The big 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 run through your travel plans once you’re on the road. As far as the following tips and suggestions go, 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 becomes second nature – practically instinctive.
To give you some idea of the importance of getting the packing, stowing, and last-minute preparations right, you’re unlikely to find anything more comprehensive than the Wandering Bird’s treatment of 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:
- check that everything inside is correctly stowed and secured – get it right to avoid spending a potential fortune later if things go wrong, suggests the motorhome rental website Goboony which describes the task of packing as both difficult and easy at the same time;
- although you’ll have more room for your baggage than if you were staying in a hotel, don’t get carried away with the temptation to pack too much;
- walk around your motorhome and inspect it from the outside to be sure that everything appears to be where it should be;
- make sure that all the mechanics and internal fittings are working correctly;
- disconnect 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);
- check that all the electrics – the vehicle’s external system for signalling and lights and internal illumination) – are OK;
- remember to confirm where you stand with 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 (your grown-up kids might have stayed behind, for example), you may need a separate licence for the set in your motorhome;
- pack a good toolkit – and familiarise yourself with how each piece works;
- include some emergency lighting and dependable, fully charged torches;
- make certain that you have a good first-aid kit available that is within its “use by” dates;
- take some means of heating with you or confirm 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;
- make sure the appropriate water tanks and reservoirs have been filled;
- a story in the Daily Mail on the 23rd of June 2022 described the surge in popularity of motorhome holidays as the means of enjoying your staycation;
- so, remember to double-check the location of your campsite and the reservations you have made there – this is especially important if your first trip happens to coincide with a bank holiday or any school holiday periods;
- plan 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;
- plan 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;
- check that your insurance is valid and up to date – although that’s almost certainly the case, it’s always good practice to check such an essential before setting off
- have 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;
- practise driving and manoeuvring your vehicle beforehand – if you’re still a novice, or feel a little uncomfortable behind the wheel of a motorhome, setting off on your first trip is probably not the best time to learn;
- consider taking a motorhome manoeuvring course – both the Camping and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club run them – to build your confidence.
- at the very least, you might want to find 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;
- brush 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.
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.