The great day has come. As the proud new owner of a motorhome, you’re ready to embark on your very first trip!
It’s worth curbing that natural enthusiasm for just a moment or two longer to carry out a few helpful “pre-flight checks” and check over your travel plans for once you’re on the road. For the purpose of these few tips and suggestions, let’s assume that you’ll be staying within the UK for at least your first foray or two.
Eventually, and with experience, you’ll almost certainly discover that the time well spent on these pre-outing preparations become second nature and practically automatic.
To give you some idea of the importance of getting the packing, stowing, and last-minute preparations right, the website Wandering Bird has devoted several pages to the subject – and if you’d rather watch than read, there is even a self-explanatory video to accompany their article.
As a rule of thumb, the checklist is likely to feature all or some of the following.
For example, have you:
- checked that everything inside is correctly stowed and secured – get it right to avoid spending a potential fortune later if things go wrong, suggests a piece written by the Gap Decaders;
- walked around your motorhome and inspect it from the outside to be sure that everything appears to be where it should;
- made sure that all the mechanics and internal fittings are working correctly;
- disconnected all gas supplies (disconnection is not always quite as straightforward as it seems, so you might need to follow the manufacturer’s specific advice on that one);
- checked that all your electrics – the vehicle’s external system for signalling and lights and internal illumination) – are OK;
- remembered to confirm where you stand in relation to any need for a TV licence – broadly speaking, if your normal place of residence will be empty while you’re away or nobody will be using the TV there, your motorhome TV should continue to be covered. But if someone else back home will be using the TV there (your grown-up kids might have stayed behind, for example), you may need a separate licence for your motorhome’s appliance;
- packed a good toolkit;
- included some emergency lighting and reliable, fully-charged torches;
- made certain that you have a good first-aid kit available that is within its “use by” dates;
- taken some sort of sensible heating with you or verified that anything built-in will be adequate – as any native will know only too well, that might be important even at the height of a British summer, so it’s certainly worth checking;
- made sure the appropriate water reservoirs have been filled;
- included all your electrical and plumbing connectors;
- double-checked the location of your site and the reservations you have made there – this is doubly important if your first trip happens to coincide with a bank holiday or any school holiday periods, and especially at a time when staycations have become so popular within the motorhome community;
- planned your route carefully – whether you use satnav or good old-fashioned maps, this is important since you won’t want to discover low bridges or impassably small access tracks only for the first time when trying to reach your site by that scenic route;
- planned a route that avoids as many towns and village centres as possible – old narrow streets and large motorhomes can be incompatible with public harmony and tranquillity;
- checked that your insurance is valid and up to date – which it probably is, though always good practice to check such an essential before you set off;
- got maps to hand – even with a satnav on board, having a big-picture old-fashioned map, opened in your passenger’s lap, is sometimes invaluable when the electronic device just doesn’t seem to be making sense or you need a quick decision;
- practised with your vehicle beforehand – if you’re still a novice, or with motorhomes in general, learning for the first time as you set off on trip number one might not be the best idea, so instead, take your new motorhome somewhere quiet and safe, like a supermarket car park when it’s closed, and practice your basics like reversing and parking before you load up and set off;
- brushed up on the best practice rules of the road for motorhomes – manoeuvres such as attempting to overtake lorries and getting stuck in the outside lane because your motorhome can’t quite make it can quickly lead to difficulties and dangers. You can also invest in a motorhome manoeuvring course to build your confidence.
Daunted by this seemingly long list of tips and suggestions? Don’t be intimidated by it. As we have said most of it will become second nature after your first couple of excursions so, enjoy what will be the first of many – it’s a great moment to celebrate.