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Why Buy A Touring Caravan?
No One Ever Wants A Caravan….Until….
I’ve noticed something. In the office, down the pub, or even at friends houses, if someone finds out we own a caravan it’s pretty much unanimously met by deranged laughter and pointing. OK, a slight exaggeration, we at least get strange looks an we receive lets say banter.
I partly blame Top Gear who mercilessly “took the pee” out of caravans for years. Setting them on fire, getting them stuck down single track roads and even using them as “Darts” firing them onto a target on the ground. Initially I’d explain to friends that it was all contrived. They didn’t accidentally set a caravan on fire, you would never take a caravan from a car to turn it around on a road. I did eventually stop defending our hobby and learned to just roll with the punches.
“Going on holiday this year Graham?”
“Yep, got a few things booked.”
“Yes, not to far from our place, in a caravan”
“Oh yeah some of those caravans are nice aren’t they. We rented one in Weymouth last year, kids loved in. Rory the Tiger and all that, great fun.”
“No, we don’t rent one we have our own.”
“Oh wow, I never new that, you should have said, we’d have rented it off you, mates rates of course.”
“No, not a static, a touring caravan.”
“You know, the sort you tow behind your car”
“What like on Top Gear?”
“Well, I guess so yes”
They then tell you why they wouldn’t get one, which usually includes holding up all the traffic, having to unhook it to turn around and of course the danger that it might, at any point, mysteriously bursting into flames. Also, caravanners are all like train spotters, have weird interests and are probably swingers.
I spend time trying to explain that Top Gear isn’t a documentary, I sort of do like trains, but have never met a swinger – but end up changing the subject.
After a while though this same person starts to ask various questions about your caravan. He’s surprised how often you get away. He’s maybe mentioned it to his wife in a joking taking the pee way, but his wife has mentioned she’d quite like a caravan. The seed is planted. He then wants you to tell him about every trip you now go on and you wish he still wasn’t interested.
Why Buy A Caravan?
I can maybe convince you that you want a caravan, but I can’t really tell you which one to buy, there’s so many of the blooming things in different configurations.
We were never interested in caravans, in fact we had neighbours who had a caravan…..
“Oh here they go, off in their shed on wheels, look at them winding those legs up.” Is the type of thing we’d say when watching them out of our front room window as they were packing up to go on holiday. They were good friends, so it was all light hearted, but we weren’t in the least interested in caravans.
One day we were on the drive and the neighbours were getting their caravan ready. We had noticed that they seemed to get away an awful lot. Why would they want to be stuck in a cold, dam shed on wheels? We’d think. Anyway, we got into a conversation and they offered to show us around their caravan. It was a Coachman Pastiche and this would have been around 2005.
Now, this is the honest truth I had NEVER been inside a touring caravan – ever. My Mum and Dad never drove so we obviously never had a caravan growing up. We stayed in statics though, but I’d never seen inside a tourer.
So, we had no preconceptions, well, actually, we did, we just thought caravans were crap in short. You can imagine our surprise, I mean our first glimpse of a caravan was a Coachman! It was very plush, although even then the interior materials were a bit dated, all browns. But it had a fixed bed, we didn’t know caravans even had fixed beds.
Go Where You Want, When You Want
In theory you can just hook up your caravan and go where you want. In reality it’s a little different it’s always best to book a site first. But you can stay for as long as you like really. You get a lot of freedom with a caravan, this is the major advantage a touring caravan has over a static caravan. I guess the clue is in their names really and it is rather stating the obvious.
All Shapes and Sizes
2 berth, 4 berth, 6 berth. There’s a caravan to suit all family needs. You can see some example caravan layouts here
Twin Axle, Single Axle, different lengths and widths. You’ll find these explained elsewhere on our website.
Camp sites are relatively inexpensive when compared to hotels. You’ll have facilities to cook meals, so that you can keep your spending down by not going out for meals. It’s always an option of course, but you don’t have to eat out every night.
Take Your Home With You
This is really the main advantage for us. You also have your own facilities like cooker, toilet, shower and beds. You put your bedding on, you cook your own food. This might, of course, put some people off, but we love the fact that you take your own stuff with you. You can really make it a home from home, unlike an impersonal hotel room. We’ve been to the South of France a few times in our caravan now and it’s so nice to come back to the caravan after a day out, and it’s like coming home. Also, whilst travelling down, although it takes longer than flying, you can stop when you like, have a bite to eat, a nice cuppa AND of course, use the toilet whenever you want, what’s not to like!
Kids Will Love It
You can get caravans with bunk beds and caravans with dining areas with a table, so the kids can have their space too. They can sit back and enjoy a game or two away from their Playstations. You can get out into the country and fill their lungs with fresh air.
You can take your dog (or cat?) along with you, saves on kennel fees or getting your parents to look after them, when you know they don’t really want to!
Closure To Nature
Have the kids even ever seen a Cow? Book a site in the Peak District, hook up and in no time you could be smelling cow pooh and telling your kids that milk doesn’t actually come from the Supermarket. You could even give them nightmares by taking them to a farm and see one get milked!
Visit Friends and Relatives
This doesn’t need to be a nightmare anymore. You wan’t need to stay at your Grannies house (unless you want to). You could park your caravan somewhere near and sleep there instead.
Caravanning people are friendly people. However, that doesn’t mean you need to speak to everyone!
There’s a healthy and well informed online community which we are proud to be a small part of. On site, people will help you if you’re a beginner. They’ll also watch you intently as you reverse your caravan onto your pitch. It’s all part of the fun. When you’re well versed in setting up your caravan there’s nothing better than watching a new arrival.
Setting Up Onsite Is Easy
Initially this is something I used to dread, I think this is the case with many caravanners. There seems a lot to do. On our last visit to Brighton a women next to us was on her first trip out. She lived in Brighton but didn’t want to go far on their first trip. They had difficulty with the water and asked us. It was nice to be able to help someone, as to start with it isn’t easy, although once you get the hang of things it’s a breeze.
We have little jobs each to do. Like one will do the water, electricity, and the other does the waste connection, toilet and puts up the awning for example. The same applies when we pack up. It’s all possible if you’re on your own, it might just take a little longer.
Don’t be afraid to use labour saving devices. As we progressed through our caravanning life we’ve introduced several things to help us out. An electric drill to put the stays up and down. An air awning and electric pump to inflate it. Our car has a flip out electric tow bar and reversing camera, Lastly, we have a motor mover to move the caravan. You can get all these things over time if you enjoy caravanning. When we replaced our car we just went with one with a reversing camera purely to help get the caravan on the back.
Caravanning isn’t a closed community, any one can buy one and rock up on a site. A lot of these things also apply to anyone looking at a motorhome. We’ve also owned a motorhome, but for us a caravan just makes more sense.
As with any “hobby” there are down sides, for example, getting the hang of reversing can be tricky, but there are courses available.
You might like to check out our section for Caravan Beginners everyone was a beginner at some point. Another useful article on our site is “The True Cost of Caravanning” where we discuss how much things actually cost, we have caravanned (is that a word?) for 12 years, so we know what you need to know…
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