It’s that time of the year when people are thinking of heading back to school and work from their summer holidays, but there’s still plenty of time for the last hurrah of summer, so don’t give up the caravan lifestyle yet! If you’re in the US, you may be on your way back from Burning Man – the festival is all through now and if you haven’t been to Nevada’s third largest city (that only exists for two weeks of every year) you can make it next year if you get your motor home or caravan in shape now.
First of all, let’s make sure we have some definition. A motor home is a house with an engine, in the states we call them RVs. A caravan, on the other hand, is a house on wheels that you tow behind a truck – commonly called a 5th wheel, camper, or (in the UK especially) a caravan. Back in the old days a caravan was made up of a fleet of camels or a huge merchant group, but that’s not what we’re talking about here at all. We’re talking about RVs and campers and mobile homes and fifth wheels. If you’re RVing in the UK, one thing you don’t want to forget is to make sure that your caravan is insuredIf you’re caravaning in the USA, check out AAA (The American Automobile Club) – they offer roadside assistance and RV insurance.
In addition to insurance, there are a few other things you won’t want to forget before you head out on the road for that momentous trip before life takes off again. Roadside assistance isn’t going to help you a whit if you don’t have a cellphone that gives you coverage wherever you are going. International sim cards are cheap and easy, but you’ll want to make sure that you have an unlocked GSM phone or you may get a terrible surprise. Also, if you’re heading to Cornwall in the UK or Napa in California – don’t forget that you need to have a safe place to park before you start drinking the tipple or sampling the wines – while you can still boondock in many places, local rules and regulations are making it harder and harder to just roll up somewhere, park, and camp – make sure that you know where you will spend the night. You don’t want to get caught in a situation where you’ve had a few too many and then you have to move the rig! On that note, it may be wise to keep a designated driver.
Make sure you know where the spare tire is and how to change it! A few years ago we got TWO flats on the way from Burning Man and since it was a Sunday in small town Nevada – there was nowhere to go. Lucky for us, we did find a Walmart and they were able to repair our flat tires. That’s where roadside assistance would have really come in handy. By the way, you can usually boondock in Walmart parking lots, which is why you see so many RVs and Caravans in them.
A couple additional notes before you head out on your way. Seatbelt laws apply to RVs too, so when the vehicle is moving, passengers should be seated and belted in. For caravans, there should not be any passengers in the trailer while you are under way, so while the glorious road life of a caravan gypsy is exciting – legally you can’t be moving around while the vehicle is moving around. This can be a costly mistake if the police catch you!
When cooking in your mobile home, make sure that you have plenty of ventilation and have a fire extinguisher handy. Have you ever seen those burned out shells of caravans on the side of the motor ways? Guess how those fires happened? Usually from someone cooking and not having an extinguisher.
While it may seem like a good idea to climb up on the roof and sunbathe, the truth is that you can damage your RV or caravan severely by walking around on the roof. Take care not to fall through and make an extra skylight! Most of all though – have fun. Living in a caravan can be one of the most enjoyable ways to take a holiday – whether you are heading to the last of the summer festivals, out to the playa, down to the sunny Costa Brava or the French Riviera, or over to the chilly Irish coast – drive careful, park where you can wake up and enjoy the beauty of nature, and don’t forget to have friends over for martinis!