A few pointers to improving
your caravanning experience

Buying a new caravan

Before entering into purchasing any new caravan (or setting foot in a showroom) there are a few important things you should try to do first:

1. Identify how you actually intend to use it

Is it primarily to get away for family holidays with the kids? Weekend escapes to here and there? Regular camping or fishing trips with friends? Or for just the two of you to fulfill a lifelong retirement dream of taking off on a Grand Tour of Australia?

Once you establish the main purpose (and always think a little bit ahead of what your requirements may be right now), this will largely determine your caravan’s size and configuration; its layout; and also the extent of the fittings and features you’ll need.

You’ll also do well to think about whether you’ll mainly be staying at (and using the facilities) of established caravan parks; or if your van needs to be equipped to give you independence in more remote locations.

2. Identify how you plan to tow it

Unless you are in a position to purchase the caravan first and then invest in the ideal vehicle to suit towing it, you will need to carefully check the tow capacity of your current vehicle. This will set a ‘maximum’ allowable weight for your new van.

3. Be aware that not all caravans are built the same

Once you begin looking at vans of the size and style that suit your purposes, be impressed with the aesthetics of what you can see and touch ~ but never lose sight of the solidity and strength that lays beneath the surface. Caravans of genuine substance (like Traveller) may cost a little more, but over time their longer lasting performance will repay you in spades.

Insuring your new purchase

Prior to picking up your brand new Traveller van, we’d thoroughly recommend that you look into having it comprehensively insured ~ so you’re well protected against any mishap from the moment that you hit the road.

Whilst Traveller has no affiliation with any particular insurance company, the following few suggested names are specialist insurers in the Caravan area ~ and we hope this provides you with a useful starting point to begin shopping around:

  1. CIL Insurance - www.cilinsurance.com.au
  2. APIA (Australian Pensioner Insurance) - www.apia.com.au
  3. RACV (Victoria) - www.racv.com.au
  4. RACQ (Queensland) - www.racq.com.au
  5. RAC (Western Australia) - www.rac.com.au
  6. NRMA (New South Wales) - www.nrma.com.au
  7. SGIC (South Australia) - www.nrma.com.au/sa

Your Traveller Dealer will also be happy to assist you with making a wise policy choice for your individual situation.

Here are a few key points to consider when weighing up which Insurer to go with:

  • Is the policy premium competitive?
  • Is the policy an Agreed Value or Market Value policy?
  • Does the policy include the annexe and accessories such as air conditioners?
  • Does the policy cover personal contents?
  • Does the policy cover emergency accommodation and urgent repairs to the vehicle?
  • Is flood cover included?
  • Are there any charges that may be levied after repairs have been completed?

Pre-travel safety checklist

Whether you’re new to caravanning or have been doing it for years, always remain mindful of the pre-travel checks necessary to help ensure you enjoy a safe journey.

The following is a quick list of things you should never forget to do before leaving home or travelling to your next destination:

  1. Inside your caravan, make certain that:
    • All cupboards are securely closed
    • The refrigerator door is locked
    • There are no loose items that can break, roll about or cause damage
  2. Ensure your caravan is correctly coupled to your tow vehicle. Then check your safety chain/s. Two chains are normally fitted. Crisscross the chains and use ‘D’ shackles to connect them to the secure points on the towbar.
  3. Ensure that the electrical plug between your caravan and tow vehicle is connected.
  4. Check your brake lights, tail lights, turn indicators, clearance lights and electric brakes (if fitted) are all working properly.
  5. Before moving off, finally make sure that:
    • The gas is turned off
    • The caravan door is locked
    • The jockey wheel is removed
    • The levelling jacks are fully wound up
    • The steps are raised
    • The caravan handbrake is released.

Tips for towing your caravan

Towing a caravan will alter the way your car performs ~ decreasing its acceleration and braking ability; and often affecting its general control. So with any new caravan (or towing vehicle) it’s wise to practice with a few shorter trips before attempting a long journey.

To improve your safety and that of fellow road users when towing a caravan:

  • Pay particular attention to accelerating and braking ~ especially when approaching corners.
  • Leave more distance than usual between yourself and the vehicle in front ~ and allow plenty of extra time and space if entering traffic.
  • Allow more time and distance when overtaking other road users ~ and ensure you are well past them before moving back to the left hand side of the road again.
  • Be extra careful when driving in poor weather conditions and high winds, as their impact is magnified when towing a caravan.
  • Where possible, pull over regularly to allow following vehicles to overtake you.
  • Because reversing with a caravan can be awkward, where possible drive out forward from a parking spot. When practicing reversing, ensure it is done in a safe environment and have someone there to help guide you.
  • Ensure load distributing hitches are set up properly and that the load in the caravan is correctly distributed. This will reduce the chance of the caravan swaying.
  • Be aware that swaying is more likely to occur in high winds, particularly side winds, or when passing approaching larger vehicles.
  • Keep left to give overtaking vehicles as much space as possible.
  • Plan plenty of rest stops to avoid the onset of fatigue ~ but remember, if you are fatigued the only cure is sleep. Falling asleep at the wheel is a very real and deadly consequence of driving when overtired. So just don’t take the risk.

Dealing with curious people

“I wish I had a dollar for everyone who’s asked to see inside our van” is something we hear a lot from Traveller owners.

The sleek lines and stylish exterior of our caravans just seems to make onlookers curious to see if the interior is equally impressive.

Well, here’s a thought for handling people who want a ‘stickybeak’ ~ with an absolutely straight face, say to them,

“No problem, it’ll only cost you a gold coin donation to put in the jar”.

Whether they put their hand in their pocket doesn’t really matter ~ the ‘Not Quite Sure If You’re Serious’ reaction they’ll give you will be priceless.