Industry icons and Jayco Vanbassadors ‘The Blonde Nomads’, share their tips to ensure you’re well prepared to pick up your new caravan on handover day.
So the time has come to pick up your shiny new home on wheels and if you are anything like us, the excitement levels are high. You may also be feeling a little nervous if you are new to caravanning and towing, but rest assured, all will go smoothly with a little preparation and know-how.
We’ve recently picked up our brand new Jayco Starcraft Bushpack, our 2nd Jayco caravan, and our 2nd handover day so we thought we’d share a few hot tips that we’ve picked up throughout the process.
Prepare your tow vehicle
You will need to ensure your caravan and tow vehicle are within all the towing weight regulations so you can legally and safely tow your caravan home. Electric brakes are required by law for towing most caravans, so your vehicle will need to be fitted with an electric brake controller (on or before your handover day).
You may want to talk to an expert about a suspension upgrade for your tow vehicle or a weight distribution hitch to ensure you’re towing safely and with ease.
You will also need to check the appropriate trailer connection plug is fitted to your vehicle and that it’s actually connected and working.
Towing mirrors are a must for towing most caravans so you will need to have these with you on the day, you may also want to have a full tank of fuel too as you DO NOT want to have to worry about navigating a petrol station while towing a van just yet!
Have a Dummy Run
On the day of pick up have a ‘dummy run’ with the dealer. At our first handover day we went for a test drive with a dealership representative who talked us through a ‘start to finish’ hook up of our van to our adventure truck, as well as how to use and adjust the electric brakes when towing our rig. This gave us an opportunity to get a feel for the van and what it felt like towing it as well as the opportunity to ask any questions along the way.
Set up Insurance
Just like any vehicle or trailer on the road, you will need to insure your caravan or at least arrange a cover note before you take it anywhere. You may be able to do this in-house at your caravan dealership too. We were able to insure our new Starcraft Bushpack van with the Jayco team on the day of pickup which was super easy. Make sure you spend some time and do your research and find the policy that is right for you.
Leave the kids at home
If you can, don’t bring your little ones with you on handover day as you need to be able to listen to all the details of ‘what button does what’ and ‘how this connects to that’ without any distractions. If you do need to bring along your little friends (like we did when we collected our first caravan), ensure you pack loads of snacks and activities to keep them happy.
Have a check list
Bring along a printout of all the extras and items you have ordered for your new van. Take some time to check these off to ensure they have been installed/delivered. You should also look closely for any damage or scratches etc. that may have unfortunately happened in transit and have the dealership rectify or acknowledge these before you drive away.
Keep a pen and paper handy on the day so you can write notes and ask any questions you may have.
Set up / Set down know how
In the past we’ve had a laminated ‘Caravan Set up and Set Down’ checklist which was super handy when we were starting out. Whether you are completely new to ‘vanlife’ or an old pro, each caravan is different so these little check lists are a great way to get into a set-up / pack-down routine. You can make one yourself or enquire with your Jayco dealer if they make them.
Another great resource is Jayco’s Youtube channel which has loads of ‘how to’ videos and vanning knowledge, as well as our ‘Blonde Nomads’ channel which is full of helpful hints, tips and caravanning around Australia inspiration.
Taking your new home… home
You may want to take a moment to consider which route is best for you when you tow your new caravan home for the first time. If possible steer clear of tight streets and hard to turn corners in busy built up areas. Plan where you are going to park your new rig once you get it home – have a well thought-out plan so you don’t have to worry about where your new rig is going to be stored when it is not in use.
If you want some added confidence you could also book into a caravan towing course for towing and parking tips so you are all set to hit the road for your next exciting adVANture!
Once you have your new caravan you are sure to have some questions and/or be looking for travel inspiration. There are loads of great online Facebook caravan pages with plenty of friendly caravanners who are happy to share their knowledge. A few pages/groups we love and use are:
When out and about enjoying the good life in your van, don’t be shy in sharing your travel snaps too, tag @JaycoAustralia and use the hashtag #JaycoAustralia
We hope these tips have been helpful, congratulations on your new caravan and we looking forward to seeing you out there!
Cheers, The Blondies
Rob, Tracy, Marli and Ziggy