Gone are the days when trailing a caravan behind you meant being buffeted by passing HGVs, all the way to a windy week in wales… Modern caravans are stylish, streamlined and open up a world of possibilities!

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You could be waking up to a view like this every morning!

When you’re towing your home away from home, you can point the car anywhere, and set off at a moment’s notice without stressing about hotel bookings and weight limitations on budget airlines. Freedom is yours!

If you’re thinking of buying a caravan but are a little overwhelmed by choice and jargon, let CGD help you find your way through the maze of information to your dream caravan.

With a guide to choosing the right one for you, facts on weight and towing, and some great gadgets you just can’t live without; CDG’s guide to caravanning can help you take top the road with confidence…

Step 1: Choosing the right caravan for you!

There are many different kinds of caravan available, from the conventional classics right through to modern, tiny trailers; choosing the right one for you can be a little daunting… We’ve rounded up the main contenders so you can get some fast facts.

The classic caravan

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Keep comfortable while on the road…                                                                                                                           image credit

The standard, single axle caravan can sleep between two and six people. They can accommodate showers, toilets and fully fitted kitchenettes on board. The single axle is lighter weight, easier to manoeuvre at campsite and more economical than a twin axle.

The twin axle

If you opt for a larger or heavier caravan, it may be fitted with a twin axle. This improves road grip, but makes it harder to pitch on site, and get back into storage once you’re back home.

The tiny trailer

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The teardrop trailer                                                                                                                                                          image credit

If you have a small towing vehicle, you could consider a trailer. These small but perfectly formed trailers are super stylish and feature basic accommodation; a bed, some come with cooking equipment and room for storing your kit. If you want to get away from it all without it costing the earth, this could be a great option for you!

The American Airstream

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Iconic American Airstream                                                                                                                                               image credit

These iconic transatlantic silver spaceships will get you plenty of attention when you’re out and about! Manufactured by Airstream, these classic campers are as all-American as apple pie; they offer stylish and comfortable accommodation but come with a rather hefty price tag!

The anti-tower

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Vintage VW Campervan                                                                                                                                                    image credit

Want to explore the beautiful British countryside but not sure about towing your life behind you? A motorhome might be just what you need! These come in all shapes and sizes, from converted vans and cars, right up to huge, road hogging American style RVs; they let you take to the road at a moment’s notice, but beware the low lying bridge if you opt for a bigger beast!

Step 2: Find the right balance

When choosing the right caravan for you, you need to take weight into account. Outfit matching is when the weight of the caravan and contents does not exceed 85% of the cars un-laden weight.

To begin this process, look in the handbook and find the kerbweight of your car; then multiply this by 85/100 which will give you the all-important 85% figure. Next check the towing limit, also found in your handbook. If this limit is higher than the 85% you’ve just calculated then you can look for a caravan up to this 85% weight. If not, you will be restricted in your towing.

The law states that caravans must not cause any danger or nuisance to other people on the road. Because of this, the Caravan Club suggests:

  • The lower the laden weight of a trailer caravan when towed on the public highway, the safer the out?t.
  • The laden weight of the caravan should never exceed the kerbside weight of the towing vehicle.
  • The nearer the caravan laden weight approaches the one-to-one ratio, the more careful the driver must be.

To allow power for overtaking, getting up steep hills, and greater stability particularly on motorways; the lower the weight ratio between the car and caravan, the better off you’ll be. So if your car is not up to towing a large caravan, you either need to rethink your chosen caravan or rethink your car!

Step 3: Get the car right

Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia 2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance; winner of Tow Car of the Year 2013                                                   image credit

If you’re running a car that won’t cope with your dream caravan, it may well be worth a rethink. For advice on the best car for the job, speak to the experts at CDG or check out the Tow Car Awards.

Every year Practical Caravan, What Car?, and The Camping and Caravanning Club put hundreds of cars to the test and find the best car for your towing needs!

Step 4: Towing practice

Towing might seem like a scary prospect, but thousands of people do it every week! It’s easier than you might think and just takes practice; the main points to consider are:

  • Taking extra length into account
  • Taking more care when cornering
  • Braking and accelerating smoothly to allow the caravan to follow the direction and speed of the car

The Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club both offer help, advice and courses to get your confidence up and help you set off on your adventure!

Step 5: Gadgets galore!

We’ve rounded up some must have camping gadgets so that you can take your pick and get on with enjoying your new found freedom.

TomTom GO LIVE Camper and Caravan  

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Packed full of features for caravan drivers; there are over 25,000 points of interest including camping areas, chemical toilet facilities and camper service spots; this reliable sat-nav is perfect if you want a hassle free drive.  State of the art; it also features hands-free calling via Bluetooth, voice controlled navigation and IQ Routes to give you the most accurate travel time.

Emergency phone charger

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Tiny and ready to travel; you need never be without power again! Give yourself an extra charge with this handy device; it comes loaded with a rechargeable battery and charges most popular phones along with iPods!

Compact Mini washing machine

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Weighing less than 5kgs, this time saving mini washing machine could be just what you need if you’re heading out on the open road. Forget cleaning your clothes in the sink or paying for campsite washer; with this handy little device you can wash up to 1kg loads and choose from three wash cycles.

Bodum Travel Press coffee maker

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Just because you’re camping, doesn’t mean you have to suffer bad coffee! Caffeine addicts everywhere should get their hands on one of these; a handy portable French press that gives you great coffee on the go.

Weber Go-Anywhere® Charcoal BBQ

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Nothing says summer fun like a BBQ, and this handy grab and go model is perfectly compact and ideal for camping. Featuring a fold over lid and legs that fold down to save space, the Go Anywhere BBQ makes the perfect cooking accessory for your trip!

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