A few things for new caravanners

I re-tweeted a post the other day about electric hook up cables (EHU), and was surprised that some people were unaware of the need to make sure that the cable is unwound fully when in use to avoid overheating.  I suppose over time you forget what you had to learn!

So I’ve been thinking of a few things that may be useful for those new to caravanning/tenting etc.  It is not exhaustive but worth keeping in mind.

  1. EHU – if using for tents ensure that you have that you use a special EHU with RCD protection.  If NOT protected bear in mind that you are using it in damp conditions it could be dangerous!  It’s worth paying that little bit more to be safe.
  2. Always fully uncoil an EHU, coiled wires can overheat.
  3. Build up a useful list of “must-haves” that you add to or delete as you progress through your trips.  A simple app like Buy me a pie can work and you can share it between family members.
  4. Keep a notebook (electronic or paper it doesn’t matter!) with notes on where to point the aerial on a particular site to avoid having to constantly adjust.
  5. Don’t go out and buy £100s of specialist caravan kit for inside the van, use what you have!  Duvets, kettle, pans etc.  Once you’ve been away a few times you will know better what you need and can add or remove things from that list at No3. 
  6. Remember your electric is restricted, don’t expect to endlessly plug things in and for them all to work. You don’t need to spend time working out wattages and amps and other things that are beyond me, just use common sense.  Use only one high powered appliance at a time, for example the kettle or the heater or the microwave. 
  7. For those of us in need of a hairdryer and straighteners use your own from home!  12v ones are pretty dire.
  8. Does a particular site have a decent mobile/wifi/tv signal?  Do you need a satellite dish for certain sites?
  9. If towing a caravan – are you legal to do so?  Check your weights carefully if you passed your test after 1997.
  10. When working out what is ok to tow with your car, DO NOT use maximum towing weights.  Find the Kerbweight of your vehicle and work out the 85% guidance from that.  Your car may say you can tow 2000kg however your kerbweight may be much less.  The 85% is a guideline and we currently tow at 91%.  We’ve been towing for a few years now and the outfit (Car + Caravan) is stable and we’re happy with it.
  11. Check your nose weight!  Get a pair of mechanical scales and a stout stick to the height of your towball.  Lower the caravan hitch onto the stick to get your nose weight – you may need to re-adjust your packing to get the noseweight correct, what does your noseweight need to be for your car?
  12. Pack your heavy items over the axle of your caravan, packing too much at the front or the back can cause problems with towing, making the caravan noseweight too light/heavy.  On this note keep cans stored low down whilst travelling., one falling out of a cupboard can make a nasty dent.
  13. Make sure you are not carrying more than your payload (the difference between unladen and laden/MTPLM weights), motor movers, permanently attached awnings, bike racks etc also need to be taken off this allowance.
  14. Remember you are not allowed to tow in the outside lane of a motorway. Please note the rules apply regardless of what you are towing, applies to trailers too!
  15. Speed is limited to 60mph on motorways and dual carriageways in the UK.
  16. Speed is limited to 50mph on single lane carriageways, obviously this doesn’t apply to roads where the speed limit is 30 or 40 etc 
  17. Fit towing mirrors, it’s a legal requirement now. Remember to take them off once you’ve unhitched (also a legal point – thanks to @New2caravanning)
  18. Always check your lights before setting off.
  19. In the same vein, always check your hitch is attached to your towball securely or you will become unhitched and hear a rather loud bang as the van ‘falls off’ (thanks to @davies581) 
  20. Double check that all windows, skylights and doors are correctly shut and locked, losing a skylight on the motorway would be not only extremely dangerous but very costly!  (Thanks to @MWWTMs)
  21. Do you have an Alko stabilising hitch?  You need to remove all traces of paint from your towball, it needs to be super shiny and smooth, do not grease it! (thanks to @mascubelibre for reminding me of that one) 
  22. Another reminder thanks to @mascubelibre – if you have a motor mover remember to disengage before starting off! 
  23. If you have pink and blue for the loo, pink top, blue bottom.  And try not to get the blue on your hands wear gloves. 
  24. Always assume that other road users are idiots, give them a wide berth and plenty of notice!

I hope this helps!

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