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Hi, me and DH just bought our first *trumpet call* caravan and apart from the checklist of what to look for when buying we know nothing about caravanning... our only experience so far has been renting statics. 

I have 2 questions...

1. If you could give a rookie one piece of advice, what would it be? (Over the obvious safety info as we have family and friends who have already done a really good job going over thing with us 😊 and we have instructions and have done research) we are looking for hacks or obscure ideas that really make your camping experience amazing and stress free.. or something that makes you feel you are home away from home.

2. Awnings!!! What a nightmare. We are in the 'size 12' bracket of awnings apparently but are we able to buy a smaller one? I'm sorry to be so dense but there are full length,  air, porch awnings. So much to take in. How on earth do you know whether an awning you see on a site will fit? 

 

I am the first to hold my hands up and plead ignorance. I've done nothing but research for weeks and my head is spinning. Help would be very gratefully received.  

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Hi, welcome .

 

Someone in here did a checklist of obvious 'to do or not to do. That we all sometimes can forget I'm sure someone on this forum will post it again for you as I cannot remember who or when.

But on awnings code name (divorce in a bag) do you really need one? Then if yes how big as the bigger they are the more to dry when home, put up, carry etc.

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For me, when setting up, getting the van level and legs down is priority. After that everything else can wait until had a cup of tea. We always carry some bottled water for this purpose. It’s a holiday, not a race. 
Awnings. There are two main styles, full or porch.   If looking at porch style, measure the gap between door and rear windows, lockers etc, to find what size will best suit your van. 

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1. My one tip........Based on the experience of friends of Ros's daughter who had never towed before and borrowed their parents newish caravan - make sure that when you hitch up - you wind the jockey wheel so as to try and lift the back of the car. If the hitch doesn't spring off - you know it's on securely and you won't do what they did and end up with a £5000 insurance claim for both car and caravan when it came off 50 yds away from home.  No apologies for this being safety advice, but this simple step could prevent your holiday being ruined before you have even left sight of your house!

2. Awnings can be any size up to the maximum size of your awning rail (measured ground to ground at either end) - and even that can be exceeded by having a zip-on annexe. Decide how much room you want from a tiny one that just covers the door to store boots to the other extreme that gives you more room than in your caravan.  If going for less than a full size (porch awning), measure the gap between the windows and the door and choose a length that will avoid having the edge of the awning running down a window which isn't ideal. Some air awnings are heavy to get on the awning rail but have the advantage of not having poles possibly banging against the side of the van in windy weather.  Air awnings are quicker to erect especially with an electric pump but pegging out is the same for both air and poled versions. When considering the size - look at the depth as well as the length.  We have a Kampa 390 Grande which is a full 3 metres deep and the extra space that half metre gives is incredible.  That said, it's a big lump to dry if packed away wet and for that reason we also have a lightweight Sunncamp Air 390 for winter use which easily dries overnight in the garage.  Hope this helps!

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Buy from an established well respected dealer not too far away from your home.  Get your caravan serviced regularly and in accordance with the makers conditions.  Keep the caravan clean and tidy inside and out.  Read the instructions for your 'van and learn how to set up on a site and perform regular tasks.  Enjoy your new hobby and visit Caravan Talk or speak to others for tips and info,  you'll find folk enthusiastic and helpful,  as they were once beginners too.

Awnings.  Useful if you're stopping somewhere for a week or so but for many folk they're not an essential  -  go without and see how you get on.

          John.

Edited by Leedslad
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  • WispMan changed the title to Help with first caravan

Check your noseweight of the van and match to your cars specification - 75-100kg usually.

 

Dont use the corner steadies as jacks - just lower till they give a slight support to the van, they can be further nipped up the next day after the ground has settled. - I saw someone do this last year at River Breamish CMC site.

 

Depending on the age of your van, check that the water heater is full before switching it on. Not applicable to combi boilers in recent vans.

 

Check your tyre pressures in car and van - car may have to increased due to extra load

 

If you have a 13 pin socket on your car, make sure you rotate the plug fully when removal, as this keeps the plug aligned. buy a green realignment cap just in case as its a pain to get it back in line without one.

 

Remember everything in your van is made from tissue paper and will break regularly so carry a small toolkit, with gaffer tape.

 

Enjoy. 

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https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maypole-MP1280B-Parking-Socket-Assembly/dp/B009IF0B52

 

Get a alignment cap, a 13pin plug can be a nightmare to get realigned without one, also can be handy for keeping your plug dust and dirt free.

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Make sure you have a clear path in the caravan to the toilet, kettle and beer fridge. On arrival at site crack open a beer or make a cup of tea then take your time setting up. 

 

As for awnings, yes you can buy a smaller one, the porch type and inflatables normally just slide on the top of the awning rail.

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Make sure you have the correct driving licence entitlements. 

Seen so many come unstuck due to not having B&E on their licences

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9 hours ago, Elliewebbs said:

If you could give a rookie one piece of advice, we are looking for hacks or obscure ideas that really make your camping experience amazing and stress free.. or something that makes you feel you are home away from home.

 

THIS MIGHT HELP

 

 

 

Quote

 

2. Awnings!!! What a nightmare. We are in the 'size 12' bracket of awnings apparently but are we able to buy a smaller one? I'm sorry to be so dense but there are full length,  air, porch awnings. So much to take in. How on earth do you know whether an awning you see on a site will fit? 

 

 

 

 

The trick is knowing where to look for the info you are seeking but have a look at the index under AWNINGS.

 

 

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1. do your homework , which you are doing .  Make a list of all the things you think you will need, then cross off those things that you can do without  , the pay load is very small.    I then made tick lists  of setting up and leaving,  which I find  to be an enormous help.

2. do without the awning at first and have a look when on  site and chat to the other campers, you will have more of an idea when you see it in the flesh , so to speak.

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16 minutes ago, joanie said:

1. do your homework , which you are doing .  Make a list of all the things you think you will need, then cross off those things that you can do without  , the pay load is very small.    I then made tick lists  of setting up and leaving,  which I find  to be an enormous help.

2. do without the awning at first and have a look when on  site and chat to the other campers, you will have more of an idea when you see it in the flesh , so to speak.

Thank you, that's a great idea

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Found it,

This is an excellent check list.

 

 

1.     Don’t tow in the outside lane of a motorway (unless there’s only only 2 lanes).

2.     Speed limits when towing are 50mph on single carriageways, and 60mph on dual-carriageways and motorways (or less as sign-posted).

3.     Distribute the weight of any items carried in your van so as not to make it too nose- or tail-heavy.

4.     Always completely un-reel your EHU cable to prevent possible over-heating.

5.     Floor vents are designed to allow gas to escape if there’s a leak (it’s heavier than air) - so never block them.

6.     The fridge cools quicker on gas, and the heater warms up quicker on gas.

7.     Use security devices whenever your car and caravan are unattended, otherwise your insurance may be invalid.

8.     If you passed your car test before 1/1/1997 you’re generally entitled to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250kg MAM.

9.     Never level the caravan using the steadies - use a ramp for lateral level, and the jockey wheel for the longitudinal.

10.   Leave the jockey wheel down when on site to help the chassis take the load at the front of the van.

11.   Put simply, you need extended mirrors if you can't see 4m either side of your caravan at 20m behind the driver.

12.   Remove extended mirrors when not towing.

13.   Turn seating over to make the bed.

14.   When emptying your toilet cassette, press the yellow or red button to release the pressure and avoid splashback.

15.   Only ever empty the toilet at the official CDP, never at the grey water drain. And never clean your toilet cassette with a tap labelled “Drinking Water”.

16.   The filler cap on some toilet cassettes is also a good measure for the blue chemical.

17.   Only ever leave tinned food in your caravan, and always clean the surfaces and cupboards before leaving the van for any length of time - otherwise the mice will be in and nibbling your upholstery and electric wires.

18.   Before travelling, ensure there’s nothing left in an internal locker which will damage worktops if it falls out.

19.   Before travelling, ensure that every window, roof hatch, external locker, external flap and the main door are securely shut and locked.

20.   Before travelling, ensure the TV aerial is wound down and pointing rear-wards.

21.   If your awning has straps rather than guy ropes - put a twist in them before pegging down to prevent wind vibration and noise.

22.   Ensure your car to caravan electric cable is not going to drag on the ground, or be so tight as to pull out on a sharp corner. Likewise with the breakaway cable.

23.   Set a routine for when coupling up - and stick to it (start again if you’re disturbed during the procedure).

24.  After coupling the car and caravan, lower the jockey wheel - this should raise the car to confirm a solid connection.

25.   Check to see if your tow car needs the tyre pressures raised when towing  … and remember to lower them when you’ve unhooked.

26.   If you need to jack up the caravan, leave it attached to the tow car for added security.

 

(Ignore any of the above that don’t apply to your set up, eg if you’ve got a non-retractable aerial, or a fixed bed, etc, etc.)

 

John

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Once connected to the car,  check all lights  are working before leaving. 

I always walk round and check all windows and hatches are secure.

internally ensure all cupboards shut, roof lights  closed securely.  Fridge set to 12v setting, Van  master electrical switch  to Car, or off depending on make.

Gas switched off in gas locker before travel.

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Hi Elliewebbs, and welcome.

 

Most of its been covered as mentioned above.  My OH passed away last year, so doing this on my own.  He did his jobs and I did mine.  I've found going on Youtube "Caravanning for Beginners" very helpful.  You want to do something, then go on there.  Very informative.

 

Where awnings are concerned.  It depends really.  On a two week holiday, we used a full awning, on a shorter break, ie, long weekends, then a porch awning.  Whether you go air or not, to me it depends.  Air awnings are very heavy.  I wouldn't be able to manage it on my own.  To be truthful.  I can put my porch awning up within 15 minutes.  Looking at people put air awnings up, it really doesn't take any longer

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Hi

Welcome to the forum - you will find loads of helpful tips on here and a lot of people happy to give of their experience and expertise. So feel free to ask away.

My one tip for a newbie arriving on site for the first time would be to relax and take your time. Don't rush trying to get set up. Never was 'more haste less speed' more applicable. Take your time, be methodical. Initially it might be advantageous to have a list to order the things you need to do. The last thing you want to do is start your holiday being stressed.

It may seem a bit daunting at first but it does get easier with experience.

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13 hours ago, Elliewebbs said:

 

2. Awnings!!! What a nightmare. We are in the 'size 12' bracket of awnings apparently but are we able to buy a smaller one? I'm sorry to be so dense but there are full length,  air, porch awnings. So much to take in. How on earth do you know whether an awning you see on a site will fit? 

Every caravan has an awning size eg 12.  It's  to do with the distance measured from the ground, through the awning rail and back to the ground.  This is referred to as a full awning.  You can sometimes get away with a size up or down.

A porch awning fits on the awning rail at the flattest bit near the roof.  The sides just come down the wall of the van.  You would normally choose one that fitted well in relation to the van windows and door.  You might try a small cheap one for starters.  Good for leaving stuff in like wellies.  I prefer not to bother!

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On 11/11/2020 at 06:45, PaulR said:

Hi, welcome .

 

Someone in here did a checklist of obvious 'to do or not to do. That we all sometimes can forget I'm sure someone on this forum will post it again for you as I cannot remember who or when.

But on awnings code name (divorce in a bag) do you really need one? Then if yes how big as the bigger they are the more to dry when home, put up, carry etc.

Awnings why not wait until you have the caravan before deciding. There are just the two of us nowadays and we only bother with the awning for longer breaks and even then I often don't bother to take it. They are certainly not essential. 

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David

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On the question of awnings I agree that you should try the caravan on a site and see if you need an awning and if so will a porch do. Basically they add more room but can be heavy, possibly difficult to put up and potentially expensive. 

Before using the caravan try you tube and look for hitching, pitching and anything else that might worry you. There are a lot of good posts on there and on these and in addition you can find videos and reports on many sites before you book. 

Google Earth is useful for checking out the approach to see if it is easy, and to look for features on the road to alert you when you are approaching the site.

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Hi

There is some great advice on hear,our comments would be what ever awning you have or chose do you self a favour and before taking it down & packing it away first clean it down (A quick wipe) second unzip all panels most awnings allow you to do this and it makes it easier to put it away and lighter to put it up next time you are out and about! As for awnings if you haven't gotone yet then take your time! look around the sites you go to and ask to have a look in if you see one you like as most vanners will be only to pleased to help you out and it gives you a good idea what the awaning looks like also use UTUBE to view any awnings you fancy and how to put them up most are covered also good for tips on vanning as well. Apart from that minor advice enjoy you new purchase and welcome to the club.

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My advice is not to buy an awning YET.

This time of year you probably won't get much use out of it, and remember, you shouldn't pack them away with ANY damp on them, or they'll rot. At this time of year, condensation is going to be present, even on a "dry" day.

It's very difficult to get it dry when you get home unless you have a very large covered area preferably indoors, in which to hang it.

Go away a few times, have a look at what other folks do, Talk to them, then decide if you want one and which type.

 

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Always have a couple of old tea towels or any cloths you can wipe things down and throw away especially if you are packing up and it’s raining or even a storm as happened with us this year.  No matter how many times you take your shoes off there are always drips!! 

We also leave little bags of lavender in our bedding and around the van so when we open the door on our next visit we are welcomed with a lovely fragrance.  

You’ll get used to your own way of packing and unpacking really quickly though but I’m with most on here with have a drink first!!

 

Bergamo

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1. Be careful how you load, pay attention to the car and van weights and take it easy when towing.

2. Don't get an awning unless you have to. Trust the force, you will know.

3. If you are new to towing and haven't done a course, then find a quiet car park one evening and play at reversing into your pitch.

4. Ask for help if you need it, start "I'm new to this..." and smile.

5. Enjoy. :)

Edited by NobbyTucker
replaced 'one' for 'an awning'
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