Caravanning is hell of a lot of fun – just ask anyone whose been exploring in their tow vehicle and caravan and they will probably talk your ear off! Indeed, some people even make it their full time business going from state to state, town to town.
Still, there are some things you should probably think about before you plan your next trip no matter if you’re going for a month, half a year or full-time.
Alan & Pam from GoSeeAustralia give you their top tips when planning to start travelling Australia with your Caravan or RV – and they certainly know a thing or two being full time caravanner’s.
- Select your caravan or RV to suit your budget and lifestyle
It seems pretty obvious and that’s why this is number one, but selecting the correct caravan should be the first thing to consider.
Is it just for yourself and/or significant other? Maybe a smaller caravan or camper trailer may be suitable.
Thinking of expanding the family down the track? Maybe you want to invest in a bigger caravan/RV to take the whole family with you. Either way, consider the appreciation/depreciation value of your next purchase if you decide to upgrade, downgrade or sell off in the future.
Is it just to get away on weekends or do you see yourself living mobile long term? If the latter, maybe you want more luxuries and creature comforts.
Do you have the required space to store your dream purchase or do you have family members that are able and willing to host you for longer stays?
Do you want to go off-road or are you going to stay in more commercial sites that still have power and water? Maybe it’s a mix of both, in which case you may need to add solar and batteries to your list.
One tip is to create a list of the things you can absolutely not live without even for a day, like a hot running shower, and things that would be nice to have, like the ability to run a coffee machine, and go from there.
You can see how this then adds another dimension to your caravanning experience and it won’t take long for it to all add up, which is why it is important to sit down, work out your finances and figure out what will be best for you now and into the future.
This could be one of the most expensive but rewarding purchases you ever make, so research, research, research and don’t be afraid to ask others that have done this before.
- Select a suitable tow vehicle
Is your current vehicle up to the job to haul a 2 tonne vehicle or more behind it? If not then you will also need to consider picking the right tow vehicle with a towing capacity to match your fully laden caravan or RV (more on this in our next blog).
Logic suggests that a caravan/RV should never tow you along but rather you tow it.
The Caravan Council of Australia suggest that for added safety and peace of mind, the laden tow-vehicle, that is, the total weight of the vehicle including all occupants and contents weigh 30% more than the laden, that is, the total weight of the caravan/RV and all its contents.
- Know the vehicle tow bar capacity
Ensure the vehicle’s tow bar capacity complies with the maximum weight of the Caravan or RV and meets the vehicle’s requirements – if you don’t you may find yourself in strife.
The Caravan Council of Australia also suggest that the actual Ball/Coupling load exerted onto the tow-bar at any time must not exceed the down-ward rating of both the tow-vehicle and the tow-bar. The Manufacturer will provide this info.
It is expected that the caravan/camper-trailer manufacturer will provide the maximum permissible ball/coupling load, that the vehicle was designed for, when loaded in a reasonable and typical manner.
Essentially you want to ensure the amount of force your caravan exerts downwards on the towbar doesn’t exceed the “towball weight” specified by the vehicle and towbar manufacturer. The load in the caravan needs to be balanced across the axle(s). Always seek an expert in this area to assist in the correct towing setup and weight distribution.
- Find out if you require a weight distribution system
Ensure a weight distribution system (WDS) if required is setup and fitted correctly to suit your laden vehicle and caravan.
A weight distribution system distributes the weight of a caravan across all axles of the vehicle and trailer evenly. Sometimes, but not always, they are required to correct tow vehicle sag, improve steering, correct sway and allow you to tow at maximum safety.
- Find out if you require trailer brakes
The answer is probably likely yes. By law, all vehicles towing more than gross 750kg are required to have trailer brakes installed and considering that most caravans exceed this limit you are legally supposed to have them. Trailers that are also over 2000 kg must have electric brakes.
Electric brake controllers detect when you are braking and will activate the electric brakes in your trailer or caravan independently of your vehicles brakes.
This means that a trailer or caravan is able to do a large proportion of its own braking without needing to rely on your vehicle brakes.
Investing in a good quality electric brake controller is therefore a must. For ultimate safety right at your fingertips, look no further than the Tow-Pro Elite. It is the only brake controller to offer two types of braking; ‘proportional mode’ for those times when you’re cruising along on the highway and then ‘user controlled’ when you’re really getting out there in the tough corrugated terrain.
- Complete a towing course
Before you embark on your first towing adventure, complete a towing course. And even if you’re not a novice of the caravanning life, it’s always good to have a refresher course.
It is also important that your travelling partner can safely and confidently tow the whole rig in case of sickness or accident.
Towing a caravan is unlike any other and you’re not the only one on the road. Build on your confidence and skills with an accredited towing trainer like Follow me 4WD and you will be right on your way for the ultimate but SAFE adventure.
Bonus: Here at REDARC we are big advocates on researching as much as you can and talking to like-minded people with prior experience. We recommend joining a caravanning forum for all there is to know about the RV lifestyle. And for any technical info on our range of products, why not join Club REDARC for exclusive forum access?