The rise of the ‘glamavan’ and luxury camping sites across the country have seen the traditionally thrifty family holiday elevated to a luxury option
No, really. Here, some experienced caravanners, as well as some more recent converts, share what they’ve learnt so you can start to plan the road trip of a lifetime.
- Preparation: what to do before you start
- Destinations: why to take trips ranging from 20 miles to 5,000 miles
- Recommendations: extra steps to make sure things go smoothly
Fresh thoughts from a newcomer
Karla Baker and her partner Stephen Wills are relatively new to caravanning, but they’ve already learnt a lot after their first few trips, which they share via their blog and on Twitter as @KarlaB465 and @stevewills465.
They love being outdoors and exploring new places, and don’t let the fact that Karla needs an electric wheelchair to get around stop them.
‘The caravanning lifestyle appealed to us in many ways. Not only does it give you great spontaneity and freedom to explore, it also eliminates the hassle of finding wheelchair-accessible accommodation as we tow our very own hotel-on-wheels behind us wherever we go,’ explains Karla.
Tip No. 1 – trust in lists
Like any holiday, it can be easy to forget to pack something essential, so Karla’s first tip is to make lists.
‘We found it very useful to create a list of things to pack and a list of ‘pre-flight checks’. These lists were particularly useful when we were newbies, but still come in handy now,’ she says. ‘Our checks include everything: draining down the water, making sure every window latch is locked and that the microwave plate is safely stowed before we hit the road,’ Karla continues.
Tip No. 2 – glove up
They also recommend taking a pair of gloves to wear when setting up on site or preparing to leave – a handy tip to avoid wiping oil or mud on your trousers, or the steering wheel
Tip No. 3 – join the community
Read blogs, watch vlogs and connect with other caravanners on social media.
‘Not only will you find out so much useful information, you will also meet some lovely, like-minded people,’ says Karla.
Tip No. 4 – drain and then shut
One of Karla and Stephen’s caravanning do’s and don’ts is remembering to drain the water system before you leave. However, they do sometimes forget to shut it again.
‘When setting up on site, make sure you’ve closed the drain-down valve on the water system before running the taps,’ says Karla. ‘If you don’t, you’ll end up waiting ages for the water to come through, only to find a puddle underneath you caravan where it has drained straight out. This has happened to us more times than we’d like to admit!’ confessed Karla.
Getting your motor moving
Nigel Hutson (@hutson_nigel), a judge at the Tow Car Awards, has a few top tips.
Tip No. 5 – double up on H2O
‘If you use your own facilities in the caravan, as we do, then I suggest getting a second Aquaroll (water carrier) as you can almost guarantee that the water will run out half way through someone’s shower!’ recommends Nigel.
Tip No. 6 – the perfect manoeuvre
His second tip concerns another caravan accessory: the ‘motor mover’, a motorised gadget that enables you to move the caravan using a remote control.
‘To be honest, we’d really struggle to manoeuvre our own caravan without the motor mover,’ says Nigel.
‘If you’ve ever tried to push a caravan uphill, or on soft ground, you’ve probably got nowhere, which is why many could have decided to give up this wonderful pastime if it weren’t for their motor mover,’ he says.
Tip No. 7 – the joy of short trips
Nigel enjoys the opportunity a caravan gives him to explore his local area.
‘For instance,’ he says, ‘would you book a hotel or B&B that was only 20 miles from home? Probably not; but we often don’t travel much further than that for a weekend trip in our caravan,’ he added.
Tip No. 8 – get the right caravan for the job
Nigel once did a 5,000-mile caravan trip, passing through 12 countries in 16 days, while taking part in the Bailey of Bristol #ArcticAdventure trip to northern Finland. You can see a film of some of his experiences on YouTube.
‘We were several hundred miles inside the Arctic Circle, with temperatures well below zero, but still perfectly comfortable thanks to a good heating system and the high level of insulation in the modern caravan.’ said Nigel. ‘It was an amazing experience that took a lot of planning and research, but was all made possible by the caravan.’
The grand tour… with children in tow
The editor of Discover Touring magazine (@touringmag), Caroline Mills (@carolineMills99), has toured all over Europe and beyond, and has some excellent tips – particularly for choosing the best layout for young children.
Tip No. 9 – don’t give yourself too much to do
‘Being out in the fresh air all day inevitably causes that wonderful sense of tiredness that only outdoor activity can bring,’ says Caroline.
‘But there’s more to life than trying to calm an overtired, fractious child at the end of an activity-fuelled day – especially if you’re creating a bed for them on the sofa at the same time. Fixed bunk beds and separate dinettes are the order of the day when you have little ones in tow – they also make fabulous dens.
Tip No. 10 – don’t look too far afield at first
‘I always recommend staying local either to home or to the dealership for your first few trips,’ Caroline suggests. ‘This allows you to get to grips with how everything works, and you’re only a short distance away if an issue arises.
‘I once heard a couple request a song on the radio as they started their first-ever caravan holiday, with an eight-hour journey towing a caravan they’d just collected, and never towed before, ahead – admirable, but not recommended!’ she adds.
Tip No. 11 – caravanning starts in the classroom
Caroline’s final top tip is to attend a towing and manoeuvring course to get classroom and practical tuition.
‘Your confidence will be much improved when on the road and at the campsite,’ says Caroline.
What are you waiting for?
Building the perfect caravan trip for you is all part of the fun so, now you’ve heard from the newbies and experts alike, why not test out the trend yourself? But remember, even if your caravan road trip sees you staying close to home, don't be one of the 25million Brits who staycation without travel insurance!
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