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Caravanning - What You Need to Know

Updated on February 15, 2024
Eileen Hughes profile image

TRAVEL -I love traveling, we have traveled around Australia 3 times and love to check out the different places.

Our first van we took across the Nullabour

Tips on having a Safe Caravan Holiday

Caravanning - What you need to know before you think of going away.

Many seniors travel to other countries, before they see their own homeland, because it is often cheaper. No matter what country you live in there are hundreds of beautiful places to see. Why not check them out, and at the same time enrich your own country by spending there.

A good way to do this is by touring around in a caravan. Although there are many things, you will need to think about.

A suitable tow vehicle

If a caravan holiday is what you have set your mind on, then check out this information:

  • You need to make sure the vehicle is capable or big enough to tow the van you have bought.
  • Is the tow hitch heavy enough to tow the weight of the van? This will be stamped on tow bar. (remember this weight is normally the factory weight of van)In theory the towing vehicle should be heavier than what you are towing, and have enough power to tow it.
  • All vehicles should be fitted with self-leveling suspension. Follow the manufacturer's regulations unless you are towing a small trailer.

Types of caravans

There are many different types of caravans; inspect them all, before you make the final decision.

A lot will depend on the amount you are prepared to spend on your holiday home as to what model, type, and age van you choose.

  • Full caravans, single or double axle- Double is safer especially if you have a flat tire or broken axle.
  • Camper trailers, these fold out and up when you arrive at your destination.
  • Off road Camper trailers
  • Mobile Homes
  • Fifth Wheelers
  • Pop tops, these are ideal if you have a smaller vehicle. They should also be cheaper to tow, with less wind drag than the larger vans.

Need to know - before buying your Caravan

When thinking of buying a caravan, have a good look at the different layouts. They may all look good; the appearance is not the main issue, it needs to suit your needs and be livable.

  • You need to picture yourself cooking a meal, does it offer the room you need?
  • The sleeping situation, single beds or island bed. Do you need an extra bed for visitors?
  • Can you move about with ease?
  • Does it offer you the privacy you would like?
  • Do you need a shower and toilet?
  • Do you need a full oven, or fridge with a separate freezer?
  • Would you like a roll out awning with annex walls?

What is included in the price?

Here are a few things you need to ask:

  • Check out the warranty on the van. Is it licensed?
  • Does it have the correct electrical and gas certificates? Does it come with current dated gas bottles
  • Does it have a spare tire?

The best idea is to rent one that you would like to buy, try it out then buy if it suits your needs.

Hitching up the van

When hitching up any caravan, make sure that the vehicle and van are level once hitched up. You never tow anything with the back end of the vehicle lower than the front of the vehicle. It should all be level.

Possible Causes of unlevel hitching: Uneven weight distribution when loading the van. Incorrect or proper towing equipment, tow ball height or trailer height coupling. Check with any caravan distributor for more information on this, before starting out on your trip.

Pack these useful items

  • Mosquito or fly spray
  • Batteries
  • Sunscreen
  • Fresh water
  • Charged up Mobile phone if going off road
  • First aid kit
  • Torch or lantern
  • Fold up shovel
  • Toilet paper
  • Matches

Safety Check List Before Leaving any site

So, you think you are ready to roll, and then make sure by checking this list before you leave on your holiday, and before leaving any overnight stop. We all think we are infallible, but are we. How many times have you seen someone drive off, with the power lead still hooked up to power, or the caravan step is down. It is better to be sure than sorry.

Look inside your caravan:

  • Have you switched the fridge to battery, and secured all cupboard and fridge doors
  • Have you locked all the windows and lowered the air vents etc.
  • Have you secured all loose objects in the caravan?

Look Outside the caravan:

  • Lock down the pop top roof and roll out awning
  • Put the caravan step up
  • Hitch the caravan up to the vehicle correctly with leveling bars
  • Hook the chains up to the D shackle correctly
  • Make sure you hook up the lighting plug,
  • Remove the jockey wheel
  • Is the gas turned off at the bottles (NEVER Travel with gas on while traveling or when fueling up) If you have seen a van disappear in flames in15 minutes you will know why I say this. I have. It is very quick and dangerous.
  • Make sure to lock the van and put latch on door
  • Disconnect the power lead and lock front boot of van if you have one
  • Walk around your van and check the windows, tires and everything is correct
  • check all side lights, indicator lights, and brake lights are working before leaving.

Above all, be a courteous driver, drive safely, and obey the traffic rules.

Enjoy your holiday

Solar panels give you cheaper power

Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel 100W 12V High Efficiency Module RV Marine Boat Off Grid
Newpowa 100 Watts 12 Volts Polycrystalline Solar Panel 100W 12V High Efficiency Module RV Marine Boat Off Grid
I would never travel anywhere without at least one solar panel on both my caravan and my car. If you have a fridge in car this will help although you will need to get another battery too. But then you an free camp and save money.

Never load your caravan like this it should be level

Generator or Solar Panels

Solar Panels

We prefer traveling with solar panels simply because they are cleaner, no smelly fuel to have to carry and it also saves room in the boot.

By installing solar panels on the roof of your car and caravan you will have enough power to keep you traveling and allows you to stay out in free camps for up to 4 days at a time.

We have 320watt panels on the roof of our caravan - yes solar panels do work while flat on your roof, some people do not believe this. We have had ours on the roof for three years and still no problems and no we do not wash them unless it rains.

We also have 160watt panel on roof of our car which charges up batteries and keeps our food frozen in the freezer.

Disadvantage of solar panels

You cannot use the microwave or air conditioner - unless you have a stack of panels.

Generators in my opinion

They take up precious holiday time taking out fueling up and carting them around and are noisy, smelly and always keep me awake. Have you ever noticed how people have big long power leads so they can place the generator miles away from their van. They are often closer to your van than theirs. Hey that's not fair. As I said my opinion only.

© 2007 Eileen hughes


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