Planning your first caravan trip
blog / advice / holiday / family
Planning your first caravanning trip is an exciting time. Your mind is full of all the places you’ll see and the adventures you’ll have in your new caravan.
The world is your oyster! Remember though that trips take planning but once you’ve got a couple under your belt, you’ll be able to go at the drop of a hat. Discover our handy hints and tips for planning your first trip and you’ll never look back!
Where do you want to go?
First things first. Where do you want to visit? Perhaps you’ve long dreamt of your first trip and have somewhere in mind. Or maybe you’ve been camping for years and would love to return to one of your favourite spots with your new caravan in tow - literally! It’s a good idea not to venture too far from home for your first trip; up to a couple of hours’ drive would be ideal.
It may be your first time towing a caravan so it would be nice to break yourself in with a trip that’s not too laborious. Towing takes a little bit of getting used to so knowing you’re not going too far and perhaps even being familiar with the route, may make you feel more at ease about the journey. As you gain confidence, you can go a bit further afield and feel more relaxed towing for longer periods.
When can you get away?
Next you need to work out when you can go. If you work, you may need to get time off. If you have children, you’ll be tied to the school holidays so be sure to book your pitch in advance to avoid disappointment - caravan sites can get busy during the school holidays!
You might also ask yourself - is there a better time of year to take your first trip? What are the pros and cons of each season? It would be nice to do it in summer when the weather is more likely to be warmer, allowing you to enjoy mild evenings outdoors and a bit of al fresco dining. If you can’t wait that long, autumn and spring are good times to go too, just be sure you have all you need to be comfortable during these seasons, such as jackets and jumpers and warmer bedding.
Whenever you decide to go, it’s a good idea to book your pitch, at least for that first trip so that you know you have a spot when you arrive. As you get more trips under your belt you may decide to find sites as you go, but why not book somewhere this time to give you peace of mind on your pilot trip - you’ll have plenty of other things to think about!
You’ll want to go for long enough to make it worthwhile, but not too long! It’s nice to reflect on your first few trips and learn from them to make future trips easier. Three or four nights would be ideal; it’ll give you enough time to get used to being a caravanner and give you the chance to get a bit of use out of your awning if you have one. It’ll be your first experience of your new caravan and will be a lot of fun and a huge novelty - and hopefully that feeling of excitement will remain with you on every caravanning trip thereafter!
Once you’ve got the hang of it, many caravanners take trips for a week, two weeks or even more! On some sites, holiday makers who are not tied to work spend weeks enjoying the outdoor lifestyle and getting back to nature - and with a fully equipped caravan by your side, providing you with all your creature comforts, why ever not?
Would you prefer to go to a site that offers electrical hook-up or are you happy to go without? If you have a leisure battery, that can provide you with up to 11 hours of power until you have to recharge, enabling you to use your lights and appliances off grid.
Remember though that it’s best not to let your battery go under 50% charge or it could take a long while to recharge. Most campsites have charging stations, so once you’re ready for bed you could go and plug it in ready for the morning. Alternatively, if you’re off out for the day, plug it in before you go and it’ll be charged by the time you return.
You might also want to think about if you’d prefer to park your caravan on a hard standing or if you’re happy with grass. Hard standings will offer benefits such as firmer ground and less chance of mud and grass getting walked into the caravan, but they will probably cost a little more and may offer less space and privacy.
Top 10 things to remember
When you get your new caravan, you’ll obviously want to kit it out with its own range of items, but there are a few key things that often get forgotten...
A caravanning must-have, a barbeque can provide you with endless meal options with minimal fuss. Our on-site accessory shop stocks a range of portable barbeques so pop in for a look. And don’t forget the utensils!
Always make sure you have a basic toolkit on board for any DIY emergencies. Include the essentials - mallet, oil, screwdriver, fuses and bulbs, petroleum jelly, penknife, sandpaper, duct tape and cable ties.
A fire extinguisher is a must-have in a caravan. It could make all the difference if the worst happens - but of course, only use it if the fire is small and it is safe to do so - don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk.
Bedding and towels
Pack a range of towels - bath, hand and tea as well as a shower mat to avoid slippery floors. Have a think about what bedding you would prefer - fitted sheets and duvets or sleeping bags? Make sure you have spares, especially if travelling with kids!
Any stray bits of the outdoors or food crumbs can be cleaned up in a flash to keep everything looking neat and tidy. If you don’t have a vacuum, a dustpan and brush can work wonders as well!
For al fresco dining and simply relaxing in the sunshine, outdoor chairs are a must! You can get folding chairs that are pretty comfy and take up minimal space when stored.
These are ideal for sites without electric hook-up. Designed to power 12V appliances, these batteries will power your lights, TV, kettle, oven and similar appliances.
Electrical hook-up extension cable
An extension cable is vital for stays at sites where electrical hook-up is available. It will allow you to make use of your electrical creature comforts as and when you need them.
Water is heavy so you’ll want to avoid towing water around in tanks while your caravan is on the move. Handy containers will enable you to drain the tanks before transit and then easily refill them using your separate fresh water and waste water containers when you arrive at your destination!
When choosing items for your caravan kitchen, consider melamine crockery, high quality plastic glasses - you can get some pretty good ones now - and don’t forget the chopping board, measuring jug, tin opener and bottle opener!
Before setting off on your first trip, carry out final safety checks. Check that the towing aid is fitted correctly and that your car tyres are at the correct pressure. Secure everything inside the caravan to ensure it won’t move around in transit and then be on your way!
Winchester Caravans is made up of teams of knowledgeable staff who are ready to offer advice on planning your first trip. Our accessory experts can talk you through any last-minute equipment purchases you’d like to make as well as offer hints and tips to first-trip success. So why not pop in for a cuppa?
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