan clutter.
Popular caravan layouts explained:
Twin settee front lounge, rear washroom (2 berth)
With this classic 2-berth floorplan, the front settees convert into either two singles or a double bed. The washroom is at the rear, and this usually includes a separate shower room. As with most caravan layouts, cooking facilities are in the central offside position, above the caravan axis.
This is a popular layout for couples, solo caravanners and companions who want a compact, lightweight tourer. (Tip: for matching a caravan to your car’s towing weight capacity, take a look at our towing guide).
Transverse double bed (4 berth)
One of the most popular layouts for 4 berths incorporates a nearside-centrally located transverse ‘island’ double bed, a full-width rear washroom and convertible front seating. The transverse bed positioning means it uses the width of the caravan for the bed’s length. The island bed design features rounded-off bottom corners to maximise walking space around it. An island bed is often adjustable, so when it’s not in use, it can be slightly retracted to further increase floor space. You often get handy storage cupboards under an island bed, too.
This transverse bed layout can be ideal if you want a 4-berth unit but still want to keep the length of the caravan relatively short. As well as a family of four, the layout is also popular with couples who want the convenience of a permanent double bed.
Rear island bed (4 berth)
Just like the transverse double bed layout, sleeping accommodation
with this layout consists of a fixed double bed and two convertible settees. However, the double bet is positioned right at the back of the caravan in a private bedroom, with washing facilities to each side.
Guests sleeping in the lounge area don’t have to walk past the double bed to use the washing facilities, so it’s great for couples who occasionally have a couple of friends or family members staying.
L shaped lounge (all sizes)
For meals, card games and the like, some people prefer parallel settees upfront. For TV watching, a single L-shape settee might suit you better. A lounge area with an L-shape can feel that little bit roomier, but it’s all a matter of personal preference. L-shape settees usually convert into two single beds.
Side dinettes and bunk beds (multi-berth)
5 or 6-berth caravans usually feature a side dinette: i.e. a dining area that converts into a single bed or two or bunks. The beauty of this is that as well as extra sleeping accommodation, you also benefit from a dedicated dining space. Especially for young families, this tends to be a more practical (and less messy) way to enjoy meals in the caravan.
What caravan layout is best for families?
For two adults and one or two little children, a transverse double bed 4-berth layout can work well, as it means that kids and parents are in easy reach of each other at night. For holidaying with older children, a rear island bed layout is often preferable, as it provides a dedicated bedroom at the back for that welcome element of space and privacy.
If you need a multi-berth layout for a larger family, a fixed bunk bed layout is worth exploring. With this, instead of having an island double bed at the back, there are two permanent bunks. It means you can safely put young children to bed at the rear and are less likely to disturb them if you are still sitting up in the lounge.
What is a berth?
A berth is simply a designated sleeping area within a caravan. It could be a permanent double, single or bunk bed. Or it could be a settee or dinette that converts into a bed. Depending on the design, the berths in a 2-berth caravan might consist of two single or one double fixed or convertible beds.
If I have enough beds, does it matter what layout my caravan is?
It’s not just the number of berths you should consider, but also how those berths are positioned. For example, if you are looking at 4-berth options, you’ll probably come across some units with a ‘front and rear lounge’ design. With this, you have four settees (two at the back and two at the front), all of which convert into single beds. Without any fixed beds, the whole interior can feel a lot roomier in the day. The flipside however is that storage options can be limited, and you have the hassle of making up beds each evening.
Our top tip is never to assume that all caravan layouts are ‘basically the same’ and have a good look around before you buy to see what you are most comfortable with.
What’s the most popular caravan layout?
There isn’t an overwhelming favourite as there are so many variants available. However, for a ‘standard’ 4-berth setup, a lot of owners opt for a private fixed bed at the rear and convertible settees at the front.
If you still find yourself grappling with too much stuff and too little space in your existing layout, take a look at these popular caravan storage ideas…
How do I organise my caravan fridge?
The door shelf is the warmest place in the fridge, so use this for water and juice rather than items that can spoil (e.g. milk and other dairy products).
Avoid the temptation of stuffing all fruits and vegetables into the crisper drawer. Some items (notably bananas, apples, pears, potatoes and onions) release ethanol that will prematurely ripen other items. Keep these out of the fridge.
The upper shelf is good for leftovers, drink cans and cooked meats. Reserve your bottom shelf (the coldest part of the fridge) for raw meats and dairy.
How do you store toiletries in a caravan?
Widely available from homeware shops, we’re big fans of no-drill suction shower caddies. A couple of these in your washroom will help eliminate clutter around the basin and shower.
What should I pack in my caravan?
As a starting point, be sure to check out our guide, Things You Mustn’t Forget to Take When Caravanning. Top tip: never underestimate an awning if you want to instantly expand your living space and reduce clutter. Take a look at our pro awning tips for more info.
For stress-free caravanning, choosing the right layout is vital. So too is having the peace of mind of the right caravan insurance. Find out more about Shield’s award-winning coverage here.