Getting a motorhome is an exciting time, so it’s easy to make mistakes. Many of us may rush off on our first adventure without doing the necessary prep beforehand, putting us at risk of breakdowns, flat batteries and gas shortages – most of which are easily avoided.
Likewise, once you’ve reached your destination, there are various steps you can take to ensure holidaying in your motorhome is straightforward and stress-free, avoiding unnecessary inconvenience and expense.
Of course, journeying in a motorhome means you’ll likely be in unfamiliar territory, travelling along a variety of roads in changeable terrains and climates.
Motorhomes are larger and heavier than the average vehicle, increasing the risk of accident and injury occurring.
You’ll also have your personal possessions in tow, some of which could be valuable, so theft is another concern.
Motorhome Protect understands that your motorhome is so much more than just a vehicle that gets you from A to B.
It’s your home on wheels, a meaningful investment that enables you and your loved ones to enjoy exciting adventures and make treasured memories.
We offer specialist motorhome insurance so you will have peace of mind on your getaways, whatever happens.
Take a look at our guide to the common mistakes new motorhome owners make and avoid repeating history!
Mistake 1: You’re unfamiliar with your motorhome
Hopefully, you’ll have a thorough handover, during which the previous owner will walk you through every aspect of your new motorhome.
Before you hit the road, make sure you understand how your recreational vehicle’s heating, water, gas and electrical systems work; you should also learn how to latch and unlatch doors, windows and cabinets.
Check the engine is in good health, your vehicle has adequate waterproofing and it has a recent MOT.
It’s a good idea to stay in your motorhome for a night before you venture further afield.
This is a handy way of testing everything and flagging any issues, so you can fix problems before you head off on holiday.
You can perform a bedtime dry run, working out how to set up the bed (if it needs assembling) and testing the blinds.
Mistake 2: You don’t understand your heating system
The combination of no hot water and no heating is a recipe for a rather unhappy holiday – especially in the colder months.
Whether your heating depends on removable gas bottles, a fixed diesel tank or a fixed LPG tank, check you have a full supply – tanks should be brimmed while gas bottles can be weighed on bathroom scales.
LPG isn’t available at every petrol station, so you’ll need to plan where you’ll stop off in advance.
Get to grips with the refilling process: this tends to involve fixing a fitting (bayonet-style) to the tank and depressing a button until it’s full.
You can find replacement gas bottles at motorhome dealers and filling stations – certain garden centres and campsites also sell replacements, but they may not stock your required type/size, so don’t rely on this option.
Gas bottles tend to come in blue (butane) or orange (propane).
Fortunately, you couldn’t fit an incompatible bottle to your motorhome, even if you tried, as the regulators differ according to the type of gas.
You’re likely to need a gas spanner to switch the cylinders out, as they commonly have reverse threads – make sure to keep your spanner somewhere secure.
Mistake 3: You don’t perform regular inspections
You should regularly inspect your motorhome, checking the brakes are fully functional, the engine sounds healthy and the tyres are in good nick.
Most modern motorhomes come with tyre pressure monitoring systems, so any issues should be highlighted by this, but it’s still worth performing a visual check of every tyre, looking for any unusual bumps or lumps in the rubber, as well as trapped debris.
Mistake 4: You haven’t secured everything before driving
When you’re excited to set off, it’s easy to forget about the hazards posed by crockery, curtains, tables and other furniture.
It’s not until you start moving that things go flying, making for dangerous driving conditions.
Make sure unfixed furniture is secured, cupboards are tightly fastened, curtains are tied back, and loose objects are packed away.
Mistake 5: You haven’t pre-planned your route
Once you’re confident driving your motorhome around, you can embark on your first long-haul trip.
It’s vital to plan your route ahead of time especially given you’ll be driving a bigger, heavier vehicle than normal.
You need to ensure you can safely drive your motorhome along your chosen route – low bridges and narrow country lanes are not ideal in such a hefty vehicle.
Many modern sat navs can provide rolling updates throughout the course of a journey, letting you know of any potential issues or accidents.
You should also purchase a rear camera to help you reverse safely, as well as a dash-cam.
Dash-cams are highly useful if and when accidents occur, as they record footage of oncoming vehicles.
No matter how clear your route seems, never speed.
Adverse weather conditions, potholes or collisions could lead to serious damage and injury in such a large vehicle.
Secure dependable motorhome insurance before you set off, as you never know what’s around the corner.
Mistake 6: You don’t do a final walk around before travelling
Before you depart, you’ll need to make sure you’ve unplugged the mains hook-up and firmly fastened the cover in place.
Check all windows, doors and roof lights are secured, and make sure you have keys for each of the external lockers, plus a well-stocked toolbox.
The stabilisers should be up, the windscreen and windows should be sparkling clean and everyone should be strapped in.
As you set off, listen out for any dragging, rustling or flapping sounds. If you hear anything unusual, pull over somewhere safe and try to find the source.
If you can’t, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have your vehicle checked over by a professional.
You should have specialist motorhome insurance in place from day one – don’t go anywhere until this is arranged.
Mistake 7: You haven’t winterproofed your motorhome
Frozen water means costly damage, so if you won’t be using your motorhome come winter, make sure you prepare it for the big freeze.
Drain your motorhome’s water system completely, emptying the hot water, fresh water and waste tanks.
Keep a window cracked open to prevent condensation and damp occurring, empty the cupboards of any residual food, and take the vehicle for an occasional spin to keep the battery charged.
Mistake 8: You’re not keeping an eye on energy use
You should know where your 12V fuse box is located and find out what kind of fuse it uses. Bring along a full set of spares on trips, storing them securely.
Your motorhome’s electrical system depends on its leisure battery’s 12V DC. If you’re on the road or using a mains hook-up, you should be fine.
If you’re not, you need to keep a close eye on your energy usage, or you could end up with a flat battery.
It’s a wise move to add a second leisure battery if you plan on wild camping or staying in campsites without mains hook-ups.
Avoid leaving lights on when you’re not connected to a hook-up – or any other electrical device.
Habitually check everything is switched off before leaving your house trailer.
Mistake 9: You haven’t got to grips with your toilet
While it’s best to stick to campsite toilets, there’ll probably be occasions when someone needs to use your motorhome’s loo.
To avoid unpleasant smells, you’ll need to empty the toilet daily – if it’s only being used for liquids you can increase this to every 2-3 days.
When the toilet is clean, work out how to empty it. You’ll likely be able to trigger a latch that enables the cassette to slide out.
You can then take it to your campsite’s designated waste disposal area.
Cassettes are usually emptied by turning a nozzle, unfastening a cap and pushing the air pressure release button.
After it’s emptied, sluice it with clean water a few times over, refresh the loo chemical and re-secure it inside your motorhome.
Mistake 10: Taking long showers
Recreational vehicles commonly have around 10 litres of hot water, plus a limited cold water supply in the fresh water tank.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can take a long hot shower like you do at home.
In the majority of motorhomes this will totally deplete the hot water supply, alongside most of the main water supply – all in a matter of minutes.
Instead, briefly moisten your body in the shower, then turn it off. Lather up, then switch it back on to quickly wash off.
Consider packing dry shampoo if you’re camping somewhere without on-site showers.
If you can’t forgo a longer shower, pick a campsite with good bathroom facilities.
Mistake 11: You bring high power gadgets
Many new motorhome owners make the mistake of bringing along domestic gadgets.
Household devices that involve some form of heating – from kettles to microwaves – often gobble up large portions of current and can even trip out hook-ups at campsites.
Look for devices with low power consumption levels or opt for products that don’t depend on electricity at all – for example: a classic kettle that boils on the hob.
Mistake 12: Packing too much
Your motorhome’s payload isn’t infinite, so don’t go overboard when it’s time to pack.
Only bring what you need, opting for microfibre towels, melamine crockery and other lightweight substitutes. Hit the road with an empty water tank, as this also helps reduce your payload – you can fill it up when you reach the campsite.
Mistake 13: You leave your awning out
When ambling off for a nice long walk on a blustery day, many of us forget our awnings are still out.
A missing awning is costly to replace, so make sure you pack it away before leaving your motorhome for lengthy periods of time – especially when the wind’s blowing!
Mistake 14: You don’t do a walk around before returning home
Make sure you check everything is correctly secured before you leave the campsite.
Follow our seven-point checklist:
- Lift the step
- Close the hatches and roof vents, preventing them from being torn off in transit – replacements aren’t cheap
- Secure all the doors, windows and lockers
- Empty your loo and waste water tank
- Close off and secure the drain valve
- Unplug the mains hook-up
- Check the stabilisers are up
Tips for your first trip
Here are a few final tips for novice campers…
- Cover your vehicle with reliable motorhome insurance
- Research campsites thoroughly before committing, as some rural pitches have minimal facilities; you may have specific requirements, so make sure your chosen campsite caters to these
- Before you set off, turn your fridge on and let it run on the mains for a few hours, allowing it to cool to the correct temperature
- If you pass filling points, stop off and top up fuel/gas supplies as many campsites are in rural spots with limited facilities
- Once you’ve parked at your pitch, if possible, plug your mains cable into the designated socket on your motorhome, connecting the other end to the electric hook-up on-site
- If this doesn’t work, the consumer unit of the on-site hook-up might have been tripped, in which case it will need resetting
- If the power still doesn’t come on, you might need to reset your motorhome’s consumer unit
Protecting your home from home
A motorhome requires significant investment, so it deserves significant protection.
You can take every precaution, but it’s impossible to rule out every risk.
You’ll be driving your motorhome down busy motorways, with its larger than average size making it vulnerable to road traffic accidents and damage.
Camping involves purchasing pricey equipment, so you want reassurance this is protected as well, in the event theft occurs.
Motorhome Protect provides dependable motorhome insurance, tailored to your vehicle, needs and budget.
Our cover includes benefits such as:
- Cover for house trailers valued up to £150,000
- Cover of camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Uncapped mileage cover
- Unlimited protection across all EU countries
Enjoy your travels headache-free and get a quote today.