Caravaning for vacations: Driving a campervan technique!
Marcin Jankowski • 24/June/2018 (23:27), update 10/September/2018 (11:24)
Are you traveling for the first time in your life on a caravan or motorhome holiday? You do not know how to bite it? Read the abc of caravanning, where you'll find the basics of the basics! You will find out what to take with you and how to prepare for a trip, to spend more than a dozen days off with your family or friends without any stress. Despite everything, remember that this is a zero-one fun. If you drive the car for the first time, either you like this way of spending free time or not, and you will never get into a motorhome or trailer again. Karawaning is an opportunity to be close to nature and organize the whole trip yourself from A to Z, which can not please everyone, especially those who have traveled so far on holidays organized by travel agencies ... Secondly, everything what you read here can be for you prove to be of little value because everyone adjusts their conditions to make them feel good. You learn a lot of things just by leaving and watching others on such trips.
A review of the caravan before going on vacation. PrzyczepyMarter blog tips!
I do not know how much time you have left to go on vacation, but spend the last two weeks preparing your caravan for it. By towing a defective caravan, you can expose yourself and other people on the road and treat yourself to a bad holiday. Driving safety is the most important! Therefore, please make a basic vehicle review in advance while at home. So let's check to see if everything works without a hitch.
Connect the caravan or motorhome to the electricity. Check if you have the appropriate adapters for this. Also get a long wire, because the power sources at the campsites are spread out in different places and you may be forced to use the electrical box over a longer distance. Sometimes a short cable of 3-5 meters is enough, sometimes it takes 10 meters... After connecting the trailer to the power supply turn on the light in it and check that all the taps and the water pump are working. It often happens, especially in used vehicles, that some fuses are burned, a water pump or a whole water tap is replaced. In this case, you have to check everything by trial and error. The main fuses should be found in the cabinet near the main plug that supplies the trailer. In most cases, you'll find a box with all fuses. In older caravan models, the fuses are located in various strange places - in the cabinet from the stove or compartments under the seats.
Sometimes it happens that despite the connection of electricity and all functional fuses, the water pump in the tank does not work and the hot water heater does not operate. Find the main switch then. Usually, it is located in an easily accessible place - at the entrance or under the seat... In the end, you should use the help of an electrician who with his device will check each wire in turn if everything is in working order. After pouring clean water into the main tank and spreading it over the tubing, observe if there is sometimes a leak somewhere. Sometimes it happens that the owner forgot to drain the water from the circulation for the winter and during the frosts the joints and breaks of various water devices, especially the hot water heater, have been released. Maybe you will need to vent the water system...
For a two-week trip with a caravan or motorhome for holidays, all you need to do is take a standard 11kg gas bottle. For your convenience, it is best to take the one without a collar. Even with frequent cooking, this size is enough. Another critical component of the trailer is the gas hob for cooking. Switching on the gas stove takes place in two stages. In the drawer under the plate or in the cabinet there are valves that must be opened to allow gas to flow into it. Then unscrew the cylinder. The switching on of the hearth is done by means of knobs on the furnace plate. Holding the knob in the correct position causes that the flame does not go out. If this is not the case, it means there is a problem with the spark. The second device powered by gas is the stove for heating the air. Here, its attachment can also cause a problem. It should be tested by trial and error, because its switching depends on the specific model.
Do not forget to look in the fridge. Here we can power it in three ways. Electricity, gas and battery from the car. If you have a new fridge in your trailer, you probably will not have any problem. In older models, after switching on, one should wait some time to start cooling and freezing. If this is not the case, please submit it for a review to a specialist company. I immediately point out that it is quite expensive because not all companies dealing with the repair of refrigerators will take up this challenge.
If inside the trailer we have reviewed the time to go outside. One of the most important elements is the overrun brake. It occurs in all heavy trailers, i.e. with a maximum gross weight of over 750 kilograms. His failure may have catastrophic consequences on the road. Take it easy, you can do its basic review yourself. Lift the caravan on the feet up so that the wheels are raised and do not touch the ground. Check if there is any looseness on the bolts securing the overrun device to the drawbar. If you do not eliminate it, he may break off while riding. Then check if the brakes are working on the wheels. While driving the wheel, push in the drive. If the wheels are in place, everything is fine.
Check also the lighting in the caravan - driving lights, alloys and blinkers. If they do not work, check if the bulbs are not burnt. You can also check the contacts inside the housing. During the winter stop they could fall asleep. The power plug for driving lighting electronics is usually 7-pin. In the car, it may turn out that you have a 13-pin socket. Then you need the right adapter from 7 to 13 pins, which you can buy in a specialist store or automotive store.
For most caravans or motorhomes, there is an awning or an outdoor tent that you can put on for longer stays in one place. With spreading the awning there will be no bigger problem. However, having a tent, I recommend that you put it in your home. People who do it for the first time usually lose 2-4 hours from their holidays to match individual elements to each other. The nice thing is to take a rubber mat to the ground, which you spread before the entrance and in the place of rest. It works 100% on sandy campsites. Take with you a small plastic staircase to enter the vehicle, tourist chairs for everyone and a tourist table. These are indispensable elements of the trip with a caravan and a motorhome. You can take with you a small two-stage ladder, a watering can to bring clean water and a container for dirty water from the kitchen tap. At various campsites, the drainage of dirty water looks different.
When packing the luggage to the trailer and motorhome, try to evenly distribute the weight over the entire surface. Place heavy items in the storage compartments for the front, and lighter things in the back. Also, do not put heavy objects in the upper cabinets. There, try to pack light things.
Issues related to moving around Poland and Europe. How to behave at the campsite?
We will start with the most well-crafted issue of towing a caravan by car. In the case of a motorhome, the discussion is unnecessary for known reasons. I have described this issue in detail in the article Towing a car trailer 2018: Driving license B, B96, B+E. Here I mention that when driving a set with a sum of DMC up to 3500 kg, we only need a driving license with category B. For a set of 4250 kg, we must already have category B96. However, up to 7000 kg B + E. Coming also with a set of more than 3.5 tons, we must additionally buy a viaToll or an electronic device that will automatically charge for gateways placed on toll road sections in Poland. Similar devices are found in other European countries.
When it comes to the speed limits of driving a motorhome or car with a caravan, in most countries they are similar to each other. In built-up areas, we move 50 km/h, except 70 km/h. However, on motorways and expressways driving with a trailer, we can drive a maximum of 80 km/h. As you will see, this speed will turn out to be the most sensible in practice. Faster driving can lead to unpredictable caravan driving, resulting in an accident. More experienced drivers may be tempted to drive faster, but of course at their own risk. The second important issue when traveling abroad is to get adequate road tolls for toll road sections. For example, in Poland, France, Portugal and Italy, we pay for motorways on gates set on the roads. In Slovakia, Austria or the Czech Republic, a special vignette must be purchased.
For a tourist trip abroad, also purchase additional travel insurance. Depending on the country you visit, treatment in it can be very expensive. So prepare yourself for any eventuality. Check also if you have compulsory motor insurance and a valid technical inspection of the car, caravan and motorhome.
When it comes to driving style with a caravan, you have to travel from 50 km to get a little experience and practice. Remember that you are riding a long set and especially when overtaking you must be careful. Additionally, equip yourself with another pair of mirrors fitted to standard car mirrors. A set of long mirrors is a very practical solution and it is recommended to use them. In Italy, for example, it is an obligatory set of equipment with reflective vests for all passengers. Also when driving a car with a trailer, you have to expect more combustion. On average, it can be assumed that it will be from 2 to 3 liters more per 100 km/h. Everything also depends on the driver's driving style. The calmer driving and smoother the combustion will be smaller. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of touring a caravan and motorhome, read article Caravans and motorhomes. Advantages or disadvantages of traveling?.
I'm away. How to behave on a camping site? If you are going on a camping trailer or a big motorhome, you must take certain habits. You need to get a habit of looking for large parking spaces during a stopover. For beginners, it will be valuable to pay attention to how big trucks move. In many parking lots you will have signs where to park cars with trailers and campers. When it comes to shopping, it is best to choose large markets, where there are a lot of free parking spaces. You have to reckon with the fact that when you are driving with a trailer, you will occupy two places.
At the campsite, choose the best place at your own discretion. Theoretically, pay attention to where the sun is coming from so that it does not shine sharply. A bit of shade will also be useful during rest. However, in my opinion, this is a secondary matter. If you intend to use a satellite dish - external, set up yourself, or permanently mounted on the roof of a caravan or camper, pay attention to whether the signal will not be disturbed by tall trees. Get to know in advance what European region you are driving and more or less from what angle you have to set it. Antenna tuning is slightly problematic with this type of antenna, because even the smallest movement causes loss of signal. You usually connect the satellite antenna directly to the external output on the trailer walls or the motorhome. Depending on the vehicle model, look for the plug under the flap at the outlet of the electrical outlet or other similar location.
When it comes to camping at night, the price per night includes the amount of people, car, caravan and electricity. On some campsites there is a fixed daily fee with all extras included, independent of the number of people (more often abroad!). The climate of each accommodation is varied. Some are more interesting others less. Whether a campsite for sleeping with a caravan that we choose is cool is a relative term. Some like peace and quiet, others need extra entertainment.
Being on the campsite and leaving our belongings - for a longer trip to the store, going to explore the area or going to the beach, it is worth making sure that we have all the windows closed. The same applies to all items loosely left outside. It is worth bearing in mind that the weather can be very changeable and at any moment there may be a heavy rain or a storm with strong wind.
Caravans and campers. Disadvantages or advantages of traveling? Poles are also eager to travel by motorhomes around Europe
On Polish roads, especially during the holiday season, we see more often travelers with caravans. In Poland, not all of them decide to buy their own trailer or motorhome, which is influenced by the prices of vehicles, and this in turn leads to the treatment of caravanning as a niche style of spending free time. However, this type of travel by car with a caravan will be more often chosen by Europeans. In Europe itself, Scandinavia is a great place to drive a motorhome or a caravan - very good quality roads, numerous camping sites and huge spaces. You certainly will not miss in Sweden, Norway and Finland. The next directions of automotive tourism development are Australia and North America, where traffic is much smaller than in continental Europe... Even greater attention than trailers are campers, for easier service and low prices of accommodation.
The downside of camping travel on the roads of Europe is the increasing traffic of passenger cars, which can be a hindrance and a lot of discomfort for moving tourists. Owners of caravans must also look for previously convenient parking spaces, especially for large cities. Unlike Poles, traveling with a caravan or a caravan is especially popular with Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans and British. It must be said that this is a convenient way, because you do not have to look for accommodation and bear the costs associated with it. However, the prices of fuel and stopping the trailer on the campsite mean that the entire cost of the trip will not be much lower than a traditional trip.
You can travel a caravan everywhere, but places that have a large space and low population density are best suited. This is a type of trip where we prepare meals ourselves, which is a kind of advantage, just like having a car, which makes us more independent. Driving with a caravan allows you to make your own decisions, where we go and where we spend our time after a day's trip.
In Europe, the best for such trips is Scandinavia. This is primarily due to the sparse development and the right, which allows stopping and stopping overnight, also outside designated campsites. In Norway, for example, you can stay overnight in trailers and caravans without any restrictions, as long as there are no residential properties within a radius of 150 meters. Less optimistic is the fact that even for a short stop parking a motorhome in big cities may be a problem due to the large number of cars in the tourist season. Parking such a car for the night is forbidden in cities. This would make life difficult for residents, but moreover, problems with cleanliness could occur.
Among the tourists in Poland, the campers are also very popular, which are easier to use and more convenient than caravans, but the costs of buying such a vehicle are even several hundred thousand zlotys. A big advantage of traveling in the style of caravaning can be low spending on accommodation - and in some cases even free accommodation. Just like in the case of caravans, the possibility of free movement and contact with nature as well as overnight stay in interesting places speaks for traveling in a caravan. It is, after all, the cheapest type of tourism, both in Poland and in the world, because prices on campsites are lower than in hotels.
One day ago, a dozen years ago, it was very fashionable to stay in tents at campsites. Then came the time for caravans, which were imported in large numbers from Western Europe. Currently, the campers are slowly taking over the prime. What distinguishes them from trailers towed by a car is a possibility of being in the middle while driving. It should be emphasized that being in a caravan outside the stop is forbidden, and certainly dangerous. Kamper is also easier to manage due to smaller dimensions. However, the purchase of such a vehicle is associated with a large cost. A modern motorhome can cost several dozen or even several hundred thousand zlotys, depending on the facilities and sizes used.
Accommodation prices on campsites are lower than in hotels, and having your own caravan or camper, tourists can sometimes not pay at all. A stop for the night is possible, for example, at larger gas stations or in the service areas of travelers on motorways, and in the Scandinavian countries you can easily stop anywhere near the road. However, sleeping outside designated campsites can be risky. Therefore, the costs related to adequate insurance and vehicle preparation must be added to the costs of caravanning. It is worth equipping yourself with additional mirrors put on the car's mirrors. In some countries they are required under pain of a mandatory term. In addition to compulsory third party insurance, it is also worth taking out additional travel insurance.
Towing a heavy trailer: you need to know!
Driving with a trailer is more difficult for the driver, resulting in additional load on the body, engine and transmission. Driving such a set can be quite a challenge, because the car brakes less and accelerates more slowly, and the trailer takes place in corners and requires appropriate maneuvering tactics. This is not the end. If you want to carry something really big and heavy, such as a yacht - you must have a category B96 or B+E license, entitling you to drive a car with a maximum gross weight (DMC) not exceeding 3,5 tons, and remember about the need to make payments in the viaTOLL system.
Regardless of whether we want to move from the so-called light trailer without brake (with DMC up to 750 kg) or more (with DMC up to 3.5 t), equipped with its own braking system (so-called overrun brake), we must remember a few basic rules regarding the technique driving. Such a set of vehicles takes up more space on the road - especially a heavy trailer, which is often wider than the car that is towing it. If we are transporting a yacht, we are dealing with a really long load - in the case of a loaded trailer it is up to 6.3 m. It is necessary to accurately set the mirrors so that we know as much as possible about the situation at the back of the set. Sometimes factory mirrors may be insufficient and additional brackets will need to be mounted on the outriggers.
We must exercise extreme caution when cornering, because the trailer cuts corners, and the rear is taking place - we need much more space in curves. Therefore, we must overcome them as widely as possible, starting the maneuver from the opposite edge to the direction of the bend. The trailer follows a tighter track than the car. When reversing, it turns in the opposite direction to the front axle of the car. When we turn the steering wheel to the left - the trailer will turn right and vice versa. In the most difficult situations, it is worth asking for help from the passenger.
The whole set is very heavy - even for a light trailer it can be 4250 kg. It will be slower to accelerate and brake more. The overtaking maneuver must be carried out very gently in order to prevent the trailer from being abandoned. During it, especially when we overtake, for example, a truck, air turbulence creates a force that attracts our overtaken vehicle set. If the trailer begins to lose its stability, the way to regain control is to slow down the set. On steep descents, reduce gears to prevent the brakes from overheating. It is also very important to start braking beforehand and plan the maneuvers well in advance, because acceleration, and above all braking, is like a slow motion movie.
Let's adjust the speed. The built-up area is 50 km/h, outside the city 70 km, and on the motorway, expressway or dual carriageway with at least two lanes, 80 km/h. Who is responsible for any damage? If the trailer was in motion, regardless of whether it disconnected from the car or remained connected to the vehicle - compensation is paid from the car policy (insurance of the trailer only works if it is not moving).
Information on the DMC of our car can be found in the registration certificate, it is item F.1. proof. About the weight of the trailer, which can be pulled, inform the headings: O.1 (for the trailer with the brake) and O.2 (without the brake). How to calculate the weight of a trailer weighing more than 750 kg? According to the regulations, the vehicle DMC to trailer DMC must be 1.33: 1.
For example, for a Toyota Land Cruiser 150 4.0 V6 with a permissible total weight of 2900 kg, we must divide this number by 1.33, which gives a trailer DMC of 2180 kg. Remember that the trailer should not be heavier than the car that is towing it. In the case of the Land Cruiser, which has a robust, torsion-resistant body, mounted on a classic, strong frame, equipped with a 280 HP gasoline engine and a maximum torque of 385 Nm, and a permanent 4x4 with Torsen differential lock (with limited slip) and a gearbox Distribution, the manufacturer has determined the maximum weight of the towed trailer for a total of 3000 kg.
Toyota's roadster was coupled with a trailer with a DMC of 2000 kg, a payload of 1430 kg, a length of 7.3 m and a width of over 2.5 m, on which a boat weighing 1370 kg was placed. In this case, driving license category B is no longer sufficient. You must have the driving license with a heavy trailer with a DMC of up to 3.5 t, which is the category of B + E driving license. If you want to drive a car with a trailer, having a B category document - the DMC of the entire set (car and trailer) can not exceed 4250 kg in the case of a light trailer or 3500 kg in the case other than light. The third way to move with a heavy trailer is the B96 category driving license. In this case, we do not need a course, just pass the practical test to get the possibility of pulling heavy trailers, but with the DMC limit of the set up to 4250 kg. It allows you to tow, for example, a large caravan by car.
The last, very important information is the need to pay "toll" for road sets weighing more than 3.5 t. In each case, the car must be equipped with so-called. viaBOX - a device that automatically pays viaTOLL system fees. Every day of driving with a stowaway trailer means 500 zlotys. You can register in the system throughout Poland, including at service points, at border crossing points, and also at some gas stations or through companies that offer fuel cards. The device operates in the pre-paid system, so you need to check your account balance on an ongoing basis so as not to pay the penalty. Mobile application will help. Post-paid systems are available mainly for companies.
The driver behind the wheel of the Toyota Hilux is in a similar situation to the driver of the Land Cruiser with the yacht. Only a bit more difficult. Because he manages a heavy set, he should have a driving license category B + E and installed in the viaBOX car. The maximum weight of the trailer for transporting these animals is usually about 2000 kg, and its load capacity reaches 1250 kg. No wonder, the racing horse can weigh between 500 and 700 kg. Pulling horse even about 1 ton.
Fortunately, Hilux about the DMC 2170 kg is a car created for such tasks. Here, too, we have a structure based on a solid, string-like frame, additionally reinforced, which allows towing heavy trailers - weighing up to 3,200 kg. Under the hood there is a 150-horsepower diesel engine with a significant maximum torque of 400 Nm, transferred to the rear or all wheels, depending on the drive mode selected by the driver. Thanks to these parameters, transporting a horse is not difficult. At least from the technical side.
On the legal side, the driver has to meet many other conditions. If the route is longer than 50 km and crosses the border of the commune in which the owner lives, in addition to the appropriate driving license and trailer, we will also need a certificate of completing the course of the carrier/horse escort (the cost of the course is approx. PLN 150). It is also necessary to have a road transport certificate (trailer) as well as a breeding passport.
Crossing the border within the EU, you must additionally have a horse health certificate and a certificate of disinfection of the means of transport from the District Veterinary Surgeon and registration documents of the animal. When the journey lasts over 8 hours, a route plan is required, including time and place for stopping and feeding animals. Taking care of water and fodder is a matter of course. For this a skillful and gentle driving technique is essential to avoid injuring the animal. Very helpful in this - smoothly changing ratios - automatic, 6-speed Hilux gearbox.
The trailers and fees of viaToll in Poland: How does viaToll work, for whom and where will you buy a viaBox device for electronic settlements?
viaToll is an electronic toll collection system for toll road sections in Poland managed by the General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (pol. GDDKIA). You have to be careful because the viaToll system is valid not only on motorways, but also on expressways and selected sections of national roads. On private motorways, car owners must make additional payments at goals placed at selected points. A detailed network of toll road sections has been published on the official information page of the viaToll system, and this article lists the road numbers where the gates are placed. The obligation to have a viaBox device for the viaToll system has all vehicles and vehicles with trailers whose permissible total weight is greater than 3.5 tonnes (DMC> 3.5 t).
Who needs to have viaBox and pay viaToll payments? All vehicles and sets of vehicles whose permissible gross weight is more than 3.5 tonnes and buses, regardless of their DMC size: lorries (both two- and three-axle) and lorries with a trailer with a maximum permissible weight above 3.5 tons - buses with a seating capacity above 9, regardless of their permissible total weight - semi-trailer tractor and semi-trailer with trailer and / or trailer with a maximum permissible weight above 3.5 tonnes - passenger cars with a trailer with a total gross vehicle and trailer mass over 3.5 tonnes.
For example, if you are moving passenger car with a caravan or light trailer, but the whole set exceeds the permissible total weight of 3500 kg, then you must already have a viaBox device, of course, navigating the paid sections on which special take-offs are set automatic payment from your account.
How does the viaToll system work? First you have to go to any viaToll distribution point (see the current list of points on this page and on the viaToll website). Then you have to buy a viaBox that will be assigned to your car. Depending on the chosen form of account supply with money, you can immediately top-up the account with the selected amount or settle with transfers or debit. The toll rates for toll road sections depend on the type of vehicle and its emission class, as well as on the type of road you are moving. The range of tolls for 1 kilometer is from 0.16 PLN to 0.53 PLN. The younger the vehicle and the smaller, the lower the fees. If all the formalities with the purchase of the viaBox device have been carried out correctly, by going on the route, you attach them to the glass. Familiarize yourself with the device's instructions, but properly operating at the moment of passing through the gantry by wireless communication and charging, will issue an appropriate sound signal.
Attention! For traveling on roads covered by the viaToll system without this device, vehicles with a DMC higher than 3.5 tonnes are subjected to very high fines. Roads covered by viaToll fees for June 2018: A1, A2, A4, A6, A8, A18, S1, S1, S2, S3, S5, S6, S7, S8, S10, S11, S12, S14, S17, S19, S22 , S52, S61, S74, S79, DK6, DK7, DK10, DK18, DK24, DK44, DK50, DK60, DK77, DK79, DK81, DK90, DK91, DK92, DK94.
You can make a viaBox device and its registration at Distribution Points located along roads covered by the toll and along the main access roads to the network of roads subject to tolls. Generally, such points are available at gas stations BP, Lotos, Shell, Circle K and PKN Orlen.
If one of the readers was away from the caravan for the first time and would like to share their own experiences, I encourage him to share his own experiences and publish them in the commentary to this article. Not all people leaving a caravan or motorhome know how to organize themselves from the practical side to make everything go well! I also encourage you to follow the Trailer profiles on Facebook and Twitter.
News Source: (c) Newseria/PrzyczepyMarter.pl/ViaToll Poland This is the automatic translation of the article into English. The original version of the guide has been published in the Polish language version.