What Is A Folding Caravan?

For the modern explorer, there are a whole host of accommodation options which is brilliant news as you’ll always be able to find something that meets your needs. But have you heard of a folding caravan? If not, you’re probably wondering what on earth a folding caravan is and whether it’s a viable form of accommodation while you’re out on the road.

Folding caravans are exactly what they sound like; caravans with solid foldable walls. They come in on themselves in a very similar fashion to a cardboard box and have a range of advantages including improved visibility when driving. 

Folding caravans are excellent but they’re not for everyone. It’s important to explore the pros and cons before making a decision and we have all the information you’ll need right here in this guide. 

Folding Caravans Explained

A lot of people confuse the folding caravan with a folding camper or even a trailer tent but they are not the same thing. (More on that later.)

Folding caravans are not all that dissimilar to a regular caravan in that they still have a solid roof and sides. However, these mobile accommodations have sides that can be folded inwards before lowering the roof. 

Rather than having a very imposing structure, you’re left with something that’s only around a metre and a half in height. Of course, the size does vary between models.

One of the great things about folding caravans is that they still have all the creature comforts of a standard caravan. This might include things like a toilet, ample storage space, a fridge, cooker and everything else. 

Is A Folding Caravan The Same As A Folding Camper?

As I mentioned previously, a folding caravan is a type of accommodation in its own right and shouldn’t be confused with the folding camper. Although it’s easy to see why people might think this. If you see both of these pieces of equipment side by side on the road, you’d probably have a pretty hard time telling them apart.

The main difference between a folding caravan and a folding camper is the roof. On the latter, there is not a solid roof while folding caravans always have a rigid roof. Folding campers have a canvas roof that’s similar to a tent but other than that, pretty much everything else is the same. 

Is A Folding Caravan The Same As A Trailer Tent?

Just like the folding camper, many people become confused over whether a folding caravan is the same as a trailer tent. Again, they both look very much alike when they’re folded down but they’re not the same thing. 

A trailer tent is essentially a tent only a lot more advanced. These tents fold into a trailer and often come with things like kitchens.

How Does A Folding Caravan Work?

Folding caravans have been a popular choice for campers since the 1970s but they still work in very much the same way. 

The most prominent feature of these caravans is their solid sides and roof which is what sets them apart from other types of folding accommodation. Once the sides are folded down, the roof fits nicely on top and you can be on your merry way. 

But more than just the solid roof,  folding caravans work by having a folding interior. It would hardly be practical to have to remove and reinstall all of the kitchen units, toilets, wardrobe and other internal features every time you wanted to put up the caravan or take it down. But that’s where the folding interior comes in. Once you fold the sides down, everything else follows so they’re really effortless to use.

Another notable feature of the folding caravan is that it has a much closer appearance and function to the regular caravan. When they are fully assembled, they’re much more traditional feeling and if you don’t like the idea of sleeping under fabric, they’re a no brainer. 

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Folding Caravan?

Folding caravans are an excellent choice for a lot of reasons. But as with anything, there are a couple of downsides that you’ll need to consider before deciding whether this is the right accommodation for your adventures. 


Easy Storage

If you’ve ever owned a traditional caravan then you will know how difficult they can be to store. Even if you have a large enough driveway, they can still take up a lot of space and might be an eyesore. But with a folding caravan, it’s small enough to pop in the garage and won’t get in the way.

Easier To Move

Trying to manoeuvre a regular caravan is the stuff of nightmares. This is especially true if you have never towed one before. So why put all that stress on yourself when a folding caravan is so much simpler to move around?

If you are heading off on a longer adventure, perhaps exploring the continent then a folding caravan might be the best option.

They Cost Less

Buying a caravan can be a serious investment. You’re still going to need to fork out a good amount of money for a folding caravan but it’s going to be markedly more affordable than the traditional kind.

They’re More Fuel Efficient

Drag force really impacts a traditional caravan owing to its height which means that your vehicle has to work harder to pull it. The result is higher fuel consumption. If you want to avoid hefty petrol bills but still be able to camp then a folding caravan could be the answer. 

Since they are nowhere near as high, with some being lower than a car, there isn’t any additional drag force on the structure. This means better fuel efficiency and less money spent. In fact, it is thought that compared to a traditional caravan, folding vans may increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 40%!


Less Convenient On The Road

If you’re towing a caravan, you have everything you need right there. Many caravan users will make the most of the facilities and pull over onto the side of the road to use the toilet or grab something out of the van. But this is not possible when you’re using a folding caravan.

Harder To Set Up

With a normal caravan, it’s simply a case of putting it onto the pitch, hooking it up and getting on with your holiday. But when you own a folding caravan, getting everything up and running requires a little more effort. You have to unfold and assemble everything and while this typically only takes ten to fifteen minutes, it’s still time you wouldn’t have to spend if you used a regular caravan. 


Folding caravans are an innovative way to enjoy exploring without having to haul around a huge accommodation. They fold down to a compact size and can be put up in a short amount of time. 

Unlike other types of folding accommodation, folding caravans have both a rigid roof and rigid walls. They offer all the luxuries of a traditional caravan and are much more affordable.