Your first caravan holiday could well be a journey into the unknown. Here Adrian Flux answers a dozen of the most common questions about caravan holidays.
Caravan holidays are growing in popularity. No wonder. Many people are attracted to caravan holidays because of the independence they offer. You can be totally self-contained, everything you need for your vacation can be stowed in the van.
That self containment and independence means that a caravan holiday is great for maintaining social distancing if you are still a little nervous about mingling after the coronavirus lockdown. You even have your own loo and wash facilities.
A caravan holiday is an adventure and a great way of travelling the country, reconnecting with nature and discovering some beautiful places tucked away, off the beaten track. They’re also popular with all sorts of people, young families, retired couples, groups of friends, and depending on what sort of site you stay at, dogs are normally welcome!
And forget Carry on Camping, with Syd James, Barbara Windsor and the rest of the slapstick team, caravan holidays can be quite luxurious. As well as the gear and creature comforts you pack to ensure you have a fantastic break, many caravan parks are chock-a-block with great facilities – everything from pools and gyms to restaurants and nightclubs.
12 of your caravan holiday questions answered
1. Should I join a caravan club?
Yes you should join a caravan club. You can find all sorts of tips and tricks about caravan holidays by joining a club — you may even get your membership fee back on the insurance discount it will earn you.
2. Which caravan should I buy?
Caravan holidays are huge in the UK and many of the best manufacturers are based here. There is a big range available, in terms of spec and price, but the first questions you will probably ask is how many berths does it have and how big is it. Here are some more tips on buying your first caravan.
3. What if my caravan isn’t big enough?
An awning can double the space available to you and most caravans have bespoke awnings that you can buy and easily fit once you have pitched up. They will provide lots of protected outside space for the bikes, inflatables, barbecues, sun loungers and other knick-knacks you will want with you to ensure you have a great holiday.
4. How do I pack my holiday caravan safely?
A badly packed caravan will significantly impair the stability of the caravan and the towing vehicle increasing the chances of an accident.
Remember to stash the heaviest items, such as awnings, mains electric cables, furniture, and food supplies, above the axle. Less heavy items should be loaded next, again, on the floor and as near to the axle as possible. Only very light items, such as summer clothes, should be stored in roof cabinets while in transit, but it’s better to pack clothes in a suitcase laid on the floor of the van.
5. How do I tow a caravan?
Towing a caravan is probably the most worrying part of a caravan holiday, and reversing it can cause all sorts of anxieties, but help is at hand.
You can sign up for a training course which will boost your skills and your confidence. The Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club both offer driver training courses, and across the country there are many private driver training agencies.
6. Do I need any extras on my car when I tow my caravan?
Whenever you hook up your caravan for a trip you should fit towing mirrors which will enable you to see what’s behind you. They are simple to fit and inexpensive. Halfords have a good selection at a reasonable price — they’ll even fit them for you in the unlikely event that you can’t manage it.
When you are towing also make sure the boot of your car is pretty well packed. That will improve stability and afford more efficient towing power.
7. How long will it take to get to my caravan holiday destination?
When you are towing a caravan the overtaking lane is a no-go area so you won’t get to where you want to be as quickly as you would normally. That means, roughly speaking, you will need to give an extra hour for every 100 miles you intend to travel.
You will get tired towing a caravan too as there is more to watch out for and more for you to concentrate on. The best thing to do is plan ahead, leave early and take plenty of breaks. The good news is that you can rustle up a brew in the van when you do take a break so there’s no queuing at service station Costa’s or layby greasy spoons.
8. What are the common pitfalls of towing a caravan?
As stated previously, reversing will be the biggest problem for novice caravanners so get a training course and practice lots before your first trip. But don’t forget, as well as being longer and wider than you are used to, your caravan will be higher. Make sure you know how high your van is because it can be awful embarrassing getting stuck under the low-height barrier at Tesco!
9. Can I take a TV on my caravan holiday?
You won’t have to miss your favourite TV programmes when you take a caravan holiday. All you will need is a decent roof aerial and then tune in when you pitch. You don’t need to worry about a licence either as you are covered by your home TV licence.
10. Once it is pitched, how is my caravan powered?
Caravan parks provide electric hook-ups for your convenience but you can also use a leisure battery and you can use gas appliances too, for things like a fridge, cooker and water heating. If you want the full off-grid experience it’s pretty easy to convert your van to solar power.
11. How can I keep my caravan secure?
There are a number of items that will help you keep your caravan secure. It’s worth investing in a hitch lock and a wheel clamp which will help slow down or prevent thieves from stealing your caravan while a good alarm will help protect its contents. It’s a good idea to fit a tracker device too which will come into its own in the worst case scenario. Extra security measures might even earn you a discount on your annual insurance for the van.
12. Is my caravan covered by my car insurance?
It is not a legal requirement to insure your caravan, so you may be wondering to yourself “Why do I need caravan insurance?” While towing, caravans are often covered by the motor policy of the towing vehicle, but that cover is for third party only and there is no theft or fire cover. Once they are uncoupled, there is no cover at all, that’s why bespoke caravan insurance is a no-brainer. Caravans cost a lot of money to replace, and insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive, so skimping can prove to be a false economy.
Specialist Adrian Flux caravan policies are competitively priced and offer generous discounts for members of touring, camping and caravanning clubs, as well as great deals when you obtain your car and caravan insurance together.