First Time Caravanners Preparation Checklist
It’s the holidays again, but this time you are doing something different.
You’ve decided to take your family on a caravanning holiday.
You can’t wait to get all of your family into your new caravan and head to your first caravanning holiday…
How prepared are you?
Caravans are a great way to travel, but they are much more than a mobile home.
They are a perfect way to create your own adventures, go everywhere you have dreamed about and still give all the comforts of home when you get there.
Even if your travels range for hundreds or thousands of km’s, a Retreat Caravans will take it all in it’s stride.
But there is another truth that caravanning vacationers, in their eagerness to holiday, may forget – you and your family will spend most of your time in a confined space.
It may be cool to have everything you need at your reach. But as days go by, family members may develop ‘cabin fever.’ For many families, symptoms of cabin fever start to show on the third day of caravanning.
Cabin fever manifests itself as squabbles among the little ones before it escalates into full-blown shouting matches among adults.
The shouting matches may be followed by hours of flinty silence.
Can you avoid cabin fever?
Yes. By preparing well.
Tip 1: Get Acquainted with Your Caravan
If you have zero or little road experience, it is important that you take time to familiarise yourself with the caravan.
You’ll be glad that you did. It doesn’t matter whether you own it or if you are renting it.
If something breaks during the time, you’ll be able to diagnose the problem, and potentially fix it. This will save you unnecessary headaches, time, and money.
But more importantly, if you know the ins and outs of your caravan, you’re less likely to incur unnecessary operational costs.
For instance, if you don’t know how much weight the caravan can handle, you’ll most likely overload it, and there’s a good chance something will break.
Tip 2: Take it For a Test Drive
How familiar are you with the roads you’ll be travelling over the holiday?
Holiday time should be holiday time; not time to start figuring out how to manoeuvre the roads.
As a caravan beginner, you probably don’t have an idea on how the different parts of the caravan behave as you drive.
For instance, you probably don’t know how hard it is to drive downhill; or, how difficult it is to switch lanes or overtake on a busy road.
Do yourself and your family a favour. Take a test drive.
Once you are familiar with the ins and outs of driving a caravan, you can make all the necessary adjustments to ensure your trip will be a breeze.
For instance, if you discover that shelfs bang open when you are driving, you can find a way of keeping them shut.
Involve a teenager and an adult in the test drive. It is important you practice different things like parking and reversing.
When you purchase a caravan from Retreat, your dealer will provide you the opportunity to practise towing a caravan under the attentive eyes of a proficient instructor.
Tip 3: Stock Your Toolkit and Bring Spare Parts
Your conventional toolkit won’t be sufficient for a caravan. Think of everything you’ll need for the trip, which is why it is important to familiarise yourself with the caravan (see point 1 above).
Your toolkit needs to be well stocked for the journey. Take extra light bulbs, extra fuses, bolt and connectors, jumper cables, and nuts. Now that you know your caravan well and what it needs, don’t take anything for granted.
Some of the equipment and tools you’ll need include:
Board games to avoid boredom and quell instances of cabin fever;
Fire extinguisher for any accidental fire. Better safe than sorry, right?;
Insect spray to keep those uninvited guests at bay;
Emergency phone numbers. You might need the breakdown operator’s number;
First aid kit for quick treatment of wounds, bruises, and abrasions. No adventure is complete without a sprain;
Anything else that you think you’ll need.
You know yourself better. Pack everything.
Tip 4: Plan, Plan, and Plan
You just got your first caravan. The urge to just pack and go wherever the compass points can be quite irresistible. There is a certain pleasure in feeling that you have a home on wheels, and going wherever and whenever you want.
But for your safety’s sake, don’t fall to this nefarious urge.
It is important to have a plan, especially if this will be your first caravanning trip.
As you plan, consider the following factors:
What budget are you willing to allocate for the trip?
What’s your food arrangement? What will you cook? What will you eat when you are out and about?
What route will you be taking?
Do you have any planned stops along the way?
Are there campgrounds where you are going?
Give yourself enough time to prepare for the trip. It is insane to think that you can just throw a few utilities into your caravan, head out, and have smooth sailing. Unless you are a seasoned caravanning pro, setting out without preparation is a sure recipe for disaster and bouts of cabin fever.
It doesn’t hurt to start preparing for your first caravanning holiday a few months in advance.
Tip 5: Tricks for the Road
Towing is very different from conventional driving.
Give yourself more time and space for everything when you are towing. Brake earlier than you normally do. Go easy on the accelerator.
Avoid taking sharp corners. Otherwise, you risk the back of the caravan clipping the kerb or the outermost corner.
Side Mirror for Caravan. Image Credit to GalaxyCaravans.com.au
Also, ensure that your side mirrors give you a clear view of the rear unit. This might mean replacing normal mirrors with extension mirrors. But remember to take them off when you are not caravanning. It is illegal to use extension mirrors when you don’t need them.
Tip 6: Setting Up at a Caravan Park
As a caravanning beginner, you probably haven’t developed a campground routine. So, how do you go about setting your caravan at the campground?
A checklist comes in handy. Your checklist should include the following:
Are there low hanging tree branches or other obstacles on the campground?
Locate where sewage and electrical hook-ups are;
Drive your caravan as close to the hook-ups as possible. Bring it to level using stabilising blocks or levelling jacks, if necessary;
Chock the wheels to secure your caravan;
Connect your caravan to the electrical hook-up, and change your appliances to use power from the hook-up instead of the caravan’s battery;
Put on your gloves and connect the sewer hose to the sewage hook-up;
Get out your awning and get the campsite ready.
This checklist should get you through the nitty-gritties of preparing, setting out, driving, and enjoying your caravan holiday.
You may want to print this checklist for easier accessibility.