Are you about to make your first foray into the exciting world of caravanning? Before you hit the great open road, there are a few important aspects to consider.
Need help kicking things off? From purchasing to planning tips, our go-to guide has you covered.
Buying a caravan is an exciting process, and it’s important to take care when choosing which caravan is right for you. Consider what you will be using it for, and ask yourself some questions:
Having clear answers to questions like these will help you to determine the best caravan for your particular needs.
TIP: Write yourself a list of things you're looking for in a caravan and take it when you're shopping around. The professional staff at the dealership will be able to point you in the right direction
Before you set out on an adventure, make a checklist of what you need to take so you don't forget anything important. But remember, only take what is necessary – excessive weight chews up fuel and gets in the way.
Stick to your vehicle manufacturer’s towing recommendations, making sure you take into account the added weight of your carry-on baggage, water, food, etc.
Make a ‘Checked It!’ checklist of the things you need to ensure are A-OK before driving off:
Make sure your towing vehicle is in good order before leaving. Check wheels, oil, coolant, etc., and make sure the wheels on your caravan are in good condition (new wheels are recommended every five years).
Particularly when planning to make a trip somewhere a little off the beaten track, be sure you tell somebody where you are going and always carry a phone that has wide coverage across Australia. Telstra Next G is a good suggestion. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, it is not a good idea to leave your vehicle.
TIP: To make sure you can enjoy a cold drink when you arrive at your destination, run your fridge for at least 24 hours prior to departing for your trip to cool it down.
Again, checklists are key – ticking things off as you pack them will help to ensure you don’t forget anything. The last thing you want is to realise you need a toothbrush when you’re already set-up out in the bush!
When packing your caravan, try to spread your load evenly. The heaviest items should be packed down low on the bottom of the van, in the middle, over the axle and wheels.
Light items should be stored at the top, across the length of the caravan, while medium weighted items should be distributed in the middle and both ends equally.
Safety first - always make sure you carry a fire extinguisher on board, and that it works.
TIP: Packing some blocks of wood is a good idea, just in case your site is on uneven ground.
Before you throw away your map and take your caravan off into the Aussie outback, have a trial weekend in a nearby holiday park – it’ll give you a chance to get used to your new caravan.
After a long day of travelling, it’s easy to stress about getting yourself set-up as soon as you arrive. But remember, you’re on holidays and there’s no need to rush.
Park your van onsite and relax with a quiet cuppa or cold drink, take in the scenery, say "hi" to your neighbours or take the kids for a swim, then take your time setting everything up.
TIP: Check out holiday parks in your state and see what special features they have on offer. Once you’ve found one you like the sound of, book ahead to save the hassle when you arrive.
It’s important to know the ins and outs of towing a caravan before you set out on your first trip, so if you haven’t done it before, it’s a good idea to consider attending a towing clinic. You can talk to the experts and get some professional advice to help you on your way.
TIP: Be aware of the extra length and width when turning or over taking. Always ensure you have fitted towing mirrors to your car correctly before leaving.
For safety reasons, always have someone watching from the rear when reversing. Practice reversing in a local car park when it is quiet. Form a large circle using some buckets and practice reversing in an anti-clockwise direction; this will allow better vision. When you feel comfortable reversing anti-clockwise, try reversing clockwise.
Whenever possible, approach a site in such a way that enables you to reverse in from the driver’s side (anti-clockwise direction). This will give you a clearer view of the side of the caravan and of the site, and will allow you to position yourself correctly with more ease.
TIP: You never know how you may need to park when you’re on the road, so make sure you can reverse in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
Stopping to refresh regularly on long trips is important for your own wellbeing, and for the wellbeing of your caravan as well. Use these breaks to check that everything is in order in and around the caravan. Particularly on your first trip – but also thereafter – it’s a good idea to set off at a quiet time when traffic is at its minimum, and just go at a gentle steady pace until you get used to the feeling of towing your van.
If a road train or heavy vehicle is approaching from the rear, do not slow down to allow them to overtake as they will have already judged the distance and taken a line of approach. Just simply maintain your current speed and position, keeping to the left.
TIP: If traffic is building up behind you, pull over when safe to do so and allow them to overtake.
Now you're ready for an adventure. Happy trails!