Go on admit it – if you own a caravan, you’re as likely to be fascinated by the all the latest nifty gadgets as the next man or woman.
Each year sees the launch of a new crop of accessories and devices that many a caravanner regards as a gadget to die for. Some stand the test of time and prove their usefulness – or even indispensability – for many years to come; others might turn out to have been little more than a passing fad and brief flash in the pan.
So, here is our pick of the nifty caravan gadgets which appeared on the market in 2018 – if you missed any of them this glorious past summer, new, improved versions are almost certain to hit the stores next season.
BioLite Camping Lamp
The BioLite Camping Lamp is no ordinary torch – though it is that too. It also doubles as a lantern that can be used inside or outside your caravan, made into a string of fairy lights or provide a power-hub for re-charging any number of gadgets and devices via its USB plug.
The company also makes a range of solar-powered energy packs – designed to provide lighting and power in any emergency.
Portable solar panel
With their Nomad 7 solar panel, Goal Zero have produced a lightweight and ultra-portable power pack to delight even the most fiendishly nerdy electronic gadget freak.
The foldable system is designed to make the most of solar energy charging for your mobile phone – and a host of other electronic gadgets – even when sunlight is variable or unpredictable. There is even an inbuilt LED indicator to tell you the strength of prevailing solar conditions.
For ease of use, the Nomad 7 also comes with a detachable kickstand.
Portable washing “machines”
Few touring caravans are likely to have the space, design capacity or energy supply for an electric washing machine – but don’t despair, you can still keep your clothes washed and odour-free a more traditional way with the Laundreez washing kit.
The kit is no more than a space-saving collapsible bag into which you place your dirty clothes, fill up with water and washing powder, and gently swash around until they appear clean enough.
The tableware you use when you go caravanning might have been chosen for its durability, unbreakability and lightness – but that inevitable plastic feel probably does little when it comes to conjuring up sophistication or fine-dining under a starry summer’s night.
Kampa may have come up with the ideal solution – melamine tableware that has all the light-weight durability you need, but which looks and feels every inch the genuine terracotta deal.
Just because you’re taking your holidays in a caravan doesn’t mean you have to forego that early-morning cup of freshly-brewed fine coffee.
The Cafflano Klassic range of all-in-one coffee makers is for the connoisseur.
Into just the one vertically-stacked gadget just add your favourite coffee beans and the ceramic grinder grinds them to your taste. Add water, and the coffee filters through an etched, stainless filter dripper, ready to pour from the machine itself – you can almost smell the aroma just from the description.
So, you thought you knew everything you’d need to know about static caravans – seen one, seen them all, you might be telling yourself.
So here are a few more than unusual variations on the theme that might help you think again about the possibilities of transforming the ordinary into something imaginative, exciting and eye-catching.
Like anything else that has been showered with lots of time, energy and expense, each of them is in need of adequate insurance – but regular static home insurance is likely to prove more than a challenge to your standard insurance provider, so you’ll need to search out a specialist broker who knows more than a thing or two about cover for caravans of every make, model and imagination.
One of the most recent flights of fancy to transform an otherwise ordinary static caravan took shape as a fully-fashioned pirate ship.
The interior looks every inch a privateer, with each room decked out with gnarled ropes, ripped sails hanging from the ceilings, treasure maps hanging on the walls and seating fashioned from casks and barrels (of what probably contained the ship’s rum rations).
A sophisticated sound system even pipes in authentic effects of whale noises and “songs”, the roar of cannon balls firing and the banter between the pirate crew members.
Pitched on a site in Filey, Yorkshire, this novel rebranding of the static caravan featured on Hull Live on the 17th of August 2018.
Grazing in new pastures
They have perhaps become a little commonplace by now, but the turning a traditional shepherd’s hut into a comfortable, modern and fully-equipped static caravan retains a certain charm.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron last year famously invested £25,000 on a shepherd’s hut conversion which he pitched in his Cotswold garden as a “writing studio”.
You don’t need to be a former MP or even an aspiring writer to own such a caravan, though, and the market in new-builds has taken off with such a flourish that you’ll probably find one whatever the depth of your pocket.
Arab royalty is rarely known for doing things by halves and Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, has shown just how that can be applied to static caravans too.
His take on the humble caravan is a millionth-scale version of the entire globe no less. It is three storeys high, has nine bathrooms, eight bedrooms and boasts four separate storage areas.
The drinks are on you
Strictly speaking, our final example – a caravan pub club – probably does not fit the definition of a static caravan, since it also doubles as a tourer with relative ease.
But the pitched roof, “chimney” and cottage-style windows, genuine pine flooring, furnishings made from Irish oak, antique pictures on the wall and the drinking memorabilia you’d find in any shebeen this is every inch a traditional Irish pub – and one that looks to stay put.
Static caravans come in all shapes and sizes, and some have given free rein to all the imagination and art of their owners’ desires – just don’t forget you’ll need to arrange specialist static caravan insurance.
For any owner of a touring caravan, insurance is likely to be a prudent precaution – you have invested a fair amount of your hard-earned cash in it, and adequate touring insurance cover ensures that your caravan is fully protected against all manner of theft, damage and financial loss.
So here are some FAQs to emerge from the touring caravan insurance reviews we have recently conducted here at Cover4Caravans.
Do I have to have touring caravan insurance?
When you are towing a caravan, the law does not require that you have separate touring caravan insurance.
The vehicle you are driving of course has a legal requirement for a minimum of third party insurance – and that cover typically extends to the caravan you are towing too.
But even if your motor insurance is upgraded to fully comprehensive cover, you are likely to find that it provides protection against third party risks only for your caravan – leaving the trailer completely vulnerable to fire, theft or accidental damage.
That is why separate, specialist touring caravan insurance is necessary.
What does it cover?
Touring caravan insurance ensures that your caravan is protected – whether it is parked on your driveway at home, stored elsewhere, being towed or pitched anywhere along the route of your current holiday.
It offers cover for both your caravan and its contents against theft and loss or damage from such potentially disastrous events as fire, storm damage, flooding, impacts (from other vehicles or falling objects), vandalism and theft.
The insurance may also incorporate public liability insurance indemnity against claims raised by someone who is injured or suffers property damage through some contact with your caravan.
How do policies differ?
Our touring caravan insurance reviews have also illustrated some important differences in the levels of protection offered by different insurers.
In the event of the worst coming to the worst and your caravan being totally written off in a major event – such as a fire, for example – a number of insurers offer to replace the caravan with an identical model as new, provided your insured ‘van was less than two years old, or less than five years old if you have been the sole owner since it was new.
Policies arranged through us here at Cover4Caravans, on the other hand, offer new for old replacement of any caravan that is less than five years old, regardless of the number of owners there may have been before you bought it.
Are any discounts offered on touring caravan insurance?
Responsible and careful caravan owners are more than likely to be members of a recognised caravan club – receiving regular tips and suggestions on enhancing security and maintaining your caravan in tiptop condition, for example.
Here at Cover4Caravans, therefore, our policies recognise the importance of club membership by granting a discount on the premiums members need to pay.
More specifically, our policies also recognise that caravans are at perhaps their most vulnerable when they are not in regular use and effectively put into storage for, say, the winter months.
A further discount on your premiums, therefore, is also available if you agree to store your caravan at one of the high-security sites recognised and registered with the Caravan Storage Site Owners’ Association (CaSSOA).
This review is based on our visit in July 2018 when we stayed for five nights. Some pictures however are from a previous visit in February 2013. The site is open all year around and accepts non-members but sadly not tents. Work is taking place to add glamping pods. Click HERE for site details.
Firstly as always, arrival. The site is located on the edge of Moreton and is easily accessible although those arriving from any other direction than west on the A44 will encounter at least one mini roundabout and Moreton’s busy thoroughfare. Be prepared to queue for a bit and watch out for both pedestrians and vehicles appearing from all directions. Our Site Arrival video below shows the approach on the A44 heading west.
The two arrival lanes will give you some clue as to the size of the site. There are 183 pitches, 171 of which are hardstanding. Reception is to the left with a small shop selling the essentials. On the left there is also a Late Night Arrival area and small car park for visitors.
Along a pathway to the left of the entrance barrier can be found a large and well stocked information hut, adjacent to which is a herb garden where you can help yourself.
The site is pleasantly laid out – there are lots of little cul-de-sacs that give the site a smaller feel than it really is but also some areas that feel a little crammed when itís busy.
Pitches on the northern side of the site are furthest away from the road and should be the quietest. There is a good mix of open and shaded pitches – the latter were in high demand during our stay!
You are never far from one of the clubís service points: water, waste water, rubbish and recycling. Unlike some sites however chemical disposal points seem to be confined to the facilities blocks of which there are two offering the usual toilets, showers, wash basins. An additional smaller building opposite the block on the eastern side of the site houses washing up sinks, laundrette and a wheelchair accessible ensuite unit whilst these are incorporated in the larger block on the western side of the site.
Pitches in general seem a little narrower here and the convention of car/caravan/awning on the hardstanding cannot be followed. Instead you are required to park your vehicle parallel to the road in front of your unit. Some end up parking partially on the road and this makes the site a little harder to navigate particularly with larger caravans. Check out our Site Tour video below for a closer look around.
The play area and dog walking area are to the north of the site alongside near the planned glamping pods. There is a Boules pitch and crazy golf with all the equipment available at reception and plenty of room for ball games. Itís separated from the site by trees and a tall hedgerow.
Moreton-in-Marsh is easily walkable from the site and you’ll find shops here selling most of the things you’re likely to need during your stay. Convenience stores from Tesco, the Co-Op and Budgens, bakers and butchers for those doing their own cooking but a wide range of pubs, takeaways and restaurants for that night off. The Swan – nearest the site on the corner of Bourton Road offers a discount for those staying at the site. A recently opened Aldi just out of town on the Stow Road is handy if you need to take the car or motorhome. You’ll find an Esso filling station on the way too.
Being in the heart of the Cotswolds there’s loads to do and see a short drive away but thanks to a bus stop almost right by the site entrance you can leave your vehicle on site and let someone else do the driving. Johnsons have services up to Stratford-upon-Avon stopping at the quintessentially Cotswold village of Broadway on the way through. Both well worth a visit.
Pulhams go to the Venice of the Cotswolds Bourton-on-the Water – another must do if you’re in the area in my opinion. You could while away an hour or two just wandering around but the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection is a popular attraction and well worth a look too.
From Moreton’s main thoroughfare you can catch a bus that runs through to Cheltenham calling in at Bourton-on-the-Water too as well as Stow-on-the-Wold – another rightly popular destination.
A little bit further afield but still worth the effort are Burford, with the excellent Cotswold Wildlife Park another couple of miles south – and Bibury – described by William Morris as the most beautiful village in England.
If you fancy a train ride, the station is just over half a mile from the site. Trains run via Oxford, Reading & Slough to London in one direction and to Hereford via Worcester in the other.
Site Arrival Video
Site Tour Video
The magazines and brochures are absolutely full of highly clever ways of better using the storage space in your caravan.
All that’s important because the attractions of caravanning can be mitigated to some extent if you’re constantly falling over items scattered on the floor or needing to regularly sweep-up after you’ve made a mess knocking over jars and bottles etc.
However, there are some pretty basic concepts you can think about before you go out and start buying some of those attractive high-tech storage units.
If we’re honest, all of us have at one time or another looked at stuff in our caravan and thought “why on earth did we bring this with us”?
There’s nothing particularly clever about spending money on innovative solutions to store stuff that you don’t actually need anyway. So, think harshly at the outset and leave stuff behind which you’re going to be highly unlikely to ever use.
The more boxes, cartons, bottles and jars you have, the greater the chances of an errant elbow or knee knocking the lot flying.
So, get some tins, boxes or any other larger receptacles and store all those things like spices and condiments in them rather than individually. It’s not only safer it’s also a lot more space-efficient.
Think laterally about space
Yes, you have your surfaces and cupboards but don’t forget that the walls and ceilings can also be used to suspend various hanging containers from and that can hugely increase your amount of storage space.
True, you have to be careful where to place them and not to overdo it. Walking around banging your head constantly on suspended boxes can very quickly become tedious.
Even so, the ceiling space above beds can be a great place to hang suspended containers of one sort or another.
Invest in wireless technology where feasible
Nothing goes together less well than restricted space and technology cables.
There are some great wireless devices out there now and although it might involve spending a little to upgrade your technology, if it gets those cables and connectors off of the floor and surfaces it’ll be money well spent.
Don’t forget the boot of your car
Large numbers of touring caravan owners unload every last item from the boot of their car and then jam them into every conceivable space in the caravan.
Sometimes you might need to ask – why?
Doing those exploratory trips in your car with a completely empty boot when you’ll struggle to get into your caravan upon your return due to all the clutter, doesn’t make a lot of sense.
There are some excellent in-boot storage systems out there now and they can be used for interim storage of a wide variety of items on holiday. They can then be taken out and collapsed so that the boot is available again for suitcases and bags for that return trip.
Consider external storage
At one time, the idea of having a small container behind your touring caravan would have been inconceivably expensive but prices have fallen and the technical solutions are now a lot smarter than they once were. There are some excellent bolt-on containers, which can give you a huge amount of additional storage space.
Of course, you need to check your caravan insurance carefully in order to make sure that such storage units and their contents would be covered against theft and be clear that your now longer caravan would still be road-legal but it’s worth considering!