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Caravanning for Novices Part Three: Setting Up

Anyone that has been on holiday before knows the buzz of excitement that runs through the family when you finally arrive at your destination. For campers, this buzz can often be accompanied by an air of stress and tension as relationships are put to the test with the dreaded set up.

Setting up the first few times can feel particularly stressful, but eventually even the newest campers will operate like a well-oiled machine. One key part to efficiency is having a list and sticking to it. Here are the basics to get your holiday off to the best start with (hopefully) no tears and minimal stress.

Parking up

Don’t be in a rush to abandon your caravan in the first place you see. Whether you can choose your own pitch or you have an allocated pitch, take the time to work out where you want to park your caravan. Factor in the direction of the sun, where you want to park your towing vehicle, whether you have an awning, gazebo or pup tent. Strict Caravan Club sites may specify that you have to pitch your caravan to the right of the pitch as you are looking at it, with the nose facing outwards. If you fancy being a little creative to optimise space or light, check with the site warden first to avoid inconvenience later. Once you know where you want your caravan to go:

  1. Decide if you will position it manually or using the towing vehicle.
  2. If using the towing vehicle, drive the van straight in, placing ramps if necessary to counterbalance uneven ground. Once in place, disconnect the electrics and release the caravan from the car as specified below.
  3. If moving manually, apply the handbrake to the caravan, chock the wheels if you are on a slope, disconnect the electrics and unhitch the caravan from the car by unlocking the hitch and winding the jockey wheel all the way up. If using the motor mover, attach the mover to the wheels. Undo the handbrake and manoeuvre the caravan.
  4. Once your caravan is disconnected, drive the tow vehicle away and replace the cover on the tow ball.
  5. Use a spirit level to assess how even the van is, and use the jockey wheel to adjust any front to back slope.
  6. Once you are confident you are in the right place, reapply the handbrake and lower the stays.

DO NOT ENTER THE VAN UNTIL THE STAYS ARE LOWERED OR IT COULD TIP!

Setting up

Once you are parked up, there are a host of jobs to be done, depending on your set up. These include:

  1. Empty the caravan of barrels, chairs, awning and other luggage.
  2. Connect the mains electricity to the electric hook up point.
  3. Check that the fridge is working on 12v (not a lower battery voltage or gas).
  4. Collect and connect fresh water.
  5. Add toilet fluids.
  6. Turn on gas.
  7. Once you have water connected, turn on the pump to ensure it is working.
  8. Erect awning
  9. Relax!

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