Top 10 tips for first-time caravanners
blog / advice / new caravans / pre-owned caravans / holiday / family
If 2020 will mark your first caravanning trip, there’s a lot more than the norm to consider. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that campsites have had to remain closed during the usually busy spring season. They are due to open in July, allowing caravan and camping trips to recommence, all being well and with social distancing measures in place.
As a caravanner, you will be in the best possible scenario, as you can be completely self-contained if you wish, making full use of your on-board washroom and kitchen facilities. You will need to use the campsite’s water supply and disposal facilities, but other than that you can keep to your own pitch as much as you feel is necessary.
With that in mind, make sure you research the layout and surroundings of your shortlisted campsites properly. How much space is there in between pitches? Is the campsite in a rural setting with woodland or open space around it? Is there the option to camp on grass pitches that are a bit more spacious? Think about what the different options will provide you with and consider how important it is for you to have electrical hook-up as you may have to go without if you opt for ‘choose your spot’ grass pitches at more rural sites.
Despite the pandemic, a caravanning trip this summer or autumn would be sure to give you a fantastic break - and there’s nothing quite like the experience of your first one! Read our top 10 tips to ensure your first trip goes without a hitch...
Don’t venture too far
It’s a good idea not to venture too far for your first trip away. Aside from the fact that it’d be convenient in case anything changes with the coronavirus situation, it’s sensible not to venture to the other side of the country when everything is so new to you.
Try to pick a destination 90 minutes from home or less. This will remove the pressure of a long journey, particularly if you are travelling with children or pets. It may also be your first time towing, so this can be your practice run! As you won’t be an experienced caravan packer, there’s the chance that you may leave something important at home, so knowing you can nip back for any essential items on that first trip is reassuring.
Take your time towing
You’re likely to feel nervous about towing your caravan for the first time. You’ll probably check everything a dozen times before you actually set off! If you can get out for a few local practice runs on your own (without the family on board) in the weeks leading up to the trip, you’ll probably feel more relaxed about it on the day.
Make sure everything is ready to go by the day before you are due to leave; you won’t want to be dashing around organising things and packing on the day as this is likely to cause stress and may result in you leaving later than planned. Start the day fully prepared, have a good breakfast and off you go! Take your time, towing takes some getting used to. You won’t be able to travel as quickly as you usually would and you’ll need time to get used to driving with the extra length. Your driving ‘spacial awareness’ will also be different!
Pick somewhere rural
Although the coronavirus restrictions have been relaxed slightly, we all still need to be very aware of the risks and do all that we can to keep contact with others to a minimum. Pick a more rural destination that can offer lots of open space and countryside rather than anywhere built up. This will give you the chance to take in the local surroundings without the worry of finding yourself in situations where you are faced with large numbers of people.
When is the best time to go?
If you are travelling with school-age children, you may feel that you are tied to the school summer holidays. However, for those of you whose children are being homeschooled whilst schools are only taking limited pupil numbers, going away earlier in July could be an option.
If you are travelling as a couple, with friends or with adult children, it's worth considering going outside of the school holiday period to avoid larger numbers of people. September can be a lovely time to take a trip as it is often still warm and it is hoped that by then, most children will have returned to school.
Whenever you decide to go, make sure you book in advance as sites are likely to get fully booked faster if numbers are being limited on sites and also because foreign travel is off the cards this year.
For your first trip away, it’s nice to have time to relax, unwind and experience all that a caravanning holiday has to offer, without the pressure of having to stay too long. A week would be the ideal duration for your pilot trip - ample time to chill and see if you enjoy it, but not too long that you are pining to go home!
Don’t forget the essentials
There’s nothing more annoying than arriving on holiday to realise that you left something important at home. In the weeks leading up to the trip make a list of all the things you will need and also ensure that your caravan is fully kitted out for caravanning life. Make sure your kitchen has crockery, cutlery, cups, pans, chopping board and utensils etc, and that your washroom is equipped with wash products, loo rolls, towels and bath mat.
- Other top things to remember include:
- Bedding (remember spares if travelling with kids!)
- Outdoor chairs
- Mini vacuum and dustpan and brush
- Rubbish bags
- Electrical hook-up cable
- Water containers
Be prepared to eat in!
Even though the sites are due to reopen in July, it is possible that bars and restaurants may still be closed. Take the opportunity to make good use of your fantastic on-board kitchen and cook up a storm!
Plan some easy meals to make in the caravan and stock up on whatever you can before you go. Find out what supermarkets are near the site and pick up any other items you need after arrival. Caravan cooking is a pleasure and that teamed with the barbeque and the odd takeaway will make for a very tasty trip!
Electrical hook up
One of the big advantages of caravanning over camping is all the creature comforts caravans provide, many of which are run on electricity. Lighting, fridges, microwaves, hair dryers and phone chargers are never appreciated more than on a caravanning trip! So be sure to come equipped with your electrical hook-up cable, or if you’re opting for a more ‘wild’ caravanning experience, invest in a good leisure battery to keep you going.
Although many tourist and leisure attractions may not be open to us this year, it presents the ideal opportunity to get back to nature and get active! Be sure to pack your walking boots, trainers and swimmers and be ready to make the most of the great outdoors! Walking and hiking across local landscapes is fun for all the family and there’s nothing quite like a paddle in a local stream to help the kiddies cool down. You could even invest in a bike rack for your caravan and take your bikes along with you too!
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 - safe journey!
We’re here to help!
Our knowledgeable staff are happy to answer any queries you may have about your first (or subsequent!) caravanning trip, so please get in touch. Our on-site accessory shop is packed full of thousands of caravanning accessories - whatever you think you may need, we’re sure to have it! Call us and ask or pop in for a look - and rest assured that we have stringent safety and social distancing measures in place to ensure customer and staff safety.
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