If like us you are new to caravaning there are a few things you may want to consider before you take to the road. The layout and design of Caravans is a personal choice, fixed beds, single beds, 2 or 4 berths, single or double axle are all available, and it comes down to your personal choice, budget, and the capability of your tow car. The Camping and Caravan Club, and Caravan Club both have excellent articles on this, and Towcar info provides a useful website where you can check your vehicle against a range of caravans.

Having only towed a glider trailer in the past and not sure of what the law required we investigated further to determine what we would need to tow a caravan.

Both my wife had valid licences and passed our test prior to 1997. If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 you’re generally allowed to drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes MAM, but you should double check here at the DVLA what your licence allows you to tow

Licences issued from 1 January 1997. If you passed your car driving test between 1 January 1997 and 18 January 2013, you can: drive a car or van up to 3,500kg MAM towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. tow a trailer over 750kg MAM as long as the combined MAM of the trailer and towing vehicle is no more than 3,500kg.

If you are hiring a caravan you will also need to forward a check code valid for 21 days so that your driving record can be verified, for penalty points or disqualification. This can be obtained from the DVLA website all you require is your driving licence details and National insurance number.

It may seem obvious but you need to have a tow bar and suitable electrics on your car, having a factory fitted Towbar on any vehicle you purchase is a wise choice if you intend to purchase a caravan. Tow bars can be retrofitted to suitable vehicles and Witter are a trusted manufacturer.

Did we need clip-on wing mirrors? After some research on the web, it became apparent that the law now requires extended mirrors to conform to new legislation regarding towing of caravans.

To be compliant with the law, anyone towing a caravan must be able to see 20 metres behind them and four metres either side of the towed outfit. For more information the caravan club have a good article.

Looking at the cost of hire and considering that this is now required by law we decided to purchase a compliant mirror. The Towsure website has a wide assortment of mirrors and towing aids and is a recommended read, Milenco mirrors seem to be recommended by the on caravan forums.

When looking at towing information it also became apparent that as well as matching the wight of your towing vehicle to the weight of the caravan the caravan’s nose weight an important part of safety for the stability when towing. So after looking on eBay, I purchased a Milenco Precision Nose Weight Gauge to ensure we could check that we did not exceed the recommended nose wight for our vehicle..

We also needed a Number plate for the caravan

One thing which is easy to forget is the fact that you need a number plate for the rear of the caravan. While I believe that you can remove the plate from your car while towing and install this at the rear of the caravan. I know that at some point in the future I would forget to replace the plate after unhitching the van and would probably be discussing how I came to be missing a rear number plate with an officer of the law.

To purchase a number plate online you will need you vehicle registration documents, Also an EU or GB approved plate with the country of vehicle registration will prevent the need for you to put a nasty plastic GB sticker on your car if you decide to tow abroad. (May have to review this in light of Brexit!)

 Having purchased a plate, we found that this was supplied by the hire company and pre-fixed to the van (so we now have a spare)

So what else would we need?

The caravan hire form stated that the van came fully equipped however the hire form gave us a number of options, did we require an awning? As this trip was just for a week in July we decided that we would just sit out in the sun’ and therefore an awning was not required

The hire also included a low capacity waste water container and knowing the cleanliness of my other half we decided the 45-gallon Waste Master and Aquaroll waste water tank would be a good investment.

While we like the outdoors and we talk (often) the wife decided she would like to be able to catch up with Casualty while we were away, so reluctantly I ticked the box to include a TV (it will be interesting to see what sort of reception we get on site.
An essential part of caravanning is security, the van we hired had an inbuilt tracker and AL-Ko wheel lock, and hitch-lock. I think when we purchase our own caravan we will include these items as standard.
We were due to attend a wedding a Bude in Cornwall in June so this seemed like an ideal situation, So with a quick phone call the caravan was booked and we were ready to go!

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