More and more Queenslanders are buying caravans.
This means there will be a lot of inexperienced caravanners on our roads over the holiday period.
If you are one of them, be aware of this list of what not to do before hitting the road.
If you are new to caravanning, you should participate in a caravan towing course with a reputable organisation. The trainers will give you great advice on how to stay safe on the road and teach the basic skills of caravanning, such as reversing. This can also be an opportunity to weigh your caravan. Caravans usually have limited carrying capacity (payload), so it can be easy to overload them accidentally. Common modifications and accessories such as additional water tanks, gas cylinders or toolboxes can eat into the carrying capacity and limit how much you can carry. You need to know the weight of your caravan to know whether your tow vehicle is suitable and if you can carry everything you need.
Don’t throw everything in your van and expect that it will travel well. Remember that less is more. An overweight caravan poses a serious safety risk. It can affect braking and place strain on your engine, gearbox, tyres and suspension. Also, make sure items loaded in your caravan are positioned to distribute the combined weight evenly. A badly loaded caravan can cause instability and affect the handling of your vehicle.
All caravanners should have a checklist that needs to be ticked off before hitting the road. After you have hooked up, make sure your van is in order and everything is safely stowed before setting off. It is important this is followed every time and should never be overlooked.
This is a big no-no in for caravanners. Never have your gas on while travelling. It should be a priority on your checklist. Leaking gas can cause an explosion with serious consequences.
Remember to be courteous to other road users when towing your van. If vehicles are stuck behind you, especially trucks, let them pass when it is safe to do so. You may be on holiday, but truck drivers are working and any delays on the road will cost them time and money. Share the road, don’t hog it.
There are a lot of first-time caravanners flooding tourist parks and some are either unaware of or unwilling to observe basic caravan park etiquette. There has traditionally been a lot of respect shown between caravanners and campers with regards to sharing facilities and this unwritten rule should be maintained. Partying at a caravan park until 3am will not go over well with others. Remember to show courtesy on and off the road.
Only use stipulated dump points when disposing of your caravan waste. Dumping toilet waste or grey water in undesignated spots, such as in caravan park sinks and toilets or on the roadside, is unacceptable. This causes a massive cost to caravan park owners and can damage our environment. Most major caravan parks will have dump points, so use them.
If you hear an unusual or unexplained sound coming from your caravan, you need to do something about it straight away. If you ignore those sounds, it could end badly. Firstly, stop and check your wheels, nuts and bearings to make sure everything is okay. If you can’t identify the noise source, then get your caravan checked as soon as possible by a professional.
Plan your journey, so you are not covering too many kilometres in one day. You are on holiday, so take it easy. Make sure you follow the basic road safety recommendation to guard against fatigue and take at least a 15-minute break from driving every two hours. Driving while fatigued remains a significant cause of road accidents and trauma.
It is important to make sure your vehicle and caravan are in top shape before hitting the road. Don’t adopt an “it’ll-be-right” attitude. Get your vehicle serviced as per the manufacturer’s recommendation and get your caravan serviced at least every 12 months. If you go off-road and travel over sandy terrain or through water, your van will need more-frequent servicing.
The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.