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Wednesday April 24, 2024
5 minutes reading time

Everything You Need to Know for Your First Campervan Trip

Written by:  Chris Dickson
First campervan blog

You’ve splashed the cash and paid for the vehicle, and it’s parked up on your drive all gleaming and enticing – but what’s next? Planning the maiden voyage in your campervan can be an exhilarating experience, blending the excitement of imminent adventure with the prospect of living conveniently in a mobile home. In fact, whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a first-timer, thorough preparation is key so that a smooth journey can be fully enjoyed, but it’s particularly important when it’s your first time. Here, in this new edition of our blog, is everything you need to know…

In advance

  • Choosing the right campervan: Let’s rewind a little from where we were right at the start of this blog. You’re in the process of choosing a campervan and there are several different ones that have attracted you eye – but what do you need to know to make sure you get the right one for you? It’s very simple. Select a model that suits your needs in terms of size, amenities and budget. Think about factors like the number of passengers who will be travelling, what sleeping arrangements will be necessary, and what (if any) kitchen equipment and washroom facilities you will require.
  • Packing essentials: Once you’ve made your choice and bought it, let’s zip ahead to the point where you are contemplating getting out on the road. Packing is very important – and packing the right stuff is even more important! Pack essentials such as clothing appropriate for the weather conditions you’re likely to encounter, the range of toiletries you’ll need on a daily basis (toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant etc), adequate bedding, enough towels, the right cooking utensils, a first aid kit (including things like sunscreen, insect repellent and plasters), and a flashlight.
  • Food and water: Stock up on non-perishable food items, cooking ingredients and bottled water before hitting the road. If you can sit down and plan a schedule of your meals in advance then this will help determine the food and ingredients you need to take. Consider the storage space and cooking facilities that are available in your campervan.
  • Route planning: Use the internet and/or travel guides to plan out your route in advance. Take into account where you could stay each night (including any attractions you’d like to visit along the way) and this will help to work out the preferred daily travel distance and driving time. Use GPS sat nav systems to guide you, and be prepared for unexpected detours or road closures. It’s an open road – but knowing where you are going and when will really help you make the most of your time.
  • Campsite reservations: It’s often very important to research and book campsites or designated parking areas in advance – especially during peak seasons. Make sure that the campsites you are booking offer all of the essential amenities you will require, such as toilets, showers and waste disposal facilities.

On the road

  • Driving regulations: Make sure that you are familiar with the driving regulations of the countries you’ll be visiting (if your trip is taking you out of the UK), including speed limits, parking restrictions and road signage. Check in advance to make sure that your campervan complies with size and weight restrictions on certain roads.
  • Safety: Prioritise safety by inspecting your campervan for any mechanical issues before you set off. Pack a roadside emergency kit (containing tools, torch, reflective sign, high visibility vests, jump cables and spare tyre). If you possibly can, familiarise yourself with basic vehicle maintenance procedures so that you are not reliant on outside parties having to come and rescue you / do repair work on your vehicle. In addition, be mindful of the need to drive safely at all times – don’t take unnecessary risks on the road.
  • Weather: Use the internet to keep an advance eye on weather forecasts for your destination, and pack accordingly. Prepare for substandard conditions by packing layers of clothing, waterproof gear and extra blankets.
  • The environment: Always respect the environment by sticking to the leave-no-trace principle. This means disposing of waste responsibly, not just leaving it lying around when you depart from your overnight spot. Minimise your ecological footprint by conserving water and energy whenever you can.
  • Health and wellbeing: Stay hydrated, get enough rest (particularly if you are the driver), and take regular breaks from driving to avoid developing fatigue. As mentioned earlier, pack a first aid kit containing any necessary medications, and ensure you are aware of medical facilities along your route (hospitals, etc).
  • Entertainment: Being out on the road in your campervan will bring you many rewards – and chief amongst them is the access you’ll have to spectacular scenery, as well as all of the interesting places you can visit. Research local attractions and outdoor activities at your destination such as hiking trails, wildlife spots or cultural landmarks. However, you should also bring along entertainment options (books, board games, electronic devices) so that you can keep yourself occupied during downtime.
  • Budgeting: Create a realistic budget for your campervan trip. Make sure to include the definite expenses such as fuel, food, campstie accommodation and recreational activities. If you are on a limited budget then keep a close track of your cash to avoid overspending. Always build in a bit of contingency so that you don’t get caught out by unexpected costs.
  • Communication: Although you are out on the road and, essentially, free from the responsibilities of domestic life for however long your tip lasts, you should make some small effort to stay connected with friends or family, in case of emergencies. Bring along your mobile phone and, if necessary, consider investing in a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Pets: If you have decided to travel with pets, usually the family dog, then ensure their comfort and safety by packing food, water, bedding and any necessary medications. Research pet-friendly campsites and attractions along your route and familiarise yourself with any pet travel regulations.
  • Respect communities: Remember that wherever you go you are, essentially, a guest. Be very respectful of local communities and any of their cultural norms during your trip. Be mindful of noise levels at campsites, and if you get the chance to support local businesses and artisans (at farm shops, craft sites etc) then do so!

By following these tips for your first campervan trip, you’re half-way prepared to make the most of the adventure. Once you’re out there you will create lasting memories, adapt to the challenges that present themselves along your way and, most of all, enjoy the freedom of the open road. Remember, whether you are looking for a new or second-hand vehicle, there is a large selection on offer here at Dicksons of Perth, and we are always happy to help you find your perfect model!