Caravan Holidays: 60 Things You Need to Check You Have for Them
There's no better way to relax before you leave on your caravan holiday. Knowing that you've got everything you need ready means you can relax.
You won't have that nagging doubt about whether you've left a vital accessory or document behind. No panicking about forgetting your ferry tickets or travel insurance policy details. Get in your car and set off with your caravan in tow.
What's the solution to complete relaxation? Your caravan holiday checklist, of course!
To help you enjoy your caravan holiday, we've put together a comprehensive, 62-point, caravan holiday checklist. It will help you plan the perfect getaway.
Before You Go
Before you go, make sure you check you have all the following items for your caravan.
It's easy to forget to buy travel insurance when you travel around the UK and Europe with your caravan.
In the EU, you should take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It entitles you to the same level of healthcare provided by the state as someone who lives there. But, an EHIC does not replace travel insurance.
Watch out for companies that charge for obtaining an EHIC card! It is a free service.
You will have to provide personal details, including your National Insurance or NHS number, if you live in England and Wales. A CHI number for Scotland, or Health and Care number if you live in Northern Ireland.
But, what if that level of care is lower than in the UK? That's when you need travel insurance.
What about the UK? If you need to be flown back from a Scottish Island, you might have to pay for repatriation to the mainland.
Thankfully, it's quick and easy to buy travel insurance for the UK & Europe. Thomas Cook offers travel insurance* - find out more here.
If you are still in the UK but have forgotten your travel insurance, you can download the Thomas Cook app, Roam on your iPhone, and be covered before you board.
Make sure your caravan insurance policy is up to date, and it covers you for touring in Europe. It's horrible to contemplate the possibility of damaging your caravan in an accident. Or, someone stealing it.
To compare caravan insurance policies, use our free online comparison tool here.
Also, check out CoverMyWheels who provide caravan insurance and extended warranty cover.
It is worth the time to ensure you insure yourself.
Travelling in Europe
You will need extra equipment and documents for caravan touring in Europe. Read our guide here to help you prepare.
Check you have passports too! That would be embarrassing to get turned back at the border. Make sure your passports are up to date and don't expire while you are away on the Continent.
If you need to renew or replace your passport, visit the Passport Office website to start the process. It takes about three weeks to process your application, so do it sooner rather than later.
For some European cities, you need a special pass to drive in with a caravan. They are often free, but you still need to register in advance. Visit our Driving in Europe guide here for details.
Write down the emergency contact numbers of your travel and caravan insurance companies. Keep the numbers with your essential documents so you can refer to them.
Let's hope you won't need them. But, if you do, it will save you some time.
Pet Passports, Documents and Equipment
We know caravanners love taking their dogs and cats with them on holiday. You can take your pet abroad if you have the right documents and vaccinations.
check that you can bring your pet or pets back into the UK from the country you visit. Visit the government's website on Pet Passports to understand what you need to do to comply.
Check you have packed any pet kit, like:
- Pet carriers - If you don't have one, Argos carries a wide range, as do Pets at Home.
- Pet baskets or beds
- Pet towels
A number plate for your caravan
It sounds crazy, but imagine if you forgot to put a number plate on the back of your caravan and set off on holiday. You could be towing your caravan down the motorway soon to find yourself pulled over by the police. That would spoil your holiday.
Don't let that happen! You can buy an extra set for your caravan from Halfords for £16. Click here to read their advice and order your plates.
Make sure you take all the right paperwork too. This includes a V5 document and permission to tow with your company car and to take it abroad, if you have a company car. You will also need a set of 'number plate fixers'. They're £3.49 from Halfords.
Caravan Towing Mirrors
You wouldn't drive without a rear view mirror or wing mirrors. And, it's essential to fit caravan towing mirrors so you can see what's behind you. Most are simple to fit and inexpensive.
Dig your caravan towing mirrors out and have them ready to fit in advance of your holiday. They're vital. If you haven't got any extension mirrors, or need a new pair, here are some ideas on Amazon from £14.
Knowing the noseweight of your caravan is vital for safe driving and towing. You must check that your caravan's noseweight is not too heavy for your car, and your caravan is not 'nose-heavy'.
Check the details of your individual caravan and car to find the right details.
How high is your caravan?
Getting to a caravan park, campsite or low bridge without knowing the height of your caravan or vehicle is a bad idea. Scraping or damaging the top of your caravan because you did not know its height does not bear thinking about.
Thus, check you know your heights, write them on a piece of paper and stick it on your dashboard for quick reference!
Space is often a challenge when you go on holiday. Getting a roof box with a rack is a good way to get more space without overloading the inside of your car.
Halfords has various roof boxes and roof bars to suit different budgets and spaces.
13-Pin Socket Alignment tool
Knocking the 13-pin socket out of line for your caravan towing electrics is a common problem. And, the consequences mean you might not be able to tow your caravan. It's not easy to realign them either.
What to do? For the sake of a few pounds, you can buy a special tool to realign your 13-pin socket. It means you connect your caravan's electrics to your car if it gets out of line.
Corner Steady Winder
When you arrive at your campsite, you will need to put down your corner steadies. But, you can't do it without a 'corner steady winder'. Other caravanners will help you out, but it's a bit humiliating.
Make sure you've packed your corner steady winder before you go and tick it off the checklist. If you've not got a caravan steady winder, you can get hold of them from around £8 on eBay.
Spare road light bulbs for the caravan
Having a spare set of road bulbs for your caravan to hand is a good idea. You want to make sure other drivers can see you. They need to know your intentions, including braking or indicating. You want to stay 'road legal'.
It's a good idea to have some spare fuses too.
Where do you start with what you need in a caravan tool kit?
For starters, check out our 'Top 10 Caravanning DIY Items'. It includes various essential tools, tapes and lubricants for all caravaners. It gives the peace of mind you can fix or repair most things when away on holiday.
High Visibility Jackets and Equipment
In many European countries, it's the law that drivers and passengers wear high visibility jackets if they have to leave their broken down vehicle. Check our guide here for all the details of what you need.
It's easy enough to leave any keys at home, let alone your caravan keys. If you are anything like us, you are likely to misplace your caravan keys before you even leave home.
But, getting to your campsite and realising you can't lock your caravan is going to be as popular as a poke in the eye.
Check to see where you left your caravan keys now. If know where they are, give yourself some peace of mind and attach a 'Tile' to your caravan keys. It'll help you keep track of where they are via an app. You can buy one Tile for £23 or multiples of them for not much more.
Keeping your caravan secure is not about keeping the doors and windows locked. You also need to stop people stealing and towing it away without your permission.
One part of your security tools should be a hitch lock. It will make it more difficult for thieves to tow your caravan away, if not prevent them. You can get one type of hitch lock from Halfords for £29.99.
Or, one of these Stronghold Strongbox Hitchlock from Go Outdoors for £49.99. If you have an AL-KO chassis and stabiliser, consider one of their hitch locks for £139.99.
A wheel clamp on your caravan will slow down or prevent thieves from stealing your pride and joy. Make life more difficult for thieves and make sure you bring your wheel clamp. It will help you relax more knowing that you can make your caravan more secure.
If you've not got a wheel clamp for your caravan, Milenco makes a popular model which you can buy on Amazon for under £80.
Keys for hitch and wheel locks
There's no point in having a wheel clamp or wheel locks if you forget the keys for them! Dig them out and attach a 'Tile' to them so you know where they are at all times.
A Jack for the caravan
If you need to get a wheel off your caravan, you'll need a jack. The jack you use for your car should be OK. But, if it's not big enough for the job, don't forget your 'caravan jack'.
When you get to your campsite, you want to set up fast so you can relax and start your holiday! But, first things first. You need to do a few chores before you crack open the vino.
Fresh water container
No water means no cuppas, showers or washing up. It's a quick way to become unpopular if you forgot the fresh water container! Make sure you have your fresh water container. Be a hero and pack it. When you get to your campsite, fill it up as soon as you can.
If you have a fully-serviced pitch, consider buying a Truma Ultraflow Waterline kit. It means you can connect your caravan to the mains water supply on your pitch. We've found them for around £65 on eBay.
Fresh water connector
Now you've got your fresh water container filled up, you need to pump it into your caravan. Whale makes a unit which will pump up to 15.8 litres per minute. It costs around £45 on Amazon. You will need a socket if you've not got one fitted already.
Truma makes an alternative pump, which you can buy for around £60 on Amazon (price varies).
Waste water container
The so-called 'honey tank' is not the nicest thing to empty out. But, without it you are going to experience a whole load of inconvenience on your caravan holiday.
Get it ready and plugged in for use as soon as you can. If you need a new waste water container, try the 'Wastemaster' for under £55 from Halfords. It fits into most caravans.
Connecting hoses for the waste containers
Your waste container is useless without the hoses or pipes to connect them up. Here's a good idea which is good value. It's an adapter for a double pipe outlet for £7.95 on eBay.
Mains electricity cable
If you like to live off grid, that's great. But, if you like power for your people in your caravan, remember to pack your mains lead so you can hook up.
Depending on the length, an electricity cable costs between £14 and £30 on Amazon.
It's not a long drop from your caravan door to the ground. But, it's long enough to be a pain in the neck (or knees). After a few days and clambering in and out of your caravan without a step, you will wish you had remembered them.
If you need a new set of steps, eBay has a selection available from around £13.
Where is your torch when you need it? It's annoying not to have it to hand in your caravan. But, even more annoying if you've left it at home and you need to walk to the shower block in the dark.
We like rechargeable torches and the choice makes it difficult to narrow it down to one torch to buy. That said, we love the GP Design PR57 rechargeable torch. But, it's £85 and you do get what you pay for.
Let's face it. It's important to know how to keep your caravan smelling sweet. Keeping your toilet in tip-top condition is a good habit.
If you want to know how, read our popular article 'Caravan Toilet Chemicals: Everything you need to know but don't want to think about.' Buy before you go. They can be expensive on campsites.
Using The Caravan
If you've not yet realised, there's a difference between a good and a fantastic caravan holiday. It is the attention to detail. Here's some more help in achieving 'fantastic'!
You could always 'air-dry' yourself when you get out of the shower, or the sea. But, it's better with a towel. You might want to take beach towels as well as towels to use after a shower.
If you worry about bulkiness, why not buy some 'hammam towels'? They take up less space than a regular towel, dry out quicker and weigh less. BBQPlus sells a wide selection for around £14 each in various colours.
Duvets, pillows, sheets and sleeping bags
It can still be cold in April in the UK, and cool in the summer at night. Make sure you pack your duvets, pillows or sleeping bags so you get a good night's sleep.
What? No, kettle? You can always boil water for a cuppa in a saucepan. But, it's not as easy to pour when the water boils.
Make sure you pack it unless you want to see morale plummet when your friends and family can't get their brews.
You can try cooking without pans. But, we don't recommend it! With food being a memorable part of caravan holidays, check you've packed your pans. Are they in good condition?
You can buy pans designed to use in caravans (or camping) which take up less space than pans for home use. Bailey sells the Outwell Feast set (for £54.99) which fit into each other to save space.
Eating with your hands is the norm in some countries. But, we Brits love our cutlery. Save some weight too. Buy yourself some specialist camping cutlery from Blacks or Go Outdoors. They have plenty of choice for all budgets.
Lightweight tableware for your caravan is a consideration. Keep your payload in mind!
Make sure you pack a selection of kitchen knives. Different knives for chopping and peeling vegetables, meats, fruit and cheeses is ideal.
Don't forget to take a knife sharpener too. Check out this little beauty from AnySharp. It's lightweight, easy to use and sharpens all sorts of blades in seconds.
You'll need all the kitchen utensils to help you drain pasta or potatoes, for example. Spoons, ladles and tin openers. Don't forget your bottle opener and corkscrew!
Bags for rubbish
You will need a good supply of bin bags. The bins in most caravans are small so you will have to often visit the bins on the campsite.
Take a few shopping bags with you. It will save you money in British supermarkets. In some European supermarkets, they don't provide shopping bags. It could be awkward at the checkout!
Whether it's wet or dry outside, you will want to keep the mud and dust out of your caravan as much as you can. A doormat will help you keep your caravan as clean as possible.
The extra space and cover from your awning is an essential to most caravanners. Check it is in good condition (especially if it's an air awning) and make any repairs.
If you need an awning, read our Guide to choosing caravan awnings.
Awning table and chairs
Are you sitting comfortably? If not, you've either forgotten your awning table and chairs, or you don't have any yet.
Awning ground cover
A good awning ground cover will help keep it comfortable and clean. Depending on the size of your awning, you can buy breathable awning ground covers on eBay from around £18. They reduce condensation.
Leaving your awning pegs behind is a pain, especially when you get to your campsite and it's windy. Add them to your list.
The choice of awnings pegs is vast. Many caravanners use 'screw in awning pegs' to secure them.
Unless you have awning pegs you screw in with an electric drill, you'll need a mallet. It's a bit embarrassing turning up without one. Most caravanners will help you out by lending their mallet.
To save you splitting the poles on your windbreak, we saw this simple tool to prevent you damaging them. Watch the video below!
Before you tow
You've packed everything, using our free checklist. You have everything ready to go. Before you begin towing:
- Close and secure the roof lights and windows
- Switch the fridge to 12-volt operation and set to towing mode when needed.
- Secure the cupboards and lockers
- Lock the caravan door
- You have raised all four corner steadies
- Turn off the gas at the cylinder
- Secure the coupling
- Raise and secure the jockey wheel
- Lower the hitch-head stabiliser
- Attach the breakaway cable
- Attach the electrical connection to the car
- Check the caravan brake is off
- Check all road lights are working
- Attach and secure the extension mirror and adjust them
- Set you SatNav up with your destinations before you pull away and that you have updated your maps.
- Ensure you have all your outdoor clothing and gear, including umbrellas, walking boots, clothing and beach towels.
- Keep the blinds down in your caravan when away from it to deter prying eyes!
- And it's wise to check both the caravan and car tyre pressures before a journey, too.
Have a great caravan holiday and download our free checklist to make sure you have an amazing time!
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* Thomas Cook travel insurance is underwritten by White Horse Insurance Ireland dac. Warners Group Publishing is an Introducer Appointed Representative of White Horse Insurance Ireland dac, which is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. White Horse Insurance Ireland dac is a wholly owned subsidiary of Thomas Cook Group plc.