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Travel Tips for Packing a Caravan

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 11

Traveling can and will be great fun, whereas packing without some travel tips for packing a caravan before a trip can be a nightmare. You have decided to let your house for twelve months and head off in a caravan and live the life of a gypsy. That's a terrific idea. Now the fun starts, how do you go about this, and what will you take?

Hazards of lighting fires

I gather that you already have the van so the next thing to work out is whether you will be going off road or sticking to the main bitumen roads. This will of course depend on whether you have an off road caravan or camper. This is important, Because if you do not have this type of vehichle you could be in trouble. 

Off road travel can be dangerous, depending on the weather and type of roads.  You will need to have two spare tires for the caravan and your vehicle. If you have the same size tires on the van and car you could use each tire on either vehicle.

Thule LB58 Roof Rack Load Bars (58-Inch, Set of 2)
Amazon Price: $89.95 $29.50 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
These are ideal to take that extra luggage or surf boards. Or with two of them you could mount a solar panel on top to charge up your battery or run the fridge in your car.

Do not overload van

Keep the weight down

No you don't have to lose weight. Although to make your vehicle and caravan legal, it needs to comply with the towing regulations for your particular vehicle. How many times have you seen four wheel drives loaded up with boats on the roof racks with heaps of goodies stowed underneath it? Have you ever wondered if they realize that if they had an accident, their insurance company would not cover them.

That's right. A roof rack can only carry so much weight the same as a vehicle or caravan. When loading a cravan remember gas bottles and water in the tanks underneath are not light. If you are overweight, you would not be covered and your insurance company would not pay out on a claim.

Reston Lloyd White Melamine Dinner Plate, Set of 6
Amazon Price: $30.00 $24.99 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
These malamine dinner plates will reduce the weight and come in four colors white, black, red and yellow.

Reduce the weight

Ideas to reduce weight

Buy malamine crockery- do not take heavy china crockery, use square plates as these do not move around as much as round ones and they fit better into the cupboards. Don't forget to pack plenty of disposable plastic or paper plates great for when short of water. No washing up water needed.

Space saving - is very important. Use square plastic storage containers for cupboards and fridge. They take up less room and will pack and stack easier. As you will know the fridge is usually small, therefore you save space if containers fit on top of one another or side by side.

Drawers - I try to use square plastic jars, with round lids.If you stack two square things on top of one another it is hard to get your hand down the side to pull it out.Whereas square jars with round lids make it easier to grip the lid. Plastic fruit containers are ideal and have matching lids.

Use plastic cups and glasses- if a cupboard opens while traveling, this will eliminate broken glass – plastic will bounce without breaking.

Dan't forget to pack the hat

STETSON Weathered Cotton Outback Hat With Chin cord (XL)
Amazon Price: $45.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
A must when your out traveling is a good hat to protect your face and net with a chin strap

Pack the BBQ and camp oven. As the stove top in a caravan is reasonably small, don't take wide saucepans. Try to find more upright slimmer styled ones. Wide ones do not fit securely on the gas or electric elements; a double one could also be handy, as it would save space and gas.

Kettles- If staying on powered sites you can use an electric kettle. If you intend to camp out in the bush you will need a solid kettle to use on an open fire or on you gas stove.You could also use the old Billy can.

Stacking food in freezer- Pack all your meat in small flat plastic bags, as this will save you so much space. It will be easier and take less time to thaw. How many times have you seen mince or other products put into bulky parcels and then you cannot fit other things beside them? Flat packages make it so much easier to stack and takes up less room.

Car Freezers - To keep your food frozen place a damp towel over the top of food. And place cool drinks etc on top of that. The dampness in the towel will freeze, and it keeps food frozen.

You may need both summer and winter cloths

Pack the majority of your winter clothes into sealed plastic bags if it is summer when you leave home. Keep these under the seats in those harder to get to places. Do not vacuum seal them unless you want to use them for dishcloths. You can do this in various ways.

Some people pack complete outfits in individual bags. This saves you opening bags looking for the right jumper to match the jeans; one bag gives you a complete outfit for each person. This also protects them from the dust; squeeze the worst of the excess air out of each bag. By using smaller bags you can fit them into smaller spaces.

Then designate cupboards for each person, for the summer clothes. As our weather has changed so much over the years, it is a good idea to have a couple of warmer outfits handy for those awful and unexpected cold and windy days.

Take clothes that you can wash out and will dry overnight. This will help if the weather turns bad.

Ming's Mark SL1206-BLACK Black Heavy Duty Full Back Folding Director's Chair
Amazon Price: $69.99 $61.90 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
This is an ideal camping chair as it comes with a drink holder on side table. Plus it has its own cooler to hold your extra drinks

Camping Chairs

We started out with strong folding chairs. These are not designed for sitting comfort. It curves your back, and we found it was hard to get out of after sitting for a couple of hours.We bought two oz trail camping chairs, which lay back and the foot rest comes up to support your feet. Buy the ones with wooden arm rests as some of the plastic ones melt.

These are heavier and more expensive, although we decided that comfort for our poor old backs was more important in this instance. You could always throw in a couple of fold up stools to take to the happy hour celebrations.

Food supplies

Take plenty of dry packet foods, like pasta, rice, spaghetti, and cereals. Powdered milk is ideal as you can mix as you need it. You can buy UHT long life milk that does not need refrigerating until you open it.

Beware to keep it packed into a box as vibration can rub a hole in the carton. I found this out the hard way. My husband reckoned there was something rotten in the fridge, after a lot of moaning we found the milk carton had leaked out under our seat. Boy, did it stink. Yuk I can still smell it. You will need to take canned food as well. Don't forget to take the tin opener.

High Sierra Loop Backpack, Pacific/Charcoal/Black
Amazon Price: $70.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 2, 2013)
Ideal backpack to carry all those bits and pieces with extra pockets. These come in a variety of different colors

Checklist before leaving

Pack the Necessities

  • Torch
  • Matches
  • First aid kit
  • Fly or mosquito protection
  • Lots of spare water
  • Toilet paper and shovel (yes bury it, do not leave it on top of ground)
  • Sunscreen

Checklist before leaving

  • Write a list of things to do and tick them off
  • Write another list of things to pack

Write a checklist- Do these checks each time you shift.

  • Check the tires
  • Check all windows shut on van, all vents closed
  • Check all doors and cupboards locked in van
  • Never travel with gas lit on the van, make sure the plug is pushed in on vehicle.
  • Make sure you disconect the power lead (I have seen people drive off with lead still connected)
  • Is the step of van put up

In conclusion

I hope that this article travel tips for packing a caravan will help if you follow the majority of these ideas. You should have a great holiday and not be caught with overloading your car and caravan. The most important of all things to do is have a great enjoyable holiday. Drive safely, have fun and relax.

Read another article on traveling in a Caravan.  Save money and travel with solar panels

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Comments

Jan 2, 2010 9:47am
ethelsmith
Like the bury it lol. Greeat advice here. Yes melamine and the like will be lighter and not break. Obvious when you think about it but most of us would not have
Jan 2, 2010 6:58pm
eileen
When travelling around australia, we were shocked how dirty some people are. The toilet paper is just left blowing around the bush. And some people empty their toilet cassettes anywhere. Yes quite often right in a nice parking spot for the unwary to camp in. And then your nose tells you the story as soon as you sit down with a nice cuppa.
Jan 2, 2010 10:04am
Sookie
We lived in a motor home for 6 months while building our house. I learned the hard way, what to pack in a caravan. All your suggestions are perfect. Great article
Jan 2, 2010 6:59pm
eileen
Sookie, I agree, we can always learn more but its easier if you have a few tips before starting out. We also learnt a lot from other travellers.
Jan 12, 2010 3:57pm
CWilliams
Eileen great advice! We use a motor home quite often during the summer months for trips with our kids, everything in your article is right on! I think the only thing we have in our motor home that I didn't see listed is expandable water containers. They fold flat and then you can use them when you get to where you are going.
Jan 13, 2010 1:35am
eileen
cwilliams, that sounds like a great idea. We put bottles in our freezer, but hadnt thought of expandible ones. We use a lot more because our dog always drinks so much too. thanks for that
Mar 13, 2010 9:16am
jstankevicz
Not a motor home fan, but do love that they are called caravans outside the US. Caravan sounds so much more fun and appealing than RV or mobile home!
Mar 13, 2010 11:02pm
eileen
jstankevicz, yes and you still have the car to drive around in when arriving in some places.
May 7, 2010 5:39pm
Chekhov
Very useful article - will have to start collecting square jars with round lids. Three saucepans that sit on one gas ring are invaluable, I've found -it's amazing how much can be cooked on just two rings!
May 7, 2010 7:43pm
eileen
thans chekhov, yes you learn to find ways of doing things differently and that is one of them and cooking in the camp oven when no fire restrictions. And of course keep the van packed so you can just take off by adding the food. Beware of damp though in your caravan if leaving clothes in it for several months.
Apr 2, 2012 9:50am
Lee12345
I always make the same mistakes over and over again when I pack. I have now saved this list and will refer to it before every trip! Thanks
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