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Caravanning for Novices Part Two: Hitching Up

If you have bought your first caravan, or returned to caravanning after a break, the idea of towing so many possessions from A to B then setting up can be a little daunting. Like many things, with caravanning it really is a case of the more you do it, the easier it gets. What might be the source of anxiety now, will soon become second nature.

However, whether you are a camping pro or a complete novice, it always helps to have a check list! This handy list will help you to cover the basics so that you can tow with peace of mind.

Before you hitch:

  1. Check that your gas is turned off.
  2. Check your tyre pressure and condition; if in doubt, contact a tyre specialist about replacements.
  3. Ensure that all windows are closed and latched, including skylights.
  4. Check cupboard doors and lay down or remove any items that may tip over in transit.
  5. Make sure that heavier items are loaded around the centre of the van, over the wheels.

Ready to go:

  1. Make sure that the handbrake is on the caravan and the wheels are chocked.
  2. Wind the Jockey wheel down so that the nose is higher than the tow bar.
  3. Wind up the stays.
  4. Check the nose weight using a nose weight gauge.*
  5. Position your towing vehicle so the tow ball is directly under the hitch.
  6. Attach your breakaway cable.
  7. Lower the jockey wheel until the hitch locks into place.
  8. Once the hitch is locked, check the join by raising the jockey wheel again; it should take the car with it.
  9. Remove and store the jockey wheel, or ensure that it is securely tucked away at its highest point to prevent it from dropping during transit.
  10. Connect the electrics.
  11. Check that all wires and connections are secure and nothing is dragging on the floor.
  12. Remove chocks and release the handbrake.
  13. Check that the electrics are correctly connected by testing all lights and indicators.
  14. Attach wing mirror extensions.**

*Nose weight refers to the amount of downward force that is applied to the car’s tow ball by the nose of the caravan. The nose weight should usually be around 5-7% of the caravan’s actual weight, but will vary according to the vehicle and caravan manufacturer. You should always check your nose weight before you drive away.

**Wing mirror extensions allow you to see behind the caravan. Seeing behind your vehicle is a legal requirement so unless your towing vehicle is wider than your caravan, you will need extensions.

Once you are on the road, you are halfway there! Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the final part in this series; setting up for a stress-free holiday.

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