Ever since I was a little girl I (Mrs W just for clarification!) have been fascinated with caravans. I remember visiting my local garden centre which used to have a section on caravanning and camping and getting excited looking inside the caravans. I loved the fact that when you’re touring, your caravan is like a miniature home that you can take anywhere with you.
There is a certain freedom to travelling the country in a caravan, no looking for somewhere to stay every night. You can bring your home comforts and luxuries too and touring in a caravan like the Bailey 2 berth, is an affordable way of seeing the country, as you are not relying on hotels every night.
When you want to go on your first caravan holiday though, you may think, where do I start? Do I get a caravan or a motorhome?
Firstly you need to know what the difference is between a caravan and motorhome. A caravan is generally an unpowered vehicle that you attach to a car, a motorhome is built on a truck or bus chassis and doesn’t need a car to pull it. A caravan is the ideal beginner option and generally the most cost effective too so I would recommend a caravan for your first venture into this way of life.
So here are some tips for your first caravan trip.
1 – What Type Of Caravan Do You Want?
You may not have already bought a caravan so my first tip would be, think about the type of caravan you want. Two berth caravans are the perfect size if you’re a family of two or a solo traveller who might have friends and family joining you on your adventures.
A caravan like the Bailey 2 berth comes with sofa seats that can be made into a double bed or used as two single beds. You can add an awning to create additional space such as a sleeping area or a dining space too so it is also perfect for a small family. Whilst if you have a larger family or want to share the caravan with friends go for a larger capacity caravan or motorhome.
2 – Join A Club
As a novice to caravanning, I would recommend joining a club like the Caravan and Motorhome Club for advice and guidance. They publish articles on which types of a caravan to buy as well as technical advice and run training courses too. They also have over 2700 sites in their network and you can get discounts onsite fees. They produce useful checklists as well, the hitching up checklist is particularly useful for when you get to a site.
The training course they offer on caravanning can help build confidence so it’s something to consider if you have the money.
3 – Get Your Caravan Road Ready
Before you go on your first trip make a checklist of things you need. This is a great checklist to help you plan your trip. Essentials include a gas bottle, regulator, large waste container, toilet chemicals, first aid kit, water container, fire blanket or extinguisher, caravan battery, spare tyre and pump. Towing mirrors are also essential to help with visibility.
If you forget something most things can be bought at a camping /outdoor store though so it’s always good to have an idea of where you are going and what specialist shops are in the area.
Once your caravan is ready if you have time, take it for a drive to get used to it. This is best to do before your trip. You can then feel how the caravan handles and get used to the size of it before your first proper trip. Practice reversing as this is the trickiest manoeuvre in a caravan.
4 – Don’t Forget The Safety Checks
Before you leave on your first trip make sure that you have the essential safety equipment and done the safety checks. Check that the towing aid is fitted correctly and that your car tyres are at the correct pressure. Make sure you have a fire blanket or extinguisher and you know how to use them. Check that everything in the caravan is secure and won’t move around when travelling.
5 – Plan Your Journey
Plan where you are going beforehand. Use Google Maps on your phone or a Sat Nav so you know the route of your journey, where you are going to stop along the way and how long it will take to get you there. Don’t forget to take it easy, don’t go too fast, take into account the road conditions and the fact that a caravan is much heavier than a car and wider.
Check out the speed limits that apply to caravans. Make use of the slow lane on the motorway, the speed limit for a caravan isn’t 70 MPH in the UK but 60 MPH on the motorway. If the motorway has three lanes you are also not allowed to go in the outside lane to overtake. On a dual carriageway, the speed limit for caravans is also 60 MPH and on a single carriageway 50 MPH. If you see a queue forming behind you, pull over safely and let traffic go past and then resume your journey. As there is a lower speed limit, and the caravan is larger than a car making it difficult to overtake, some drivers may feel annoyed if stuck behind you, so be aware of others at all time to avoid incidents. You want to avoid a road rage incident!
6 – Getting To The S
Caravan sites can vary a lot in facilities and location so it’s always good to do your research beforehand so you know where you are going. Once you get to the site and checked in there are certain things you need to do. Hopefully, you will have printed out the hitching up checklist mentioned earlier, the important thing is the safety and security of the caravan, so check that the handbrake is on, and chock the wheels if you are on a slope. YouTube is also useful for showing you exactly what to do, check out this video below by Bailey of Bristol.
7 – Enjoy
Now you have got to your site, familiarise yourself with the site rules, and then it’s time to enjoy your caravan!
Let me know, do you have a caravan? Have you thought about this type of lifestyle?