Using Equity Release to Keep Enjoying Caravan Life During Retirement


Many look forward to retirement, a time to enjoy the fruits of years of hard work. For caravan enthusiasts, it’s an opportunity to hit the road without time constraints, exploring new landscapes and revisiting favourite spots. However, keeping up with caravan costs—maintenance, insurance, and travel expenses—can concern retirees. That’s where equity release comes into play, offering a financial strategy to support your caravan lifestyle without stressing over money.

What is Equity Release?

Equity release is a way for homeowners over a certain age to access the money tied up in their home without needing to sell it. Think of it as unlocking the value of your home, turning it into cash you can use for anything you like, including sustaining your caravan adventures. There are different types of equity release schemes, but they all aim to give you financial freedom in retirement. For those looking to get into or continue enjoying caravan life, understanding how does equity release work is the first step towards securing extra funds.

Buying or Upgrading Your Caravan with Equity Release

Once you’ve understood how equity release works, you might wonder how it can specifically aid your caravan lifestyle. Whether you dream of buying your first caravan or upgrading to a newer model, equity release can provide the necessary funds. Upkeep, insurance, and travel costs add up, but with equity release, you don’t have to dip into your savings or worry about these expenses.

Using an equity release calculator can be incredibly helpful here. It lets you see how much money you could potentially get from your home’s value. This tool can guide your decision-making process, helping you figure out if you can afford to upgrade to that new caravan model you’ve been eyeing or how much you can allocate for traveling.

Peace of Mind

One of the biggest advantages of using equity release for supporting your caravan lifestyle is the peace of mind it brings. Knowing you have a steady flow of funds to cover all caravan-related costs lets you enjoy your retirement fully. You can set off on long trips without financial worries, maintain your caravan in top condition, and ensure it’s always insured and ready to go.

Considerations

Before jumping into equity release, getting all the facts is crucial. Understand the terms and how it affects your estate, and consult with a financial advisor to ensure it’s the right move for you. Remember, the goal is to enhance your retirement years, especially your time spent caravaning.

Wrapping Up

Retirement should be about enjoying life; for caravan enthusiasts, that means being on the road, exploring and making memories. Equity release presents a viable option to support this lifestyle, offering financial flexibility when you need it most. With the right planning and advice, you can ensure your caravan adventures continue well into retirement, funded by the home you’ve worked so hard for.



Can You Caravan With a Cat?


Caravan holidays have become more popular over the last couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the constantly changing travel rules and regulations. Many people feel it is worth saving money and effort by hiring or buying a caravan and exploring what the UK has to offer. Although it may seem odd, as a result, there has been an increasing number of people taking their cats on holiday with them in the caravan.

Why do we say this may seem odd? Well, traditionally, although cats and dogs are both highly domesticated animals, cats always seem more free-spirited. It’s not really surprising that some people may be curious about the logistics. Perhaps you are a cat owner who is either interested in buying or renting a caravan or already owns one and asking the question posed in the title of this post.

Well, the short answer would be yes, you can, as there are many examples in forums online and on actual caravan sites of people taking their cats with them. Given the differences between cats and dogs, though, there are several important things you need to consider before heading on the road with your favourite feline family member.

Your Cat’s Personality and Temperament

The first thing you really need to think about is whether your cat will enjoy coming on holiday with you in the first place. Cats can be incredibly territorial and often prefer to stay close to what they consider their home turf. If your cat does not really go from one place to the next with you and spends a lot of time around the house, barely going out at all, then it may not be in the cat’s interest to take him or her along for the trip.

Even if your cat is not completely housebound, it still may create problems that could easily be avoided if you took them on holiday with you.

However, if your cat likes to follow you and is more attached to family members than your house and property, and you feel they would be missing you too much while you are away, it might be best to take him or her on holiday.

Safety Precautions

When taking any pets on holiday, even dogs with great recall skills, you should always have safety precautions in place. First and foremost, the last thing you would want on holiday is for your cat to go missing or to get lost or even stolen. Therefore, it is probably best to, if you haven’t already, invest in a collar and leash for your feline friend.

That way, like you, would with a dog, you can safely take your cat out with you wherever you go and know they are not going to run away, get lost or get into other trouble.

You should also make sure they are microchipped, and your contact details are kept up to date, just in case your cat does get loose and lost.

For the journeys during your trip, it is important to make sure your cat is safe in the car. There are rules and regulations about travelling with animals, so make sure you are aware of them. Many cat owners use harnesses that connect up to the seatbelt, if possible. Others use travel boxes and cages. It is best to try and familiarise your cat with whatever option you decide before taking long trips, so you can make sure they are going to be comfortable and will not get stressed or even frightened.

Another hugely important safety precaution you need to take is that if you intend on leaving your cat in the caravan while you go on a day trip or go out somewhere and can’t take them, that you make sure they can’t overheat. This is especially a problem during the summer as caravans do not offer the best levels of ventilation. It may be that you need to leave a couple of windows opened just a crack, or something similar.

Making Sure Your Cat is Comfortable

While ensuring your cat is safe is crucial, you also want to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be when you are on the road and living in a caravan. In the same way that human members of the family like to have home comforts that make caravanning a more pleasant and pleasurable experience, cats are just the same. Make sure you take some of your cat’s favourite toys, a bed they love and at least one scratching post along with their regular food and regular litter tray.

The more your cat feels at home in your caravan, the better their holiday experience will be.

Check the Rules of Sites and Parks

If you are caravanning off the beaten track, you don’t need to worry about the rules or being contentious to others. However, if you intend on visiting different caravan sites and parks that are managed, you should make sure they welcome pets.

Even in places where they do, you should be a good neighbour to others holidaying in the same place and be aware that not everyone loves pets, and some people have allergies. While we are not suggesting you curtail your cat’s freedom, we are suggesting you exercise caution.

If your cat loves to hunt for wildlife, you also need to be aware of any rules and restrictions that may be in place wherever you are holidaying. There are some rare species that you are not allowed to hunt and as your cat is hardly likely to know the difference, to avoid getting into trouble and facing severe fines or worse, it would be best to keep your cat on a tighter leash and more closely monitored in those situations.

Summary

So, there you have its folks. If you ever wondered whether you could take a cat on holiday with you in a caravan or not, yes you can. In theory, that is. The biggest takeaway we can offer from carrying out the research into this post is that it very much depends on your cat and its personality. Some cats don’t like being taken from their home and it distresses them. Remember, the cat’s health, both physically and mentally, should be taken into consideration ahead of what’s right for the family.

If your cat is fine with travelling and walks in your shadows at all times, as long as you take the safety precautions outlined above and make the trip and your caravan as comfortable and fun a place for your cat to stay, there is no reason why you can’t make it work.



Can You Take a Caravan to the Scilly Isles?


One of the joys of owning a caravan in the UK is that you have the whole of this fair and beautiful country to travel around and explore. You can go wherever you like, whenever you like – within reason. You don’t necessarily need to wait to book accommodation, because you have it with you attached to your car.

If you want to travel up North to the Yorkshire Dales or the Lake District or further northwards into Scotland or go down south to explore Cornwall, Devon or somewhere completely different, there really is nothing to stop you.

Speaking of Cornwall, though, there is one place unfortunately you will not be able to visit with a caravan unless you book a static caravan on one of the islands.

Why Can’t You Visit the Scilly Isles With a Caravan?

The Scilly Isles is one of the only places in the country that you can’t travel to with a caravan. Why, though? There are several reasons. First and foremost, the individual islands that make up the Scilly Isles are all relatively small. Secondly, to reach any of the islands you need to travel by ferry and if you are allowed to, and it is a big if, take a vehicle onto one of the islands it needs to be hoisted off the ferry with a crane and is very expensive. Normally this is reserved for residents only.

There is also the small matter of there not being much in the way of parking spaces and although there are vehicles used on the islands, you are expected to get around either by taxi, bus, bike, or foot. Boats are obviously used to travel from one island to the next.

How You Can Have a Caravan Holiday on the Scilly Isles

Does that mean you can’t have any kind of caravan holiday on the Scilly Isles? Not at all. There are many camping and caravan parks around the islands, that you can stay at. However, you will have to stay at one of the caravans or other forms of accommodation at the actual parks, rather than bringing your own.

Summary

There is no doubt about it – holidaying in the Scilly Isles will offer you a memorable experience. After all, it’s not one of the most popular holiday destinations for nothing. There is no point in trying to take a car or caravan. Not 0only is it not allowed, but it’s simply not worth it. Even the biggest of the Scilly Isles, St Mary’s, is not particularly big and can easily be travelled around by foot, bus, or taxi. These are also the best ways to take in all the beautiful views, sights and sounds of these idyllic islands that sit to the south of the country.

If you really wanted a caravan holiday and to take in the delights of the Isles of Scilly, it is best to take a caravan holiday in Cornwall and then use that as a base for further adventures without your caravan on the islands.



Do Caravans Have Logbooks?


When you own and operate vehicles like cars and vans, that represent a considerable investment, it is important to have legal documentation that shows you are the owner. Just as you would have the legal documentation such as the title deeds that show you own your house or flat, you will have what is known as either a V5, V5C or vehicle logbook for your car or van.

Given how expensive even second-hand caravans can be, it would seem only fair to assume that there is some kind of documentation that is proof of legal ownership of touring vehicles. However, at the moment at the very least, there is no such thing as caravan logbooks.

Why Are Caravan Logbooks Not a Thing?

The logbook or V5 you have with your car is the documentation that legally registers the vehicle in your name with the DVLA as proof that you own it. This is a form of documentation, however, is only used for vehicles you actually drive. Caravans, therefore, as they are considered to be nothing more than trailers, cannot be registered with the DVLA.

The interesting thing is that most countries in continental Europe take a different approach and have similar legal documentation for cars, vans and other drivable vehicles and touring vehicles like caravans.

What Else Can You Do to Prove Ownership?

Well, except for property and vehicles, the only real way you can prove ownership of high-value items like televisions, computers and sofas etc. is with paperwork like receipts and insurance details. If the caravan you own or are thinking about buying is made in Britain, you can register through CRIS.

What is CRiS and Why is it a Good Idea to Get Your Caravan CRiS Registered?

CRiS stands for Caravan Registration and Identification Scheme and was set up by The National Caravan Council in 1992. The purpose of the CRiS was to have a record of all keeper details for all tourers manufactured by British companies that are members of the NCC to help with the detection and prevention of crimes involving caravans.

Is CRiS Registration Compulsory?

No, it is not compulsory to have your caravan registered through CRiS. That is why when you are looking at used caravans, you may find that new owners have not registered the tourer in their name. It is still something you should consider as the Scheme and the police work closely together. In fact, any caravan that is reported stolen or that has been involved in a major road accident is recorded by the scheme.

So, when buying a used caravan it is a good idea to check if it is CRiS registered and if the details match up with the person selling. If it doesn’t and it ever is reported stolen and the police find it, it will be seized from you and you will get nothing for your trouble.

It is, therefore, equally important that you make sure you register your caravan with the CRiS as soon as possible.



Does Towing A Caravan Damage Your Car?


Even if you are not the most clued up car owner, you undoubtedly understand that the more you load into your car, the greater pressure there is on your car. Not just the chassis, but the engine, transmission and tyres need to be taken into consideration. You may reason that if you frequently tow a caravan, it will eventually have an impact on important components and the roadworthiness of your vehicle.

While you are not wrong for thinking it can and will often have an impact, there is no reason why you can’t tow your caravan as often as you want. To help you understand why you don’t need to worry too much and the times when you should start to worry, we are going to discuss this subject further in the following post.

Why You Don’t Need to Worry

Remember, car manufacturers, provide detailed information about the size and weight of caravans that vehicles can tow. That is not just a best-case scenario – it is something your car will be able to do all the time.

If you are a contentious car owner and do not try to tow a caravan that exceeds the recommended weight and size for your towing car, and you regularly maintain your car, it should be fine. That means changing the oil and keeping it topped up, keeping the water topped up, having your car serviced and components like the transmission, gearbox and suspension regularly checked.

When You Need to Worry

The only time you need to worry about whether your car is going to be able to be okay with repeatedly towing a caravan is if you do anything contrary to the above.

If you exceed the recommended caravan weight and size that your car should tow you will put unnecessary pressure on the engine, suspension, and tyres and it can also be incredibly dangerous.

If you don’t have the oil changed and topped up regularly, the engine will not function properly as it will not have the correct amount of lubricant to make sure all the moving parts move smoothly and effortlessly. This creates friction and eventually, the parts of the engine will wear out.

This is something you need to think of when you own and use a car, regardless of whether you use it to tow a caravan regularly or not. As the issues above can occur even without the involvement of a caravan.

Summary

So, if you are concerned about whether or not you can tow your caravan regularly, as long as you are maintaining the vehicle and only attempting to tow a caravan that is of the recommended size and weight, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

We would not suggest that you completely forget about it, though. It’s just not something that should stop you from making the most of your caravan. There are many hundreds and thousands of people out there who either spend most of their life on the road or frequently take holidays and short breaks with their caravan and don’t need to repair or replace their car regularly.



What Paint Can I Use to Paint the Inside of a Caravan?


Whether it’s because you have had your caravan for some time now or have bought a fixer-upper, it may be time to do some decorating. Especially if the walls are starting to look a bit drab and patchy and the furnishings like the cupboards are looking outdated.

With many different types of paint on the market these days, you may be wondering, justifiably, what is the best paint to use on the interior and furnishings like the cupboards of your caravan. The good news is that you have come to the right place because, in the following post, that is what we are going to discuss.

Can You Paint the Interior of a Caravan?

This is a very important question to get the answer to because caravans, although designed to look similar to a house, do not have quite the same structure. The good news is that as long as you are careful with it being a smaller and more confined space and ventilate when you do it, there is no reason why you can’t paint the interior of your caravan as you would the exterior.

One point of caution would be that if there are any damages to the interior of your caravan or signs of dampness, you need to deal with those first before putting any layers of paint on the walls.

What Types of Paint Can Be Used On the Inside of a Caravan?

It is important to know more about what types of paints are out there as this will help you pick the right one for your caravan. Below you will find details of the most common types of paint available and also hints to what kind of applications they can be used for.

Silicate or Mineral Paint

Silicate and mineral paint is made from inorganic colouring pigments, natural minerals, and liquid potassium silicate. It is waterproof and very breathable and therefore a great choice for painting walls that have humidity issues.

Varnishes

There are some varnishes that you can use as an alternative to paint when decorating the walls in your caravan. You will find, though, when you are picking out varnishes that there are different types. The thing that separates one varnish from another is the solvent, which can be turpentine, thinner, oil or water.

Although normally associated with declaring wooden surfaces, varnishes, when they are mixed with dyes can be used for walls.

Acrylic Enamel Paint

As the name suggests, this type of paint is made with different coloured pigments and acrylic resins. It is popular because it does not have an odour and provides a clean application, which makes it ideal for use in rooms that have poor ventilation.

Synthetic Enamel Paint

Made from solvent-based synthetic resins, this kind of paint is available with satin, gloss and matte finishes and is a great choice for several different surfaces, such as metal, wood, and walls.

Plastic Paint

Often referred to as latex paint, this is used to decorate the interior walls of your caravan. Within the category of plastic paints, there are two different kinds, acrylic and vinyl. As it is water-washable, adhesion, and moisture-resistant, acrylic is a great choice for both indoor and outdoor applications that offer high-quality finishes and dries quickly.

In comparison, vinyl plastic paint is best for ceilings and walls in dry environments only. It can be applied easily and will not require too many layers for the best finish.

Different Decorative Techniques Used for Painting Your Caravan Walls

Now that we have discussed the various types of paint you can use and when it is best to do so, we can now look at the different decorative techniques suitable for caravan walls.

Mopping Technique

The mopping technique is a type of painting that involves applying it to the caravan wall with a brush first and then spreading it across the wall with a crumpled piece of cloth.

Sponged Effect

Best suited for smaller sized rooms, as indicated by the name this technique involves using a sponge to apply paint using gentle strokes.

Fabric Effect

For the fabric painting effect, you need to use a brush with fine bristles.

Atmosphere and Florentine Technique

Both the atmosphere and Florentine technique of painting is very similar, and it involves a base with white resins and a background colour that contrasts them.

Venetian Painting

An interesting technique, Venetian painting involves synthetic compounds mixed with marble dust, lime, and pigments. Ideally, you should use a spatula for this technique and the more layers you can create, the better the end result will be.

Summary

So, if you are planning on giving your caravan a makeover, either because it desperately needs it or because you want a change, you can paint the walls and cupboards on the interior. Just make sure you deal with any structural damage or problems like dampness before you start and follow the same safety precautions and preparations you would with other painting jobs.

Then you will be able to enjoy holidaying in a caravan that feels like it was brand-new.



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Motorhome Habitation Checks


If you have spent any time in the motorhome market, looking at the available vehicles, you will know only too well yourself that they constitute a considerable investment. That’s likely what’s brought you to this particular page because you want to ensure the model you put all that money into will hold its value while offering comfort, luxury and safety to you and fellow travellers.

Understanding How Motorhome Maintenance is Categorised

A huge part of motorhome maintenance is obviously the servicing side of things. Within the industry, you must understand that when motorhomes are services, they are considered two different parts. There is the front part or end of the motorhome that includes the chassis and engine bay and the back part or end that includes the living area and main body of the tourer.

For this post, though, we are going to focus on what is involved in habitation checks on motorhome back ends, not front ends.

As we know a lot of you will be keen DIYers and owners simply looking to save a bit of money, having spent a lot on the vehicle in the first place, we will look at whether you should take care of the habitation checks yourself or have them done professionally.

What are the Most Common Habitation Checks?

First things first, before we go any further, especially if you are new to motorhome ownership and indeed maintenance and servicing, you will probably want to know what checks are most commonly involved in habitation checks.

Although it really depends on the make and model, the main checks that should be done are as follows:

  • Gas System Checks – this is one of the checks we would recommend that you do not solely handle yourself as a DIYer, due to the dangers surrounding gas supplies and equipment,. It will also help ensure that your motorhome is safe and follows gas regulations. These checks involve looking for gas leaks and whether the gas regulator onboard can maintain adequate flow and pressure. When arranging it, you should make sure the technician is going to remove the fridge vents if you have a three-way fridge, as the gas burner needs to be serviced too.
  • Electrical Checks – these checks involve testing both 230-volts and 12-volts electrical systems to ensure they are working properly and are suitably earthed. It should also include inspection and testing your vehicle’s leisure battery.
  • Internal Damp Checks – As dampness is a real problem in touring vehicles, these checks are designed to ascertain whether or not water ingress is an issue for your motorhome that may need to be inspected further and repaired. It involves the use of moisture or damp meter.
  • Motorhome Bodywork Inspections – self-explanatory really, but these checks involve looking closely at any damaged seals and cracked panels in the bodywork that could lead to potential water ingress and leaks.

Before we get to the meat of this post, it’s also important to consider two things when it comes to the decision of whether you should rely on professional or DIY habitation checks. Those two things are:

  • Motorhome Warranty
  • Motorhome Residual Value

What You Need to Know About Motorhome Warranties and Habitation Checks

If you have a new motorhome and a good value motorhome warranty from the manufacturer, you are often protected against water ingress and dampness. Which is a good thing. The crucial thing you need to note though is that the warranty comes with the strict condition that you have your tourer inspected annually by a fully qualified engineer with a certificate or some kind of official written evidence to make sure you do not void your warranty.

Therefore, if you are still within the warranty period for your motorhome and it is part of the conditions, you should have a professional run the water ingress habitation checks, at the very least.

What You Need to Know About Motorhome Residual Values and Habitation Checks

You need to think about whether or not you are looking to achieve the highest and best residual value when deciding if professional or DIY habitation checks are right for your motorhome. What is meant by residual value? The term basically means its potential value when you come to sell it in the future.

One way to look at this is how important it is for you when investing in a used motorhome how important it is that it has had professional habitation checks when deciding whether it’s good value for money or not. Likely you will agree you would not be satisfied knowing the owner had just run their own tests.

However, it’s also crucial to note that how much the value of your motorhome would be improved by having a professional habitation check depends on various factors. One of those, for example, is the motorhome’s perceived quality. Motorhomes manufactured by a company like Hymer appear to keep their strong residual value even if there is no record of annual professional habitation checks.

Now, to help you decide which is best for you, we are going to discuss both professional habitation checks and DIY options.

Professional Habitation Checks

Mobile Technician or Service Centre?

When it comes to getting a professional to perform your motorhome habitation checks, whether you want the works or just to have the electrics and gas systems checked over, there are two main options open to you. You can either call out a mobile technician or you can take your tourer along to a specialist motorhome and caravan service centre. One of the main contributing factors as to whether a mobile engineer or technician would be a suitable option is where your motorhome is kept when it is not in use.

Is it in storage or is it kept on your property? This is vital information because mobile technicians and engineers normally require at least 1-metres of free space around the entirety of your motorhome to carry out their checks and often need access to a mains water and 230-volts supply.

Generally speaking, at the time of publishing, the average cost of professional motorhome habitation checks starts from around £200. The total cost for your own vehicle will depend on how comprehensive the checks are out with the gas, electrical, damp and bodywork inspections that are carried out as a basic. For instance, solar panels are not included in a standard habitation check.

It may also be that you need a specialist to take care of any air conditioner or fridge checks.

A word of caution when looking at the price – be wary of any company or individual that offers you a quote that is considerably less than £200. Cheap doesn’t mean better and it probably means it is not nearly as comprehensive.

Full motorhome habitation checks should take roughly 3 hours and consist of more than 50 different individual checks. With that in mind, therefore, it is always a good idea to make sure you ask what is actually included in their services.

DIY Habitation Checks

Although we may be inclined to think that professional habitation checks are better in the long run, in the interest of being fair and balanced we are now going to discuss taking the DIY route. Perhaps you have owned the motorhome for a while now and it’s beyond its warranty period and you feel confident enough in your abilities.

What is a good approach? We have included some tips and suggestions to help you out.

Invest in a Good Quality Moisture/Damp Meter

This is one of those purchases you will never regret. When you have your own moisture/damp meter you have the chance to regularly check the interior surfaces of your touring vehicle for any signs of the dreaded damp. With simpler models, you may need to contact a mobile technician if you believe there is a real issue, however, with higher-spec models, you can actually identify with accuracy if there is a dampness problem developing.

As you can imagine, when it comes to dampness and the chance of mould, the quicker you identify whether there’s a problem or not and do something about it, the easier and less expensive the repairs will actually be.

Bodywork Inspections During Cleaning

If you are serious about doing the majority of the habitation checks yourself, when you are cleaning is the best time to look at the motorhome seals and bodywork for any signs of damage. Mobile technicians can only identify areas where there is potential for water ingress problems.

By regularly washing your motorhome, you have a better chance to see first-hand if the seals and bodywork are holding up or has cracks or gaps and is allowing leaks into your tourer.

Remember to Test the Carbon Monoxide Alarm Battery

Okay, so we have stressed how vital we feel it is that you hire a professional at least to run the gas system habitation checks, there is one task you can do that will help, that is often disregarded and forgotten about by motorhome owners. What are we talking about?

Checking and testing the battery in your motorhome carbon monoxide alarm. If you have any form of the gas system in your touring vehicle, you should have a carbon monoxide alarm. Even more crucial is the fact that you should not just wait for your scheduled annual checks to test it, you should check any time you are in the motorhome and especially if you are travelling in it.

Invest in a supply of spare batteries for it, to make sure you can quickly replace them when they run out.

Summary

So, now that we have discussed both options, which is best for you? Really, you need to rely on a little bit of self-evaluation, and you need to be honest with yourself before you consider taking on the task of doing habitation checks yourself.

Are you confident enough in your DIY skills? Do you know the ins and outs of what you need to look for, how parts, components, systems, and equipment on your motorhome should work and how to identify faults?

If you have any doubts about your abilities, although it may annoy you, it may be a good idea to go down the professional route. The last thing you want is your stubborn commitment to trying to save some money and do it yourself to lead to an accident.

However, if you are fully confident in your skills and abilities, the residual value does not bother you and you are out with the warranty period, you should go for it. As the owner, user, and driver, if you tick all those boxes, you really are the one that knows your motorhome better than anyone.

We hope you find this guide and post informative and helpful. If you did, you may be interested in the many other posts we have published here on Caravan Helper – check them out!



How to Load a Motorhome Safely


There is something of a gap in understanding and awareness when it comes to payloads and correctly and safely loading tourers when you compare caravan owners and motorhome owners. With regards to caravans, when the nose weight is either too low or too high, the consequences are very obvious, because the caravan pitches down or up while you are towing, and snaking can happen as a result too.

When motorhomes are overloaded or the weight hasn’t been properly distributed across the vehicle, the consequences are not as easy to spot right away because the weight is spread across a much larger area and wheels are in each corner.

However, it should not be disregarded, because driving a motorhome that is not loaded correctly or overloaded can be illegal, and even if it isn’t, it may invalidate your insurance policy and could cause problems with handling and braking.

A Problematic Misconception

The reason so many motorhome owners make mistakes is because of a problematic misconception when it comes to the differences in payloads between motorhomes and caravans. Take the example of caravans. Now, there is usually a difference in payload allowance for caravans that have single and twin axles. However, it is most commonly around the 150kg mark.

With regards to campervans and motorhomes, however, the payload is generally a lot higher. Think 1000s instead of 100s of kilos. Thanks to this, many motorhome owners possibly have a false belief that the belongings they take along are never going to max out such a high weight allowance.

As you will see from the following post, as we look at the subject of payload allowances and loading motorhomes safely, this is simply not the case.

Understanding the Difference Between Caravans and Motorhomes

One of the biggest differences between caravans and motorhomes, from a payload allowance point of view, is what is often referred to as the rear garage in its layout. Although caravans have a rear locker that extends right across the caravan’s rear, and they are useful for storing long items like awnings, poles, and leisure equipment like skis etc, they do not really fit the bill of a garage.

Motorhomes, on the other hand, have a much higher storage locker that sits behind the vehicle’s rear axle, which is normally referred to as the garage. Most motorhome owners use this garage to store leisure vehicles like mopeds, scooters, and bikes.

Some motorhomes also have a bike rack that is fitted at the rear of the vehicle. This can lead to what is known as the “overhanging problem” as that weight is actually behind the vehicle’s rear axle, which means it is multiplied.

Understanding Motorhome Weight Plates and Payloads

Before you can actually start loading the motorhome and doing it safely, it makes sense that you need to know what its actual weight limit is. To find that information out, you need to locate, read, and fully understand what the weight plate says about your vehicle. The weight plate features crucial information about the limits you need to remain within to stay legal while driving and maintaining your vehicle insurance and warranty.

Two crucial terms and measurements you need to understand about your motorhome are normally included on the weight plate and those are MTPLM and MIRO.

Without deviating too much, we’ll briefly explain what each of these measurements means.

  • MIRO – MIRO stands for Mass In Running Order and refers to the weight of the touring vehicle without any payload.
  • MTPLM – MTPLM stands for the Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass and refers to the total amount a motorhome can weigh to be roadworthy and fully legal. The easiest way to think of it is – MIRO + Payload = MTPLM.

A common misconception that is not always true in every motorhome’s case is that the larger the touring vehicle, the larger its payload capacity. For example with a panel van conversion motorhome, you can actually have a bigger payload capacity than a coach-built vehicle that is the exact same size.

Why is that? Panel van conversions use commercial chassis, while coachbuilder vehicles use lightweight AL-KO chassis.

What is Your Real Remaining Payload Capacity?

If you have got this far in this guide, you will have worked out a weight for your payload capacity. Before you start planning trips and loading your tourer, you need to grind to a halt, because while you are in a better position than you were when you first started reading this post, you are still only part of the way there.

That number you have in mind is merely a starting point. You next need to look at your vehicle and figure out what else is eating into that payload. For example, if you have an air conditioning unit, satellite dish or solar panels, they will have to be subtracted from the payload capacity.

It doesn’t stop there, as you need to discount the weight of the gas bottles you are taking along on trips too. Although it may not seem it, gas bottles can really have a huge impact on your payload allowance, particularly if they are steel canisters.

Weighing Your Motorhome and Personal Belongings

Ideally, when you know the real remaining payload capacity you have for your motorhome, it is a good idea to weigh everything you intend on taking with you as you load it onto your tourer. This will help you determine whether or not you are within the payload allowance.

There are two ways you can weigh everything you plan on taking and the vehicle itself and that is by either using portable weigh scales or a public weighbridge.

The latter is highly recommended, though, as it will provide you with the most accurate figures. At Caravan Helper, we suggest you use both because when you use portable weight scales to weigh all your belongings you can reduce the number of trips you may need to make to the nearest weighbridge.

Upgrades that Can Help Increase Your Payload Allowance

In some situations, if the work can be carried out on your vehicle and you need a bigger payload allowance, you can have certain upgrades made. One is referred to as up plating your motorhome weight plate. You will actually find that a lot of commercially available motorhomes have been down plated before they have been sold to 3,500kg, to make it possible for more people to feel comfortable and safe driving them.

In addition to having your motorhome up plated, it is a good idea to have the suspension on your motorhome assessed.

What About the Overhang Issue That I Keep Hearing About?

You are right to be concerned about the problem of overhang with your motorhome, but how serious this issue is and whether you have an issue at all depends on how long the overhang is past the vehicle’s rear axle and if your vehicle has a rear garage and what you are going to store in it. That’s not to say if you don’t have a rear garage you won’t have any overhang issues.

For example, if you install a scooter or bike rack onto your motorhome, there is potential for an even more serious and extreme overhang issue than simply having a slightly overloaded rear garage. This is because the scooter or bike rack is even further from the pivot point of the rear axle.

Another potential issue may arise if you intend on towing with your motorhome, as towing a trailer or something else will increase the weight that the motorhome rear has to deal with.

More About the Issue of Overhangs

Overhangs relate to leverage and pivot points. Basically, as we alluded to earlier, the pivot point on your motorhome is the rear axle. The leverage your motorhome has comes down to overhang length that stretches past the rear axle. To put it another way, the distance from your motorhome’s rear to its rear wheels.

When there is greater force weight applied past the rear axle, there is less load placed onto the front axle. This means the front wheels may have less traction, which is important to consider as they play important roles in both steering and braking.

Now For the Science Bit

We’re sorry, but if you are serious about working out the precise payload allowance and want to avoid overhangs, you need to get to grips with some number crunching. Firstly, you need to measure the distance between the wheelbases, both the front and rear axles. You also need to work out the distance between the overhang and the rear axle, as this is the point where the additional weight pressure will be placed.

It’s also important to remember that if you have a scooter or bike rack installed, you need to take the measurement from the back of the rack, not just the motorhome’s back surface.

The following formulas will help you determine whether you have an overhanging issue on your motorhome or not. Bear in mind that when W is mentioned this refers to the wheelbase length and the O refers to the length of the overhang.

The first calculation will give you the new front axle load or new F for short.

F – ((Lx(o/W))

Once you have that number, you can then figure out the new rear axle load, remembering that includes the scooter or bike rack weight.

The New R is worked out by R + L + F (F – New F)

You then need to check whether that number falls within the legal maximum weight for your motorhome rear axle and will then know with great accuracy whether you will have any overhang issue and how serious it will be.

Summary

The main goal of publishing this post was to draw your attention to the fact that the motorhome overhang issue is a very real thing and something that many overlook and disregard. This is important to keep in mind when you are loading your motorhome if you want to do it safely and legally.

Simply weighing your belongings and using the weight plate for reference only gives you one part of the whole picture. We hope this guide helps you to work with the right numbers and stay safe and legal when you are loading your motorhome and heading out on the road.



Caravan Tyre Savers


There are a lot of areas of caravan maintenance and safety you need to be aware of when investing in and using a caravan. One of the most crucial, though, is caravan tyre safety. Why? Simply put, the tyres on a caravan are the only part of the touring vehicle that have any contact with the road. That means that being able to steer, accelerate, brake and corner successfully and crucially, safely, depends on an incredibly small area of road contact, when you consider how big a caravan is compared to its tyres.

One piece of equipment that you may have come across or read about is caravan tyre savers. If you are completely new to caravan tyre savers or want more information about them, you’ve come to the right place. In the following post, we are going to explain exactly what caravan tyre savers are, when you should be using them and how much they can actually save the tyres on your tourer. We will then look at some of the most popular tyre savers on the market and discuss alternatives that some caravanners use instead.

What Are Caravan Tyre Savers?

Although to the untrained eye, caravan tyre savers resemble levelling ramps. While they are very similar, tyre savers differ in that they have a curved surface rather than a flat surface. How do they help?

Well, this is the interesting part. It all has to do with flat spots on tyres and reducing the risk of blowouts while you are out on the road.

What is Ovalization or Caravan Tyre Flat Spots Caused By?

It’s fair to say that for the majority of the time, caravans actually sit idle. That means that all their weight pushes down against a surface area on the tyre that is in contact with the ground that is not quite as big as it should be. The longer your caravan remains in that stationary position, the greater the chance of the rubber of the tyres will develop serious flat spots. This issue is often referred to by the other name of ovalization.

Older tyres are more likely to develop flat spots as their rubber is a lot less elastic. As you may expect, the heavier your caravan is, the greater the chance of flat spots developing. The type of caravan that is most at risk is a heavy model built on top of a single axle because twin-axle caravans spread the load across four tyres instead of just two.

How Caravan Tyre Savers Actually Help

As we touched on earlier in this post, the design of tyre savers – that curved profile – helps to spread out the pressure on a tyre across a larger area. With that larger area to take the load, flat spots are less likely. All things are relative, though, because any caravan that is left sitting idle for a considerable length of time may still result in misshapen tyres. A sensible solution to this, especially when you are not going to hit the road for several months, during winter, for example, would be to rotate your caravan tyres many times.

What About Wheel Removal as an Alternative?

Some caravan users prefer to take a more drastic approach and rather than use tyre savers, they jack the caravan up and remove the wheels and sit them on axle stands. While it is true that this option will stop the tyres from developing flat spots, it may cause additional problems. For example, many caravan insurance providers have the rule written into the details of their policy that wheel locks should be fitted to help prevent theft. Which would mean if you removed the wheels when your caravan was in storage you could invalidate your insurance.

It may simply be impractical, at other times of the year, to remove your caravan’s wheels whenever it is not being used.

How About Using Levelling Ramps With Caravan Tyre Savers?

When you are staying at a caravan site or a seasonal pitch for a long time, it is a good idea to consider tyre savers. But, what if the site is not perfectly level? How can you make sure your caravan sits level while protecting the tyres using savers?

Most levelling ramps are not compatible with most tyre savers. An exception is Milenco’s tyre savers, which can be used with Milenco Stacka Wedges that can be linked together to create a levelling ramp. Although, based on reviews and user experiences, it would seem that unless you are levelling your caravan on a hardstanding pitch, it would be difficult to use this approach.

Other Caravan Tyre Savers Alternatives

When you are looking to level your tourer while protecting its tyres at the same time, you may wonder if there are any suitable alternatives. One option would be to use a hydraulic self-levelling setup, but for most people, that is going to be far too expensive. Another, more affordable alternative, could be the Lock-n-Level inflatable airbags.

This approach was devised to solve an all-too-common problem. That is that many insurers state that you need to fit just an AL-KO wheel lock and nothing else. Trying to level a caravan and aligning the lock can be tricky using a levelling ramp.

When you use the airbag approach, however, there is a larger contact point, and there is also better load distribution onto the tyre than just using plastic tyre savers.

Summary

At the end of the day, it is up to you, based on your preference, budget, and other factors, which way you choose to proceed. It’s worth noting that using tyre savers does not mean you can totally forget standard caravan tyres best practices. You need to make sure you still change the tyres regularly – ideally every five years, and you should know the tyre pressures for your caravan’s wheels and use a high quality 1000PSI-rated tyre gauge to make sure they have the correct pressures.

You may find that your insurer provides discounts if you employ some kind of tyre pressure monitoring system to ensure your tyres are always inflated with the right air pressure. Above all else, when your caravan is in storage or sitting idle for months and months, caravan tyre savers are a good idea, but you should still rotate the tyres too.

We hope this look at caravan tyre savers helps to answer any questions and queries you may have had and provides you with some tips and recommendations for caravan tyre care.



Best Small Caravans


Although it is not uncommon for caravan owners to look for the biggest tourer they can afford, so that they can benefit from the maximum living and storage space available, there has been a growing trend for small caravans.

There are a variety of reasons why you may opt for a small caravan over a more luxurious and larger model. For instance, it may be that you do not have the available funds to afford a large and spacious model, it may be that you don’t have the space on your property or a caravan storage site close enough or simply want a compact caravan because it will allow you to plan and take the kind of trips you want to go to that includes places where larger models can’t.

Perhaps, from a more practical side of things, it’s based on the fact that you only have a small towing vehicle.

Whatever the reason why you find yourself on the small caravan market, you may be more than a little surprised at just how many different models and options are available. While it can be great to have a wide variety to choose from, it can also make the whole experience more of a headache and stressful.

That is why the team here at Caravan Helper have put this post together, to discuss the best small caravans available. Although we have not singled out just one caravan make or model, our list would be a great starting point for your search, coupled with the useful buying guide we have included that discusses some of the crucial things you need to consider when choosing a small tourer.

A Small Word on What Small Means

It’s vital to note that when it comes to looking at small caravans, the word small can be very subjective. Many companies produce so-called small caravans that have not made it onto this list because they are not really what we would consider, in the modern sense, small. Other descriptive words used by manufacturers to describe their small caravans includes compact, micro, and mini.

Don’t expect, for example, any caravans that have twin-axle builds. However, there is also no need to think of small caravans as just being a small bedroom with nothing more to offer either. We have also chosen to omit teardrop caravans from the list. Although they are obviously one of the smallest types of caravans available, we wanted to showcase small tourers that resembled the more conventional, larger designs.

Best Small Caravans Manufacturers and Models

To help you on your search for the right small caravan for you, we are now going to discuss some of the best small caravan manufacturers and their models. Please note that this list is not in any particular order, and at the time this post was published, the information was correct.

Bailey Discovery Small Caravan Range

Bailey is the oldest caravan manufacturer in Britain, having been established by Martin Bailey when he designed the company’s first tourer in his garage in South Bristol. It makes sense, therefore, that they would have options for people looking to buy smaller caravans – their Discovery range.

You need to be aware when looking at Bailey Discovery’s caravans that compared to other small caravans on the market and featured in this list, they are actually larger. The 2-berth version of the D4-2 is the smallest they currently produce.

Another thing that makes Bailey’s options different from many on the market, is the manufacturer’s decision to stick with a side door, rather than the more commonly used rear door layout. Bailey is clearly targeting the more adventurous caravanners with this range because although there is very little space inside the tourer for bikes, you can choose the extended A-frame that includes a bike rack. Another unique feature is the airframe awing.

If hygiene is very important to you and not something you can really compromise on, the Bailey Discovery D4-2 is perhaps your best option as it has the biggest washroom with a shower and toilet.

Swift Basecamp

Another hugely popular manufacturer, Swift, have their own addition to the small caravan section of the market with the Basecamp. Although it has a very conventional layout, the company have opted for a rear door arrangement. This makes it more practical and better when it comes to storing bikes and equipment like hiking poles, skis and other things adventurous folk may take along on their trip. The name Basecamp itself hints at the target audience of these smart little tourers.

If you do any research on the Basecamp beyond this guide, you will find that it has won numerous awards over the years, largely due to its price and its build quality. As Swift are one of the largest manufacturers of caravans in the UK, it is easy enough to get parts and service them.

Adria Action 316LT

Another small caravan that has the conventional side door arrangement, the Action 316LT is a smart little caravan produced by the Slovenian manufacturer Adria. It also has a more traditional fixed panel construction – something that a lot of small caravans don’t have. A notable feature is a full washroom that includes a shower and toilet and the fact that Adria has a sterling reputation for building high-quality lightweight tourers.

One of the main downsides about this, which may or may not be a problem for you, is the position of the fridge. It is installed up quite high and the latch to open the door is very close to the ceiling. It may seem like a minor thing to have gripes about, but when you consider the price, you want to make sure you are getting the best value possible and if you are constantly bashing your hand while trying to access the fridge, it might not be worth it.

Caravelair Caravans

Caravelair Caravans are a successful French company that has an excellent reputation for manufacturing reliable and great quality full-size caravans and have ventured into the small caravans market. One of the big differences between the Antares 335 from Caravelair and other small caravan builds is the fact that it is a more standard bonded/fixed construction and not a GRP.

It does offer a 2-berth layout and has a fully dedicated shower and toilet area. You don’t get some of the guarantees you would get with other brands on our list, but it’s not a bad choice.

Eriba Touring

In the past, Eriba was well known for its Eriba Puck teardrop-style caravan model. Although this has been discontinued, the respected company still makes smaller sized caravans. German-engineered and designed, configured, and built to a high standard of quality, you will never hear many negative comments about them. Other than about their price tag, that is.

As there is a lot of time, effort and money put into them though, it results in tourers that offer great value for money.

Trigano Silver

Before you read any further, it’s important to note that after several manufacturers changes, from the original makers of Trigano SA to Silver.camp, there are no new models of Silver Trigano 310 pop-up caravans made nowadays. That being said, because they have a strong reputation, you may still find this classic small caravan on the used caravan market.

Go-Pods

Go-Pods, like the final small caravans in our list, is made from single-piece GRP shells. With Go-Pods caravans, the door arrangement is on the rear of the vehicle and you get the benefit of a pop-up roof for welcome additional head height.

While it’s good to note that the premium iteration of Go-Pods come with solar panels and bespoke awnings, no version comes with separate or dedicated shower and toilet areas.

Freedom Small Caravans

Last, but certainly not least, on our list is Freedom Caravans and their small tourer offerings. Although Freedom Caravans is a British-based company, their range of small caravans are designed and built-in Poland and then imported over here. Freedom small touring vehicles are available with several different models and specs as either 2 or 3-berth configurations. Similar to Go-Pods, these have single Glass-Reinforced Fibre or GRP shells and are noted for their leak resistance.

As an added bonus, Freedom Caravans have put their money and reputation where their mouth is when it comes to supporting their small caravans and offer a full 25-year water ingress warranty on the body. They also offer a dedicated bathroom that has a sink, toilet, and shower.

Things to Consider When Looking at Small Caravans

If you are in the market for a small caravan and interested in one or two of the models we’ve outlined above, before you go ahead and buy one, there are some important things you need to consider.

Smaller and Limited Layout

One of the big benefits of small caravans is their size. While this is definitely a great thing in many ways, one of the downsides is the fact that it restricts the amount of internal space you have. With only a few exceptions, most small caravans have the same kind of basic layout. This is more through necessity than anything else. For instance, there is no fixed bed in a smaller caravan. If your small caravan comes with a bed already included it will be a special convertible one that acts as seating when it is not in use.

You are also limited when it comes to storage space as there is limited space in general. Therefore, you will not be able to take an enormous amount of clothing, bedding and all the luxuries from home that you be able to take in a larger caravan.

When it comes to bathrooms, it is only really teardrop caravans that do not have any toilets on board. However, although they have toilets, they may not have enclosed and private bathrooms. It also means that you can’t really have the same kind of shower set up you’d have in a full-size caravan.

Smaller Payload Allowance

Another thing you need to consider when looking at small caravans is that because of their smaller and lighter frame, they have much lower payload allowances than full-size caravans. This obviously affects what you can store and keep in your caravan while it’s on the road and stationery.

Fewer Awning Options

Awnings are incredibly important when it comes to smaller caravans as they help to increase the available living space you have. However, the downside is that most “off-the-shelf” standard-sized awnings are not going to be suitable for a small caravan, because they are smaller in terms of width and height. This means that you will have to invest in a customised solution or one from the manufacturer.

Summary

The right small caravan for you, whether it’s one of the many manufacturers and models highlighted in the post above or not, should be the one you and whoever else is travelling with you feel most comfortable in. Comfort and security, as well as practicality, as we have discussed, become even more important when you decide to opt for a small caravan because the available living, sleeping and storage space is so limited.

Hopefully, with the choices listed above and the buying guide, we have provided you with the information and considerations needed to help you make the right decision. While we hope you think carefully before making your choice, we hope you remained excited about owning a small caravan, because it can be a great addition to your lives!