- Make sure your car and caravan are ready to tow
- Prepare your food before you leave
- The extra precautions you need to take
Back in style? Seriously?
Seriously. Believed to contribute more than £6 billion to the UK economy, caravanning has been enjoying something of a renaissance of late.
It counts famous faces as diverse as Bonnie Tyler, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Jamie Oliver, Paul Merton and Wayne Rooney among its devoted fans. Even Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, Beyonce and Jay-Z opted for a luxury couples' Winnebago break back in 2012 – and if it's good enough for Queen Bey…
"Fame and fortune are all well and good, but even celebrities eventually realise that there's more to life than paparazzi and endless adulation," says John Sootheran, managing editor of Caravan Magazine.
"It dawns on them that it's the simple things in life that give true pleasure, like time spent with family and friends, the great outdoors and the freedom to get away from the rat race. That's where caravanning, motorhoming and camping come into their own."
What if I have a problem while towing the caravan?
If you're new to caravanning, it's totally normal to feel a little apprehensive about towing. To avoid potential problems, make sure that your car is in good roadworthy condition and ready to tow, that all your tyres are up to spec and that you’ve put a licence plate and reflective sign on your caravan.
Lots of towing problems can be avoided with careful forward planning. You'll want to avoid steep roads and low bridges, so plan an appropriate route to the site before you leave home and consider travelling at quieter times of the day. Also, be sure to pack a warning triangle, reflective vests, spare bulb kit, a travel first aid kit – and a fully charged mobile phone.
"Towing seems to be the biggest barrier to joining the caravanning hobby," observes John Sootheran. "If I have one piece of advice, it would be to do the Caravan Manoeuvring course run by the Caravan Club. I guarantee it'll be the best £140 you ever spend."
Make sure you have the correct caravan insurance and car insurance for towing the caravan in place before you leave. Secure anything loose inside your caravan to prevent unnecessary damage during the drive.
How am I going to cope with caravan cooking?
Despite what you might think, caravan cooking can actually be great fun – as long as you're organised! Pre-preparing and freezing food before you leave is a good idea, as it will mean you're just transporting your food, not the bulky ingredients. Plus, you will just need to heat it when you arrive, saving the hassle of cooking in a small kitchen.
What are we going to need?
Well, whatever you want! Caravanning is effectively like taking your own hotel with everything you'll need for a happy and relaxing time on holiday with you – but this equates to a lot of luggage.
"When preparing for holiday travel via car, a fairly affordable roof bar set can massively help with luggage space. This will allow a roof box or cycle carriers to be fitted", recommends Neil Parker, Managing Director at DriveDen.
"Adding a roof box to your car will add valuable extra space for bags, clothes, equipment and more. Generally, 60–75kg of luggage can be added here to free up inside car space."
If you aren't using a roof box and you'll be packing your car to capacity, you might want to have a mesh barrier fitted. It will keep heavy and hard luggage safely in the car boot, and in the event of an accident, prevent it moving forward and into the passenger area.
What about my dog?
The good news is that there's an abundance of caravan sites that welcome dogs, including 60 of The Camping and Caravanning Club's sites, so there's certainly no need to leave your four-legged family members behind. Holidaying with a dog does require some extra planning though, starting with how you'll transport Fido – dog guard in the car, cage or canine seatbelt?
You'll need to pack everything he needs for the duration of your stay: bed, towels, plastic bags, toys, food, water and his leads/harness. We also recommend taking a stake with you so you can tie a long lead to it and allow him some calculated freedom outside the caravan, giving your arm a rest!
What extra precautions should we take?
Don't take your caravan anywhere unless you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms fitted, as well as a dry powder fire extinguisher located near the door.
Be safe and never leave cooking appliances unattended or use camping stoves or disposable barbeques inside your caravan. The Camping and Caravanning Club recommends that you have a fire bucket full of water outside your unit too – so add a bucket to your list of things to pack.
If you're taking children on holiday with you, don't leave them in your caravan unsupervised. Be sure to equip your caravan with a first aid kit and take a torch with you for trips to the toilet block in the dark. After a great holiday, always ensure you turn off the gas before travelling home.
When packing for your holiday you might want to use our caravanning checklist to make sure you don't forget anything. Remember to give yourself plenty of time to plan, prepare and pack and you'll have an amazing holiday.