There is nothing quite like a fun caravan adventure. You are traveling in a house on wheels with complete freedom, able to go wherever your heart desires.
If you’re about to embark on your first ever caravan adventure, then there are some essential things you need to do that you might not have thought about.
To make your first caravan holiday run as smoothly as possible, we have compiled a list of 10 handy tips that you should know.
1. Create a Checklist
Like when going on any holiday, there are certain things you’re going to want to take with you when on your caravan adventure.
A handy tip is to make yourself a checklist with everything you need and want to take with you.
We are sure most of us have heard of the famous phrase “failure to plan is planning to fail,” and this is so true. If you don’t keep a list of all the things you need to take with you on your caravan holiday, then you are highly likely to forget something.
We are sure most of us have been at the airport or in the car on our way for some fun in the sun and have had that horrible realization that we have forgotten something significant. Well, by keeping a checklist, you can stop this from happening.
So what exactly should go on a caravan holiday checklist? Firstly, you’re going to need the right equipment to attach your caravan to your vehicle to tow it to where you want to go. The right towing aid for you will depend on what car and trailer you have.
Then some little, but very important, items you will need to add to your list if you’re a caravan newbie are a fire extinguisher, an extra fan belt, and extra oil and coolant.
On your checklist should also be a caravan jack, which is crucial if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a burst tire.
Another essential addition to your caravan kit is some insulation tape. It is known that caravans can often have inadequate heating systems, especially under the floors, so insulation tape is a must-have just in case you find yourself in a situation where cold air is finding its way in.
It’s a good idea to make sure you keep this checklist handy at all times, even when you have already set off on your journey, so you can refer to it whenever you need to.
2. Make Your Caravan Secure and Safe
One of the most important things to do before embarking on your caravan adventure is to ensure that all the precautions have been taken to make your caravan safe and secure.
Firstly, you need to make sure that the towing aid is correctly and tightly attached to both your vehicle and caravan. It would be a dangerous thing for you and everyone around if your van were to detach from your car mid-journey. If you have any doubt about how to fit the towing aid, you should enlist the help of a caravanning expert.
Other aspects of the caravan that you will need to secure are things that could become loose during the journey. Any appliances, decorations, or other loose items should be put away safely to prevent them from falling and breaking.
Furthermore, drawers and doors should all be tied or bolted shut to stop them from falling out or flying open during the journey.
Your wheel chocks also need to be removed and stored away safely, ready to put back when you find a place to park your caravan.
The jockey wheel, usually located at the front of the caravan, also needs to be removed or secured. The steps to your trailer should also be raised and tucked away.
It is also imperative that you ensure both your caravan and vehicle are fully operational. You need to check that the lights are working and that all tires are fully and correctly inflated.
3. Drive Slowly
If this is your first time towing a caravan, it will inevitably feel strange and take some getting used to.
A caravan is enormous and heavy, so it is crucial that you take it easy when you are towing one and go nice and slowly. Going too fast, especially when you have never driven with a caravan attached to your vehicle before, could be very dangerous. So, don’t worry about irritating other motorists; focus on staying safe.
Another reason why you should drive slowly is for fuel consumption. If you drive a car at high speeds, it uses up more fuel and doing this while towing a caravan will increase fuel consumption even more.
Furthermore, if you are pulling a trailer in windy conditions, this can further increase the amount of fuel consumed.
Therefore, it is essential to take it easy and drive slowly. While you shouldn’t speed up out of intimidation from other drivers, you should stay mindful of any traffic that might be building up behind you and make use of slow vehicle turnouts wherever possible.
Some extra tips for those traveling with a caravan are to be aware of any side winds that can come from larger vehicles, and if you see wildlife on the road, you shouldn’t do sudden swerves or turns.
4. Get On The Road Early
We all know how frustrating it can be when you have a long journey ahead and get stuck in traffic. It can also make it a lot more stressful, especially if you are a first-time caravanner, as there are more cars around, which can make you feel more nervous.
Therefore, the good idea is to make sure you set off on your caravan adventure nice and early to avoid any traffic and drive on clear roads. This will help you feel much more comfortable and confident towing a caravan for the first time, and you will likely also reach your destination a lot quicker.
However, clear roads are no excuse to speed!
5. Be Ready for Small Spaces
One of the things you might not be fully prepared for if this is your first caravan adventure is that a caravan isn’t the most spacious vehicle out there. Therefore, you are going to be living and traveling in relatively confined spaces for the duration of your holiday.
This is something that might particularly test your patience and become an issue if you are traveling with someone else, such as a partner. You need to be prepared for the fact that you will be in a very confined space.
Have any related conversations to establish boundaries before the holiday, and then try to give each other space when needed and where possible.
6. Team Work is Key
One of the most challenging things to do when traveling with a caravan is knowing how to reverse it.
The good thing is to do a few practice sessions of reversing before embarking on your caravan adventure so that you can comfortably and confidently park it up when you get to your destination.
When you get to the site where you are parking up your caravan, you should choose the shortest path possible to make the task as easy as it could get.
When you do need to park the caravan, teamwork will make it a lot easier.
Ask your partner, or someone else traveling with you, to stand outside the caravan and help direct you. This is a good thing you can do as part of your parking practice. Work on the communication between yourself and your partner, ensuring everything is said loudly and clearly so that reversing your caravan can go as smoothly as possible.
A handy tip to help improve communication is to use little radios so you can hear each other. Using clear hand signals and your rearview mirrors is also a good thing to do.
The key is to go slowly and be patient.
7. Practice the Set-Up
After a long journey towing your caravan to your destination, you’re not going to want to be spending hours setting everything up when you reach your site.
Therefore, a handy tip is to practice the whole process of setting up your site. This will make the routine much quicker and more efficient so that you can get settled into your caravan in no time.
The set-up process would first involve detaching the caravan from your vehicle while ensuring the caravan’s handbrake is on and moving your car elsewhere.
It would be best to level the caravan, put on its wheel chocks, and set up the water, power, and gas. You will then want to check all the taps, heating, and appliances such as the fridge and oven.
You can then start doing all the fun stuff, such as setting up any outdoor furniture and putting out any decorations inside your caravan. Then you can sit back and enjoy your mobile home.
8. Take Opinions with a Pinch of Salt
When you join the caravan life, you are likely to find yourself subject to the opinions and bits of advice of any fellow caravanners you come across.
They are likely to start telling you all the best places to go, the nicest restaurants, and what the best route to take is.
While they are only trying to help and sometimes might have some genuinely valuable opinions, it is always good to take them with a pinch of salt rather than always taking them as gospel. Trust your instinct and learn when just to smile and nod.
9. Pack Everything Up Properly
When it comes to that sad moment where your holiday comes to an end, and you have to pack up your caravan ready to head home, you want to make sure you do it properly. It could potentially not be safe if you half-heart it, and you might forget some crucial things.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to get out that checklist you made right at the start of your trip. Then, read through it and make sure that everything listed on it is packed away and ready to go.
There are then some extra things you’re going to need to do when packing up your caravan. You then need to make sure that the gas is turned off, disconnect any electrics, and get rid of any wastewater supply.
Just as you did for setting up your caravan, it’s a good idea to practice packing up your trailer. This will help the process to run much more smoothly when you come to do the real thing.
If you have people helping you too, mainly those who will be on the adventure with you, this will help speed up the whole process. Dedicate specific tasks to each person to know what they are doing, and nothing gets missed out.
10. Take a Caravan Course
If you’re entirely new to caravanning but want to take it seriously, the good idea is to take a course.
Some courses are specifically designed for beginners, and they are a great way to learn the ropes and gain some confidence.
Such courses are great for getting expert advice and going through everything you need to do to have a successful caravan adventure. It helps to take some of the stress out of the whole experience, especially if this is your first time caravanning.
Something else you can do, instead of taking a course, is hiring a caravan expert to come out and take a look at your rig to ensure you have everything you need.
The most important message to take from this list is to plan and practice. If this is your first time towing a caravan, then you’re soon going to realize how much more difficult it is than just driving a regular car.
You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you set off on your journey and don’t feel confident, realize you’ve forgotten something, or don’t set up your caravan site correctly.
So plan, prepare and practice, and then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a lovely caravan adventure.