5 useful tips before setting off on your first caravanning holiday

16/10/2014

So you have chosen and purchased your first ever caravan and no doubt are very excited about setting off on your first trip away. Although the excitement may mean you just want to pack up, jump in your caravan and go, there are a few quick, but important, checks we suggest you carry out first.

 


So you have chosen and purchased your first ever caravan and no doubt are very excited about setting off on your first trip away.

Although the excitement may mean you just want to pack up, jump in your caravan and go, there are a few quick, but important, checks we suggest you carry out first.

 

Know the speed limits for towing a caravan

If you are travelling abroad keep on the right side of the law (and avoid any hefty fines!) by checking the speed limits for driving with a caravan. Bear in mind these will vary across Europe so never make any assumptions about what the maximums are.

In the UK the speed limits are;

60mph on motorways and dual carriageways.
50mph on other types of road (providing no lower speed limit is in force).

Always remember as well that when towing you are not allowed to use the right hand lane of the motorway.

Simple tip: Make sure you take your time at first until you feel comfortable and confident with towing your new caravan. If you notice a large queue of traffic behind you pull over when safe to do so and let some people past.

 

Check the tyre pressure for your caravan and towing vehicle

To ensure stability and safety on the road it is important to make sure that your towing vehicle tyres are at the correct pressure for travelling with a heavy load.

It is also important to check the caravan tyres are properly inflated as well, check the pressures when cold and make sure the valve is not leaking and valve caps are all replaced.

Whilst you are checking the tyre pressure, have a scan over the sidewalls of the tyres to check for any cracks or damage, and make sure the tread depth is legal.

 

Load your caravan sensibly

You need to think about more than just storage space when packing your caravan for your holidays. You also need to think about the maximum authorised mass- this is the maximum weight that your car and caravan can weigh when loaded, you need to ensure that you do not exceed this weight.

It is also important to think about where you will need to position the load during transit to ensure the weight is evenly distributed and items are secure. If you have any heavy items to carry in the caravan it is important to keep these items low down (for safety) and also close to the axle for the sake of stability.

Remember that it is illegal to carry any passengers in the caravan when it is being towed. It is not illegal to carry any animals in the caravan but it is not recommended.

Simple tip: Check your load a few miles down the road to confirm everything is still securely in place before carrying on with your journey.

 

Practice towing your caravan before you go

Towing a caravan can feel very much like learning to drive all over again. You will need to make lots of adjustments to how you normally drive to cater for the extra load that you are carrying and the additional length.

Make sure you have time to practice towing your caravan before your first holiday, so you can get a feel for the differences in driving and adapt to these.

When towing a caravan your car will naturally take longer to stop, accelerate and turn than when it is a vehicle on its own. You need to allow for this extra time, especially when carrying out any manoeuvres such as over-taking and reversing.

Simple tip: If overtaking count to 5 after you think it is ok to pull back in before you actually do, to make sure you have definitely left plenty of space. Before you set off make sure that you check the view in your mirrors down both sides of your caravan, to ensure you have a clear view. It is likely that you will need extension mirrors to achieve this, but don’t forget to take them off when you are not towing as it is illegal to drive with them on when you don’t need them.

 

What to do if your caravan begins to snake

First of all- try not to panic!

You may be thinking that is easier said than done when faced with snaking- the fear of all prospective caravanners, but having awareness of it and knowing how to react, should mean you are well equipped to get any snaking that does happen under control.

Snaking is when the swaying movement of the caravan behind becomes excessive and can even drag the back of the car with it. If this happens you need to reduce your acceleration by taking your feet off the pedals allowing the car's engine to brake, without the use of the brake pedal. Try and keep the steering wheel as straight ahead as possible, avoiding turning in to or against the sway. This should counteract the snaking so that you can get the caravan back under control.

To help avoid the risk of snaking try and ensure you load your caravan carefully and evenly and have the correct nose weight. You could also consider purchasing a stabiliser if your caravan doesn’t already have one, as these can help reduce snaking by increasing the turning friction between towing vehicle and trailer.

We hope you have found this guide useful- for more top tips and guides keep an eye on our media centre over the coming months

 

Happy holidays!