Staycations are proving an increasingly popular choice for British holidaymakers. As avid caravanners ourselves, we’ve offered some top tips for newbies to ensure an enjoyable and relaxing trip away.
Check your driving licence
The first thing you need to check before you even think about taking out a caravan is whether you have the correct driving licence to tow one. You should also educate yourself on the rules regarding towing, such as correct speed limit, towing to help you avoid unnecessary fines or police prosecution. For more information on how to tow a caravan, take a look at our advice here.
Sign up to a good breakdown recovery company
If you are signed up to a breakdown recovery company, check you cover to see if it includes your trailer or caravan. There’s nothing more stressful than finding out your caravan isn’t covered if your car was to break down.
Get your brakes checked regularly
Due to the extra weight your car will be towing, it’s important your brakes are checked in advance, so you can have a peace of mind that they are in tip top condition. Your local garage will be able to help with this. Other checks you should carry out before taking out a caravan can be found here.
Practice makes perfect
Towing a caravan calls for difficult manoeuvers to be made that you might not be familiar with. Keep practicing these, as well as parking, before your trip without the stress of passengers so your confidence will grow.
Reversing is particularly tricky with a vehicle that’s longer than normal. Asking somebody to watch your back or purchasing a reversing camera will cut down the risk of an accident happening that can put a dampener on your trip.
Don’t be afraid of your caravan
While towing a caravan can be difficult, it’s important to remember why you are doing it - to get away from the stress and strains of modern life. Every caravan owner was a novice at some point, so they will understand if you take time to get into position at the campsite.
Get the right equipment
To help you navigate to a campsite with ease by avoiding going down unsuitable roads, you should look at buying a sat nav that is dedicated to trips made with a caravan. The Snooper Ventura satellite navigation range plots caravan-friendly routes by taking into account the size, weight and wheelbase of your extended vehicle. Shop sat navs here.
Cars manufactured after 2011 will have some form of tyre pressure monitoring; however, this is not the case for caravans or trailers. The tyres fitted to caravans can be quite different in the load and pressure in which they operate safely, checking they are correctly inflated is a must. Aftermarket tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are ideal for novices and ‘old-hands’ alike. See Snooper’s Tyre Pilot Range here.
Use a checklist
There is an array of items you’ll need when holidaying in a caravan, including a fire extinguisher, wheel chocks, caravan jack, sway control device, towing mirrors, extra coolant and oil, a spare fan belt and insulation tape.
You should also set up a caravan first aid kit so you have the right equipment in a crisis. Typically, this would include WD40, Milton fluid, a reliable torch, spare fuses, an adjustable spanner, two screwdrivers, a set of battery leads and a strong tow rope.
Until you’ve got the art of caravanning down to a tee, it’s worth making a checklist of the essential equipment you need to ensure you’re not missing anything.
Make plans for heavy objects
Loading or unloading your caravan can be heavy going. Purchasing a sack truck will save you time and effort when you arrive at your destination.
While travelling, it’s a good idea to place any heavy objects on the floor of your caravan. This will reduce the chances of them damaging the inside of your van and also affecting the smoothness of your manoeuvers.
Have a set-up routine
After spending a considerable amount of time on the road, the last thing you want to do is spend hours setting up your campsite. Work out what needs to be done to get your caravan set up and assign roles to each person. There is no harm in doing a practice run once or twice in the beginning to make sure you’re doing everything correctly and have everything you need before leaving home.
Other people’s experiences are invaluable when it comes to caravanning. Whether you ask family and friends who’ve caravanned before, sign up to a membership group like The Caravan Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club, or visit caravanning forums, there is lots of advice out there.
Read more about caravanning on the Snooper blog: