A Beginners Guide to Caravanning

Here we have put together a simple beginners guide for those new to owning a static or touring caravan to ensure that you get the most from your investment for as long as possible.

Owning a static or touring caravan gives you the freedom to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life whenever you have the chance to. More and more people are choosing to make the investment in a caravan to make the most of the free time they have to spend time with the family and relieve some of the stress that day-to-day life often brings.

There is an array of benefits to owning your own static or touring caravan, such as the freedom to holiday whenever you want and wherever you want- especially if you own a touring caravan. However, even if you are an experienced camper, owning a caravan is a big commitment and should not be entered into blindly.

What to consider before buying a static caravan

Many people are attracted to static caravans as it gives them a permanent option for a break away and they can often be rented out to other holiday makers during peak times in order to help to pay for themselves.

Before buying a static caravan there are some things you need to consider from the start:

  • Location, location, location- do your research on the area including the usual weather and local towns. If you are looking at a caravan on a holiday park then check if it opens all year round as some parks only open at peak times. Does the holiday park have any amenities? How busy does it get and how close together are then other caravans? You should also consider the travelling time from your home as longer journeys may put you off regularly visiting your new caravan.
  • The style and size of your caravan- the price of your new static caravan will vary depending on the size so you should take that into consideration. But don’t downsize just to bring the cost down if in reality, you won’t want to spend time in such a small space- remember the British weather is not great so you may end up spending more time indoors than you realise.
  • Annual running costs- a static caravan is not just a one off investment; there will be annual running costs such as site fees, gas and electric, insurance and possible maintenance fees you should take into account from the start.
  • How long you plan to keep you caravan- some parks have limitations on the age of caravan on their site. This is particularly important if you are buying a second hand caravan as you will only have the number of years left from the date of manufacture not the date of your purchase.

Things to consider before buying a touring caravan

Touring caravans give you the freedom to explore the whole of Great Britain and beyond whenever you can. There is a wealth of caravan parks which you can pitch up at all over the country and Europe for you to use as a base as you explore the surrounding areas at leisure.

Whether you buy a new or second hand caravan, there are some points you should consider first:

  • Towing weight- there are rules and regulations which you should research which determine the weight your car is legally allowed to tow. You need to know the kerb weight of your car and the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), which is the unladen weight of the caravan plus the maximum allowable payload. Then you can ensure that you do not invest in a caravan which your car is not allowed to tow.
  • Size and layout- touring caravans come in a range of sizes and layout and obviously, the bigger the van the higher the price. Consider how much room you can comfortable live with and whether you would prefer a fixed bed layout or something more compact. Everyone is different and it is important you get a caravan you will want to spend time in.
  • Twin or single axle- twin axles offer more stability on the road but single axle caravans are more manoeuvrable so the choice is entirely personal but you should be aware of the differences.
  • Towing courses- if you have never towed anything before then it is advisable to take a towing course before you hit the open road. The courses run by Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan Club will give you the skills and knowledge you need to tow safely and confidently.

Maintenance of your new static or touring caravan

Keeping your new caravan in good condition is vital in order to get the most out of your new investment all year round, for many years to come. You should consider how much maintenance is required, as well as how much this is likely to cost, before you buy your first caravan.

Your new touring caravan will need a yearly service much like your car does. The hand break and tyres will need regular checking for wear and replacing as and when needed. If your caravan is stood for a period of time then you may need to replace the battery before you use it and lubricate the handbrake if it may seize. You should clean your caravan inside and out before and after each use to keep it in its best condition as well as regularly open and close the windows, vents and roof vents to keep the hinges loose and ventilate your caravan regularly to prevent condensation and mould.

A static caravan may incur higher maintenance costs due to it being exposing to the elements all year round and because it is a bigger structure. Ensure all guttering is cleared regularly and the roof felt checked for damage or leaks. Keep an eye out for chassis corrosion and use wax or oil to keep the chassis free of rust. If you plan to leave the caravan empty over the winter then keep the curtains open to avoid damp and cleaning and waxing the outside panels at least twice a year will give your caravan an extra level of protection.

Buying a caravan is definately a worthwhile investment but it is wise to go into caravanning with your eyes open so that there are no nasty surprises further down the line.

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