We just picked up our brand new shiny home on wheels – A custom built Jayco Starcraft caravan! It was an exciting day and a little nerve-racking for Rob with the thought of towing this 22ft beauty back through the busy streets of Sydney once we had picked it up. But all went well and we are now living very comfortably full-time in our caravan and towing it wherever our hearts desire!
We didn’t know what to expect for our hand-over day so we thought we would compile our top tips to ensure you are well prepared to pick up your rig when the time comes.
1. Ensure your tow vehicle is fully prepared
Before the day:
You will need to ensure your caravan and tow vehicle are within all the towing weight regulations so you can legally and safely tow your caravan. Electric brakes are required by law for towing most caravans, so your vehicle will need to be fitted with an electric brake controller (on or before your handover day).
You could also talk to an expert about a suspension upgrade or a weight distribution hitch to ensure you’re towing safely and with ease. You will also need to check the appropriate trailer connection plug is fitted to your vehicle and that it is actually connected/working (as our 12 pin plug was not).
Towing mirrors are a must for towing most caravans so you will need to have these with you on the day, you may also want to have a full tank of fuel as you DO NOT want to have to worry about navigating a petrol station while towing a van just yet!
On the day:
Have a ‘dummy run’ – We went for a test drive on the day with a dealership representative who talked us through a ‘start to finish’ hook up of our van to our adventure truck, as well as how to use and adjust the electric brakes when towing our rig.
2 . Insurance
Arrange your insurance or cover note before you pick up your van or drive it anywhere!! You may also be able to do this in-house at the caravan dealership.
3. Leave the kids at home
If you can, don’t bring your little ones with you as you will both need to be involved to listen to all the details of ‘what button does what’ and ‘how this connects to that’ etc.. If you do need to bring the kids (like we did), ensure you pack loads of snacks and activities to keep them happy as 2 pairs of ears listening to how to turn the fridge on are better than one!
4. Have a check list
Bring along a print out of all the extras and items you have ordered for your new van. Take some time to check these off to ensure they have been installed/delivered. You should also look closely for any damage or scratches etc. and have the dealership rectify or acknowledge these before you drive away.
5. Set up/Set down know how
Jayco provided us with a laminated ‘Caravan Set up and Set Down Checklist’ which is super handy. Whether you are just starting out or have had a caravan in the past – each van is different so it is great to ensure you are familiar with the ins and outs of what is required from the start. If your caravan dealer doesn’t provide you with one – you may want to ask for one.
We were also provided with a list of all the ‘how to’ YouTube video demonstrations which is a super handy resource.
6. Taking your new home… home
Make sure you know which route is best to take when driving it home, e.g. steer clear of tight streets and hard to turn corners in busy built up areas. Plan where you are going to park your new rig once you get it home – have a well thought out plan so you don’t have to worry about where your new rig is going to be stored when it is not in use.
If you want some added confidence you could also book into a caravan towing course for towing and parking tips so you are all set to hit the road for your next exciting adVANture!
Once you have your new caravan you are sure to have some questions. There are some great online Facebook caravan pages with plenty of friendly caravanners happy to share their knowledge – we recommend joining these. A few that we use are:
- Everything Caravan and Camping – https://www.facebook.com/groups/everythingcaravanandcamping/
- Caravan and Camping Australia – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1824585424495089/
- Aussie Big Lappers – https://www.facebook.com/groups/aussiebiglappers/
- Caravan and camping Tips and Tricks – https://www.facebook.com/groups/campingtricks/
- Jayco Starcraft – https://www.facebook.com/groups/618995198219971/
Is there anything we have missed? Please let us know in the comments below.