The anticipation of a caravan holiday can be tremendous. You want to make sure everything’s packed so you don’t reach your destination only to realise you’ve forgotten something vital. But in all the clamour it can be easy to ignore other important things. This is why a pre-trip checklist is a very good idea, one that covers not only the caravan but also the car that will be towing it and the house you’ll be leaving.
1. The House
The last thing you want is to return from a wonderful holiday to discover you’ve been burgled. Take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen. Tell a trusted neighbour that you’ll be gone, and for how long. Ask them to keep an eye on the house for you, to make sure letters and newspapers are all neatly pushed through the letter box.
Before you go, cut the grass and have timer switches on some of the lights so it seems as if you’re home in the evenings. Make sure all the doors and windows are securely closed and locked. Before you leave do last minute “idiot check” to ensure all the gas is off at the appliances and that you have all you need for the trip.
2. The Car
If anything, your car is even more vital than the caravan for the trip. Have it serviced and all the fluid levels topped up. Ensure you have spare coolant, oil and screen wash in the boot. Look at the tyres and make sure they’re at the correct pressure (the owner’s manual will tell you what they should be) including the spare, which is all too often forgotten. Last, but certainly not least, check all the lights and replace any bulbs that aren’t working. If you’re going abroad have the headlights adjusted.
Carry a fully-charged mobile phone and car charger in case of problems. If you’re going in winter have a shovel, spare food, drink and clothing in the car, along with a torch with fresh batteries and Grip Tracks.
3. The Caravan
Finally there’s the caravan itself:
- Check the tyre pressures (do it when the caravan hasn’t been moved and the tyres are cold) to be sure it will hold al the weight properly and test the lug nuts.
- Look under the caravan to see if there are any leaks anywhere.
- Fill the water container and be certain that the waste water container is empty, with a cap secure over the outlet.
- Look at any gas appliances to see that they’re switched off. With gas containers, look at the level and replace with full ones if necessary; it’s cheaper than buying new ones in the middle of a holiday, especially if going abroad, where systems might well be different.
- Remember to check the lights after the caravan has been hooked up to the car.
All cabinets and drawers need to be travel locked before you put your gear into the caravan. Similarly, make sure all the water and gas feeds are off and any loose items, such as televisions, are packed so they can’t slip or slide.
Remember to distribute the weight evenly in the caravan when packing it. Failure to do so can make driving much harder and give you less control. Your manual will offer suggestions for the best method for your particular model. Close all the vents and windows and lock them.
4. Just Before Leaving
Double check the hitch on the caravan to be sure it’s locked. Stow all the chocks and be certain all the jacks and stabilisers have been raised. Before setting off check the extended mirrors so you have a good view behind you. Now you’re ready to take off and enjoy yourself.