Setting off on your first journey in your new motorhome is an exciting event.
Even if you’ve owned one for some time the travel restrictions during the recent pandemic mean that it might have been a while since you’ve ventured on an outing of any duration.
So, if you’re preparing for that first trip as the proud new owner of a motorhome, or returning to the pleasures of your second home on wheels, here are a few travel tips from us here at Derby Motorhomes that you might find useful before setting off.
Practice your driving in advance
Practice makes perfect – it might be a truism but is no less relevant to learning or relearning your driving skills behind the wheel of a motorhome.
These vehicles are typically easy to drive but tight manoeuvring, reversing, and parking, will all benefit from a little more practice.
For the complete novice or someone wanting a thorough refresher course, the Caravan and Motorhome Club runs a range of practical tuition packages. Failing any such formal approach, even a few hours on a quiet Sunday in an empty local car park will be better than having to learn everything as you go along on your first outing of the year.
Don’t make your first trip an epic one
For similar reasons, break yourself in gradually when it comes to travelling any distance. It can take a little time to become fully familiar with your motorhome – particularly if you have no previous experience.
That might mean that a fairly local first trip, over perhaps a weekend, might be an excellent shakedown of your motorhome. You’ll learn a lot from it too and it’ll help prepare you for longer duration and longer-distance journeys.
Plan your route and remember you’re driving a motorhome
Picture the narrowest, twisty lanes you can imagine and just know that some very rural back roads are simply unsuitable for motorhomes.
In some cases, they may carry explicit prohibitions for commercial vehicles and motorhomes due to their size – but not all do. Make sure you’ve researched the route thoroughly and, until your experience levels have increased, avoid marginal or what might be considered challenging roads for larger vehicles.
Brush up on your driving codes for motorhomes
Be prepared for the fact that some other road users will seem to take exception to your driving a motorhome on the roads at all. If you are dawdling along – well below the maximum speed limit – on a single carriageway with no safe overtaking options, you’re certain to raise the frustration levels of other motorists. Motorhomes which block both carriageways whilst engaging in a doomed attempt to overtake a lorry or another motorhome on the inside lane whilst going uphill will be an even greater frustration.
Frustration on the road can be dangerous for everyone.
So, brush up on basic courteous driving techniques, as they apply specifically to motorhomes, then use them at all times.
Have you booked your site?
Mention of frustrations and there’s probably nothing worse than turning up at your destination only to find nowhere to park up for the night.
During the bank holidays and the peak summer holiday months, in particular, don’t just turn up in the hope you’ll be OK but spend that minute or two making a simple phone call to be sure of your pitch for the night.
Don’t forget your toolkit
You won’t be needing it for your suitably serviced motorhome, of course, but a toolkit could still earn its keep on any expedition into the wide world out there.
Since you’re about to experience the great outdoors, there might be dozens of times when you’ll wish you had a screwdriver to tighten that BBQ leg or an adjustable spanner to budge that tight nut on your bike rack.
A few basic tools will have proved their weight in gold.
Take all your manuals and appliance guides with you
Operating the cooker in your motorhome or its heating system isn’t exactly rocket science.
Still, the embarrassment of admitting you can’t work out how to do something as simple as switching on the power or coupling the gas is best avoided. Your manuals might help you get right to the business of enjoying yourself just that little bit faster.
Read your owner’s manual thoroughly and before departure
This will contain volumes of helpful tips, so it’s important to read through it at your leisure.
In it, you’re likely to find some advice about basic pre-departure vehicle checklists. Some of those might be obvious, such as checking tyre pressures but others less so – such as weight distributions and loading.
Be sure to run through the checklist carefully and rigorously before you leave.
Take a good torch
Finally, remember that some of the campsites you’ll be visiting will be very well lit – others may be less so – with more of that “back to nature” atmosphere about them.
A torch is likely to be invaluable.