Top tips when buying your first caravan

Car towing caravan into sunset

With Summer just around the corner and warmer weather on the way, there’s never been a better time to start thinking about buying your first caravan. It’s a big investment – both financially and practically and certainly isn’t a commitment to take lightly.

Here are our top tips for those looking to buy their first caravan along with some key do’s and don’t’s:

Choosing the right caravan for you

The first thing to consider is the type of caravan you’re looking to buy and whether or not it would suit your lifestyle and your budget. Some key things to consider include:

  • How many people are you hoping your caravan will host? Think about future family holidays, whether you want to use it as a social space for friends, how many people it should sleep etc. All of the above could make a real difference as to the type and model of caravan you invest in.
  • Think about your car’s towing capacity – this could put restrictions on the type of caravan you buy, as could when you passed your driving test; we discuss this in more detail later on.
  • It’s unlikely you’ll be using your caravan all year round so be sure to think about where you’ll store if when it’s not in use. Whether you’re planning on keeping it in your garage, on the drive or in private storage, it’s worth considering this before you make the purchase.

Your driving license

There are some restrictions on buying and towing a caravan depending on your driving license and what year your passed your driving test. If you obtained a UK driving license before 1st January 1997, you’ll be permitted to town most vehicle and caravan combinations. However, if you took, and passed, your test after this date, you’ll be restricted to lighter combinations. You can read more about this here.

For example, very recent driving licenses, obtained after 19th January 2013, are restricted to towing a caravan or trailer over 750kg so long as the combined weight is no more than 3,500 kg. Before you make your initial purhcase, be sure to work out your weight limit to avoid nasty surpises and pitfalls further down the line.

Insurance

Another key point to remember upon buying your first caravan is to let your current car insurance company aware. There may be an additional charge to cover the insurance of the caravan so give them a call before you make the purchase if this might sway your decision as to the type of caravan you buy. Keeping everyone in the loop as early as possible can mean you’ll avoid lengthy phone conversations later on once the purchase has been made already.

The facilities

Once you’ve found the “perfect” caravan for you, be sure to bear in mind its facilities and whether or not they’ll work for you. The location of the kitchen and bathroom is vital – even if it is a squeeze, you don’t want to compromise on living space for a lower price if you can afford to go a bit higher and make the most of your caravan.

Storage space is another key thing to think about when buying your first caravan. Think about how you’re most likely to use your caravan – family holidays, romantic getaways, the odd weekend with the kids – and check that your vehicle has enough storage space for its primary function. You’d be surprised at how compact caravans come these days and how much storage there really is hiding behind the doors. Just be sure to bear this in mind and not be trying to cram everything in on your first mini break!

Brand new or used?

Depending on your budget, you might be looking at either a brand new caravan or one that’s second hand. These days, the latter doesn’t have to be a headache and can be a more cost effective way of joining the caravanning community, especially if you’re a newbie. Just be sure to have a used caravan checked thoroughly before purchase. Use a moisture meter to warn you of any damp problems and ensure all pumps are adequate and not leaing. If mains electricity is installed, make sure you ask to see the most recent inspection certificate.

Caring for your caravan

It’s hard to say how long your caravan will last; it will depend on whether it’s brand new or second hand, the amount of miles you cover etc. However, it’d be fair to say that your caravan should last at least 10 years…so long as you take care of it properly. Ensure your caravan is regularly serviced and any repairs that need doing are made as soon as possible. Factors such as damp can well and truly ruin your caravanning experience so don’t turn your back on any suspected repairs. Plus, make sure any work or services carried out are completed by an official, trained expert to avoid more costs and more stress later on.

Looking to purchase your first caravan? Get in touch today or pop in and visit our showground to see what models we have to offer. Just bought your first caravan? Share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Posted in Blog, Top Tips.