Setting Off On Your First Caravan Trip: 7 Point Checklist
You’re gearing up to set out on your first caravan trip - it’s all very exciting. A new experience filled with adventure and a whole new type of freedom while you’re traveling. However, towing a caravan and looking after it while you’re away can seem a bit of a daunting prospect. But fear not, in this guide we will share our top tips for first-time caravanners to help everything go as smoothly as possible as you set off on that first trip.
By the end of this guide you will have a comprehensive checklist for setting your caravan up to hit the road. Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook and let us know how your first caravan trip goes!
First Caravan Trip Checklist
1. Do your admin
Your first step before hitting the road is a bit of a boring one. Admin. Make sure all of your paperwork is in order in good time before your trip. By this, we mean making sure you have the appropriate insurance and breakdown cover in place for your tow vehicle and your caravan. If you have purchased a used caravan it is worth booking it in for a habitation check before you hit the road. This is a check only an expert can carry out and will identify any issues before they become bigger problems.
2. Make sure you’ve got all the technical kit you need
There’s plenty of kit involved when it comes to holidaying with a caravan. Before you set off on your first caravan trip we suggest getting a list together of all of the technical kit you’ll need to run your caravan before you begin to think about all of the fun stuff you need to take with you. To kick this list off we would include:
- Appropriate towing aid
- A caravan jock
- Wheel chocks
- Towing mirrors
- Fire extinguisher
- Electrical hook-up wire
But this list may vary depending on your caravan. Don’t forget to check out the latest offers in our caravan accessories shop.
3. Load your caravan correctly
The way you pack up your caravan has greater importance than you might think. You’ll need to know exactly how much weight you’re legally allowed to add to your caravan while towing it.
You should be able to work this out by finding the difference between the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of the caravan and the Mass In Running Order (MIRO). The resulting figure is known as the User Payload. However, before you start loading, you’ll need to deduct any additional features you’ve installed on your caravan, such as a motor mover.
Once you know how much additional weight you can load into the caravan, you’ll need to put the heaviest items in first. They need to be positioned low down and as close to the axle as possible. Medium weight items come next, as low as you can get them and evenly distributed while staying as close as possible to the axle. The overhead lockers should be reserved for your lightest items, otherwise you might increase the risk of ‘snaking’ while you’re on the road.
4. Get a setting-off checklist together
To make setting-off as easy as possible and to avoid any last-minute panics, get a checklist together. This means that you can tick everything off each time and feel sure you’ve got everything and done everything you need to do before setting off. To get you started, this should include:
- Empty the water tanks - fresh and waste water
- Check fluid levels, gas and electricity supply, making sure everything is off and disconnected
- Check your tyre pressure
- Check your lights
- Test your safety appliances (alarms, fire extinguishers etc.) and security devices
- Make sure everything is secure including locker doors, windows and the fridge door
- Raise corner steadies and remove chocks
5. Take it easy on the road
If this is your first caravan, then it is likely to be your first time towing on the road. It can take a while to get used to and you might be a little nervous at first. There are courses you can go on where an instructor can guide you through the basics. However, whatever level you are, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time so you can really take it steady on the road. Preferably travel at quieter times of the day so that main roads are quieter and you have more space. We’ve all been stuck behind a slow-moving caravan at one point or another, so when you’re not on a multiple lane road, take advantage of laybys and allow faster vehicles to pass when possible.
6. Get a set-up checklist together
You’ve finally made it, you’ve reached your destination and the holiday can begin. But first you need to set-up your caravan. It’ll take you a few trips to get into a set-up routine that works for you, so in the meantime follow the steps below to get you started:
- Unhitch the caravan, pop the handbrake on and move your tow vehicle out of the way.
- Level the caravan
- Lower the corner steadies
- Connect the power and set up your gas and water systems
- Head inside and make sure your appliances are working correctly and that the water system is all good to go.
Then it’s time to make yourself a cuppa and sit back and relax.
7. Work as a team
No matter who you’re travelling with, remember that caravan holidays mean you’ll be in close quarters a lot of the time. It’s important to be considerate and keeping things clean and tidy can make a whole world of difference in a relatively confined space. When setting up and packing up, it’s a lot easier when everyone chips in and takes responsibility for an item or two on the checklist and in many cases an extra pair of eyes can be very helpful. For example, reversing a caravan into a pitch if you don’t have a motor mover can be very tricky on your own.
As with most things, caravan trips tend to go much more smoothly and are mor enjoyable when you’re well prepared. Don’t leave things to the last minute and if required, get someone in to do any checks well in advance. This means you’ll have plenty of time to sort any issues out and you won’t discover any faults at your first camp site. There are plenty of courses available to help build your confidence towing something as big as a caravan and get a practice run in at least before tackling a long trip. Follow the tips above, work as a team and take it easy on the road. However, most of all, enjoy your trip!