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.
As well as countless Brits who love exploring in their vans, celeb fans of caravanning include Bonnie Tyler, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Jamie Oliver, Paul Merton and Wayne Rooney. 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 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 do I need to know about towing a caravan?
If you're new to caravanning, it's totally normal to feel a little apprehensive about towing. Firstly, make sure your car is in good, roadworthy condition and ready to tow, all your tyres are up to spec and you’ve put a licence plate and reflective sign on your caravan.
Lots of towing hiccups can be avoided with careful forward planning. Avoid steep roads and low bridges by planning a route to your site before you leave home. Consider travelling at quieter times of the day, and be sure to pack a warning triangle, reflective vests, spare bulb kit, a travel first aid kit. And don't forget a fully charged mobile phone.
'Towing seems to be the biggest barrier to joining the caravanning hobby,' says 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 £150 you ever spend.'
Make sure you have the correct caravan insurance
and car insurance
for towing the caravan before you leave. Secure anything loose inside your caravan to prevent unnecessary damage during the drive.
How do I cook in a caravan?
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, then you're just transporting your food, not the bulky ingredients. Plus, you will just need to heat and eat, saving the hassle of cooking in a small kitchen. Try dishes that freeze easily, like casseroles, ratatouille and stews.
What do I need to pack?
Caravanning is effectively your own hotel on wheels. You can take everything you'll need for a happy and relaxing time on holiday with you – but this can equate 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', says 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, have a mesh barrier fitted. It will keep heavy and hard luggage safely in the car boot, and in the event of an accident, stop it moving forward into the passenger area.
Can I take my dog caravanning?
The good news is there's an abundance of caravan sites that welcome dogs, including 60 of The Camping and Caravanning Club's sites
, so there's 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 your dog needs for the duration of your stay: bed, towels, plastic bags, toys, food, water and lead. 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 I 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.
Never leave cooking appliances unattended or use camping stoves or disposable barbeques inside your caravan. The Camping and Caravanning Club recommends 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, 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.