Top tips for the new caravanner
WE’VE CARAVANNED for nearly four years now, are members of the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club, and dip into your wonderful magazine, which I now subscribe to. My wife and I, and Merlin the dog, absolutely love our Bailey Pegasus Verona. However, when starting out, we found caravanning very complicated and quite confusing. Having read numerous starter guides, we still find it amazing that very little emphasis is made on some quite important issues that may actually be quite dangerous but are, at the very least, frustrating. So here goes, my guide to the things nobody seems to tell you when you start caravanning – the first one, especially, I have never read about anywhere, yet I have seen many people struggling to connect caravan to car.
1 If you have a single Euro plug on the caravan, which pushes then twists to lock on to the car, you should have been provided with a green cap type-thing with the caravan. This is very important – the socket works by the outer sleeve rotating to lock on to the car once applied. Sometimes this will rotate itself, especially when you store the socket in its place on the van, if it has one. If it does this, it gets ‘out of sync’ and won’t allow you to connect van to car. The solution: simply pop the green socket on to the caravan socket to realign it, and twist. We’ve never read anything about this, anywhere! 2 Uncoil the mains cable before using it to provide current to the caravan. Many seem unaware that a coiled cable is basically a heater – the higher the current going through, the hotter it gets. This could be very dangerous. Stretch it out around/under/ behind the van, where people aren’t going to walk. If the electrics attach on the awning side of the van, tuck it behind the caravan’s corner steadies. 3 Always double-check the jockey wheel is right up and tight during the tow – they can have a habit of loosening and/or grounding on speed bumps. 4 Make sure that the cable won’t trail between car and caravan
when towing – the road surface is a very good abrasive! 5 Make sure your caravan is level, using ramps under one wheel, not the corner steadies. If not, the fridge might not be happy! 6 If you’re paying extra for a fully serviced site, make sure you have plenty of the appropriate hoses, with joiners and so on. They’re reasonably priced on ebay. 7 Force a bit of water in to your water pump if it initially struggles to suck up. 8 If you can’t put up the awning, for example if it’s too windy, and you have a larger waste bin than those little door-mounted ones, then pop it in a wardrobe or the shower cubicle and move it when you want to use the shower. 9 When leaving the caravan for a time, drop a teaspoon or so of food-grade disinfectant into your water and waste containers, and some neat toilet fluid into the holding tank – it won’t freeze, or harm anything in those even if it does, and things are so much better on your return. Simply rinse out the drinking water tank on arrival. 10 When travelling, put the small plates at the back of the rack and bigger ones at the front. Then they won’t fall out. 11 If you are cooking in the caravan, the smoke alarm will drive you nuts. Buy an optical one instead – far less prone to false alarms when you make toast. 12 Carry some duct tape and at least a multitool. 13 Want to save some gas? Buy a small George Foreman type grill – or the equivalent – from a caravan shop. They’re healthy, too, but watch the amperage draw, of course.