With caravan sales predicted to go sky high in the wake of COVID-19, and more and more people expecting to choose the good old British staycation for their holiday this year, we’ve put together the perfect guide for those looking to buy their first touring caravan. Check out our top tips for first time caravan buyers below!
Firstly before even thinking about buying a caravan its best to check whether your car is able to tow one. Some vehicles are limited to certain weights. We’d suggest you look up your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), this will tell you the weight of your car. As a rule your caravan shouldn’t exceed 85% of the vehicle’s weight. Its also worth noting that if you passed your driving test on or after 1st January 1997 you can’t exceed a combined weight of 3500kg.
We’d always recommend noting down your maximum combined weight before you start. This way you won’t get your heart set on a caravan you’d be unable to have. Or you could use it as a great excuse to fork out for a bigger car as well…
Once you’ve put together a list of favourite caravans you can always double check it with your car using tools online such as Tow Safe’s caravan matcher. Online resources like these are great ways to find your perfect car and touring caravan combination.
Another good place to start when looking at purchasing a caravan is how much you’re able to spend. Give yourself a budget, this’ll help give you a starting point for your search.
Prices can range anywhere from £7,500 to £25,000 + therefore it’s important to do your research and know what you’re getting for your money. You could alternatively always look at the second hand market to see if you could snap up a good deal on older models.
If you can afford to we’d recommend going for a mid-range model because there’s a much wider choice. They’re also in higher demand which means more are manufactured each year, making it easier to get parts if necessary. This will make it cheaper to fix and maintain which also means your caravan could hold its value for much longer.
Why not check out what others are saying? Camping and Caravanning has a great online community. Once you’ve got your list of favourite caravan models take a look at the reviews for them online. This will help to identify any issues that people have come across and may help you narrow down your choice.
Perhaps the most important tip we could give would be to always check your new caravan before putting down a deposit. A caravan is a big investment and even if you’re buying a brand new van its always best to double check you’re completely happy with it before signing on the dotted line.
A few important points to look over include: checking your caravan is water tight, water is the biggest risk to to your caravan and can be expensive to fix; check for scratches or dents on the bodywork; make sure all the gas and electricity safety certificates are present and handed over, although this should be standard practice.
If you’re looking at buying a used caravan, you’ll need a more thorough list of checks that you’ll definitely want to carry out. We’ve put one together you can download here – Used caravan buyer’s checklist.
Picking your ‘must haves’ is a very important and fun part of the buying process. This will be your very own home from home while you’re on holiday so it’s important that it has all the essentials that are important for you.
Decide on your personal specifications e.g. minimum and maximum berth requirements, bunk beds or pull out/convertible, alarm, air con, heating, separate shower and washroom, awning etc.
Knowing what you need could be a tricky hurdle for first time buyers. A good thing is that many dealers will provide you with a basic starter pack that includes essential items such as a fresh water carrier, waste water, gas bottle, mains lead, battery, towing mirrors, wheel clamp and hitch lock.
If buying a second hand caravan, it’s important to check over the interior at this stage. Make sure any gas and electrical connections are working. Try out all the inside lights and make sure the sink and shower are working. It’s also best to look for any signs of dampness. Bad smells could be a give away for this kind of problem. And of course open and close all the doors and windows and check everything locks properly.
It’s always best to go through an NCC approved dealer as this could go towards reducing your insurance premium. This is also the best option if you’re new to the world of caravanning. On this scheme, dealerships adhere to a code of practice ensuring that consumers are treated fairly and you’re better protected in terms of consumer rights.
Our top tip here would be to buy local. Stay as close to home as you can when buying your caravan, just in case you have a problem with your new caravan and you have to get it back to the dealership quickly.
Although this does vary, generally the best time to buy a brand new caravan would be the winter months when dealerships are experiencing a lull in sales. This means they could be more willing to cut you a discount and give you a better deal.
During the first few months of the year you could snap up a nice second hand model as dealers will be trying to clear stock before new models arrive. However, spring is the time least recommended to buy new.
Once you’ve purchased your dream caravan it’s important to think about what to do with it next. Where will you keep your caravan when you’re not on the road?
Your caravan will be the most secure in an official storage unit. Keeping it at a safe secure site will also reduce your insurance premiums. We would also recommend investing in a breathable cover to give it some protection from the elements over the winter months.
If you’ve got the space you can of course always keep your caravan on your driveway as an alternative to a storage compound. However, you should probably double check the property deeds or with your local council first to make sure this is allowed.
Here at Riverside we offer safe and secure caravan storage facilities. We have two onsite CCTV monitored compounds both with plenty of space to house caravans and motorhomes comfortably. We also provide a caravan collection and drop off service to save you the hassle of towing. Find out more about all our storage facilities here.
Two Children and Two dogs go free!
During low season 7 nights for the price of 6!
Does not include RV’s
(only caravans, motor homes, cv or tents)
Stay for 4 nights or more during low season £15.00 per night!
Does not include RV’s
(only caravans, motor homes, cv or tents)
Riverside Caravan and Camping Park is open all year round and we have offer pitches from only £10!