Can't believe I'm typing this… Tell me about…. Caravans

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  • Can't believe I'm typing this… Tell me about…. Caravans
  • Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    SWMBO in her infinite wisdom has decided she wants a caravan.

    I have never driven/towed anything, we don’t have a driveway, so would need to keep it at a storage place 5 miles away.

    What are the pro’s and cons of caravan ownership?

    redstripe
    Member

    no pros, plenty of cons

    Premier Icon zippykona
    Subscriber

    How’s about you take a trip down the M5 on Easter Thursday at about 7pm and see if that’s how you want to live the rest of your life.

    peajay
    Member

    Think about how much they cost, bigger vehicle for towing, storage costs, how often you are likely to use it, and then weigh up other kinds of holidays you could have with the cash? There must be something in it though because some folks really love them. At least once they are pitched you are free to use your car to nip to the shops/chippy if you want, guess that’s why camper vans have little cars towed behind!

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    we loved ours when we had younger children.

    somewhere warm and dry for them to play when it (inevitably) rained.

    used the awning when it was sunny.

    Biggest issue was storage really.

    Spend a long time looking at layouts. The last one we had had two fixed bunks at one end which the children loved as they could pull curtains and have their own space, even during the day.

    Towing was fine, you’re limited on speed in the uk and side winds could be an issue but never really had any ‘moments’.

    We have a trailer tent now as it fits in the garage and the kids are teenagers now so life’s a bit easier.

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    LOL at zippy!

    To be clear – I don’t want a caravan, she very much does!

    I suspect rose-tinted glasses on her part as her family owned a static caravan when she was a kid, but she wants the ‘mobile’ aspect of being able to take one different places

    nbt
    Member

    loads of pros but loads of cons

    storage is expensive. It turns things into a real faff when you want to go away. If you do it regularly then it will get easier, but if you are only going to use the caravan occasionally then to be frank I wouldn’t bother – for the money you’d spend on buying the caravan and paying for storage, you’ll be able to rent a nice cottage for a week or two each year

    its *WAAAAY* better than a tent though, we’ve had some bloody great trips away in the caravan, and unlike a cottage it gives you the chance to change plans last minute e.g. when in Oban in 2012 we’d planned to move to Dumfries but last minute had a rethink and went up to Lochalsh and Skye instead. We spent last Christmas in the caravan and had a brilliant time away, no way on earth would i have done that in a tent and we’d have paid through the nose for a cottage or hotel at that time of year

    Having an awning really helps with outdoor gear and storage space once you;re set up

    *awaits all the clarkson wannabes and comments about traffic jams etc etc etc*

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    My kids are 11 and 10, both me and the missus at 6ft 1″ – i have a feeling a caravan may be too cosy!

    Premier Icon Bregante
    Subscriber

    You’d be surprised Dawson

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Subscriber

    peajay – Member
    Think about how much they cost, bigger vehicle for towing, storage costs, how often you are likely to use it, and then weigh up other kinds of holidays you could have with the cash?

    I’d second this. If you’re going to go away a couple of times a year for a week’s holiday, you would probably be better off booking a nice cottage (from both a financial and comfort point of view). If, however, you want to get away as many weekends as possible (and camping just ain’t your thang) then I’d say that getting one makes a lot of sense.

    My gran had one when I was a kid and we used to love going away in it. Certainly works well if (when) the weather turns foul. Gives you a huge amount of flexibility of where/when you go and unlike a massive tent, you don’t have to ar5e around in a gale trying to take it down and stow it away and then dry the thing when you get home..

    sharkbait
    Member

    A mate has one. He says that there’s never a traffic problem and there’s always an open road in front of him…. 😐

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    i have a feeling a caravan may be too cosy!

    ours had same layout as this but more modern materials;

    it had the bunks at the end, a side table and two settees up the other – I think it was about 23ft long without the towbar or something. Bailey Ranger 550/6.

    With an awning for longer stays it was bloody huge and even for weekends without it never felt cramped, you spend a lot of time outdoors if the weather’s ok, anyway.

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    @NBT – that thing of having to fetch it from the storage place and load up etc is one of my concerns too.

    ross980
    Member

    When did you pass your driving test OP? If after Jan ’97 you’ll have to pass a towing test.

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    another thing I’m wary of is lifting, shifting, attaching etc – my missus isn’t very mobile, so I would probably be doing most of it myself – can 1 person move a caravan?

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    that thing of having to fetch it from the storage place and load up etc is one of my concerns too.

    We used to put anything coming from the house;

    Bedding
    Clothes
    Food

    In the car, everything else stayed in the caravan at the storage which was about 15 miles away.

    It was a pain having to break a journey home to drop it off and I think if it had been closer we’d probably have used it more, tbh, but putting it across the drive was a non-starter and we live somewhere that storage closer was unavailable or very expensive.

    [edit] you and the kids would be able to manouvre it on the flat and you can use the car if there’s a slope. Motorised movers are availabel but tend to be expensive.

    the towball only has about 60kg on it so lifting on and off there is a doddle if you don’t want to use the jockey wheel.

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    I passed in 1995

    Premier Icon zippykona
    Subscriber

    My sister inlaw got run over by her caravan.
    Broke her leg.

    Premier Icon dawson
    Subscriber

    thanks all, useful stuff

    jon1973
    Member

    another thing I’m wary of is lifting, shifting, attaching etc – my missus isn’t very mobile, so I would probably be doing most of it myself – can 1 person move a caravan?

    As for shifting – a lot of them have (or you can have fitted) motorised rollers which move the wheels, so you can manoeuvre it around with a remote control – just get it roughly in the position you want with the car and do that.

    toxicsoks
    Member

    We love ours. Keep it at a farm about 15 mins drive from home, bring it home the day before we go off to load up, no probs. I’m 6’2″ and have no difficulty with the (main) bed size or ceiling height. A Mongdeo diesel will happily tow on motorways at, ahem, 60……..ish, with enough grunt to ovetake trucks. Never towed before? Don’t worry, you soon pick it up………..providing you have reasonable spacial awareness! Clarkson’s worst nightmare – a caravaner who cycles – ace! 😛

    Love my caravan! As do the wife, kids and dog!

    Lots of cheap breaks each year. (After the purchase!)

    I have a driveway for it, and a suitable car. Not been away since December, but going in 3 weeks 🙂

    A friend bought a really crappy one for track days, MX races, etc. Loves it and a van to tow it. Previously he had a camper/day van.

    Got to admit it makes a lot more sense than a campervan which costs more to buy and run, devalues just driving arround everyday, and isn’t much use as a van.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster
    Subscriber

    Storage isn’t always expensive either. We’ve got ours in a secure gold storage place with keyed access, security cameras, etc, and it costs £220 a year, which I don’t think is too bad.

    TBH I think it’s bet keeping it in a storage place rather than on the drive anyway form a home security point of view. If any local scrotes clock you got a van they could soon be round when they see it’s off the drive.

    Regarding the financial side of ownership, we got ours about 3 years ago, 2nd hand. We sent 2 weeks the first summer touring the Highlands, stopping at 4 locations, and the whole holiday including fuel, pitches, etc cost a grand total of approx £500. This wouldn’t have even covered 1 week in a self catering single location cottage type holiday we used to do.

    Last year 2 weeks at different sites in Wales cam to 200 quid for 2 weeks.

    I reckon that over a period of 4 years with all the other breaks we have the van will have paid for itself.

    We don’t holiday abroad anyway because of the pooches, and contrary to popular opinion not all caravaners hog the roads up at peak periods going to the holiday honeypots. That’s the great thing about a caravan, there are so many places you can can go, and if you don’t like it you just go somewhere else. 🙂

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I love having a caravan.

    Pros:

    – Far better than a tent. Warmer, quieter (no flapping canvas, wind noise, rain noise or campsite noise), cook standing up in a kitchen, fridge, table to eat at, sink to wash up at, toilet, shower, wardrobe, drawers etc
    – Sleep in a real double or even king sized bed with feather pillows, duvet etc.
    – Much easier to pack up and unpack
    – More comfortable to sit around in – fed up of those damn folding chair all the time
    – You can of course also sit outside in the sun looking at the view if you want
    – Decent older ones can be had for a few quid
    – Can stop on the way somewhere, put down legs and eat your own food
    – Motorway driving at 56mph is actually really relaxing

    Cons:
    – Takes a bit longer to get places, but not that much
    – Use a lot more fuel. However, if you have bikes on the roof, the difference is less
    – Need to pull over on windy roads to avoid holding people up (yes, I do do this)
    – Cost, but this may be worth it – it is imo.

    I still have a small tent and gear for when I want to camp, so it’s not either/or. As above – caravanning isn’t all lace doileys, old people and Caravan Club rallies. There are a fair few of them about, to be fair – they sit on a caravan site all day long watching telly in their vans – but it’s not mandatory. A caravan is just mobile accomodation, just like a tent, but better.

    We use small sites out in the sticks, the ones with a few vans in a field. The big sites with swimming pools, shops, arcades, bingo etc are not only awful, but they are expensive too 🙂

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    can 1 person move a caravan

    Yes, piece of cake, unless there’s a slope. I do the whole lot myself generally. If there is, get one with a motor mover.

    My kids are 11 and 10, both me and the missus at 6ft 1″ – i have a feeling a caravan may be too cosy!

    They aren’t small. We used to holiday as a family when I was 15 or so, in a 12 foot van! You’d struggle to find a 2 berth 12ft van now, never mind 4. Most old ones are 16ft, newer 18-19ft. Tons of space in them.

    Chris H
    Member

    Would recommend a motor mover, so much easier and less stressful than either pushing or reversing with a car.

    We originally bought a 6 year old caravan with a view to keeping it 3 years. If we enjoyed it we’d buy a newer one, if not, just sell it. After 3 years we bought a brand new Bailey Olympus 525, which we’ve had for 4 years.

    Our kids love it. The only other expenses are possibly having a bigger car to tow with (currently a Freelander which is great at towing) and storage (about £300 a year stored inside a shed)

    Campsites can range from cheap to very expensive, which all depends on facilities and popularity.

    Only real downside is it takes longer to get places and some drivers seem to pull out in front of you as they don’t want to get stuck behind you, and then drive at 40mph!

    nbt
    Member

    We bought a 12 foot two berth, small and light but roomy enough for the two of us. It was almost 20 years old when we bought it from a dealer, but it did come with 3 months guarantee which we used when we found damp. The van spent so long on the workbench having the front end rebuilt that the costs exceeded our purchase price, on the bright side we didn’t pay for any of that and the front end is now fine 🙂

    Originally I towed with a Skoda Octavia 1.6 petrol, I’m now using a Volvo V50 1.8 petrol. Sure, diesel would give us more torque and better MPG but we don’t tow enough for us to choose a car based on towing capability. I still get 28 – 30 mpg when towing the ‘van and I’m happy enough with that

    I have manouevred it alone and it is possible on the flat, it’s a right bugger on a slope though. I’ve now got a motor mover fitted and it’s made things a doddle.

    We prefer to use caravan club sites – they’re expensive but the facilities are excellent.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Re towing, unless it’s a double axle you’ll probably be fine with a recent ish Mondeo/passat etc. The key thing is the weight of the car vs the caravan, not the power. A Golf/focus will tow a small modern van or a good sized older one

    Cars and caravans have both become heavier over the years. There are tools online that will calculate the match for you.

    Premier Icon The Pinkster
    Subscriber

    When did you pass your driving test OP? If after Jan ’97 you’ll have to pass a towing test.

    Technically not quite right –

    Licences held from 1 January 1997
    If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 and have an ordinary category B (car) licence, you can:

    drive a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes or 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM
    tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as it is no more than the unladen weight of the towing vehicle (with a combined weight of up to 3,500kg in total)
    For anything heavier you need to take a category B+E driving test.
    from here

    Premier Icon simmy
    Subscriber

    My Mate has one and he uses it a lot, going away even at Xmas and is away most weekends in the Summer as well as the ” big ” summer holiday of a couple of weeks.

    Its good value if you use them as much as he does.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Yes the license thing. You’ll be fine unless it’s a big car and/or big van. If you have a big 4×4 then anything over a moderate sized van will put you over the limit. It’s a bit silly really because a Range Rover and a normal modern van will be over the limit despite being possibly the safest combo, but an old Passat and a huge heavy van would be fine despite being dangerous.

    The rule of thumb is the max gross weight of the caravan should not be more than 85% of the kerb weight of the car. However with modern cars and caravans they allow 100%. The quoted towing weight in the manual of your car is (I think) the type-approved legal limit and is often far higher than the practical safe towing limit. I think the cops can pull you and ticket you for having a dodgy load even if you are within the quoted towing limit.

    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    We’re on caravan number 2 now.

    firsat caravan was bought after we tried camping and though it was shit.

    It cost us £2k and came with everything we needed and plenty we didnt as the bloke was getting out of caravanning as his kids were teenagers and probably hated him as he was a bit fastidious, tough for them, great for our new caravan!

    We took it on numerous holidays, even over to France a couple of times until we flogged it for a much nicer newer caravan which we still have now.

    We’ve had some great times in caravans and you dont need to get far for it to be a holiday / weekend away. we rarely took it more than an hour or so away but from ours the Lakes are just over an hour as is Wales and the Peak.

    I’d recommend it to anyone with a young family (4 upwards I think)

    It is hard work though, setting the thing up can be hard but, if you plan it well, there will be a barby and a few cold beers once its all done.

    cons
    1 – car uses lots of fuel when towing, about 1/2 what you normally use

    2 – Its hard reversing them. mine has electric motor mover so I just use that. whilst other caravners may sneer, I’m not burning my clutch to pieces and I’m getting the caravan exactly where I want it with a minimum of fuss.

    3 – A few hours into the “holiday” you will think, what bit of this is remotely like a holiday!

    My advice would be to sit in lots to see which layout works best for you. Our caravan has an “L” shaped seat area at the back that converts easily to a double bed and the standard twin bench seats at the front, kitchen and shower in the middle. Our old caravan had a big shower at the back as we thought we’d use it instead of the site showers but, as we always went on nice sites, the shower just became a storage cupboard. Waste really.

    Get an awning. We bought one for about £300 thats full sized but lightweight. We did have an Isabella awning (came with the first caravan) but it was so heavy and took so long to put up, we only used it twice.

    Some of the best holiday memories we have are of when we took a caravan to France.

    Oh, they hold their money quite well too so if you really didnt get on with it, you wont loose too much money from one season to the next.

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Subscriber

    Dawson – I was the opposite from you and your wife. nbt wanted one and I was a definite no way.
    However we went on our first trip only a few miles from home and had a brilliant time.

    All our holidays from then on have been real adventures. Fortnight-long trips to the Highlands skiing and mtbing.

    It’s home from home.

    For me the downside is towing, there are some nobs on the motorway that see a caravan and have to get around you no matter what, this is dangerous when passing slip roads and I can’t reverse it.

    It doesn’t always feel like a holiday as I still have to clean/tidy and cook. Then when you get home it’s a bit of hassle getting it unpacked and ready for next trip. However I have seen people on the last day of their holiday vacuuming, dusting and completely cleaning the whole kitchen area on site.

    Maybe if you have it in storage, keep some stuff in the van and rather than take the van home to load the rest, take it to the van.

    There is so much freedom on site, no worries about meal times, or, getting back in time etc.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Try Glossop caravans , they’ll give you loads of advice.

    We’ll be getting a caravan but not for a couple of years. I’ve had 2 but they were years ago. The kids loved it!
    My mate is gonna get a motorhome & he’s got a budget of 50K. Yes 50K!

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It doesn’t always feel like a holiday as I still have to clean/tidy and cook

    The nice thing about that though is that cleaning up takes no time at all compared to a house, cos it’s so small. I also find it preferable to the camping alternative, which is carting it all over to the site sink.

    Re keeping stuff in the van – ours contains bedding*, cookware, crockery, plates etc, toys and non-perishable food. All we need to bring is fresh food and clothes.

    * bedding obv gets rotated to be washed.

    Premier Icon stavromuller
    Subscriber

    I’ve just bought a caravan after a gap of 25 years, we got the first one because no.1 son used to do BMX and we’ve got this onefor bike events ‘cos I’m to old to kip in a tent or the back of a van. The best advice I can give is adopt the attitude of sharkbait’s mate and don’t give a rat’s ass about the cars behind you, they’ll just have to deal with it. 😆

    Premier Icon paulosoxo
    Subscriber

    We love ours. The two boys (7&4) love everything about it.

    I love a good post and this is a good post.

    Thought about it for many a year, but have a VW camper van that I love but I always get caravan envy…every time we go on a day trip and we have to pack the van up !

    Good post OP !

    Premier Icon Bunnyhop
    Subscriber

    I also find it preferable to the camping alternative, which is carting it all over to the site sink.

    I still carry all my washing up to the site facilities. They are usually good and it’s a great place to meet other people and chat about your day, also picking up advice on other sites to visit.

    tron
    Member

    I know two things about caravans.

    1) I know someone who spent £20k on one. That’s a lot of decent holidays!

    2) I once saw a Discovery 3 at the side of the road on its roof. Given it was on a fairly straight bit of road, the only conclusion to be drawn was that the caravan it was towing had got a weave on until it flipped and took the Disco with it.

    A Discovery 3 + luggage and passengers is the thick end of 3 tonnes. Stuff towing a caravan!

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    If I had somewhere to keep one, I’d already have a cheap, possibly rotten one- every so often someone at a race lets you into theirs for a moment and standing in a car park in the rain in your pants loses its zest.

    But then we have camping in the blood so maybe that’s not normal. Love static vans too, there’s just something brilliantly daft about the whole thing.

    pondo
    Member

    Have loved camping for years but getting fed up of the compromised comfort and set up work – only started to think this year that a caravan might be the answer. Mmmm…

    Premier Icon takisawa2
    Subscriber

    Its amazing how many folk hate Caravans, & are ok in a tent, but the find every opportunity to pop in for a cuppa & enjoy a bit of centrally heated, double glazed comfort, & use a nice clean warm bathroom on some sopping wet, freezing campsite. 🙂

    The takisawa2 wagon train…


    Car & Caravan-1 by pten2106, on Flickr


    IMAG1296 by pten2106, on Flickr

    This layout is is perfect for kids, as they (we) can pull the shutter across & they basically have their own bedroom.


    IMAG1291 by pten2106, on Flickr


    IMAG1288 by pten2106, on Flickr

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