If you’re thinking of buying a caravan there’ll be
loads of questions you’d like answered.
Well, we at The Caravan Planet want to help you, so we’ve
compiled here some of the basics such as what
to look for ... and what to avoid.
Considering buying a touring caravan is quite a big step,
with a commitment to invest a fair amount of money.
And, if you’ve no experience of caravans, things like “What
will my car be able to tow?” and “How much can I put in
it?” may seem like almost unanswerable questions. This guide
probably won’t tell you absolutely everything you’ve
ever wanted to know about caravans, but we are sure it
will point you in the right direction.
You can also find more by calling into see us anytime
So, let’s get you started now on your first step to caravan
purchase and an enjoyable future of trouble-free touring.
There isn’t really any rule of thumb relating to size and
weight of a caravan. A small caravan packed to the gunnels
with kit could be heavier than a larger, possibly older,
caravan. Newer models have become heavier over the years.
Nearly all caravans today over 3 metres long (10ft) have a
toilet room, only shorter ones not having the necessary
space to include one. If you’re only going to be on sites
where toilets are provided, this is less important, but if you
will be staying on sites such as Certificated
Locations, then the Caravan Code requires that you have
your own facilities.
It makes sense to tow the shortest, lightest caravan that
suits your needs. Consider getting a compact caravan and
buying an awning for it. You’ll still have enough space and
you could buy a 4 metre (13 ft) caravan with an awning for
considerably less money than a 5 metre (17 ft) caravan.
Attached to the side of your caravan, which has an
‘awning channel’ built in, you can use it for extra dining
space, as an additional
room for children or
visitors to sleep, or a place
for you to sit out on hot
summer nights when the
kids have gone to bed.
Consider too that a long
caravan will be more
awkward to manoeuvre
into gateways or drives,and
sometimes more difficult to park on
and off site, and to store
Only the very largest caravans need four wheels to bear
their fully laden weight, most caravans being very
adequately supported by one axle. Some caravan bodies
can be fitted with either to give the buyer choice. So which
In theory, two tyres on each side of the caravan give better
grip than one and bring better stability. When parked,
however, the twin axle caravan does not necessarily stand
level and may have a heavier noseweight than that of a
The single axle scores heavily when manoeuvring on site.
The twin’s on-road benefit of extra grip becomes a liability
when you have to swing the caravan to hitch up. Unless
you’re an expert in reversing your outfit for spot-on
pitching and 100% accurate at backing up to re-connect,
then stick to a single axle and spare the heaving!
Finally, an extra axle adds initial cost and weight, doubles
tyre replacement costs, and requires greater care and
maintenance to achieve braking balance.
Twin axles might seem
a better bet, but think
choosing this option.
Better grip and stability
come at the expense of
When choosing a caravan, check the amount you can carry
in the caravan (payload allowance) in the handbook. With
older caravans prior to the mid 1990’s the quoted weight
has a 5% tolerance, officially plus or minus, but in practice
From 1999 all caravans are built to a European Standard
and you’ll find the following information in the user’s
handbook. The term ‘mass’ means the weight:
The maximum permissible laden mass
(MTPLM) - previously known as MAW - in kilograms
The mass in running order (MIRO), in kilograms
The maximum user payload (MTLPLM minus MIRO)
The weight of the essential habitation equipment for
the caravan, in kilograms.
The payload information includes:
Click the image above for a rough guide as to how much weight is allowed
for such items as crockery, utensils and clothing, plus the
average weights of the usual necessities. Cassette toilets
and spare wheels may be included in the quoted MIRO
weight, or may be part of a ‘special package’ which will
reduce the quoted payload.
It is very easy to accidentally
exceed the MTPLM of a caravan.
This may cause premature tyre failure, and damage the running gear. the amount of payload
offered with a caravan is therefore an important consideration.
Caravan Planet recommends
that you take your laden caravan
to a weighbridge to ensure you
are not exceeding the
*lbs are approximate (to convert kg to lb, multiply by 2.2)
Note: It is not recommended to travel with water container or toilet full