Considering your first caravan holiday but unsure where to start? If you’re completely new to the world of caravans, you might be surprised at the level of equipment and the look and feel that modern models have.
The Caravan & Motorhome Show 2020 show partner, The Caravan and Motorhome Club and their Technical Manager, Martin Spencer has shared everything you need to know, and what you need to consider when planning your trip away and finding your first caravan.
Advice for first-time caravanners – finding a caravan
A great starting point for those first venturing into the exciting world of caravans is visiting one of the caravan and motorhome shows held around the country. Usually, there are only new models on display – if you’re comfortable with buying new, then be prepared to haggle with dealers as show offers are quite commonplace.
Most dealers will have extensive second-hand stock too and some specialise in second-hand rather than new sales. Second-owner models will usually come with the remainder of the manufacturer’s or a dealer warranty.
If you’re on a tighter budget, caravans last extremely well if they’re properly maintained. It’s completely viable to buy one at 15-20 years’ old (or even more) and still get good service from it.
Expect to have to do a few minor repairs and service it regularly, though. You can have a pre-purchase inspection done for peace of mind, especially if buying privately or from classified/online adverts, otherwise check for a recent full service (roadworthiness and habitation equipment) or budget to have one done before first usage.
One thing to look for if buying second-hand is anyone selling because they’re giving up caravanning (perhaps due to illness or old age). They’ll often include all the accessories and little additions that you’ll otherwise end up buying anyway.
Don’t be afraid to try before you buy, which will help you make up your mind. This can be facilitated with several dealers and it can really help convince you that this is the right model – and the right holiday - for you.
What to consider when booking your first caravan holiday
A caravan holiday suits all sorts of holidaymakers, from families – children have an affinity with caravanning, adventure-seekers, solo travellers, group holidaymakers, empty-nesters, animal lovers and more.
If it is your first trip in a caravan, make a checklist of the items you need to remember to bring. You’ll almost certainly take several things you don’t need and forget something you do, so it’s best to keep “essentials” (corkscrew, bottle opener, sunhats, umbrellas etc) in your caravan if you can. After a few trips, you’ll know what the essentials really are for you and it’s probably best not to go too far, just in case you forget something vital, or in case there are any issues that need fixing.
Think about your favourite things (perhaps you enjoy fishing, long walks, or the seaside) and search for sites and areas that offer those to you. Similarly, think about who you are travelling with. If you’re going on your first family holiday, you might want the convenience of an on-site playground and activities to amuse the kids or grandkids. It’s worth keeping an eye on a club campsite network where you can see which sites cater for who. If you like the great outdoors, why not choose a site in a National Park and explore the best of the British Countryside, or for those who want to say hello to the Royal Family, why not stay on the Sandringham Estate? There really is a site to suit everyone’s taste, so it’s worth doing your research!
Before you travel, you might want to do a little practice with low-speed manoeuvring and perhaps have a trial run at putting up an awning (if you have one) before you go. You’ll still probably feel that everyone else on site is going to mark your efforts out of ten. It’s a rite of passage, and we’ve all been there! The reality is that most caravanners are friendly and helpful. If you struggle with something, just go and ask your new neighbour for advice or assistance.