Caravan Guides & Advice
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Be wise to the weather, especially those stormy moments
Packing for your caravan holiday may seem like a pain sometimes, but it least it gives you the chance to plan for all eventualities. The good thing about packing is you know exactly what you need, so you stuff it into your bag or suitcase. But when it comes to the weather, then it can be anybody’s guess.
It doesn’t matter if you’re putting yourself at the mercy of the reassuringly unpredictable British weather or travelling abroad and running the risk of running into a summer storm or two, it’s always a good idea to have you caravan prepared for whatever the elements can throw at you.
Of course, as a keen caravanner, you’ll probably be checking out the weather forecast on a daily, if not hourly, basis so you might get a good idea of what’s ahead and how to get ready for it.
The first thing you’ll need to do if you know that stormy weather is approaching is secure anything which isn’t already firmly attached to the caravan. Exterior fittings such as bike racks, portable lights, solar panels, TV aerials or satellite dishes could all get blown away in a strong wind if there not either secured or remove altogether. Outside water tanks should also be kept inside in the even of stormy and you may also want to take down the awning.
On the other hand, properly secured awning can actually help you secure other items during a storm if you have the right equipment. You won’t be able to pin down your awning with simple guide ropes, you’ll need equipment specifically designed for turbulent weather.
Before you travel, pop along to your local caravan or camping shop and try and get your hands on stuff like storm anchors, storm straps or storm poles. Just to be on the safe side, however, check your caravan insurance to make sure your awning is covered by your policy as not all equipment is 100 per cent guaranteed to prevent damage.
It may be the last thing on your mind, but do not try to tow your caravan in stormy weather. Your dreams of a nice, pleasant sunshine holiday may have been swept away by gale force winds and you may feel like packing up and going home.
However, it may be more advisable to ride it out and see if the weather improves rather than hedge your bets in hazardous driving conditions. It can hard enough driving a car on motorways and other major roads when you factor in cross-winds and other challenging conditions, imagine what it would be like with a caravan in tow. It could flip over and cause major problems for you and other motorists.
So, in stormy weather, your best bet might be stay put and get out the playing cards.
For more advice on caravanning in adverse weather conditions check out this useful advice from the Camping and Caravanning Club
Cruckley.co.uk Helping Caravanners, No Matter What The Weather!
That was certainly the message sent out the Practical Caravan’s recent Owner Satisfaction Awards which sought to find the caravans which scored highest for satisfaction among owners.
In a detailed look at how happy caravan owners are with their homes on wheels, a survey was conducted among 1800 caravan users throughout 2012.
In the new caravans category, Bailey scoop the gold award by scoring 88% satisfaction among users.
Not too far behind on 86% was Sprite, which also proved a huge hit with owners.
Adria scooped a silver award in the new caravan category, but was tops when it came to used caravans.
The brand scored a fantastic 93% satisfaction among owners, while the second most popular used caravan was Coachman on 90%.
Don’t back out of reversing a caravan – have a look at these top tips
A caravan can open up a whole world of possibilities, but it can also be a tricky beast to handle.
Even the smallest of caravans or camper vans can throw up a few challenges, none moreso than reversing. Whether you’re parking your caravan in your driveway for the winter or after a holiday, or backing it into a pitch on a site, ready for a well-earned break, reversing a caravan isn’t.
On some occasions, it can even lead to the odd row, or a frustrating thump of the dashboard – not the ideal way to kick-off your holiday.
When reversing a caravan, you have to take into consideration a number of factors – your car, the caravan itself, other vehicles and trees, posts, walls and fences.
So, if you are having problems perfecting your caravan reversing skills, here’s a quick guide to help you out.
Big is beautiful
You may think that the bigger the caravan, the harder it is to reverse. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Although, by and large, the methods for reversing a small and large caravan are the same, there are a few difference depending on size. Movements in a large twin-axle caravan are much more controlled and slower.
Tips on reversing round a corner
Perhaps the trickiest way to reverse a caravan is round a corner. Here a few tips on the best way to do it.
Firstly, you need to drive alongside the corner you want to reverse around. The wheels of your caravan must be just over the edge of the pitch or corner. Then you can start to steering. This is where it can get tricky as reversing a car with a caravan in tow involves steering the opposite way to that which you would if you had no caravan.
Once you start moving backwards, make sure you do slowly and carefully – the last thing you want is for the caravan to roll too fast.
When you have the caravan straight into the space or pitch, it’s time to steer in the opposite direction in order to line up your tow car with the caravan before slowly reversing it into place.
There’s no going back once you’ve mastered these reversing tips
The top tip for reversing a caravan is to take things nice and slowly. A slow, smooth movement means you can adjust your position and check what’s around you.
Start over if you’re not in the perfect position. Don’t try and correct things halfway through the manoeuvre if you’re not in the position you want to be, just straighten everything up and begin again.
Remember, this isn’t a Formula One car you’re driving. Steer with small and slow movements, over-steering will just make things a lot more difficult.
It’s always best to enlist some help when reversing a caravan. Get someone to have a look at things from the outside. They’ll need to watch the car and caravan to make sure that they don’t get too close together but always trust your own judgement and if in doubt – get out, so you can check the situation yourself.
Here’s a great video from The Caravan Club to show you how its done:
Celebrate the start of summer and National Camping and Caravanning Week by entering Campsites UK’s Epic Summer 2013 #campetition!
You could be one of 150 lucky people to win a share of over £10,000 worth of great prizes covering the entire spectrum of outdoor fun, from tickets to music festivals and underground adventure experiences to children’s games and caravan equipment.
There’s an Enduro 2 Caravan Mover, Remoska Electric Oven and Silvertex Clean Drinking Water System all up for grabs!
It’s easy to submit your entry at www.campetition.co.uk. Then answer a fun survey for your chance to win one of three star prizes packages, ranging in value from £500 to £1,500!
So hurry up and get your entry in – the #campetition closes at midday June 12th!
Campsites UK’s Epic Summer 2013 #campetition
What to look for in a towcar
The great thing about a caravan is that it’s like a holiday home on wheels. You can take it just about anywhere. There’s no need to worry about booking a room or flight, if you don’t like where you are, you can just haul your holiday home somewhere else.
Of course, a major part of this freedom is the car you use to tow your caravan. When choosing a tow car, there are a number of important factors to consider.
For a start, the size of your caravan will have a significant bearing on what type of tow car you opt for – or vice versa.
The weight of caravan, by law, must not be greater than the towing capacity of the car, so this is worth keeping in mind if you have a caravan and are setting about choosing the right tow car.
Fuel efficiency is another key feature of your towcar. A car with a good mpg rate will of course save you money, but make sure it’s also able to tow your caravan. Other important driving-related factors you may want to look at include whether the car is four-wheel drive or not. A four-wheel drive car will give you more grip and help keep car and caravan nice and steady on the road.
A highly-popular towcar with the caravanning community is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI 1.6 105P. The Jetta has twice been named Towcar of the Year by the Caravan Club and despite limited storage space, has a lot going for it as a towcar.
In terms of price, it’s one of the more affordable towcars on the road at just over £19,000 and it also scores highly for fuel efficiency at 67.3mpg on a combined cycle.
There are towcars with a great maxium towing limit and the 1400kg top end figure of the Jetta means it can’t be considered for big twin-axle caravans.
A relatively low towing capacity is also an issue with the otherwise popular Nissan Qashqai (4WD 2.0 dCi 150ps). Despite having a slightly smaller towing limit than the Jetta – 1350kg – it does come with four-wheel drive, which can help over less forgiving terrain and provide extra grip, and also a lot more storage space.
It also has a higher driving position and a reasonable fuel efficiency of 41.5mpg, although the price of £25,895 can seem a bit steep for some.
Land Rover Discovery 4
Of course, if money isn’t really an issue, then the Land Rover Discovery 4 (TDV6 3.0 Auto) trumps the lot. A highly-sought after towcar, the Discovery comes with the Land Rover’s famed four-wheel drive system, which almost guarantees excellent off-road performance. It has a greater maximum towing limit than the Jetta and Qashqai put together, with a whopping 3500kg comfortably able to tow almost any caravan.
There’s also a wealth of storage space and it is probably one of the most reliable towcars out there.
However, fuel efficiency makes it very costly to run with the 33.2mpg it offers meaning regular trips to the filling station.
Of course, the fact that the price kicks off at just over £38,000 will put it out of reach for a lot of caravan users but maybe with the savings you make on your caravan insurance at Cruckley.co.uk, you’ll find it a little more affordable.