Take short trips at first and follow these other simple suggestions to stay safe and have fun.
- Start small – make your first caravan trip only an hour or two from home, over a long weekend. That will give you time to familiarise yourself with the caravan and towing, and build confidence.
- Use soft duffel or tote bags for all your items, clothes and equipment, as they will be much more convenient to fold away once you have unpacked.
- Keep the heaviest items in the boot of your tow vehicle if possible, so the caravan is lighter to tow.
- Ensure the van is packed with weight distributed evenly, with more towards the front than the back.
- For long drives, travel with minimal water and fill up on the way or at destination, as 150 litres of water equals 150kg of extra weight to pull.
- For heating in winter, set reverse-cycle airconditioners to a comfortable 24-25 degrees and dress warmly. Long-term running at higher temperatures can burn out the heating elements.
- To avoid the most serious (and expensive) mistakes when packing up, remember ‘GLAAT’ – Gas bottle off, Lights working, Awning locked away properly, Antennae in down position, and Tyres pressurised.
- Create a routine for packing up that you follow each time, starting with a walk through from the back of the caravan to the front, securing, switching off and storing, then from the passenger side of the car around the back of the caravan checking, tightening and disconnecting. By the time you reach the driver’s side door of your vehicle, the caravan should be secure and safe to travel.
- If you’re not staying at a holiday park, bring an adaptor to ensure you can plug the caravan into a standard power source. Caravans and motorhomes require a 15amp power supply, but residential power only runs off 10amps. An adaptor, easily purchased at a camping store or online, will ensure you can plug the caravan into a domestic electrical outlet.
- ‘Pull away’ from a swaying caravan by accelerating gently, just a few kilometres at a time, until the van steadies behind you. Resist the urge to slow down, as that allows the heavier caravan to take control of the momentum and can cause crashes. You’ll find more tips on dealing with sway here.
If you’re new to caravanning, you might not know all the insider tips and tricks. These handy accessories may make your first few caravan holidays a breeze.