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:

The vehicle

  • 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;

The adventure

  • 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.

As one of the country’s leading motorhome dealers, we’re often asked for our tips and suggestions about choosing and then using a motorhome.

Here are just a few of the pieces of advice we have offered over the years – and which you, too, might find useful.

Take the time to choose a motorhome that’s appropriate for you

Finding you’ve purchased a motorhome that’s just too big or too small – or whatever its fault – can be a serious annoyance and potentially a poor use of your money. So, just remember that nine times out of ten there is absolutely no need to rush.

So, take as long as you need to evaluate the market and to choose one that’s right for you and your life circumstances. Of course, we make no secret of the fact that we’d love to assist you in that!

Think carefully about how you plan to use your motorhome and where

We’d be the first to insist that motorhomes are truly flexible and adaptable vehicles. Nevertheless, some of the smallest camping sites in remote, rural and or especially wild locations well off the beaten track may be difficult to access if you choose one of the larger or heavier motorhomes available on the market.

The Almost Wild Campsites selected by Cool Camping may give you some idea of the wilder side of adventures in your motorhome.

If you really like getting off the beaten track, then a smaller vehicle might be more practical.

Involve your family in the decision

Given the size of the financial outlay almost certainly involved, you probably wouldn’t even dream of spending the money without consulting your partner or spouse – plus, perhaps, even your adult children.

We’d go one step further by suggesting, in one of our top motorhome travel tips, that you engage those others in the detail of your motorhome too – such as the choice of different interior layouts and vehicle powertrains.

Further reading: Buying the right motorhome.

Consider driver-training and breaking yourself in gently on trip number one

You need to be sure that you have a licence that will permit you to drive the motorhome you’re thinking about. The government’s website containing advice from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is the place to start, of course, but if you’d like further help about what that all entails, by all means, please contact us and we’ll happily explain.

Even if your licence is fine, some basic familiarisation training would be highly advisable – and it’s typically not so expensive.

Finally, even if you’re experienced with motorhomes, almost every vehicle handles and performs differently from another. It’s perhaps a good idea to make your first trip in your new motorhome a short one to to learn its handling characteristics.

Plan a few journeys based largely around bigger roads and motorhome parks with good access and turning facilities. Don’t test your close manoeuvring and reversing skills in a tiny site on your very first trip!

Don’t skimp on motorhome insurance

Your motorhome, its accessories, and all your camping gear will be expensive.

As with almost all forms of insurance, the cover provided by one policy might be significantly different to that offered by another. It’s not a question of being better or worse but simply which one will be suitable for you, your motorhome, and the way you plan to use it.

For that reason alone, you might want to avoid choosing the cheapest insurance policy but instead spend some time researching which motorhome insurance offers the most cost-effective cover for the level of protection you need.

Head over to our motorhome insurance guide which discusses how to choose the most appropriate insurance for you as well as covering the need for GAP insurance and breakdown insurance.

Research the road rules when going abroad

Over the last 30-40 years, most road rules have more or less converged in the EU.

However, not all the road rules have and some, to unaware UK drivers, may come as a surprise. Although no shocks are anticipated in the immediate future, the UK’s departure from the EU might result in greater divergence in the respective rules of the road between the two places. Two examples of lingering divergence are the “priority to the right even if a minor road” and some old “priority to vehicles that are joining the roundabout” systems which are still fairly widely found in France.

Even if you know these from car driving, remember that your braking distances will be longer in a motorhome because it’s a heavier vehicle.

As always, the bottom line of any advice on driving abroad is to research in advance the road systems in the country you’re heading off to in that new motorhome! Further reading: Taking your motorhome to Europe.