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Caravan: What’s In A Name

  • 15th Jun 2015

Caravan: What’s In A Name

Ever wondered where the caravan came from?
No, we don’t mean which manufacturer or what the caravan did before it took the world by storm in the mid-twentieth century. We mean have you ever sat and wondered why we call it a ‘caravan’ at all.
Caravans come in all shapes and sizes; tiny teardrops, super-duper touring models, holiday homes and park homes, and plenty in between. So why do we refer to them all as caravans? Did somebody once decide, upon seeing a caravan heading down a country road that it looked a lot like a car pulling a van? No. No, they did not.
So how did ‘caravan’ come to be?
Well, read on to find out…
In its most basic, historical form, the word caravan has its roots in the ancient Persian language and refers to a group of people moving together and transporting cargo, via different modes of transport, such as horses, camels, and mules. Ancient caravans would stop to rest at a caravanserai, much like a modern caravan park in its concept; many a caravanserai could be found along desert trade routes.
These trade convoys once connected Asia and Europe, offering protection to the traders travelling along various routes with valuable goods like silks and jewellery. Such caravans can still be seen today, especially in arid parts of the globe, such as the Sahara Desert; they are, however, less common than in ancient times.
So, far from being an amalgamation of “car” and “van”, the word ‘caravan’ has had an interesting history. From its start as the Persian karwan, to its French form of caravane, and its use in 17th century English as another word for “vehicle” (specifically those carrying passengers in a covered cart); the word has seen its fair share of change.
Of course, despite its different meanings historically, the term ‘caravan’ has since evolved to mean a box-type vehicle, or a static form of accommodation. This is the caravan we all know and love now.
When you hear someone speaking about caravans or caravanning now, your first thought turns to a tourer or a holiday home. In some cases, you might think of traditional European caravans, such as those used by Romany travellers and the like. Either way though, the images and lifestyle we associate with the word ‘caravan’ today are very different from those associated with its Persian origins. Click this link to see our range of caravans.

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