Owning Your First Touring Caravan




buying a secondhand touring caravan

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Owning Your First Touring Caravan


Embarking on the adventure of owning your first touring caravan can be an exciting yet daunting task. Did you know thousands of Britons are discovering how a caravans offer comfort and convenience? Our blog post will guide you through everything you need to consider before making this significant investment – from picking between single-axle and twin-axle models to understanding complex jargon such as MIRO or user payload.

Get ready for the journey of buying a caravan; it’s about to begin!

The Advantages of Owning a Caravan

Owning a touring caravan brings unparalleled freedom to embark on spontaneous adventures while retaining the luxuries of home. Going beyond the constraints of traditional holidays, a caravan allows you to embrace any location without compromising comfort.

Waking up enveloped by stunning views becomes commonplace with your rolling home on wheels.

Your caravan offers warmth, dryness and entertainment regardless of temperamental weather conditions outside. With fully-equipped kitchens, private washing areas, and comfortable beds at your disposal, caravanning promotes effortless luxury travel experiences.

The convenience extends further into the realm of technology with handy USB charging points for devices – all nestled within elegantly designed interiors.

Moreover, due to their high demand among UK enthusiasts, investing in popular models like single-axle or twin-axle caravans can provide potential returns when selling. Joining the Caravan Club or Camping and Caravanning Club will also economise insurance costs and ferry charges and offer discounts on essential accessories, enhancing your overall expedition experience.

From unscripted escapades to indulging comforts amidst nature’s serene backdrop – owning a caravan unravels myriad possibilities enriching every journey!

Types of Touring Caravans

There are two main types of touring caravans to choose from in the UK: single axle and twin axle.

Single Axle

Beginning your caravan journey starts by understanding the basics. The single-axle touring caravans are a popular choice for many beginners owing to their lighter weight and easy manoeuvrability.

With only two wheels on one axle, this type of caravan is easier to tow even with smaller cars, making it a practical choice for those who prefer compact but comfortable holidays.

You’ll notice that they’re lightweight and accommodating when trying to squeeze into narrow camping spots or navigating through tight corners at campsites. However, remember the importance of outfit matching – ensure that the total weight of your packed-up single-axle touring caravan doesn’t exceed 85% of your car’s kerb weight.

Choosing a single-axle model as your first step into owning a touring caravan can be exciting but remember not to ignore other factors like size, layout and accessories needed. The swift steps required in hitching such caravans provide an excellent platform for novice owners looking forward to embracing the freedom and adventure offered by road travels & vacations across the UK.

Twin Axle

Twin axle caravans, often the preference of seasoned caravan owners, are renowned for their extra space and stability on the road. These models have four wheels spread across two axles providing a solid grip that offers safety during your travels.

Although they require careful handling due to their size, twin-axle touring caravans deliver unparalleled comfort and spaciousness, proving ideal for longer trips or larger families.

Always bear in mind, though, these models carry a higher price tag compared to single-axle alternatives.

Ensuring you’ve considered all aspects like this will lead you towards making the right choice for your caravanning adventures.

How to Choose the Perfect Caravan for You

When choosing a caravan, consider size and weight, evaluate various layout options, and decide between purchasing a new or used caravan based on your preferences and budget.

Considering size and weight

One crucial factor to consider when choosing a touring caravan is its size and weight. Finding a caravan that matches your towing vehicle’s capabilities is essential ensuring a safe and comfortable journey on the road.

Single-axle caravans are generally lighter and easier to tow, making them popular for many touring caravan owners. On the other hand, twin-axle caravans offer extra stability during towing and provide more living space inside.

So, whether you opt for a single or twin-axle caravan, make sure to check your vehicle’s towing limit and match it with the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) of the caravan you’re interested in.

Evaluating caravan layouts

When choosing the perfect touring caravan, evaluating the layout is crucial. The caravan layout will determine how comfortable and practical it will be for you and your family during your travels.

Consider factors such as the number of berthsfixed or bunk bedspull-out beds, and even headroom. Think about your specific needs when it comes to bathroom facilities and kitchen/dining areas as well.

Some layouts offer separate shower cubicles or larger kitchens for those who love cooking on the road. By carefully evaluating different caravan layouts, you can ensure that you find one that suits your lifestyle and travel preferences perfectly.

New vs used caravans

Deciding whether to buy a new or used touring caravan is pivotal, and it all depends on personal circumstances and preferences. Here are some key differences to consider:

Design & comfort Usually come with streamlined designs and modern features. You could find retro options which may not be available in new models.

Lifespan & Warranties New caravans come with a longer lifespan and more extended warranties. They may have a shorter lifespan and warranties depending on age and use.

Cost & Depreciation While the initial cost is higher, they experience slower depreciation. They are typically cheaper and have already gone through the highest depreciation.

Checking Condition Less worrying about the caravan’s condition or damage history. Important to check for internal damp, leaks, corrosion, and service history.

Remember, buying new or used is a personal decision and should be based on your budget, camping style, and the level of comfort you seek.

Understanding Caravan Jargon

Understanding caravan jargon is essential when owning a touring caravan. From unladen weight to MTPLM, learn what these terms mean and how they impact your caravan experience. Take advantage of crucial information that can make your ownership journey smoother!

Unladen Weight

The unladen weight of a touring caravan refers to its weight without any additional items or passengers inside. It is an important figure to consider when choosing a caravan because it impacts your towing capacity and the overall performance of your tow vehicle.

A lighter unladen weight means you can tow more comfortably with smaller cars, while a heavier unladen weight may require a larger, more powerful tow vehicle. Remember that the unladen weight does not include any equipment or personal belongings you bring, so it’s also essential to factor in the user payload.

By understanding the unladen weight of your chosen caravan, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable towing experience on your travels.

Mass in Running Order (MIRO)

Understanding the concept of Mass in Running Order (MIRO) is vital for touring caravan owners. MIRO refers to the caravan’s weight when it is fully equipped and ready to use, including essential items such as water, gas, and onboard equipment.

This weight includes both the body and chassis of the caravan. Knowing your MIRO is crucial for safe towing and complying with legal requirements. Exceeding recommended weight limits can lead to instability while on the road and increased braking distances.

Your caravan’s MIRO is mentioned in its documentation or on a plate attached to its body. Make sure you stay within these weight limits to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey ahead.


The kerb weight of your touring caravan is crucial when choosing the perfect one for you. This refers to the weight of the caravan when it’s empty and ready to be towed.

It’s important because it determines whether your car can safely tow the caravan. Exceeding your car’s maximum kerb weight can lead to safety issues and potential damage, so it’s best to stay within 100% of your car’s capability, especially if you’re a beginner.

So make sure you do your research and find a caravan that matches your car’s kerb weight for a smooth and secure towing experience on your adventures.

User Payload

When it comes to owning your first touring caravan in the UK, understanding the concept of user payload is crucial. User payload refers to the maximum weight you can load into the caravan while staying within legal limits.

It includes everything from personal belongings and supplies to water, gas cylinders, and optional extras like awnings or bike racks. Knowing your user payload helps you pack efficiently and safely for your trips as a touring caravan owner.

Remember that exceeding the user payload risks damage to your caravan and jeopardises road safety. So be mindful of packing light and distributing weight evenly throughout the vehicle to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey on the road.


MTPLM, or Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass, is an important factor when owning a touring caravan in the UK. It refers to the maximum weight that your caravan can legally be when fully loaded with all your belongings and equipment.

This includes everything from water tanks and gas bottles to personal items and furniture. Exceeding the MTPLM can result in legal issues and safety concerns, so it’s crucial to ensure that you stay within this limit.

To determine whether a particular caravan is suitable for you, it’s essential to calculate its MTPLM and compare it with your car’s towing capacity. Remember that the towing capacity is based on the car’s curb weight (the vehicle’s weight without any passengers or cargo).

The Legalities of Owning a Caravan

Ensure you have the correct driving license and check off all the items on the Outfit Matching Checklist to legally own and tow a caravan in the UK. Read more for essential information.

Outfit Matching Checklist

To ensure a safe and successful towing experience with your touring caravan, it’s essential to properly match your vehicle to your caravan. Here’s a handy outfit-matching checklist for touring caravan owners:

  1. Determine your car’s towing capacity: Check your vehicle’s handbook or contact the manufacturer to determine the maximum weight it can tow. Make sure it meets the requirements of your chosen caravan.
  2. Understand weight limits: Consider the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), and Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) of both the car and the caravan. The combined weight should not exceed legal limits.
  3. Calculate lose weight: Ensure that the nose weight of the loaded caravan falls within the recommended range specified by the car manufacturer. This is typically between 50-100kg.
  4. Assess stability: Consider whether your tow vehicle is stable enough to handle the size and weight of your chosen caravan, especially when driving on uneven surfaces or in adverse weather conditions.
  5. Evaluate braking capability: Confirm that your car has adequate braking power to safely stop both itself and the fully loaded caravan.
  6. Review safety equipment: Ensure that all necessary safety features are functioning correctly, including an operational breakaway cable, working lights, indicators, tires with adequate tread, and secure coupling mechanisms.
  7. Verify insurance coverage: Contact your insurance provider to confirm that you have appropriate coverage for towing a touring caravan with your specific vehicle.

Purchasing Your First Touring Caravan

Ready to purchase your first touring caravan? Discover where to buy from and get expert tips for buying a used touring caravan.

Where to buy from

When it comes to buying your first touring caravan, there are several options to consider. Here are some places you can explore:

  • Dealerships: Visit reputable caravan dealerships in your area. They often have a wide selection of new and used caravans and knowledgeable staff who can assist you in finding the right one for your needs.
  • Online marketplaces: Check out websites like CaravanFinder and Autotrader, where you can find listings for both new and used caravans from private sellers and dealerships across the UK.
  • Trade shows: Attend caravan trade shows and exhibitions, such as the Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show, where you can see a range of caravans from different manufacturers all in one place. It’s an excellent opportunity to ask questions and compare models.

Tips for buying a used touring caravan

  1. Research the make and model of the touring caravan you are interested in, as well as its age and condition.
  2. Check the service history and any relevant documentation to ensure the caravan has been well-maintained.
  3. Inspect the exterior for any signs of damage or wear, such as dents, scratches, or signs of rust.
  4. Take a thorough look inside the caravan, checking for any signs of dampness or leaks, especially around windows and doors.
  5. Test all appliances and systems inside the caravan to ensure they are in proper working order, including the gas, water, heating, and electrical systems.
  6. Check the condition of the tires and verify their age. It is recommended to replace tires that are older than five years.
  7. Look for any signs of mould or mildew inside cupboards and storage areas.
  8. Take note of any modifications or additions made to the caravan, such as awnings or solar panels, and assess if they are in good condition.
  9. Consider having a professional inspection done by a caravan engineer before finalising your purchase to identify any potential issues that may not be immediately apparent.
  10. Negotiate on price based on any repairs or upgrades that may be needed after purchase.

Remember, buying a used touring caravan can be a great way to save money while still enjoying all the benefits of owning one. With careful research and thorough inspections, you can find a reliable and affordable option for your adventures on the road!

Essential Caravan Accessories

When it comes to owning a touring caravan, several essential accessories can enhance your experience and ensure you are well-equipped for your adventures. Here are some must-have accessories for touring caravan owners:

  1. Awning: An awning provides additional living space and shelter outside your caravan. It’s perfect for relaxing, dining, or storing equipment.
  2. Levelling ramps: Levelling ramps help you adjust the height of your caravan on uneven ground, ensuring stability and comfort.
  3. Wheel clamp: A wheel clamp is essential for securing your caravan when parked, providing added security and peace of mind.
  4. Hitch lock: A hitch lock prevents anyone from unhitching your caravan without authorisation, adding an extra layer of security.
  5. Water containers: Water containers allow you to carry fresh water with you during your travels, ensuring a reliable water supply wherever you go.
  6. Waste container: A waste container is necessary for collecting wastewater from sinks and showers in your caravan, keeping the environment clean and hygienic.
  7. Electric hook-up cable: An electric hook-up cable allows you to connect your caravan to mains electricity at campsites, providing power for appliances inside.
  8. Gas bottle: A gas bottle is essential for powering the cooker, heater, and fridge in your caravan when not connected to mains electricity.

Storing and Maintaining Your Caravan

Storing your caravan at home requires considering height restrictions and local bylaws and ensuring the security of your caravan. Regular maintenance is essential to keep your caravan in top condition for future trips.


Winterisation is crucial in maintaining your touring caravan’s condition during the colder months. It involves taking necessary precautions to protect your caravan from potential damage caused by freezing temperatures and harsh weather conditions.

Some important steps to consider include removing the tires or using tire coversthoroughly draining all water systems, and covering the exterior of your caravan to shield it from frost damage.

By properly winterising your caravan, you can ensure that it stays in top shape and is ready for use when spring arrives. Remember, investing time in winterisation now can save you from costly repairs later on.

Finding storage for your caravan

Looking for the perfect place to store your touring caravan? Here are some options to consider:

  1. Local storage centre: Renting space at a local storage centre is a popular choice among caravan owners. These facilities offer secure, fenced areas with CCTV surveillance, providing peace of mind knowing that your caravan is protected.
  2. On-site storage at a favourite caravan site: If you have a preferred caravan site that you frequently visit, it might be worth checking if they offer on-site storage options. This allows you to keep your caravan conveniently close to your favourite holiday spot.
  3. Secure driveway or garden: If you have enough space, storing your caravan on your own property can be a cost-effective option. However, make sure to check for any height restrictions and local bylaws that may affect the legality of parking a caravan on your driveway or in your garden.
  4. Insurance-approved storage sites: Some insurance providers require that caravans are stored in approved locations to ensure adequate security. Look for sites that meet these criteria, as it may also result in lower insurance costs.
  5. Caravan Club storage facilities: The Caravan Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club both offer secure storage facilities exclusively for their members. These sites often have excellent security measures in place and provide added benefits such as maintenance services.
  • Storing a caravan at home requires checking for height restrictions and local bylaws, as well as considering the security of the caravan when parked on a driveway.
  • Cost-effective options for storage include finding a local storage centre or storing the caravan on-site at a favourite caravan site.
  • Storing your caravan securely can potentially lower insurance costs.
  • Storing and maintaining your caravan is important to ensure its longevity and to protect your investment.

Preparing for Your First Caravan Holiday

Preparing for your first caravan holiday is an exciting time that requires careful planning and organisation. Here are the essential steps to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • Familiarise yourself with the weight limit, payload, and nose weight of your caravan to ensure safe towing.
  • Check and double-check all roadworthiness aspects of your caravan, including tires, brakes, lights, and electrical systems.
  • Pack strategically by making a checklist of all essentials, such as bedding, kitchen utensils, toiletries, and entertainment items.
  • Purchase a good quality leisure battery to power your electrical appliances while on the move or when not connected to an electric hook-up.
  • Invest in levelling ramps and chocks to ensure your caravan is level and stable when parked at campsites.
  • Research campsites in advance and make reservations if necessary, considering factors such as location, facilities offered, pet-friendly policies, and nearby attractions.
  • Plan your route beforehand using reliable navigation tools or apps specifically designed for caravanners to avoid any low bridges or narrow roads that may be unsuitable for towing.
  • Familiarise yourself with how to pitch your caravan correctly at a campsite, including aligning it parallel to the road and connecting it securely to an electric hook-up if available.
  • Practice using all the onboard facilities of your caravan before setting off on your first holiday so you feel confident handling everything from the toilet system to the gas cooker.
  • Don’t forget to pack extra safety equipment such as a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, and first aid kit.

FAQs: Buying and Owning a Touring Caravan

Many touring caravan owners have questions when it comes to buying and owning their first caravan. Here are some FAQs answered in clear and simple terms:

1. How do I choose the right touring caravan for me?

Consider factors such as size, weight, layout, and budget. Evaluate different layouts to ensure it suits your needs, whether you need a fixed bed or bunk bed for the kids.

2. Should I buy a new or used caravan?

It depends on your budget and preferences. New caravans offer the latest features and warranties but can be more expensive. Used caravans can be more affordable but may require maintenance.

3. What does the jargon mean?

Understanding terms like unladen weight (caravan weight without any added items), kerb weight (total weight of towing vehicle), and MTPLM (maximum allowable loaded weight of a caravan) is important while choosing and towing your caravan safely.

4. How do I match my tow vehicle with my caravan?

Use an outfit-matching checklist that compares the kerb weight of your car to the MTPLM of the chosen caravan — ensuring it doesn’t exceed 85% of your vehicle’s kerb weight.

5. Where should I buy my first touring caravan from?

Visit local dealerships that offer warranties, health checks, and advice on finding the right fit for you.

6. What accessories are essential for my touring caravan?

Items such as awnings, wastewater systems, and electric hook-ups make daily life on-site easier and more comfortable.

7. How long will my touring caravan last?

With proper care and regular servicing throughout its lifespan – which ranges between 10-20 years depending on usage frequency – your caravan can provide many enjoyable adventures.

8. How do I store and maintain my caravan?

Consider finding secure storage facilities that meet height restrictions and local bylaws to ensure your caravan stays safe when not in use.

Winterisation is also crucial – draining water systems, removing tires, and covering the caravan helps protect it from frost damage.

9. Do I need insurance for my touring caravan?

Legally No. But in reality,  comprehensive leisure vehicle insurance protects you against theft, accidental damage, and public liability claims while on the road or parked at sites.

Remember, joining a caravanning club offers various.


Owning your first touring caravan in the UK opens up a world of adventure and convenience. With the freedom to travel whenever and wherever you want, a caravan provides the perfect home away from home.

Whether you choose a single-axle or twin-axle caravan, ensure it matches your tow vehicle and driving license. Remember to consider storage options, maintenance requirements, and essential accessories.

So get ready to hit the open road and create unforgettable memories with your very own touring caravan!


  1. What do I need to consider before buying my first touring caravan?

Before purchasing your first touring caravan, you should consider factors such as the size and weight of the caravan, your budget, towing capacity of your vehicle, storage options, and any specific features or amenities you require.

  1. Do I need a special license to tow a touring caravan in the UK?

No, if you passed your driving test before January 1st, 1997, you are generally allowed to drive a car and tow a trailer weighing up to 8.25 tons (including the weight of both the car and trailer). However, if you passed your driving test on or after this date, additional licensing requirements may apply.

  1. How often should I service my touring caravan?

It is recommended that you have your touring caravan serviced annually by a reputable service centre. Regular servicing ensures that all mechanical components are in good working order and helps identify potential issues before they become major problems.

  1. Where can I store my touring caravan when not in use?

There are various options for storing your touring caravan when it’s not in use. You can choose between storing it on your property if space allows or renting a dedicated storage facility nearby. It’s important to ensure that the storage location is secure and provides appropriate protection from weather conditions.

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