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If you just bought a new RV, you probably can’t wait to get on the road and have your first night out. Before your first trip there is plenty to organise and think about, including where to go, what to pack and even caravan park etiquette. To make it easier, we have pulled together the ultimate survival guide for your first adventure at a caravan park.
Before you go
Looking for a powered campsite with an ocean view during Easter? You’ll need to book far in advance. The school holidays have always been a busy period at caravan parks, and now with the recent rise of caravanning and camping, it will get busier. Even outside of peak periods you’ll be struggling to find your desired spot in certain caravan parks if you don’t book beforehand. Better be safe than sorry and book your trip as far as possible in advance!
Before you hit the road, there are a couple of things you need to check in order to have a safe and relaxed trip. The first thing you should organise is towing mirrors. You may have already noticed that your caravan is wider and taller than your car. To ensure you can see any passing traffic approaching, you need to mount extensions on your car mirrors.
It is also essential to check if your towing aid is fitted correctly, drawers and other items are secure, tyres are inflated correctly (on both the car and the caravan), windows and doors are closed and you have tested your breaks.
In addition, ensure the gas bottles are full, the caravan and car battery are both healthy, the solar panels are working, your lights are working and you’ve checked both water and oil in your car. Also, be sure to check out our blog posts on spare parts you should carry with you on every trip.
Have you ever gone on a trip and forgot your toothbrush? Yes, that’s why you need a checklist. It will help you to ensure that you don’t leave important items behind and also ensure you don’t pack too much. First-time caravanners tend to overpack, and if you take it too far you might tow illegally. You should never load your RV over payload (the maximum carrying capacity of gear, gas and water). You can find out your limits in your owner’s manual.
It is always a good idea to do a practice run of your set-up before you go on your trip. That way you can ensure you have everything you need and you know already how to set up your awning which will avoid any mishaps when you arrive at your caravan park.
Once you’ve decided where you want to travel to, make sure you plan out the best route. This might be the fastest, or the most scenic. It is also a good idea to download the Google Maps before you head off so you can access it even with no service.
Keep in mind, when you are towing a RV, your car needs more fuel so ensure you check you have enough petrol to make it to the campsite or you’ve checked for petrol stations along the way.
At the park
There are a few things that every camper should keep in mind for their first time at a caravan park. While each caravan park might have their own particular quirks, there are some universal rules to keep in mind. Firstly, try and keep the sound to a minimum at unsociable times. Caravan parks are open areas, so everyone can hear your music, TV or barking pets. Where you can, avoid walking through other people’s campsites and finally, don’t be the person who spends hours in the shower at peak times.
When you arrive, check where the connection is located for the water, gas and power. This will help you figure out where to place your van and tents. If you don’t have a powered site or there is no water access, make sure you know where the closest access to power and water is.
Finding the perfect caravan spot comes down to personal preference, but there are a few other important things to consider as a first time caravanner. It is important that your caravan site fits your van – get to know the dimensions of your RV so you’re never left with a spot that is too small. It’s also handy to look at the trees around the campsite to ensure nothing is going to fall on you or your belongings. Finally, if you are looking for a private spot, don’t book somewhere near the toilet blocks, barbeques or any other common areas.
It is also a good idea to practice reverse parking your caravan before you head off. Our Jayco Vanbassadors, The Bergs, like to use walkie talkies to communicate with each other when reversing their caravan to ensure the process is smooth.
Getting to know your neighbours is just one of the many perks of staying in a caravan park. Often your neighbours are a wealth of knowledge and can provide tips and tricks about both the caravan park and the local area you’re staying in. Plus, there is nothing better than an afternoon drink with a new friend!