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Holidays in motorhomes and campervans have never been more popular. Here’s some top tips from the Camping and Caravanning Club to ensure your trip is both enjoyable and responsible, especially if you’re just starting out.

Man packing items into a motorhome

Be ready for the road

First ensure you have the correct entitlement to drive your motorhome – check your driving licence.

Before setting off ensure your rooflights, windows, and doors (including lockers) are securely shut, the satellite dish or aerial is down and external loads such as bikes are secure. Ensure all road lights work, the tyres are in roadworthy condition and that they are properly inflated. Turn off the gas cylinder unless the system has a crash switch. Check the oil, coolant, and screen wash too. And remember where seatbelts are fitted they must be used. 

Learn safe driving tips

You’re in holiday mode, the scenery could be lovely and you may be travelling more slowly so please be courteous to other road users. Check your mirrors frequently and if a queue of traffic is building up behind you, pull over when it is safe to do so to allow motorists to pass before continuing your journey. Factor in plenty of stops on a long journey too. Driving a motorhome is likely to use more concentration than the family car. For extra confidence, consider taking a motorhome manoeuvring course.

Know your limits

Learn your motorhome or campervan’s height and width dimensions to avoid problems when driving towards low bridges, height barriers or narrow roads, plus the vehicle’s weight. To avoid leaving it to guesswork, write them on a label and attach to the sun visor. Make sure you also know your vehicle’s speed limits. Heavier motorhomes and van conversions may have lower speed limits compared to cars.

Lighten the load

Each item that you put inside your motorhome counts towards its payload and overall weight. Your motorhome has a maximum authorised mass, which is the most it can legally weigh including people. So think carefully about what items you take with you and how they are stored. Keep heavy items low and not in overhead lockers as they can fall out when going around a corner.

Satnav display with red cross over it

Check directions

Plan ahead, especially if you have a larger vehicle that may not be suitable for certain roads. Don’t just rely on a sat-nav, even those designed for larger vehicles. Normal sat-navs will think you are driving a regular car and will plan your route accordingly, which could mean following routes with obstructions like bridges that are too low for your vehicle or unsuitable for the weight. Take regular breaks and always check the campsite directions when close by to avoid local restrictions that even the best sat-nav won’t be aware of.

Stay local to start with

It could take a while to get used to the equipment in your new motorhome so why not pitch up on a campsite close to home on that first outing. That way should anything not quite go to plan, you won’t be too far from home (or the hire point) to get it sorted. It’s also much easier to pitch up in the daylight.

Two motorhomes at an official campsite

Stay on a campsite

We would recommend you stay on an official campsite but if you do overnight off road you should have the permission of the landowner. If this isn’t clearly given, then park elsewhere. Do not block an entrance to a field or a building and don’t damage the verge. If you have to park in a layby or a car park, make sure that you have checked whether any parking restrictions apply. Put simply, vehicles may use a designated lay-by for a rest but you must be able to move on if requested, so no nightcaps. Don’t be tempted to picnic on the side of the road as camping equipment must always remain within the vehicle. Awnings, tables and chairs, and cooking equipment cannot be set up outside.

Keep everyone happy

Many campsites will have rules, such as arrival and departure times and where dogs can be exercised. Be a good neighbour and find out what the rules are and follow them. And remember to stick to the campsite/park’s speed limit.

A vroom with a view!

Most campsites will allocate you a pitch but not all do. If you’re on a site that allows you to choose a spot to set up camp, be respectful of your neighbours by keeping the required six-metre gap, and try not to block their views.

Person towing a waste water container from a motorhome

Waste disposal: the essentials

Never wait until the last moment to drain your waste or refill with fresh water.

Please ensure you dispose of the contents of toilet cassettes in the correct manner at appropriate chemical disposal points such as those on campsites. Do not dispose of toilet waste in public toilets. More publicly available motorhome waste facility points are being added in parts of Scotland so locate one nearby. And not all toilet chemicals are septic-tank friendly, so consider what chemical product you are using and how it should be disposed of.

Child picking up litter and putting in a bag

Leave no trace

Wherever you are, dispose of litter in bins or take your rubbish home with you, and remember to recycle. When you pull away from your pitch, remember to stop and take one last look for litter. Even pegs used on awnings can cause damage when the grass is cut.

Support local communities

It’s been a tough time for us all so remember to treat local communities with respect. That way they will welcome you and other motorhomers back. Do what you can to support local businesses, from enjoying a meal in a local pub to visiting the farm shop, cafe or local tourist attractions.

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