In caravanning as in life, there are some things you simply must have or do. These days, caravanning life has changed beyond recognition. Where once it probably meant a couple of weeks away just getting away from it all by roughing it a little, today it remains a chance to escape the humdrum of everyday life without roughing it at all.
Essential home comforts – including all the latest communications gadgets and devices – have become a necessary part of that two-week travelling caravan break.
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of must-haves, though, let’s spare a thought for the must-do’s. If your caravan has been languishing in your driveway at home or stored away during the winter, it first needs a good old-fashioned spring clean. It’s you first must-do – and all the must-haves can follow on later.
Spring cleaning your caravan
Spring cleaning might often be seen as a chore. When it comes to spring cleaning your caravan, however, it is probably the first sign of your getting ready for the coming new season of holidays and outings. The sense of anticipated fun, adventure and relaxation might make spring cleaning a surprisingly welcome and pleasant task!
So that you only have to do it once in preparation for the coming season, and to help you get the task done properly, you might want to take on board some of the following tips and suggestions.
Spring clean your insurance
Your first spring cleaning exercise involves no physical effort on your part at all – but is no less important for all that.
An annual spring clean of your insurance may ensure not only that your cover is up to date, but that it reflects the steady changes in market valuations and provides the appropriate scope and level of protection for you and your family.
As part of that annual health check, you might want to contact us here at Cover4Caravans to ensure you still have the most appropriate insurance and at a cost-effective price.
Cleaning and maintenance
When it comes to the cleaning itself, the job falls naturally into two parts – the inside and the outside of your ‘van:
- dust and hoover as you would any other room in your house, of course;
- but with a caravan, one of your main enemies is likely to be condensation, damp and the potentially very damaging mould that may grow in such conditions;
- use your nose or a purpose design damp meter to detect the tell-tale signs of damp before it has the chance to get hold;
- give the interior a thorough airing and ensure that air vents are unblocked and properly facilitating the flow of air;
- flush through the water system, using a proprietary freshwater cleaning agent if you so wish – but never use bleach for this purpose;
- another place where you should never use bleach is the toilet in your caravan, where once again you need to select a proprietary cleaner;
- in a posting dated the 28th of April 2020, caravan manufacturers Bailey suggest a wide range of cleaning products for use in your caravan;
- while on your internal spring cleaning, check that both gas and electrical appliances are working and the connections in good order;
- check the gas cylinders, if necessary, weighing them to make sure that there is enough for at least your next outing;
- tackling the outside of your caravan is essentially a question of plenty of water, a good sponge, and the appropriate amount of elbow grease to remove the stains, bird lime and sap from trees that may otherwise damage the finish of external surfaces;
- the general consensus is that high-pressure water hoses should be avoided and an article published in Out and About Live also warns about the use of petroleum-based cleaning agents;
- cleaning the outside of your caravan, therefore, is likely to be a pretty straight forward affair – potentially more important are some of the essential safety and maintenance checks that need to be done;
Wheels and tyres
- properly checking the wheels and tyres after a long winter’s layover, for instance, is likely to require you jacking up the caravan, resting it on axle supports and deploying the corner stays;
- when safely raised from the ground, grip the tyre of each wheel, and attempt to wiggle it from side to side – there should, of course, be no detectable play in the wheel bearings;
- on the tyres themselves, you need to check for cuts, bulges and other deformities and ensure that the full depth of tread follows a straight path around the whole circumference of the tyre;
- with the caravan raised off the ground, you also need to check that the brakes are working correctly – a helpful step by step guide is published as an online guide by campsite owners at Horton Common;
- to check that there has been no binding – especially if the brake has been left on during the winter – simply spin the wheel and listen carefully;
- provided there is only the sound of the brake shoes gently brushing the inside of the wheel, everything is likely to be fine, but if there is a significant dragging noise the brakes need adjusting by removing each wheel;
- when the adjustments have been made, remember to do the wheel spin test once again before satisfying yourself that the brakes are working safely;
Hitch, jockey, and steadies
- the final series of external checks involve the hitch mechanism, the jockey wheel, and the corner steadies;
- as the only point of contact between your caravan and the car towing it, the hitch is clearly an important mechanism;
- the hitch must be firmly secured, and the head needs to be clean and properly greased, checking too that the breakaway cable is in excellent condition;
- maintenance of the jockey is essentially a question of the wheel rotating freely and you being able to raise and lower it easily – in other words, suitable attention to greasing points;
- corner stays might also be checked that they are in smooth working order simply by cleaning them – with brake fluid if necessary – and greasing the operating mechanism.
Switching from that must-do spring clean to what you must-have for your caravan allows you to be a little more indulgent.
Let’s consider just some of how your chosen must-haves might make life easier.
Touring caravans are designed with weight considerations in mind – with careful balance making for easier manoeuvring.
But there are still situations where you might find it challenging to manoeuvre. A motor mover is designed to give you just that little extra help. It might be needed when space is restricted, and the caravan needs to be unhitched from the car or when you need to align the wheels precisely so that a wheel lock may be used to provide that extra level of security.
Motor movers work on the principle of providing power to turn the wheels of the caravan to move it backwards and forwards and turn it in tight spaces. The power typically comes from the caravan’s own battery and the work is done by clamps which fit against the tyre.
Generally, the motor mover is simple and easy to operate through the kind of remote control device you might use with a television set.
Generally speaking, the simpler the design, the cheaper the cost, of course – this might range from a few hundred pounds to more than a thousand. The amount you are prepared to spend may also have a bearing on the ease of use of the device, although creativity in engineering design may have a greater impact still.
Getting away from it all is one thing but doing without all your favourite gadgets and devices is another thing entirely.
A solar charger provides a ready – and free – source for all those power-hungry devices such as telephones, laptops, games controllers, and batteries.
Cookers and hobs
So, we’ve enjoyed a mini-succession of especially fine summers, but it’s still somewhat optimistic to hope to do all of your cooking over a campsite barbeque.
Thankfully, you can buy a whole range of cooking aids for your caravan ranging from a single burner hob right through to a full-sized oven – allowing you to give full rein to your culinary expertise.
Satellite systems on the go
If the idea of missing out on your favourite TV programmes while you are away is a non-starter, then a portable satellite system may help you ensure that you stay up to date with all those plot lines.
It will also provide a source of entertainment for the kids on those occasional days when you can’t get out and about.
Shower al fresco
Maybe not what springs immediately to mind when you think about high tech gadgets but what about a portable external shower unit so you can help ensure that all that sand or mud stays outside where it belongs?
If you intend to buy a few of these must-have items, be sure to check that your caravan’s insurance covers them.
Remember that, sadly, all these gadgets may appeal to others who may not be particularly interested in buying them for themselves!