Enjoy your holiday
For a safe and enjoyable break why not do a little bit of research and some last minute checks before setting off.
Here we share some useful advice to help ensure that you enjoy your touring holiday from start to finish.
Before you leave
What do I need to think about before I get on the road?
- Turn off the gas at the cylinder
- Empty the fresh and waste-water containers and clean out any toilet cassette
- Check all cupboard doors, window and rooflights are securely closed and all items are secured in place so as not to move in transit
- Secure the habitation door
- Raise corner steadies and/or chocks if appropriate
- Check the road lights and indicators are working
- When leaving the pitch you should check the area for anything left behind.
For Caravans only
- Check the caravan’s noseweight
- Check that all connections are secure, including the electrical plug(s) and the stabiliser system, if it’s fitted, making sure the cables will not drag or pull as the car turns.
How do I know which way is best to go?
- It is always best to check if a campsite offers leisure vehicle friendly directions for your journey. It may be that a specific route is much better due to avoiding road hazards that can cause problems.
- Satnav systems can be useful, but they can give a false sense of security if you’re towing or in a larger vehicle. Check the route to ensure you see no issues, such as particularly narrow roads, or height restrictions.
- There are satellite navigation systems like Club Navigation that take into account the size of your vehicle and route you accordingly
How do I choose a pitch?
Once at your chosen site you will want to choose a suitable pitch, you need to consider:
- Do you prefer to be near, or further away from the site toilet facilities?
- Are there hedges that can be used as windbreaks?
- Where will the sun be at certain times of day?
- You might consider being under a tree as sheltered, but in reality there may be falling debris or birds living in it that will not do your paintwork any good.
- Flat ground is much better than uneven ground.
- You should check the ground to see if it looks like it would become waterlogged with rain.
- Where you are on a site might depend whether or not you have children with you. Do you want to be near or far away from playground facilities, for example.
Arriving at a site
It is always advisable to book your site in advance so you are sure of getting a pitch for the period you require.
Once arrived at the site, it’s time to then check out pitch availability (if you haven’t already pre-booked a specific pitch). Some parks will designate a pitch for you, so be sure before you book your holiday you have an idea of what pitch you are looking for.
Also ask if there is a motorhome service point, so you can fill up with water before you reach your pitch.
Once you have found your ideal pitch check where you need to be with your vehicle by the marker.
Types of pitch
There are different types of pitches such as:
- Hard standing
- Standard pitch with awning
- Standard pitch without awning
- Economy pitch without electrics
- Serviced pitch
- Super pitch
Manoeuvring into position
Don't be tempted to manoeuvre onto the pitch on your own especially if you're new to touring.
Get someone to stand at the rear but to one side (so it is safer and the driver can see them!)
Once into position on your chosen pitch you need to unhitch the caravan from the car:
- Put on your car handbrake, switch off the engine, but put the car in gear.
- Put the caravan hand brake fully on.
- Push a wheel chock firmly into position behind, or in front, of the caravan wheel, depending which way you are sloping. Place another wheel chock on the wheel at the other side. A very good tip is to have a piece of string or rope attached to each chock. This will ensure you are able to remove it without getting your hands too near the moving wheel.
- Unclip the safety wire.
- Unplug the road light plugs.
- Unclamp the jockey wheel to drop into place and then retighten.
- Disengage the stabiliser and proceed to wind the jockey wheel and holding on the coupling leaver.
- The coupling should then just drop off the cars tow ball.
- Move your car out of the way, and park where desired.
- The next job is getting the caravan level, if the axle line is over to one side you will need to put a levelling block underneath to level it up. You may need to use the jockey wheel to make the nose lower or higher.
- Wind down corner steadies.
A spirit level is a very useful tool to check that your caravan is level and modern aids such as a motor mover are worth considering.
Once into position on your chosen pitch:
- Use ramps under wheels to level your vehicle if required.
- It is a good idea to choke the wheels in case the handbrake is accidentally released or you may need to release it to swivel a cab seat to make up a bed.
- Wind down corner steadies if you have them.
Some of the things you might want to think about once you are pitched onsite are:
- Connect the power cable to the hook-up point, and checking the residual current device (RCD) is working correctly
- Turn on the fridge
- Collect fresh water
- Position the waste water collector
- Add toilet fluids
- Turn on the gas
- Turn on the water heater when you’re sure it’s full of water
Planning a UK holiday
Where can you go on a leisure vehicle holiday in the UK?
Planning a UK leisure vehicle holiday is very exciting, and there are literally thousands of camping and caravanning sites to choose from!
In order to narrow this down you could consider the following:
- Where would you like to holiday the most in the UK?
- Type of site – would you prefer a busy or quiet environment? By the seaside, lakes or countryside?
- Will you be taking children / grandchildren on holiday?
- Type of pitch – do you require a hard standing pitch or a grass pitch?
- Do you require space for an awning?
- Do you require electrics? If you don’t there are some economy pitches but most pitches have a “hook-up” point.
- Do you have a hobby or activities you enjoy? Many sites are located nearby or have links to activities such as walking, hiking, canoeing, fishing etc.
Alternatively you also have freedom to travel off the beaten track and stay remote destinations if you choose.
If you enjoy taking your leisure vehicle abroad don't forget to ensure that you meet all of the legal requirements in the countries you're going to or you may invalidate your insurance.
The Camping and Caravanning Club have more than 150 campsites covering 12 countries in Europe, including the ever-popular France and Spain, but also Austria, Ireland, Portugal, and Slovenia. The Caravan Club also offer a range of overseas sites.
Here are some points to consider whilst planning your holiday abroad :
- Are your towing vehicle and caravan or motorhome insured for use abroad?
- Do you have holiday insurance?
- Have you got all necessary documents, or made all necessary arrangements, for your pet. You can contact your vet to get full details of requirements and recommendations.
- Make sure you bring your driving licence, passport, and any other essential documentation.
- You will need to fit a GB sticker to your car and caravan or motorhome.
- You will need to bring original registration documents for your towing vehicle and caravan or motorhome.
- It is highly advisable that you bring both a detailed roadmap, and if you use one a satnav. You never know when technology might fail, so a good back up of a hard copy map is invaluable.
- Remember to take headlamp converters, a reflective jacket and a torch for driving at night. In France you are also required to have a breathaliser in your car/motorhome. You must check all legal requirements before entering a country, or ideally before leaving home.
- Remember to take a spare tyre.
- Remember European countries drive on the right and to check the towing speed limits for the countries you visit as they may differ. It is also advisable to familiarise yourself with the rules of the road for each country you will be visiting.
There are two main caravan clubs in the UK:
The Caravan Club
The Caravan Club is an organisation representing caravanners in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was founded in 1907 and now represents nearly 1 million members. The Club operates around 200 main Caravan Club sites and 2,500 smaller certificated "five-van" sites, known as CLs (Certificated Locations).
www.caravanclub.co.uk for more information on how to join.
The Camping and Caravanning Club
The Camping and Caravanning Club started in 1901 as the Association of Cycle Campers. The club now has more than 480,000 members and the club offers a paid membership service to tent, campervan, caravan and motorhome owners, who in return receive discounts at its UK and European campsites. There are currently more than 1400 campsites owned, managed or certified by the Camping and Caravanning Club.
www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk for more information on how to join.
Other essential points to consider
- You might want to consider whether to get breakdown cover, whether travelling in the UK or abroad.
- As the height of your caravan is probably significantly higher than your towing vehicle it is advisable to make a note of your caravan height in both feet and inches and metres. If you have a motorhome you should do the same. It might be advisable to not only memorise this, but also write it down and put it somewhere in your vehicle, just in case you come across a low bridge or height barrier.
Where can I find more information?
If you have any questions on the topics discussed then please contact either Swift direct or your local dealer, who will be very happy to answer any questions you have and offer advice from their years of experience.
You can also see your peers opinions on Swift Talk, Swift’s social media site.