Having saved up for a campervan that you can call your own, the last thing you want is to be caught unawares by the size and handling of your new vehicle. So, before you get behind the wheel, it pays to absorb some tips on driving your campervan for the first time.
If you were to damage your campervan due your inexperience, you could of course claim on your campervan insurance – but it goes without saying that’s not something you want to be doing all too often.
For a cheaper and more hassle-free driving experience, you should take some time to get to grips with your campervan.
Not only will it mean you’re less likely to find yourself in a scrape, it will improve your confidence out on the road, making for a better trip.
So, here are some tips for keeping you and your vehicle safe and out of harm’s way:
Know your dimensions
Campervans come in all shapes and sizes, so ensure you know your vehicle’s unique dimensions.
And by that, we mean physically familiarise yourself with the size of the vehicle, as opposed to just knowing its height, width and weight.
So, walk around your campervan, looking at the size of the rear bumper, the shape of the wheel arches and length of the front end.
Then sit in the driver’s seat and locate some reference points for the front and rear of the vehicle – this will help you when making manoeuvres.
Once you think you have some reliable reference points – and have adjusted your mirrors to give you full visibility – put them to the test.
Obviously, you don’t want to get used to your campervan too close to other vehicles; so, if you can, find a big empty car park and practise your bay parking, three-point turns and so on using the white lines of the bays.
Get out of the vehicle after every manoeuvre to see how you fared.
Plan your journey
Perhaps the best piece of advice we can possibly give you is to plan your journey accordingly.
As it’s a campervan you’re driving and not an artic lorry, you shouldn’t have too many issues with low bridges – but you might stick to the main roads so that you don’t find yourself having to squeeze past any vehicles down narrow lanes.
As you go about planning your journey, it’s a good idea to sketch out a route that aligns with the weather map.
In other words, try to avoid hazardous conditions where you can. Of course, you’re bound to run into some torrential weather every now and again, but in the early days of driving your campervan it’s best to air on the side of caution.
You are more likely to feel the effect of the wind in your campervan during a storm and therefore may struggle to control your vehicle.
Plan meticulously – even down to knowing which car parks you’ll stop in along the way, so that you don’t find yourself pulling up to an entrance with a height limit.
Strap everything down
A final thing to do before you hit the road is to strap down anything that moves in the living area of your campervan.
So, if you have any storage cupboards, make sure nothing is going to fly out mid-journey and take you by surprise or cause injury to your passengers.
Reduce your speed
The speed limit for campervans (not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight) are no different than they are for cars, so they are your guide as you make your way around the UK.
But, if the road conditions take a turn for the worse – perhaps you find yourself driving through the eye of a storm – then you should reduce your speed.
Most drivers would do this instinctively anyway – but don’t let other drivers pressurise you into driving faster than you feel is safe.
If any driver starts to tailgate you, just ignore them or slow down further to allow them to pass safely. Whatever you do, don’t engage them as this will take away from your concentration on the road ahead.
Reducing your speed will give you more time to react to the adverse conditions – be it ice, high winds or a rainfall – which can also affect your visibility.
Keep your distance
The heavier your vehicle, the more road it needs to come to stop. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends allowing at least two seconds from the vehicle in front, and at least double this in bad conditions.
Drivers rarely stick to this rule. But it can be the difference between being able to stop in time should an incident happen in front of you and not.
To ensure you’re adhering to the two-second rule, as the vehicle in front passes a fixed point, such as a sign or a bridge, start to say “only a fool breaks the two-second rule” at a normal rate.
This phrase takes about two seconds to say, so if you pass the same fixed point before you’ve finished saying it, you’re too close and should leave more room.
Apply your driving experience
As an experienced driver, you have built up all sorts of road sense that’ll come into good use when you’re behind the wheel of your campervan.
So, try not to get flustered when you find yourself in a potentially sticky situation – just fall back on some of that know-how.
A lot of driving a campervan is common sense – like ensuring you always park facing outwards so that you don’t have to reverse out with limited visibility, or asking your passenger to get out to provide some extra guidance when manoeuvring your motorhome – so don’t be rushed into making a bad decision.
Protect yourself with campervan insurance
Before you head out into the wilderness, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the puzzle: campervan insurance. We can provide a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance that could provide the following possible benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your camper while you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Discounts if you’re a member of a club
- Panel of leading Campervan insurers
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Value up to £150,000