Caravanning 101 – Beginner’s Guide to Driving a Caravan
Driving bigger vehicles can be quite a daunting task. Daunting might even be an understatement; plenty of drivers, seasoned as they are, actively avoid having to drive such unwieldy vehicles.
Although unwieldy, plenty of people just can’t seem to stay away from caravans. They are wonderful after all! It’s like taking a good chunk of your home with you, and it allows you to travel in comfort and luxury.
If you’ve been planning on getting a caravan for yourself, or if you’re about to rent one for your upcoming holiday or vacation, it doesn’t need to be something that you’re going to dread on the day you’re to drive it.
Read on to learn more about how to make driving your caravan safe and enjoyable, even if you’re a complete newcomer to caravanning.
Do your research, prepare accordingly. Where are you going with your caravan, and what kind of caravan will you be bringing? Are you towing the caravan, or is it adjoined to the main vehicle?
Be aware of these prior to driving the vehicle, and prepare accordingly. Of course, don’t bring your caravan to a challenging route with lots of turns- make sure that you’re travelling on a short and easy route on your first outing with your caravan.
Get enough practice
Getting enough practice is important as well- it’s part of your preparation. Look for a wide enough road to practice turning and try to get used to controlling the caravan’s shaking even on straight roads and high speed.
Practice in different situations, days (weeks even) before your trip- do it on empty parking lots, less busy freeways, and different roads with different speed limits just to get a feel for towing or driving a caravan.
This is definitely better than driving a caravan for the first time on the day of your trip. Nothing might happen and you might do just fine, but you certainly wouldn’t want to take your chances with such a large vehicle.
Since you’re carrying heavier equipment, don’t rush- drive at a reasonable pace and don’t speed up too much.
Keep a healthy amount of distance from other vehicles as well, and remember to slow down ahead of time. If you’re familiar with defensive driving, this is exactly that, only with more anticipation needed on your part.
Don’t rely solely on your brakes. If you step on the brake after driving quickly, all that energy is moving forward and will need to go somewhere! Abruptly braking (or not giving yourself enough time to brake by slowing down) usually causes the caravan you’re pulling behind your car to tilt to the left or right. You certainly don’t want that happening, so take it as slow as possible.
Remember, you’re a beginner and your first priority is to keep everything safe. This will make the trip more enjoyable and will prevent unnecessary damage to the caravan and the insides/furnishing. Speaking of which…
Lock everything down
We’re referring to anything you’ve placed inside the caravan. Electronics, furnishings, small items; it’s a moving vehicle after all, and you don’t want stuff getting broken just because you made a sharp turn. (it’s not unknown for a newbie caravan owner to find broken stuff inside after a long drive. Although hilarious, wouldn’t you rather be laughing because of how fun the trip is?)
Invest in a reliable reversing camera and monitor combo
Even the vets will agree- you’ll need a reversing camera. And it’s not just because it’s hard to back up in general; it’s just generally more difficult with larger vehicles such as caravan trailers and trucks (in some cases, downright impossible to do safely).
If you own a caravan trailer, no matter if you’re a veteran and especially if you’re a newcomer to caravanning, you definitely need to have a reversing camera. This isn’t just to prevent damage to the caravan; this is also to make sure that you don’t damage property or injure anyone (or any animals) when you’re backing up.
Your best bet would be to hardwire the reversing camera and monitor your vehicle’s battery so that it’ll work without fail. If you can afford it, invest in a wireless system to make it easier.
When making your turns, do it “wider”
Do this especially if you’re towing. Instead of taking the lane nearer to your turn, leave some space for the caravan to move along with your vehicle to make the wider turn. Make sure to signal the driver behind you, and as with turns make sure to slow down ahead of time properly and don’t stab on your breaks- ease into a slower movement to make sure the caravan doesn’t careen off to the side.
And last but not the least, keep a cool head about you
Not everyone is going to be thrilled driving behind or beside a slower, wider vehicle such as a caravan. If you run across any irritated or irate motorists that are less than thrilled to be lagging behind you, be courteous and don’t get upset that they’re upset.
Larger vehicles can be taxing to drive both mentally and physically so try to get some decent rest before the trip so you can keep it cool and courteous out there.
Make sure to signal properly and drive at a reasonable pace and you should be all set!
Have fun out there, and happy caravanning!
Many thanks to our guest blogger
Brisbane Holiday Village would like to thank John Dizon from Elinz for their guest blog on Driving Caravans for Newbies!
Elinz is an online electronics store based in Australia and offers quality electronics directly to their customers. Their product range includes best-selling items such as reversing camera kits, car DVD players, driving lights, headrest DVD players, roof mount DVD players, inverters, and battery chargers.