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4 top tips for your first caravan tour

Caravanning is all about learning by doing, but here are four essential tips to get you pitch perfect on your first tour!

The experts at Practical Caravan are providing the solutions to four common touring problems…

How to obtain fresh water

Filling up a washing up bowl

These days, most caravanners use a portable water-carrier to bring fresh water to their van. The term ‘Aquaroll’ is to caravanning what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners: a catch-all term to describe the brilliantly simple, but quite indispensable, rolling water-barrel.

Few people would be able to carry 50 litres of water (that’s 50kg!) from tap to tourer, so rolling carriers are ideal in their simplicity, usability and storability.

Simply fill up the barrel, wheel it back to the caravan and drop in the Truma or Whale submersible pump (depending on your caravan’s spec).

The impeller inside the pump is lubricated by the water, so don’t let it run for extended periods when the barrel is empty. New pumps are easy to find, but cost in excess of £50, so you want them to last.

How to change a gas bottle

Changing a gas bottle

Caravan gas bottles should always be securely strapped into their locker, and the regulator pigtail fitted and tightened with a 30mm spanner. It should also be noted that gas fittings have a reversed thread, so you actually undo the connections by turning the nut clockwise, which might at first seem a bit counterintuitive.

Ensure that the gas bottle is turned off at the top tap before removing it. When the pigtail pipe is separated from the bottle, you will smell a small amount of gas, but as long as the bottle is turned off, this is normal.

Finally, screw the plastic stopper into the bottle’s brass thread, to protect it and help prevent any minor amount of leakage.

When retightening the pigtail nut on the gas cylinder, ensure that it is hand-tight, but do not overtighten it, because this might damage the threads and make removal more difficult next time.

How to empty a chemical toilet

The washroom area of a caravan

Unlock the cassette locker and open the hatch. You usually need to nip the yellow or orange handles together with the grey grip to release the cassette. The orange grip doubles as an extending handle, so you can trundle the cassette along on its wheels.

At the disposal point, twist the fill/empty nozzle and remove the cap. Put this cap well away from the disposal hole – you don’t want to have to fish it out. Now press the orange vacuum-release button on the cassette and pour the contents into the disposal point. The button also lets in air, minimising the risk of any splashing.

Rinse the empty cassette several times with clean water. Before replacing it, add the correct dilution of blue or green cassette chemical. Remember, always empty it at a dedicated disposal point – nowhere else

How to put up an awning

An awning in place on site

Many caravanners consider their awning a touring essential, the easy way to add living and storage space. But awnings are not known as ‘divorce in a bag’ for nothing – putting one up can be tricky until you get the hang of it. It’s definitely worth the effort, though.

Although putting up an awning can look complicated at first, it really is a case of following a logical sequence. We have plenty of expert advice about how to set one up on our website, so head there for step-by-step guides to erecting both full and porch awnings – you’ll find them at how to put up a full awning and how to put up a porch awning.

Don’t forget, if you want a hand with choosing the right awning for you too, be sure to check out our best caravan awning guide as well.

Looking for more top tips for your next tour? Then be sure to head to our Back to Basics: On Tour category, where we’re providing you with all the information you could need to enjoy the ultimate adventure on the road. 

Future Publishing Limited, the publisher of Practical Caravan, provides the information in this article in good faith and makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Individuals carrying out the instructions do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement in determining the appropriateness of the advice to their circumstances. Individuals should take appropriate safety precautions and be aware of the risk of electrocution when dealing with electrical products. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future nor its employees or agents shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information. You should check that any van warranty will not be affected before proceeding with DIY projects.

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