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What can we learn from seasoned caravanners & campers?



Going on holiday with you caravan needs some preparation, but there are many pitfalls that newbie campers will fall into. With a lot of caravanning under our belts at CaravanSA, we have compiled a list that will make your life easier when on holiday. We don’t want you to fall into the same traps. Here are some standout caravanning tips to ensure your holiday is more fun and less of a burden.

Taking too much stuff

It is incredibly easy to take too much stuff with you on a trip. You’ll need to streamline what you take. Yes we know the fishing rods and tackle look good, but are you going to fish? Are you going to use all those pots and pans? Have you packed too much clothing? Is that a spare braai at the back of the tow vehicle? Whose instruction was it to pack in Aunty Betty? She can talk the hind legs off a donkey and her robust frame equates to increased fuel consumption. Streamline what you take with you and get rid of stuff that is seldom or never used. You don’t need 20kg of tent pegs and four rubber mallets! Less is better as shown in the photo above. It’s incredibly easy for unnecessary “stuff” to work its way into your caravan.

Water tanks – full or empty?

Caravanners can either travel with full or empty tanks. If you’re travelling to a remote area, then having your water tanks full is suggested. If your destination, such as a campsite, advertises good clean water, then it is safe to fill up at the campsite. Travelling with empty water tanks will reduce fuel consumption due to the reduced weight.

Re-grease your wheel bearings

Failed wheel bearings are the cause of many caravan accidents and because of this, it is imperative to ensure your caravan wheel bearings are serviced once a year of every 10 000 km, whichever comes first. How often has a seized wheel bearing been the cause of a road accident? Often.

Let’s go solar!

Solar is not imperative but it does help, particularly when you are going to remote campsites without an electricity hookup. A solar setup for a caravan does not have to break the bank, and can usually be purchased in stages, adding panels as you go along. Solar does offer a good supply of power when it’s most needed, as long as the sun shines. There are a variety of solar camping kits on the market ranging from the more expensive to the cheaper smaller kits that can charge cell phones and smaller appliances. Solar options can be utilised effectively within our sunny South African climate.

Finding your way

South Africa and beyond its borders offers some of the most expansive and scenic spots. Getting to your destination often requires good hardcopy maps if cell coverage is limited. It is very easy to get lost in remote camping areas so having good maps and travelling with others is advised.

Share the load

If you’re travelling with your spouse or family, share the chores. There is always much to be done when setting up and breaking down camp. It is easy to develop a good routine and this makes camping all the more easy. Some delegation might be required to get the kids into gear with helping when you set up and break down camp. Once they’ve done their bit, they can be released to go and find other kids in the campsite. Peace prevails!

Don’t get distracted

It is very easy to make a critical error or omission if you are distracted when packing up your caravan. Is the caravan attached properly to the tow vehicle? Is the jockey wheel secure? How many times has a caravan become unhitched while being towed or an unsecured jockey wheel been bent or fallen off during a trip? Numerous times. When securing awnings you should not get distracted. An awning that opens at high speed can cause untold damage and instability to the caravan. Make sure storage latches are properly secure or you’ll be leaving a trail of accessories behind you. Caravan steadies need special attention. If they’re not lifted before you hit the road, you are in for trouble, and a bent steady.

Try not to travel at night, dusk or dawn

When travelling long distances, it’s always best to do it during daylight hours as this offers the best visibility. Travelling at night, at dusk and dawn are also not as preferable as daytime driving. Many animals also come out at dusk and they are very difficult to spot as the sun sets. The saying “like a deer in the headlights” is quite true, as animals tend to freeze when they are caught in the headlight beams of a vehicle.

Do your trip homework

Plan your trip so that you know the distances between your stops. Take frequent breaks to split up any long distance driving so that you do not tire, or worse, fall asleep at the wheel. A large percentage of accidents happen due to driver fatigue. Stretch your legs and have something to eat and drink. Freshen up at your rest stop and wash your face with cold water. Having a firm travel itinerary when caravanning is usually the best solution to plotting a holiday without hiccups and unnecessary detours.

Budget blues

Every camping and caravanning holiday should have a budget, even a basic one. Nobody wants to come back from a caravanning holiday to massive credit card debt and an empty bank account. Budgets will vary depending on the resort type, how many people are on the trip and whether Uncle “tank” van Tonder is invited. He once ate 13 boerie rolls in one sitting and washed them down with 5 litres of apple juice. A basic budget for your holiday will always stand you in good stead and help curb overspending.

The one thing we’ve realised during our travels is that we learn something new on every trip. We discover a better way of doing things, an easier method to tackle a particular task or a shortcut that saves us time. This is the nature of camping and caravanning. If you’re starting out on your caravanning adventures, you’ll soon realise it takes a bit of practice to hone your skills. There is no quick fix, it’s an endeavor of commitment and love. Adventure awaits!

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