Caravan holiday tips
Venturing out onto the open road in your home on wheels is one of life’s great but simple pleasures. If this is your first time on this new adventure, read these tips before heading out on your caravanning experience so you can be sure of a safe and enjoyable journey.
Planning your trip
With lots to think about prior to leaving for your caravanning holiday, the first and most important tip is to invest in planning ahead, particularly if you’re visiting a distant destination.
Research the area you’re visiting and identify the best caravan sites in which to spend your holiday. Make sure the road to your destination is suitable for your towing vehicle and caravan type; some sites may only be accessible to 4x4s. Knowing the area means being equipped to prepare for any specific conditions you are likely to encounter – for example, the weather, and the available facilities and amenities at the caravan site. Use the internet to assess locations on the basis of feedback from others who have visited your prospective sites – some places are better than others.
Joining a caravan club can be enormously helpful, particularly with tips on great places to go and what to take with. Social media provides the ability to very quickly connect with like-minded people and online forums can provide instant insight and feedback to help deal with any issues, concerns or questions.
Draw up a menu for all the meals you’ll be eating while you’re away. Then you’ll know which ingredients you’ll need to purchase (and which can be sourced on-site) as well as where best to store them – for example, in a cooler box or freezer.
Write a checklist during your planning phase so that you don’t leave anything behind. Must-have items include a fire extinguisher and a fully-stocked first aid kit.
Every caravan will need some form of entertainment in order to keep the kids busy – especially if it rains. Consider packing some board games or other forms of entertainment, such as a small portable TV. A good bet is to bring a games console or DVD player with you. A docking station for music ensures that you can enjoy your favourite tunes – but be aware of others around you.
- Make sure your caravan windows are closed, doors locked and gas and electricity turned off before you drive off.
- Take utmost care in attaching the caravan to the tow ball, including fastening the safety chain connecting the electrical socket and, on braked caravans, disconnecting the handbrake.
- Check that the taillights and indicators are working on the caravan.
- Don’t exceed the maximum towing capacity of the towing vehicle.
- Equipment such as water, food, camping gear, etc. will generally add another 300kg to the weight of the empty caravan. Typically, you do not want to overload the caravan; where possible, equipment should be transported in your car. If some gear is in the caravan, make sure it is loaded in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
- Make sure your towing vehicle can handle the weight of caravan, equipment and supplies.
Despite the best precautions, accidents can happen, so another essential task before setting out on holiday is getting the insurance up to date. Make sure you have the appropriate cover for your car and caravan so you can enjoy the open road secure in the knowledge that your home-away-from-home is protected from the unexpected.
Caravan insurance covers:
- Theft and hijack
- Fire and explosion
- Accidental damage
- Storm, hail, flood or snow
- Liabilities caused to other parties
Importantly, make sure your caravan policy covers contents and accessories as well as the caravan itself. After all, no caravanning holiday is complete without camping tables, chairs, tents cutlery and crockery, and a range of electronic devices and personal property. If it’s in the caravan, it should be covered by the insurance policy for complete peace of mind; note only caravan items (including permanent fixtures and accessories such as air-conditioning units, fitted canopies and awnings) will be covered under the caravan policy. Other items will be covered by MiMovables or All Risk cover.
Also, check that your chosen insurance policy offers roadside assistance and emergency services; after all, caravanning explicitly requires being out on the road.
[By: Rory Judd, MiWay Head of Online Marketing]
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)
MiWay Insurance Limited (‘MiWay’) is a direct, short-term insurance company, offering customers a range of short-term insurance products including motor, household and homeowners insurance as well as add-on products such as warranty cover and liability cover. MiWay’s shareholder is Santam, a blue-chip JSE-listed company.
Also view: Towing a Trailer Safely