Published: 30 May, 2012
FOR those who are new to the whole caravan experience, operating and working with a caravan can be a daunting experience. The following are several tips that will help you to safely and successfully use your new equipment to best advantage.
Don't Manhandle Alone
Do not attempt to manhandle the caravan without the help of another person. These vans are incredibly heavy and can easily roll even if the terrain appears to be flat. One of the attending persons should be responsible for the hand brake so that the van will remain in place if braking is required.
Ensure that you never pull or push the van anywhere but the corners or the handles provided. Anything else could cause unwanted movements in the panels that could lead to denting or broken windows.
Reverse Safely and Responsibly
Reversing can be a challenge with a caravan in the beginning. When you are first starting to learn to reverse, make sure that you park the caravan in a location where you can enter, unhitch, and drive off without having to manoeuvre in reverse. If you are not able to find an area like this, unhitch the van from the vehicle and have some friends move the van with you to the location where it should be. When practicing reverse driving, make sure that the area is open and there are no obstacles that could potentially be hit.
Don't Get Scared! Relax!
Don't become intimidated by the caravan. Take your time with the learning process and don't feel rushed into reversing. If you need to, get out and push or pull the van. There is no shame in that.
If you don't succeed the first time, then try again until you are comfortable. Take a deep breath and move on. Keep in mind that many struggle with using caravans at first so you are not alone. Above all, just go at your pace.
Don't Venture Out Too Far At First
The first few times you are out with your caravan, stay close to home. The driving and the unhitching process will take significantly longer in the beginning than it will later so make sure that you allow yourself plenty of time by only going a short distance. You also want to make sure that you are close to friends who can help you out if you need it.
Properly Site the Caravan
After you have driven your caravan to its final location, you will need to safely unhitch and place the van. Make sure that the caravan is level and apply the hand brake so that the caravan cannot roll away. Then, unhitch the caravan from the car while making sure that the breakaway cable is removed from your vehicle and the lights are unplugged. Use the jockey wheel to make the van level. Next, lower the jacks until they reach the ground and the caravan does not tilt when you go inside. Once the caravan is properly situated, remove the hand brake so that the brake does not seize up.
Obtain Caravan Insurance
Above all else, make sure that you get a caravan insurance before you begin driving your caravan. It is always worth to obtain your insurance from a company which specialize in caravans and motorhomes. The golden rule is always the same, don't take your insurance policy for granted, but look over the details of your policy to see what is covered and if there are any restrictions on your cover. In this way, you will have no surprises.