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Home » Travel tips » Traveling with a caravan or motorhome | Useful and practical tips

Traveling with a caravan or motorhome | Useful and practical tips

Traveling with a caravan or motorhome, we Dutch people love it. Now that summer is just around the corner, thousands of campers and caravans are being taken out of their storage for the major cleaning and preparations. Dreaming of wonderful journeys through Europe starts again, but where do you start?

In this article I will not only share common and obvious tips with you. I will also teach you some simple but very effective tricks that we have gained over the years with our world travel experience. Think of safety tips for traveling with a caravan or motorhome, but also a number of practical tips.

For example, how you can have your motorhome or caravan do the laundry, (yes really) and why a cordless drill is an essential part of your equipment.

Safety Tips

1. Check the technology of your car or camper

A caravan will not move forward without a decent car to pull it forward and a motorhome will not move without a working engine either. So where do you start? At the base of course…

Are the tires still OK? Has the engine been serviced recently? And what is certainly worth checking before you start your caravan or motorhome trip through Europe, are the rear shock absorbers. Make no mistake: your car has to endure a lot, especially at the rear with all that caravan weight that hangs on the towbar.

New extra heavy duty shock absorbers that can better withstand extra weight on the rear axle
New extra heavy duty shock absorbers that can better withstand extra weight on the rear axle

The same applies to motorhomes. Most of the weight is on your rear axle, so keep this in mind. If the shock absorbers at the rear show any signs of wear, it is best to replace them preventively.

Also read: Our 4×4 world trip camper (3) | Technique and upgrades to car

2. Install or check your trailer hitch

This point is only important for people with a caravan, unless you also have a trailer behind your camper of course. You may have bought a new car in the past year or obtained a new one from the lease. You won't get very far without a towbar! You may still need to purchase a towbar and have it installed on your car before you can connect your caravan to it. Check through this page on the basis of your license plate, then simply which towbar is suitable for your car.

If you already have a tow bar on your car or RV, at least double check all mounting points. Vibrations can cause bolts to loosen over time and you want to be sure before departure that the towbar is properly secured.

And while you're at it: check the wiring on and to the towbar for visible damage.

3. Check the lighting of your caravan or trailer

If you have already connected your caravan to the car, check the lighting carefully. Everyone checks the turn signals and whether the taillights are working properly as standard. Do more than that! Here too, err on the side of caution and do it together with someone.

Below are some tips:

  • Check the reversing lights
  • Check the hazard lights (the triangular emergency button)
  • Check the indicators separately from each other (because that often goes wrong in the wiring)
  • Check the taillights
  • Check the brake lights
  • Check any side, front and top lighting

And now comes the tip of the tips: Get a third person in and do it all over again. Only now while someone gently moves the cable up and down. If there are defects in the cable (for example, loose contacts), you will find out now and not on the way. You will not be the first to check its caravan or trailer lighting while stationary and still experience problems while driving. With a print of Uncle Agent…

4. Check the tires of your caravan or motorhome

Standing still is bad for tires, that is well known. And since caravans and motorhomes spend most of their lives in the shed, it is important to pay extra attention to this, especially if it has also been outside for a long time. Don't just check the profile but also look closely drought cracks in your profile and on the walls of the tire.

Check your tires for profile, age and any dryness cracks
Check your tires for profile, age and any dryness cracks

By the way, did you know that tires also have a expiration date to have? Tires have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years. The general rule of thumb with caravans and motorhomes is not to let a tire get older than 5 years, even if the tread is still good enough.

This is because with a lot of standing still and the high weight you demand a lot more from your tires than with a car that is only used for commuting. An old tire may have defects that you cannot see with the naked eye.

When in doubt: change your tires! A blowout with a caravan or motorhome is common and life-threatening.

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5. Pay attention to the maximum weight

A common problem with caravans and motorhomes is that they are overloaded. This is not only punishable, it is also very dangerous. Check the registration number of your caravan or motorhome so that you know exactly what it weighs and what you may be allowed to load.

Loading your caravan or motorhome too heavily goes faster than you think, the ANWB warns for it every year. A spare wheel, 100 liters of water, clothing, awnings, solar panels, appliances and toys just add 500 kilos or more to your caravan or motorhome.

When towing a caravan, also pay attention to the maximum loading and towing weight of your car! This is where many holidaymakers also go wrong.

6. Ensure proper weight distribution

Have you ever seen that on YouTube, the dangerous swinging of caravans? Or that a motorhome almost seems to drive on two wheels? This usually has to do with a load that is too heavy and poorly distributed. Ensure proper weight distribution to avoid dangerous swinging moments. Especially the weight behind the axle can be life-threatening. Bicycles and stuffed lockers in the back of a caravan increase the risk of swinging a lot.

The YouTube video below is a very concise but perfect example, watch and shudder!

Therefore, make sure that caravans are properly loaded. For example, if you put something heavy in your caravan on the left, it is useful to also put something heavy on the right. Preferably as close to the axle as possible, of course.

If you like to bring bikes, consider these in front of the caravan to be mounted instead of on the back because yes, that is also possible!

Pro tip: make sure you know exactly where the heavy parts are.

Locate the household battery, water tank and waste water tank in your motorhome or caravan.

Then you can take that into account when loading all your other stuff for better weight distribution.

Chris – Wereldreizigers.nl

Do you have other heavy items with you, such as a large tool box or a mobile battery? Then it is best to put it in the car instead of the caravan. With a motorhome, it is especially important that you place these heavy items as low as possible and between the axles.

Handy and practical camping tips

1. Do you really need all that stuff?

This is probably the hardest part for most people: carrying less. You always try to think about everything, which may come in handy. You always take too much with you in that process.

Think about what you took with you on your last vacation and what you didn't use. Be critical. You'd be surprised how much clutter (and weight) you carry around every year without a clear goal.

A supermarket in Croatia
A supermarket in Croatia

Do you really need a large and a small barbecue? And how about those 25 cans of soup from Aldi? Really not necessary… You can also do your shopping abroad. Your lockers don't have to be full to the brim when you leave. Not really.

2. Carry less water = save fuel

And if you go to Spain of Croatia you really don't need 100 or 150 liters of water in your tanks on the road. Clean water is available almost everywhere, at almost every campsite in Europe.

Realize that all that weight is an extra burden for your motorhome, your caravan, your car, but also your wallet. Every 100 kilos saves you 50 euros in fuel, one way! You can probably do other fun things with that…

In countries where the drinking water is of slightly lesser quality, you can still drink it often if you install a simple but essential water filter for your caravan beforehand. We from Wereldreizigers.nl have been using this water filter in our motorhome for years and it works great.

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3. Feet, spirit level and cordless drill

You have arrived! Now it is important to put the caravan or motorhome firmly in place so that you do not get seasick when someone gets in or out. Normally you turn out the legs of your caravan or motorhome with a crank. That is nice once in a while, but if you often move the caravan or motorhome to another place or campsite (for example, when traveling through different National Parks in Europe), then you stay busy!

In seconds we are level with our motorhome anywhere - using a cordless drill
We are level with our motorhome anywhere in seconds – using a cordless drill

Purchase an extension with cap for the cordless drill. Now you can turn your legs in or out in no time, just like us. Thanks to this trick, we are literally stable and level within 20 seconds, no matter how skewed the surface is!

Pro tip: attach small spirit levels to the inside and outside of your motorhome or caravan.

For example, one on the triangular connector of your caravan and one inside on the floor you step into.

Chris – World Travelers

4. Fold or roll in your awning

But ALWAYS when you leave… During my travels all over the world I have literally seen dozens of awnings and tents flying over campsites. Even on a sunny, beautiful day, you can retract your awning when you leave. The weather can change deceptively quickly, especially in warm countries, you are always too late!

Therefore, always err on the side of caution. It is only one minute of work and it can save you a lot of trouble, damage and money.

5. Have your motorhome or caravan do the laundry

This is a practical pro typ in the category never-thought-of-but-what-a-good-tip! Have your motorhome or caravan do the hand wash. How does that work?

  • You take a large bucket with a tight-fitting lid, for example one that has had paint in it (of course make sure it's spotless inside!).
  • Make some soapy water with the clothes you want to wash. Don't overfill it! It must have the space to 'slosh'.
  • Just before you start driving, clamp that bucket securely somewhere in your caravan or motorhome, for example in the drawbar cupboard (that is the space above the drawbar where the gas bottles and other storage is located) or the garage of your motorhome.
When you go away: ALWAYS retract your awning. And the laundry? You let the camper do the heavy lifting :)
When you go away: ALWAYS retract your awning. And the laundry? You let the camper do that heavy work

When you're on the road, driving over all the bumps will cause that soapy water to slosh: like a washing machine, as it were! Once at the destination, your laundry is completely clean. Just rinse with water and you're done! This can be done directly on the washing line.

Until the next blog!

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Owner or Wereldreizigers.nl | Discover the world!
– Traveled 3+ months per year, 10 years in a row
– Traveled a year in USA & Canada in 2022

Stubborn & decisive world traveller
– Life is short, make the most out of it in literal sense.
– Never take no for an answer.
– If you think about it, DO IT!

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