Master Caravanning For Beginners in 8 Simple Steps

Written by Stuart Craig on 21st October 2020

Caravanning for beginners can seem a different holiday prospect for some.

Yet, the idea of a self-contained, self-sufficient getaway is more appealing than ever at the moment. Offering the freedom to explore the best of the UK (and to tweak your plans at short notice), caravan holidays are the natural and ideal choice. 

We are going to help you discover the new adventures that are just around the corner.

How do you get started if you’re new to caravanning? What are the best tips for caravanning for beginners? What preparation steps should you be aware of? 

Here are your 8 caravan top tips in our caravan beginners guide, together with some pointers for further reading along the way. 

1. Get Familiar With Caravanning Jargon 

From ‘jockey wheels’ to ‘leaf spring stabilisers’, the world of caravanning has its fair share of technical lingo. A basic knowledge of the terminology comes in handy, especially when browsing caravan sellers’ listings and setting up your first caravan for the first time on your first caravan holiday. Exciting and daunting all at the same time.

A welcome reference point for newcomers is our own caravan jargon buster, it should help bring you up to speed with some more bewildering terms you may come across in your research. 

2. Safe Caravan Towing: Work With Your Car’s Capabilities 

That gorgeous six-berth tourer looks amazing. But what will it take to tow it? With an eye on budget, caravan ownership and becoming a caravanner interests many people. But, they are less keen on having to trade up their car. 

The starting point should be the towing capabilities of the tow car you intend to use. When you’re clear on this, you can narrow down your new caravan search, in terms of size and weight. 

First, off, you’ll need to find out your car’s kerbweight, which means the weight of the vehicle, including fuel and equipment. As a rule, your laden caravan should weigh equivalent to no more than 85% of the car’s kerbweight. 

For the lowdown on the legality of hitching up, along with hints on getting your existing car more ‘tow-friendly’, take a look at our guide to towing a caravan.   

3. Buying Secondhand / Used Caravan — Ask The Right Questions 

To make the most of your budget, you can find bargains in the secondhand caravan market. That said, there are also pitfalls; especially for someone new to caravanning.

A golden rule to start: never agree to a deal on a used caravan before a thorough inspection. Also, if you are not sure what to look for when checking over a caravan, take an experienced caravanner with you, if you know one, and benefit from their experience.

From warranties for nearly-new models through to essential safety checks and servicing checks, our compendium of 10 questions should help you distinguish between the genuine bargains and the ones to avoid.  

4. Buying New — It’s Often Worth Staying Local 

Buying a new caravan gives you scope to specify your preferred layout, not to mention the reassurance of a full manufacturer’s warranty. 

A practical tip worth noting is, choose a dealership within easy reach of where you live. It’s much easier to fix any teething troubles and to arrange in-warranty services if you don’t have to drive the caravan hundreds of miles out of your way. 

For spotting and avoiding the hard sell, we’ve compiled a range of tips for getting the best deals on new caravans here

5. Driving And Manoeuvring: Practice Makes Perfect 

Will I be safe when caravan towing for the first time? Proficient touring requires confidence – and confidence comes with practice. 

For manoeuvres like pulling out of junctions, negotiating roundabouts, parking up and hitching/unhitching, practising before your first getaway enables you to adapt your sense of spatial awareness. Test your towing mirrors, so towing becomes almost second nature. 

A key thing to avoid is snaking, where the unit veers from side to side in transit. To address this, caravan loading guidance and prevention tips can be found in our how to avoid caravan snaking explainer.

6. Caravan Storage: Choose A CaSSOA Site 

Even if you keep it in your garage or under a cover on your drive, your caravan is always going to be a tempting target for thieves or vandals. Storing it at a dedicated facility is one of the best things you can do to keep your caravan safe – with the bonus of freeing up space outside your home. 

When weighing up storage options near you, narrow your search to facilities registered by the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA). You have the reassurance of knowing that your caravan’s off-season home has been checked for security. 

There’s also a further financial incentive: with Shield Total Insurance, CaSSOA-approved storage can earn you a discount on your insurance of up to 20%. 

Read more about caravan storage and caravan security here.

7. Preventing Theft: Secure Those Weak Points

Even the most well-managed caravan site or club site can never be 100% intruder-proof. This is why it’s important to always check your caravan doors and window locks are in good working order. And of course, on holiday, always do a lock and awning check before leaving the caravan park. 

A good wheel lock and a hitchlock are essential investments for protecting your caravan. With Shield Total Caravan Insurance, both of these items can earn you a valuable discount on your premium or help reduce your theft excess to £0. You can check out our video guide to caravan security for more helpful information 

8. Choosing Insurance: Check For Independent Reviews

More than ever, we’re looking for a safe, stress-free holiday, whether it’s your first trip or you are a well-versed caravanner. Perhaps the most valuable benefit of touring caravan insurance is that the correct policy helps deliver precisely this. 

What does an ideal caravanners policy look like? Excellent value for money is important. It should cover the essentials; e.g. loss or damage to contents and equipment, along with the option of ‘new-for-old’ cover on the caravan itself. 

Other points to watch for include repatriation (i.e. getting you home if your driver takes ill), as well as cover for friends and family – including pets. It’s also important to focus on the provider’s service record. Preferably, you need to know that if something happens, it’ll be handled with speed, care and expertise.  

Two ratings are especially worthwhile. A Defaqto rating tells you if it’s a quality product, while a Feefo rating tells you a lot about the level of service you can expect, through independent reviews. 

 

To get your first caravan experience off to an enjoyable, stress-free start, take a closer look at our 5-star rated touring caravan insurance. 

Now you are ready for the open road we hope our caravanning for beginners guide gets you off to a positive start. For lots more hints, tips and faq within the world of caravanning, don’t forget to browse our blog.

 

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