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Returning to Caravanning after 40 years ..... Any tips for a relative newbie?


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As a child I often went on holiday with my grandparents in their large caravan.  Yes, I remember collecting water for the tank with my Grandpa, and helping him empty the toilet lol.  I have been fortunate enough to stay in loads of five star hotels throughout the world, but always found the caravan life rather magical.  Now, in my mid-50's, I work from home.  I am limited mobility as a result of fibromyalgia and an autoimmune ...... Also I am blessed to have a small dog and tom cat.  I have just ordered a Swift Sprite 4EB which is expected to arrive in February/March.  Having a solar panel, motor system for manoeuvring the van, leveller system, air conditioning, carbon dioxide alarm, and security alarm fitted.  Am I missing anything that I should consider????  I know I will need a fire extinguisher, small battery screwdriver ..... Any other tools or brand recommendations would be much appreciated.  I know that I am coming across as a "helpless female" so I hope you will forgive this newbie!!  And thank you .....

 

Alexandra .... (Emmie the Lhasa and Bobby the American Bobtail)

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I assume it will have a leisure battery and gas bottles fitted.

An Aquaroll for fetching fresh water and a waste container such as Waste Master and some hose to connect it.

Something to fill the toilet top tank,simple funnel or just an empty water bottle.

Loo fluid.

Levelling ramps and some blocks of wood to put under corner steadies.

Simple spirit level for levelling, or you can get a smartphone app version.

If not supplied some security such as a wheel lock, (The Swift may have the Al Ko secure lock supplied.) Also a decent hitchlock. 

Most insurers will insist on these!

Hyundai Santa Fe+Bailey Unicorn Cadiz

Mini Cooper convertible -fun Car!:)

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I would go for a fire blanket rather than an extinguisher, the most likely place fir a fire is the cooker. You can throw a fire blanket over it and snuff out a fire. With an extinguisher you run the risk of blasting whatever is burning all over the place. 

 

I once had a fireman as a neighbour and asked him what sort of extinguisher I should get. His reply surprised me ........

 

”Don’t bother, I don’t have one in my house! IF you get a fire and you have an extinguisher you will faff about trying to put it out and waste valuable time. Get out, get the fire brigade out, it’s what we are there for, and STAY out!” 

 

Which, when you think about it, is logical advice. 

 

Me? I have a fire blanket in the caravan positioned right by the door. 

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Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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I would have missed on the hose, funnel, hitchlock ..... Thank you!  There is a basic security pack coming with the alarm system.  Toilet and water cleaning fluid recommendations if you have the time, please!  I

 

Great idea with regards to the fire blanket ..... Although it does bring back hilarious memories of doing a safety course with our firemen when we had to put a small fire out with a blanket.  At five foot tall and 105lbs, I couldn't get high enough to throw the blanket over the fire so a fireman had to bring me a step to stand on :)

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A very important item when caravanning is a good sense of humour, and the courage to ask someone for help/advice/assistance should you ever need any of them. 

 

Just remember “There is no such thing as a stupid question, only a fool who doesn’t ask it” (Tgat goes for help as well!) 

 

Good luck and enjoy your travels!! 

 

Oh, another useful item is a plastic watering can, great for topping up the aqua roll without having to lug it to a tap. (And for filling the toilet flush tank) 

 

Dont bother with the expensive blue stuff for your toilet cassette, Lidl biological washing liquid is about a tenth of the price and does the job perfectly.

Edited by Mr Plodd
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Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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Firstly great to hear you’ve bought a caravan and good luck . I too have travelled the world and stayed in some nice places but agree you there is something special about caravan adventures.

 

It may come with some of these but worth a check -

— submersible pump

- bags for your aquaroll Helps keep caravan clean when storing

- small tool set including screwdrivers, gas bottle wrench, torque wrench for wheel nuts, jack (kojack), club hammer, Swiss Army knife, head torch,wd40

- caravan sat nav (not essential but makes life easier)

-25 metre hookup

-pureclean 

-cassette cleaner

-hitch cover

-steps

Towing mirrors!

Nose weight gauge 

Number plate 

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Big garden waste bags are fine for the Aquaroll, I have some from France which are cheap,being thicker plastic they last. Supermarkets should have them.

Hopefully  you will get a thorough handover and be shown everything when you get it.

You need to drain down the water heater and toilet header tank when not in use especially in winter. 

You will get the handbook with the van worth a good read and for reference. 

 

 

 

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I see by your profile that you have a freedom twin sport and are changing to a Swift sprite 4eb, that's a big change, how long have you had your freedom, have you managed to get out and about this year at all .  I dare say your friends with the caravan helped you out  to make sure you were okay with your caravan, to make sure you had every thing. So , what do you need to know?  BTW do you take your pets caravanning , I know our little dogs love it .

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Lots of good advice here, but unfortunately the main area of requirement hasn't been addressed.

 

You will need to keep the payload down, so if you can save weight on items it will help. In which case I recommend you use melamine or plastic plates and bowls, but more importantly invest in acrylic wine glasses.

 

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6 minutes ago, 664DaveS said:

No:o wine or beer just isn't  right in plastic.

Sacrilege.

 

I agree.  I bought a set of "old fashioned" wine glasses (i.e. not great big goblets) from a charity shop and store them in the plastic beer jug type glasses when travelling (He doesn't mind plastic with his beer!).  Never broken.  Also, recently swapped the plastic drinking glasses for glass vintage design.  They are quite chunky and haven't broken.

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If you have any doubts on things like hooking up enter the criteria on you tube and you will get the answer in most cases. 

Possibly videoing the essential bits of the handover will help when you are on site. Depending on where you go telling the warden it is your first outing may get you some help.

If you join the C&CC their wardens will take you to the pitch and help you pitch. If they are quiet they might help you set up as well.

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I totally appreciate the advice on keeping weight down (I've been on a diet since I was 8 😜).  Seriously, I've already purchased my china and crystal ..... No, no, no ..... Champagne or a beautifully prepared Cosmo need to be in the latter - it is part of the experience!!  I figure I will pack them in the car and bring them in when I've parked up.  😉.  I have thought hard about the weight issue and it took a little reading up until it clicked ..... Think I understand it now ..... Hoping to carry steps, bedding, cushions, pet beds, towels, aquaroll, watering can in the caravan.  1500 towing weight with 1600 pulling car.  Intend to load those things and then go have it weighed ..... And panic then lol.  

Yes, my furkids will be travellers.  Bobby is international - he's a Texas boy but now has his EU Pet Citizen Passport.  Emmie is a Yorkshire girl but loves being in the car - her passion is watching out for "lambies" in the fields! 

As far as the Freedom is concerned, when I joined the Forums it asked me for the make of caravan and at that point I was intending to sign the contract for one ..... But, then decided that it I was going to do this then I should be ordering a van which will keep me ticking for a few years rather than an introductory vehicle.  I could see the prospect of taking down and putting up the bed would grow thin fast .... And I loved having a proper bathroom.

I have two real "worries" ..... Towing .... And levelling when I arrive.  I guess those are down to experience.  I am not going to fib, I will be very happy and willing to take advice on those things if anyone offers assistance on the sites.

I can see that two of you, Joannie and Meadowsweet have furkids also .... What do you have?  My girl is a four year old (going on hyper teenager!) Lhasa Apso.  Took her for swimming lessons as a puppy so she's super confident around water which means lots of wet paws!!

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we were lucky where my OH took to towing like a duck to water, I don't drive, but I'm a great back seat driver. OH said that where ever you point your car the van will follow, keep to the first 2 lanes of a motorway, make sure you know your speed limits. When you reverse have someone behind to guide you. When going somewhere new do not rely on the sat nav, check out google maps and always take the directions from the camp sites, they know the local roads.  

Levelling, once you have reversed onto the pitch, check the level side to side, you may need ramps. If it's a titchy bit out just move some of the gravel out of the way if you are on a hard standing, remembering to put it back afterwards. To level front and back use the jockey wheel. On grass once you have put your steadies down , check again the next day in case the ground is soft and you need to adjust them. 

We have toy poodles at the moment, they are 10 yr old now and our last dogs, we have had shih-tzu's and pekingese dogs in the past and they have all loved caravanning.  Just keep to the same rules that you have at home and put throws over everything and in my case I use bottled water for them to drink. I also have a small wash up bowl to clean their feet before they come into the van.  

 

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With a mover levelling is pretty easy. Use your spirit level then use the mover to move the van up the ramp. We open the door and put the spirit level on the floor so it can be seen while operating the remote.

Once level,side to side  use the jockey wheel to get front to rear correct. Make sure the handbrake is fully applied before winding the motor mover rollers out.

Don't  forget to put the corner steadies down. 

Don't  be afraid to ask for help, most vanners are pretty helpful.

 

Hyundai Santa Fe+Bailey Unicorn Cadiz

Mini Cooper convertible -fun Car!:)

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Hi 

I too am "new" to caravanning after 38 years and finding it so different, no pushing the caravan with our shoulders, and knees  giving way, no pumping the water to the tap through a pump through the floor and a gas heater!!!!  I can't believe the heating system on our Coachman VIP it wonderful { no more hot water bottles}

 

The best two things I have found in my two months of caravanning again is the plastic lightweight ramps that allow you to level your van across the axle and not to tow without a front, made to measure cover, which protects your expensive screen and the front of the van from stone chips.  And there is no need really today to have heavy tvs in a caravan as long as you have a good mobile device such as an iPad etc.

 

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So much incredibly useful advice and very kindly given.  Very, very much appreciated!

 

Joanie ..... Already bought her new throws and towels.  She eats "human grade" which in her case is chopped raw steak with occasional little bit of cooked lamb or pork.  So glad to have a fridge!  Thank you for the bottled water and basin ideas which I will definitely use 😊.  Bobby eats Sheba and tuna - biggest problem is that he loves his outdoors and hates a litter tray.  My gardener is a cat lover and has said to leave him behind with his cat flap and he will feed him, and my blackbirds, and my lady fox.

 

Divedel ..... Exciting isn't it!!!  Where did you go first?  I understand that it is a good idea to do a close run for the first couple of nights so I am thinking that we will visit Lytham - Emmie loves the beach there!

 

Thank you, Dave 😊

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We have seen a few cats on sites, often on a lead or sitting free in the van.

Trouble is they could wander off and get lost.

Our dog used to love caravanning, she thought it meant unlimited walks and loved lying outside on a long lead, or in the awning.

She usually ended up on our bed despite having her own!

Fortunately  she wasn't too big, being a labrador/collie cross rescue puppy.

Hope you and your furry friends  will have a great time once we are allowed out!

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Hi,

I just bought a new Swift Sprite major 4SB last month and was really surprised to find that even though i spend over £18500 it did not come with a leisure battery. I may be new to caravaning but at that price surely it would come with a battery. Just make sure that you ask before you turn up to pick your new caravan up, we didnt and had to pressure the salesman for a second hand one. 

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On 27/11/2020 at 15:51, 664DaveS said:

We have seen a few cats on sites, often on a lead or sitting free in the van.

Trouble is they could wander off and get lost.

Our dog used to love caravanning, she thought it meant unlimited walks and loved lying outside on a long lead, or in the awning.

She usually ended up on our bed despite having her own!

Fortunately  she wasn't too big, being a labrador/collie cross rescue puppy.

Hope you and your furry friends  will have a great time once we are allowed out!

 

I bring my cat.  He's a brown tabby mainecoon.  Surprising how many people have walked over to him, because they thought it was a dog:lol:, as he's very large.  He too is on a lead.  He doesn't have a collar, which he would get out of, but a harness, much safer.  In all the years that he's been away with us, he's managed to escape once.  We'd gone out for the day, and it was warm, and we'd left the windows open, but the fly screens down.  One of them had flicked up, and he jumped out of the window.  Anyway, when we drove up to the caravan, he just strolled out of the hedge behind the caravan, and had a nice long stretch.  Must have been fast asleep there.  I'm surprised he was there, because he'd been looking at the rabbits most of the week:lol: and drooling

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4 minutes ago, Versa11 said:

Hi,

I just bought a new Swift Sprite major 4SB last month and was really surprised to find that even though i spend over £18500 it did not come with a leisure battery. I may be new to caravaning but at that price surely it would come with a battery. Just make sure that you ask before you turn up to pick your new caravan up, we didnt and had to pressure the salesman for a second hand one. 

Not surprising really, many buyers transfer the battery out of their old van. Also how would Swift Group or the dealer know what capacity leisure battery you want? Low capacity to save weight, or heavy duty for off grid use?

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27 minutes ago, Versa11 said:

Hi,

I just bought a new Swift Sprite major 4SB last month and was really surprised to find that even though i spend over £18500 it did not come with a leisure battery. I may be new to caravaning but at that price surely it would come with a battery. Just make sure that you ask before you turn up to pick your new caravan up, we didnt and had to pressure the salesman for a second hand one. 

I too have just bought a Swift Sprite Major 4EB.  I paid £20,000 but that included a larger solar panel, upgraded upholstery and fittings, extra sockets, extra lights, customised shelves in the bathroom, security package, and a leisure battery.  I suspect that given I paid £1,500 more that we probably got roughly the same.  It was naughty that the sales people didn't warn you though.  I asked if there was anything else I would need and he went down a list with me.

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22 minutes ago, Babstreefern said:

 

I bring my cat.  He's a brown tabby mainecoon.  Surprising how many people have walked over to him, because they thought it was a dog:lol:, as he's very large.  He too is on a lead.  He doesn't have a collar, which he would get out of, but a harness, much safer.  In all the years that he's been away with us, he's managed to escape once.  We'd gone out for the day, and it was warm, and we'd left the windows open, but the fly screens down.  One of them had flicked up, and he jumped out of the window.  Anyway, when we drove up to the caravan, he just strolled out of the hedge behind the caravan, and had a nice long stretch.  Must have been fast asleep there.  I'm surprised he was there, because he'd been looking at the rabbits most of the week:lol: and drooling

Am thinking that I may try to get him used to wearing a harness but he's never worn a collar and in fact, struggled himself out of every one I ever tried, within an hour.  I am going to attempt one night and see how it goes.  He's lived in four different homes and has insisted on going out immediately but always returns within an hour.  Even so, I am going to get him microchipped with a GPS tracker just in case he does get out.  He's a pure "James Bond" cat though ..... Charming, but lethal ..... Spends his time either out on adventures, or in bed ..... Has seduced four of the old ladies on the road, but they all think he just visits them alone.  Big fluffy tuxedo with typical breed bobbed tail and silver feathering behind his ears ..... They all think he's beautiful!!   Btw, loving your boy ..... Another handsome chap.

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