What should I know before owning a caravan? As always, we are here to help you!

We have owned a 2011 Elddis Crusader Superstorm for about 6 years, so one of the biggest one's around! Made so many wonderful memories in it and our children were upset to see it go. We moved on from this as unfortunately our children outgrew it and it was a heavy caravan, so only a handful of cars could tow it!

Any advice given below are our own personal views and experience and we can not be held responsible for any decisions you make. Everyone rightly has an opinion and may agree/disagree with us. We just want to help people understand what we have experienced and we are still learning everyday!

  • PRO'S

    • You can setup and leave your caravan at site without having to setup each time like a campervan/motorhome
    • Lots of storage
    • Decent sized kitchen counters, fridge/freezer, oven, hob, microwave for meal times
    • Toilet and shower when some sites facilities were not as nice as you'd like them to be!
    • Easy to convert from daytime to nighttime and vice versa
    • Adding an awning makes it so much roomier
    • There's a layout which suits eveyone
  • CON'S

    • Can't just stop anywhere when towing, due to the length
    • It can feel a long trip sometimes as you have to go at a lower speed
    • Setting up an awning takes time
    • Being aware of your surroundings when towing and taking wider lines through bends/corners
    • Narrow lanes as you may get stuck when facing on-coming traffic
    • Can't just stop for a night at the roadside!

Lengths & widths make a huge difference to what you can do and what you need from it.

If your vehicle weighs less than 3500kg, then you can't tow a caravan longer than 7 metres excluding the A-frame (the bit that sticks out and you tow with)

The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres.

The government website gives you all the information you need to know about the maximum lengths and widths. Remember, you can get points on your licence if you don't follow these rules!


This is where it get interesting. Weights are hugely important as you have 2 weights to think about and what your vehicle is capable of towing:

MIRO: Mass in running order - this is in effect the dry weight with nothing added apart form a gas bottle and an electric hookup cable

MTPLM: Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass - this is what the maximum weight the caravan can weigh when being towed.

You also have weight limits on your towing vehicle, so don't exceed these either. Adding a full family and awning/dog etc. may make you go over the gross vehicle weight when the caravan is attached!

There are 2 sites that will help you here:

The best cars to tow with are large SUV's as they make it effortless (e.g. Land Rover Discovery, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, BMW X5 etc.)

The MIRO vs MTPLM will be reduced when you add itmes such as motor movers, fluids etc. So if you're MIRO was 1500kg and MTPLM was 1700kg, you have 200kg available to add when towing. However, if a motor mover weighs 30kg, then you only have 170kg left!

To calculate the maximum weight your car can tow, all you need to do is subtract the gross vehicle weight (GVW) from the gross train weight (GTW)


You get a single or twin axle caravans.

- Single axle caravans are a lot lighter and can be easily maneuvered on site and give you much more options with which vehicles can tow these. The downside is their lightness can cause them to snake/sway a bit on fast roads

- Twin axle caravans are much heavier, but very sturdy when towing. They are longer than single axle caravans so give you more space inside. The downside is, you need vehicles which are capable of towing something this heavy, usually large 4x4's or people carriers and vans. Their length can make it limited when you come to narrow turns/roads. Also, some caravan sites do not allow twin axle caravans!

This will come down to preference and the size/weight of the caravan.

We prefer twin axles as they are so stable when towing. We added motor movers to enable us to navigate tight parking at sites when we couldn't reverse it straight in.

One thing you will notice, when passing HGV's you will feel the caravan move quite significantly due to the air pressure! A twin axle has much more weight and stability on its side in these situations.


This is immensely important. Towing a caravan, you need to remember you have a long, heavy trailer attached to your vehicle.

You see lorry drivers take a wider line into turns etc., this is the same with caravans, you need to take a wider line when turning and then remember the back end can swing out.

If you're new to towing a caravan or haven't towed one before, we recommend going on a towing course to help you get confident.

We were all novices once and it comes down to your personal confidence and driving abilities. If you are not confident, we strongly recommend you attend a towing course.

Our first caravan was a twin axle and we were advised we were too inexperienced to tow a large heavy caravan. We are confident drivers and learnt very quickly how to drive with a caravan being towed. Hardest part to learn was reversing a caravan!

You just need to be aware of your surroundings, take it slowly and easily, use your mirrors and remember that you may need to take a wider line through corners and bends!


The main thing to think about when towing, is making sure you have packed the caravan correctly and the weight distribution is right.

- Nose weight: This will put a lot of stress onto the tow vehicle and may exceed the nose weight tolerances of the tow bar itself. Every towbar has maximum nose weight and these will vary depending on the brand. You can purchase nose weight scales to help you if you're not confident.

- Rear weight: If there's too much weight at the rear and the nose is light, you will experience "snaking" which is where your caravan starts swaying left to right as you drive. If you notice this, start slowing down in a controlled manner, do not brake as this could make the situation worse! Once stopped, re-distribute the weight.

Some caravans have stability control systems, which will intervene by applying the caravans brakes if the system believes the caravan is losing control.

Try to put the heaviest item e.g. awning, over the wheels to balance anything out and then distribute everything evenly, maybe a tiny bit more over the nose as things may shift whilst driving!

Your car and caravan will tell you quite quickly if something is wrong!

Our Elddis had a stability control system and over uneven country lanes, you could feel the caravans brakes apply and it would slow the car down. It was a great safety edition, however, we felt it was too sensitive sometimes!


How many people do you need to sleep in a caravan and who will be sleeping in the caravan? This is what it comes down to!

Caravans typically come in 2-6 berths. You can get 7-8 berth caravans, however these usually are longer than what you are allowed to tow with using a standard vehicle.

Once you decide, then you need to figure out about which layout works best for you.

We had a 6 berth caravan which suited us perfectly as a family of 6 and had the space and layout we were after! We had an an rear dinette which converted into bunk beds, so could sleep all 6 of us with ease!

When the kids fly the nest, we will get something more suited to our needs, large 2 or 4 berth with a fixed bed!


Layouts are so important depending on how many sleeping berths you have.

You will see that typically, most caravans have a lounge up front and the lounge area converts into a double bed or 2 singles (depending on layout).

After this, you then get various different configurations, such as end bedroom, end bathroom, end dinette, bunk beds, fixed bed etc. You also have some caravans where the toilet/shower are the same room and others have separate shower cubicle and toilet.

Some of these are very flexible, where the end dinette with the sofa's turning into bunk beds. Others have a fixed bed with bunk beds next to them.

It all comes down to personal preference! To increase space, purchase an awning which then could be used as another bedroom, subject to sites allowing this!

This is always the most challenging part, finding a layout which works for you. Depending on your budget, you may need to make compromises.

We wanted as big as we could get and as much space inside with a separate shower to the toilet. Our compromise was we wanted a fixed bed, but ended up with dinette which converted into bunkbeds to sleep out 4 children.


These are great for increasing the space you have!

Awning's come in various sizes and can be blown up (air awnings) or use poles. For UK caravans, you always want to order a LEFT sided awning. Always check your awning size vs your caravan and what suits you.

Awnings slide into the awning rail on the caravan and pull through, then you blow them up or use the poles. You can get many add-on's for awnings, such as annexes for storage or others to sleep in, carpets, hanging rails, hanging shoe storage, wheel skirt, storm straps etc. just to keep things dry and wind proof.

We had a Kampa Rally AIR Pro 390 Plus with annexe (2019), which doubled the size of our caravan. Our eldest (tallest) enjoyed sleeping in the annexe. We used the annexe to setup tables and chairs to eat in and socialise, whilst inside the caravan was sleeping, getting ready and cooking. This could be setup by one person, but took a while and a lot of hard, sweaty work. 2 people made life a lot easier and we'd have it up in about 20 minutes!

When on site, before you position your caravan on your pitch, check the surrounding area where your awning will go and make sure you can put the pegs deep enough into the ground!

Not all camping/caravan sites allow annexes or allow people to sleep in awnings, something to do with their insurance/health & safety!

When booking, some sites ask you if you require space for an awning.

We took a folding heated airer with us and plugged it into the outdoor caravan socket, so we could always dry our swimwear, towels, jackets etc. in the awning as it was the only space you could use to do that. This is the best thing you can take with you!


New is always better as you have peace of mind with a warranty and everything works.

However, in reality, not all of us can afford a brand spanking new caravan! There are used caravans to suit every budget and you may need to make compromises on layouts etc. to find one in your budget.

With used caravans, always make sure there's a recent damp report and check how frequently and when it was last serviced and have a good prod and look around it to make sure it works for you. Depending on your budget, don't expect everything to be working like new!

We have only purchased second hand. We would buy new, but we have children and let's be honest, even though they look after and respect their stuff, accidents will happen and something will get broken. This made our decision easy to go for a used caravan.

We will get a new caravan in the future, once they leave home! Also, think about if you are going to change your car, as this may impact what you can tow, so buy right, the first time!


Caravans should be serviced every year to keep them in working and road worthy conditions. Caravans aren't subject to MOT's, but they must be roadworthy.

We know people who have never serviced their caravan and it all works fine. Others will service it themselves or take it to a caravan dealer who offers servicing.

As part of any servicing at a dealer, they should always carry out a damp inspection report, which will give you information about your seals and if you need any work carried out.

We recommend to get your caravan serviced at a caravan dealer annually. This will give you peace of mind. Ours was serviced religiously every year and any issues we would ensure they were resolved.

We have experienced a damp issue where we had the front window section replaced and it wasn't cheap! Always stay on top of this if you can and clean out moss etc. round the seals. If you wash your caravan regularly, this will help


When towing, you need to be aware that some speed limits change. The main ones are the national speed limits, where these are reduced by 10mph when towing.

Also please note that there are updated speed limits in Wales for built-up areas of 20mph!

Always refer to the government website:

We have been caught speeding with the caravan before as we forgot a single carriageway national speed limit is 50mph when towing. It did answer a question that speed camera's do know the type of vehicle that goes through! Luckily we got a speed awareness course for our infraction!


You should always ensure your caravan is as secure as it can be and this will help with your insurance. There are so many security devices available and to deter thieves, get as many as you can:

CRIS: This is the Central Registration & Identification Scheme which you should get your caravan registered to. The chassis/VIN number is unique to each caravan and this helps deter thieves or helps police identify who this belongs to if they find it after being stolen.

- Hitch security: Get a hitchlock which is suitable for your caravan and you can also get a towball coupler which will stop anyone attaching it to their towbar.

- Wheel locks/clamps: There are various types here, whether it's a clamp or a lock, they do the same job.

- Alarms: Some caravans have built in alarms which will activate the alarm siren when either it is towed away or someone breaks into your caravan.

- Motor movers: These are a good way to stop your caravan being towed. Although these aren't recognised officially as a security device, keeping them on the tyres when parked up adds another level of deterence.

When travelling and parking up for a break, if you leave your vehicle and caravan unattended, make sure you use whichever of these is suitable. It will only take someone a couple of minutes to unhitch your caravan and hitch it up to their vehicle!

We always used a hitch lock, towball coupler, wheel clamp and the motor movers whenever the caravan was unhitched. When at service stations etc., we would put the motor movers on and the wheel clamp if it was left unattended and try park somewhere, where we could see it. You don't want your holiday ruined before you get there!


You basically have 2 choices here. Keep it at home or at a a caravan storage facility!

If at home, make sure it is secure as it can be from thieves.

If you haven't got the room, a caravan storage facility is the next choice and they are quite cheap. You always want to make sure the caravan storage facility meets your insurers requirements and is registered as such. Some storage facilities offer indoor storage, which will help keep you caravan dry and away from all the elements for a premium. Otherwise, it will be outside in a secure compound with other caravans and motorhomes.

We are fortunate enough to have a large garden and an area to store our caravan. We even had power running to it so we could keep the heating on low over the colder months (12 degrees), which helped with keeping the caravan damp free as well as putting a cover over it!

There's always discussions around caravan covers and do they do more damage or prolong the life of your caravan. Having a cover also helped keep moss and algae off the caravan of you're under a tree, which we were! This is definitely a 2 person job to put a cover on and they are relatively cheap to buy and help keep the damp away!


There are 2 types of heating:

- Wet: This essentially is ALDE heating which heats hidden elements (think radiators) around the caravan to keep it warm.

- Blow air is as it sounds and is a small unit built into the caravan units at the floor level and blows hot air out

We have used both!

The wet heating system is best as it can warm everywhere round the caravan evenly, but you forget how warm it can actually be!

A blow air system is fine, but as these are usually in the middle of the caravan, the middle warms up quickest with the ends catching up after a while. We had the unfortunate experience where the heating element failed and it ended up blowing cold air around the caravan which made it worse!

At the end of the day, they both do a job of heating the caravan when it's cold and that's what you want. As discussed before, it will come down to your budget and particular caravan you like, which heating system comes with it.


This is where caravans excel over motorhomes and campervans. They have been cleverly built to maximise space and storage.

You'll find storage under seats, in overhead cupboards, drawers etc.

Think about what you need to take with you, such as camp chairs, tables, bedding etc. and the weight you add to the caravan so you don't exceed it's MTPLM!

Don't forget, you can always go shopping for food etc. when you arrive!

Pack what you need. We all overpack and that's fine as we know the British weather can be unpredictable!

We always went fully loaded, but kept within thr MTPLM weight. We packed all the clothes into the wardrobe, overhead lockers and drawers, with shows in a cabinet on the floor. We also had a few days worth of food and ensured the fridge/freezer was on before we left to store food/drink in there.


If you want to take bikes with you, there are several ways of doing this, but please remmeber, this adds weight:

- Car roof rack

- Rear caravan bike rack: you can add a permanent bike rack to back of your caravan (check before you buy a bike rack).

- A-frame caravan bike rack: some caravans allow you to add a bike rack to back on the A-frame of your caravan (check before you buy a bike rack). Think about your nose weight here!

- Put them inside your caravan: you risk damaging the inside of your caravan as things move about when you're driving and this may alter the weight distribution when towing.

We never brought bikes with us as the kids preferred their hoverboards and scooters! We also often brought our 4 legged friends with us, so having bikes was impractical!

We have seen plenty of caravanners that have and it's all down to your personal preference!


When taking pets with you, make sure they have enough room as well! It is illegal to have pets and/or people in the caravan when it is in motion/being towed.

Make sure the site you are at allows dogs. When you are out during the day, where will your pet go if you can't take it with you and will the conditions inside the caravan or awning, be suitable for a pet?

You can add fans, open windows slightly and sky lights can open if warm/hot and always leave a good supply of water they can get to!

We have large dogs and they have always come with us. In the evenings, they sleep in the awning as the caravan is just too narrow for them to be in as well.

If we know it's not going to be fair on them and we are leaving them in the caravan all the time, we wouldn't take them with us.