Always level your van across the way first before doing the front to back, carry a  ramp of some kind and even a few blocks of wood different sizes should you need to run a wheel up onto one to get your unit level. This across the way determines wether your fridge runs correctly or not (or if your drink spills over the side!). The other pieces of wood can be used as blocks under the steadies as risers should the front or rear of the van be quite a bit off the ground; also use them under your corner steadies if the ground is soft to help spread the weight.

Next job: Fill the water containers and switch on gas and fridge. When you need a cuppa its better to have the water there than say politely.  "jings I've still tae gang fur the watter"

Hook up: If using one do check the amperage on the site as it can vary from 6 to 16amps and if you keep tripping the circuit the site owner/manager will not be a happy person.  Basicly do not run electric fires on high and boil kettles at the same time as watching the telly, and in newer vans be aware that the microwave and cooker electric ring will draw a lot of power.

Awning: When you are erecting one it is an advantage to spray silicone around the inside of the rail this allows the bead guide to slide round easier. If it is the first time with one, or even a new one. Please Do Ask for help, or just wait till the advice & the chairs come out for the show (own drinks are usually provided) and betting of course on who loses the heid first. People just love watching this one.

Battery:  A Leisure battery is designed for a low draw of power over a period of time as opposed to a car battery designed to give a high output initially to start an engine. Capacity varies from 65amp hours to 115 amp h. Always measure the compartment before purchasing a battery as the dimensions vary in size and your new battery might not fit the locker.

Gas:  What kind?  Butane in the blue bottle is used by many but most campers seem to prefer Propane (red bottle) as this has a much lower freezing point which is handy if you are a all year camper. Yes, we do go out when the frost

and snow are around. New Year rallies are very popular - try booking a (if open) club site for Xmas or New Year.

Solar Panel :  To buy or not to buy!  Our members seem to favour buying one as even a small one can help the battery last longer if you use a 12volt. telly If you are intending to be on the road a lot then buy the best you can afford, and always find a way to keep it secure. eg. a shed cable alarm or similar. Alternativly it can be permanently fitted to the roof of your unit .

Groundsheet:  Ideally a breathable one should always be used (as other types are inclined to kill of the grass unless lifted every couple of days.) In some cases they are the only kind allowed. On wet ground a waterproof one below can be usefull but please do not leave in place for extended periods of time.

Generator :  Again this is a personal choice but fewer of them are about now with more a more solar panels appearing. However noise is the main factor against them. Many cheaper versions are on the market now and they can be quite noisy.They may seem quiet till your parked next to one, or the only sound to be heard on a rally field a generator 10 or so vans away from you. The ones designed for the caravanning lesiure market are really good with very low noise levels but are of course more expensive but do work well. They are also much lighter when carrying them as it all does add to overall towing weight of your unit.

Size matters.

The law in the UK is that in order to legally tow a trailer with a width of over 2.3 metres (or a length of over 7 metres), the towing vehicle must have a permissible gross weight of over 3.5 tonnes
External link opens in new tab or windowDepartment of transport

If however the gross weight of the towing vehicle is 3.5 tonnes or less then the maximum permissible width and length are 2.3 metres and 7 metres respectively. In both cases the overall length of the towing vehicle and trailer must not exceed either 18m or 18.75m depending on the type of towing vehicle .
However, In Europe, EU law allows caravans of 2.5 metres to be towed by a normal car.

Towing Mirror.

A legal requirement where the view in the normal rear-view mirror is obscured by a trailer or caravan

When you are towing, your caravan makes it impossible to use your car's rear view mirror, therefore you will need some towing mirrors. Your mirrors for towing must not project more than 200mm beyond the widest part of your car or caravan. Although for any cars sold after 26th January 2007 this is now 250mm.

It is also a legal requirement that any caravan mirror must be type approved and e-marked. Your caravan dealer or caravan accessory shop should be able to help you to purchase the correct towing mirrors. Remember once you are back to driving solo the extension mirrors need to be removed.

With a small low camping trailer there is a good chance that you will still have the required adequate visibility.

The CRiS Check

Buying a pre-owned caravan/M.home then make sure you carry out a CRiS Check prior to concluding the deal. Don't get caught buying a caravan with a hidden history or an altered identity. A CRiS Check will not only confirm the caravans true identity but will also reassure you of the provenance of the caravan you desire and will reveal if the caravan is subject to an HP agreement, reported sto or been recorded as an Insurance Write-Off. In addition CRiS will be able to confirm if the 'seller' is currently recorded with CRiS as the current keeper.         

To buy your CRiS Check ring 01722 411 430 between 8:00am and 8:00pm Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm Saturdays and 10:00am - 5:00pm Sundays.

To apply for your caravan to be CRiS registered and electronically tagged, contact on 01722 411430 or email for further information.   External link opens in new tab or window  opens in new window.

The Club's New to Camping campaign

External link opens in new tab or window  is designed to help new or returning campers find all the information they need to get started. Here you'll find basic information on tents, caravans, motorhomes, trailer tents, accessories and more. We hope you find this content helpful and wish you many happy years of camping!