We bought an old caravan 6 months ago and it is fab. We’ve been caravanning monthly and we’ve been from big cities like London to small and remote villages near Hadrian’s Wall and in Cumbria. So, I want to share with my readers 10 Things I learned about caravanning.
1. Peace and quiet. While caravanning it’s possible to have this view and be only 30 minutes away from central London, with parking included, and a couple of minutes away from a huge park. I think this is amazing.
2. My husband and I feel we must change the water pipes on each new addition. One of the first things we did after we bought the house was to change the good water pipes with new ones. We did that again, in the caravan. We changed the whole system (including tap and pump). We would probably do the same if we’re getting another caravan.
3. You can cook what you want. Both these cakes were baked from scratch, in the caravan, by estimating the measurements. Now I will weigh the ingredients from home and put them into Tupperware, just the right amount for a cake this size. Or I can buy plastic measuring cups.
I read a couple of articles where the author mentioned is not possible to cook what you want and I can’t disagree more. The worktop is not huge, there are only 2 plates on the hob and the oven is small, but it can be done. The fridge is also small, but that is not an issue for me as I usually cook only 2 servings anyway. See the recipes I shared after our 1st holiday with the caravan.
There are plenty of ready chopped veggies, fresh, frozen or canned. I use quite a lot of canned food while we are away, the pulses are ready baked and I just have to add a little bit of herbs and spices. I cooked saag aloo last time we’ve been caravanning and it took 10 minutes.
There are small plastic jars that can be used for storing&transporting spices and sauces, mustard, pickles and so on. I’m considering getting a small hand mixer and that will open an array of possibilities. I love cooking and I don’t see any reason not to cook when I want to.
4. Everything that is designed for the caravan and camping is expensive. A couple of plastic wine glasses will be £10. We need Champagne glasses too, because we can’t drink any kind of bubbly from a wine glass, obviously. As real glass can get shattered into million pieces, so they have to be plastic and as authentic as possible because I don’t like disposable ones. They are visible in the picture below, I’m really happy with them and they will last forever.
The same with the foldable buckets, sieves etc. The price for them in a camping shop is double what you’d pay in a standard shop. Also, some can be found in discount shops and there the items are really cheap, I take advantage of those to save some pennies. I’ve read that “Caravanning is not a cheap holiday, but an expensive hobby” and I agree.
5. Tupperware is your friend. The more, the better. I have everything in Tupperware and it’s so convenient to bring the leftovers home or to stock the cupboards a couple of days before going on holiday. I have coffee, tea, loose tea, flour, rice, pasta, peanuts, oats and the list can go on and on. It’s very easy to store it.
6. People will ask silly questions. When I mentioned we are camping for 10 days I was asked if there is a toilet block. I found this funny, as the toilet blocks are well equipped, the big campsites have 2-3 toilet blocks, hair dryers, washing machine and so on. In smaller sites the facilities are basic, without hair dryers and washer-driers, but still good and clean.
7. You can dress up and put on make-up. Living in a caravan for a few days doesn’t mean make-up is out of the question. We have decided to transform the caravan bathroom into a wardrobe. We took out the fittings and installed a canvas wardrobe. It was easy to set up and the cost was very low, less than £30 for a relatively big storage space. We still use the built-in wardrobe, but I needed more space. The 2nd wardrobe is longer than 1m and it has also an additional shelf. I can fit in my caravan more than in a standard hotel room, that is for sure.
With the help of the mirror my husband installed on one of the doors, I can do my make up easily in the caravan. Again, I’ve read that is not possible to do that. I think that if it’s something you want to do, it can be done.
I have samples that I can take with me and also small travel bottles for the products I use usually. I have shower gel and scrub, shampoo, conditioner, heat-protective hair spray, hand cream, face cream, lip balm, makeup remover, cotton buds, nail polish, nail polish remover, all the makeup I need for that time. All fits in one of the cupboards, it’s not even a hassle, I just put them there a couple of days before we’re leaving and that is it.
Caravaning doesn’t mean messy buns and jeans if you don’t want to. For me, it’s a mixture, depending on where I’m going or what I’m doing.
8. Don’t try to remember if you took the toothbrush. I tried for the first time and it didn’t work. I have a set of pans (1 frying pan and 2 pans), a couple of tins of soup, a 2nd set of toothbrushes and toothpaste, pens, pillow cases, bedspread, a few socks, a couple of towels, tea, coffee and other things we need. It’s pointless to make a huge list every time we go somewhere. I know what I need to change/replenish and I will do that a few days after we are back from a trip.
9. Caravan storage is very important. At the moment the caravan is in a storage facility only 10-15 minutes away from home. We were lucky to find this place, the security is great, access is with a key, by night there are guard dogs patrolling the site. I am happy with the way the dogs are kept when they aren’t working and they look happy and well cared for. We wouldn’t have taken the space if the dogs weren’t happy.
The downside is the cost. Depending on where you live, the prices can be anything from £300 to £800, maybe more for London. Around Liverpool the annual fee is £400-£500. Our storage facility is fully booked and we found a spot because the guy that wanted that spot before us had a caravan that was too big. Of course, this means that if we want to change our caravan for a bigger one we might need to look elsewhere for storage and to travel more to the storage facility. Another option, if we change the caravan is to just wait until a bigger place is available at this site.
We could have kept the caravan in front of the house, but it takes a lot of space, it’s big and some neighbours can complain. In some areas is not permitted to keep it in front of the house, I’m not sure if that was an option for us, we didn’t check. Besides, keeping the caravan in the driveway and going on holiday it’s like saying to any unsuspecting burglar: “Look, we are going away for at least 3-4 days. Enjoy!”.
10. Size does matter. We wanted a caravan that was big enough to go on longer trips, but at the same time, we don’t want a big caravan that is not easy to maneuver. Our caravan is just the right size. We have the space we need inside, but it’s not big and hard to maneuver on narrow roads in the countryside like the ones we’ve been to on our trip to Cumbria, Essex and Hadrian’s wall. It also helped having an old caravan and not crying over a new scratch (from trees&bushes). It happens, unless you are driving it only on the motorway.
11. Bonus: It doesn’t take a lot of time. Making the bed takes 5 minutes (on the clock), transforming it from 2 sofas into a double bed, tuck away the table under the bed and put everything on: mattress protector (to make it more comfortable in the middle), bed spread, pillows, duvet or in the morning, to do everything in reverse. Setting up the caravan (lowering its legs to make it steady & flat), connecting it to electricity and turning on the gas takes 5 minutes too.