Top 10 Tips for Caravanning Beginners
You have just bought your new Caravelair and are ready to hit the open road with caravan in tow? Never been caravanning before? Here are our top tips to help you get the most of your caravanning holiday.
1. Do you like to sleep in? Forget it!
If you are looking for peace and quiet early in the morning, you generally won’t find it in caravan parks. People like to rise early as they have places to be and want to get there before it gets too late in the day. I hear you, you’re all on holidays, but as they say, the early bird catches the worm…or gets the best site at the next caravan park in this instance.
In addition to those wanting to get on the roads early, it’s worth mentioning that the majority of caravanners are retirees, and they won’t mind telling you that they are generally up and at ‘em by 5am rain, hail or shine, and starting the day before the rest of us is their norm.
So expect a bit of a racket as people make their morning coffees, pack up their site, and start their car engines long before the sun is up in the sky.
2. Sound travels
I am sure we have all had that blissful picture in our minds of a quiet camping oasis, sitting underneath a shady tree with a glass of wine in hand, and reading that book you’ve been saving for this perfect moment. And yes, this is a real possibility if you head off the beaten track, away from populated areas, but the reality is that most of us use the road well-travelled and end up in caravan parks enjoying the popular tourist destinations this country is renowned for. What am I trying to say? You will most likely end up on a small site, hopefully grassed, with your neighbours a few feet either side of you – and perhaps even behind you as well!
It is helpful to realise that most caravans have thin walls and people keep their windows and doors open for airflow – and sound travels a long way…especially at night! You will hear the conversations of people a few sites down from you, and they will hear yours too. This may only be a concern if you’re a spy speaking about classified information, and if you are, you may want to keep your voice down to a low whisper.
If people hearing your conversations isn’t a problem so you aren’t worried about sound travelling, then just wait until the lights go out. If you are a light sleeper, you are not going to enjoy listening to the guy (or woman, as the case may very well be) two caravans over who snores sound like a foghorn. So if you are a light sleeper, ear plugs will become your new best friend at night.
3. A caravan park is a live cinema
Who doesn’t love sitting at an outdoor café, sipping on a coffee and watching the world pass by? A caravan park is definitely no different! There is nothing more fascinating than watching the ever-changing landscape at a caravan park: people coming, people going, families enjoying each other’s company…or having a moment when they are not enjoying it so much! And I have to admit, I have enjoyed having a quiet chuckle while watching someone try to set up their tent for the first time – this movie alone can be entertaining for hours! So if you haven’t had time to practice setting up your new caravan, be confident that you are going to have an audience foaming at the mouth, waiting to see where you go wrong, or whether you and your partner have a little spat at each other along the course of setting up your site, and all from the comfort of their outdoor lounge chair. Our only advice, show no fear and be proud of your inexperience!
4. You will encounter many ‘Know-It-Alls’
Australia is famous for its caravanning life, with many people looping the country more than once, and you can be sure they have some fantastic tips to share with you. They will tell you where to get the best feed, the cheapest petrol, and where not to bother visiting. And they won’t be shy to tell you what you are doing wrong and how you should be doing things. Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about this. Our suggestion is to smile, nod politely, and have some good get-away excuses up your sleeve so you can bail if it all gets too much.
5. Don’t have a Caravelair yet, and you don’t have a toilet in your caravan? Prepare to be patient…and don’t breathe through your nose!
In general, we all have pretty much the same routine. We wake up, have our morning tea or coffee, eat breakfast, and then it is time to tend to the morning ‘needs’ of our body. This means you are likely to face queues at the sink to brush your teeth, the showers are going to be full (and often, the hot water barely finds its way to your showerhead), and yes, cringe-worthy sounds and smells coming from the cubicles.
If you don’t have an ensuite in your caravan, my tip is to change your routine where you can: take a leisurely breakfast so the showers are empty when you are ready (or, if you are at the beach, skip the morning shower and freshen up in the ocean, and then have your shower at the end of the day), brush your teeth in the kitchen sink in your caravan…and, well, exercise breathing through your mouth or put a bit of Vicks VapoRub under your nose to help you survive the morning smells of the public toilet.
6. Washing and drying your clothes needs creative planning
It doesn’t take long before you have run out of clean clothes and underwear, and it is not always as easy as you imagine to wash and dry your clothes. As soon people wake up and see blue sky, the washing machines are all quickly occupied and the lines fill up fast.
If you are one of the early birds I mentioned earlier, you won’t have any troubles securing a washing machine to use as well as finding space on the clothes line. If not, you might find yourself turning your socks inside out for a day or two while you are waiting patiently for your turn.
Not being an early bird myself, but a happy night owl, my suggestion is to do your washing at night before you go to bed, and when the sun starts to rise, your clothes are hanging on the line waiting for the warmth of the morning sun.
7. Relationships will be tested
At home you can’t get enough of your wife or husband (or partner, as the case may be). You wait patiently for each other to get home from work each day, back from visiting friends, or for when the daily chores are finished so you can relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Well, being in a confined space with someone 24/7 for an extended period of time will definitely test the strongest of relationships. After a tiring day on the road, setting up your site, and constantly squeezing past each other inside your van to get what you are after – it can test your nerves no matter how much you love your partner.
Rest assured, you won’t be the first couple to share some tense words on your caravanning holiday. It is all par for the course, and it won’t take long until the tension dissolves and you are enjoying your time away together again. Our tip here: remember points 2 and 3 above so you don’t walk out of your caravan red-faced in the morning!
8. Things will go wrong
It doesn’t matter how much you plan and prepare for your caravanning journey, there will be times when something goes wrong. You will get a flat tyre at the end of a long day when you are 5kms from your destination. You have three days scheduled at your favourite beach spot and it’s cold and raining, in the middle of summer! Something went wrong with your online booking at the caravan park, and you rock up and the park is full.
It’s okay; these things are bound to happen. Be flexible, and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for these little hiccups along the way.
9. Learn to be patient on the roads
I have always had a bit of a ‘lead foot’ when it comes to driving, especially over long distances, and I have been known to mutter not the kindest of terms towards caravan drivers who hold me up on those long one-lane country roads (or, surprisingly to those not from Australia, our one-lane highways).
Now that I am a caravan enthusiast, I am one of those people holding up the other Speedy Gonzales’s on the road. Driving, generally, a bit slower than the speed limit, taking my time to change lanes safely, and being mindful that driving at a lower speed will help with fuel consumption, which doesn’t hurt the wallet!
Learning to be patient on the roads will not only keep you and the other motorists safe (and believe me, rather the lead foots be frustrated with you than having an accident), it will also save you money on fuel which is one of the biggest expenses you will have on your road trip.
10. OUR TOP TIP: Have the time of your life!
Our last tip: don’t wait!
Caravanning around this beautiful country of ours is one of best things you will do. You will see sites which make tears come to your eyes, you will meet people on your travels which will leave warm memories in your hearts – and there is nothing like the freedom that being on the road can bring!
So, hook up your caravan and get on the road…and enjoy every moment!