Top things to know before you go on caravan vacation
Perhaps your neighbour includes a caravan and is also always off exploring the country, or maybe a friend constantly posts their caravanning adventures on social networking. Or maybe travelling that has a caravan is one area you’ve always wanted to do… and you’re finally prepared to pursue the ideal. They allow that you bring comfortable, often self-contained accommodation to countless destinations, and, when you finally
arrive and unhitch your van, it is simple to explore the vicinity with your towing vehicle. Here is something to ponder prior to borrow, buy or rent a caravan and start your first trip - unfortunately they’re not quite as relaxing as sipping sun downers coming from a beachside site. However, when you master the technical side of caravanning, you’ll be prepared to embrace Australia’s far-flung corners with adventure stirring your soul and life’s necessities along.
TAKE A COURSE
“If you’ve never towed before or haven’t towed in a very long time, RACQ recommends which you practise your skills in a very safe environment with qualified instructors before showing up in the road,” Kirsty says. A caravan towing course covers safety and maintenance checks, legal requirements, loading strategies, hitching and unhitching, driving and manoeuvring techniques, sway management and control, braking and reversing. If you don’t curently have a caravan/tow vehicle combination, some instructors have a set-up you'll be able to hire.
HITCH AND CHECK
Once you own an appropriate caravan/towing vehicle combination, you’ll have to hitch your caravan on your vehicle, which, in accordance with RACQ’s website, “isn’t as hard since it looks”. Still, there are numerous of steps you ought to follow; caravan manufacturers like Jayco supply a comprehensive checklist covering towing, storing, and ultizing the van, and retailers should explain to you how to hitch it as well. Every time the van is hitched, you’ll ought to do a safety check before towing. This includes ensuring doors, hatches, windows, covers and load are secured, tyre pressures are correct, safety chains are properly connected … plus more.
HIRE BEFORE BUYING
Hiring a caravan before selecting could be a wise move. According with a Jayco salesman: “If you’ve never experienced caravanning before, hiring can highlight quite a few you might not have thought of for instance towing, set-up and suitability. “As a first-timer, you will be inspired to purchase a pop-top, however realise a (regular) caravan might be more suitable for your situation, or the opposite way round. By hiring first, you
may avoid buyer remorse.”
CONSIDER ALL COSTS
In addition towards the caravan final cost, examine other possible expenses. “Outside with the normal camping gear (barbecue, bedding, camping chairs, cooking utensils), you’ll require a good collection, charger and first-aid kit - plus all of the accessories for operating your caravan, one example is, a 15amp power lead, the ideal hose for mains pressure and also a grey hose pipe,’’ the Jayco representative says. There’s also insurance and registration; caravan maintenance and depreciation; additional petrol costs; damage, and maintenance on your own towing vehicle; extended towing mirrors; caravan site fees; the possible valuation on upgrading your towing vehicle and installing a trailer brake controller; and, depending on the situation, storage costs when you’re not utilizing the van.
KNOW YOUR WEIGHTS
“First, you'll need to be able to determine whether your car/caravan combination is legal,” explains Kirsty Clinton, RACQ’s principal media advisor financial services. “This means using a sound comprehension of (towing) terminology and the way it relates to you.”
Some terms include tare weight, which will be the weight connected with an empty caravan (including factory fitted options but excluding liquids for instance water and gas), and payload, the caravan’s maximum carry capacity. Aggregate trailer mass (ATM) will be the maximum your caravan is capable to weigh without treatment (so its tare weight plus its payload), while gross trailer mass (GTM) may be the maximum weight the caravan’s wheels can hold when coupled to your tow vehicle.
Caravans built after August 1989 ought to have the ATM - and, in some instances, the GTM and tare weight - within the plates. Tow ball load (or mass) would be the portion from the caravan weight that a towing vehicle takes if the caravan is properly hitched. Crucial for safety reasons, it’s afflicted with how you distribute your load from the caravan.
To determine tow ball load, and what your caravan weighs with the gear and provisions, pack your van because you normally would and take it to some public weighbridge. Another way to make sure you don’t exceed the payload is usually to weigh everything you’re going to put inside - including water - at your home. Payloads is often rather limited, so “keep a close eye on what you’re carrying, and cull wherever possible to ensure the caravan’s weight doesn’t exceed the specification,” Kirsty warns.
You must also know your automobile’s maximum towing capacity. This figure mustn't exceed the lesser with the towing capacity specified by producer, the caravan’s maximum carrying capacity, the rated capacity on the tow bar and couplings, as well as the maximum carrying capacity from the tyres.
And look into the gross vehicle mass (GVM), the most weight from the fully laden towing vehicle, and gross combination mass (GCM), the ideal total weight with the fully laden vehicle and caravan. If your towing vehicle is loaded to its GVM, you could find its towing capacity is below what is advertised.
These aren’t your only considerations. Before deciding upon a caravan, it’s important to research your motor vehicle’s towing specifications, the caravan’s specifications, and towing regulations and guidance in your state or territory plus in your destination.
ADJUST YOUR DRIVING
When towing, your car or truck will handle differently, including steering, stability, stopping distance and braking performance. “Towing any large trailer (or caravan) takes a very different number of skills to driving a vehicle,” Kirsty explains. “The (tow vehicle plus caravan) combination will likely be longer, higher and heavier. It will likely be slower to accelerate and a lot slower to quit. It may also be impacted by cross winds along with the draft from semi-trailers, also it can become unstable on poor road surfaces.” The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads’ Safe Towing Guide includes driving tips. These include making it possible for the caravan’s tendency to “cut-in” on curves and corners; allowing longer distances for braking and overtaking; avoiding sudden lane changes; while using accelerator, brakes, and steering smoothly and gently constantly; and planning more rest stops and shorter travelling days as towing is a bit more stressful and tiring. Your fuel consumption may also increase. To minimise this, keep the speed down - you should be aware of motorists behind you and also use turnouts, when appropriate. Also, look into the speed limits that apply when towing, because they vary between states and territories. Some vehicle manufacturers specify even lower maximum towing speeds, as an example, 80km/h. As for reversing, “it can be tough to master and is particularly a matter of practice”, Kirsty says. At the caravan site, someone with an increase of experience might offer that will help you park, she suggests. “However, be sure they’re inside a safe place that you could see them.’’
GET OUT THERE AND EXPLORE!
Once you might have your van and know how you can safely apply it, it’s time for most fun! Decide that you want to go, and find out there - bearing in mind the best time of the year for exploring your best destinations. Discovery Parks and BIG4 have touring routes and journeys on their own respective websites, plus a Google search will return more ideas. The only question might be, will you be ever returning home?