November 22, 2019 at 9:36 AM
So you’re about to go on your first motorhome journey and you’ve realised, there is a lot to know before you go! Don’t worry, we have you covered with a list of things to be aware of and to do to make sure you get the most out of your motorhome and travels.
1) Stay in your Motorhome… At Home!
It might feel a little strange at the time but it will be worth it in the long run! Have a trial run, or two, by staying in your new motorhome without going anywhere.
By spending time in your home you will get used to the space (or lack of it compared to your home), you will learn how all of your internal electrics work and get used to things like the toilet and heating and cooking facilities and of course, the bed and sleeping setup.
This is also a great opportunity to learn what you will need on your trip but just as importantly, anything you don’t have to take is space, weight and time saved so if you can go without something now is the time to find out!
2) Learn to travel (and live) light.
Motorhomes come with a MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) which sets how heavy the motorhome can be once fully loaded – exceeding this will potentially void your insurance in the event of an accident and an overloaded motorhome will drive poorly and heavily increase your consumption – so there is good reason to learn how to live without ALL of your home comforts.
Instead of your best crockery – why not visit a camping store and get some lightweight plates and cups, the same can be said for cooking equipment. Use lighter, microfibre towels and cloths and find multipurpose cleaners. Some small changes can make a huge difference to how much space you save yourself and how much more efficient your journey will be.
And pack as much as you can but specifically heavy items as low to the floor as you can so you don’t create imbalance.
3) Learn how to use your motorhome heating and fuel
As a UK motorhome owner, you will learn all about British weather, especially overnight. Luckily, most motorhomes come with heating systems run off of propane, butane or LPG (propane being the most common).
This means you will need to know how to change a bottle or fill an LPG tank so learn this before you set off anywhere. As you learn how much gas you use, you will get an idea of when you are running out but short term, you can weigh your bottle. Most motorhomes take a 6kg bottle… by weighing and then monitoring it’s weight loss you will know when that 6kg figure is coming.
It’s also worth mentioning that you will need a spanner to securely fasten and unfasten your bottle, don’t get caught out!
4) Be careful with your electrical devices.
Your motorhome will have two batteries (at least), one which is purely automotive and provides the burst of charge to start the engine, the second is a leisure battery which is designed differently to provide steady power to the electrics in the living area of your motorhome and remove the risk of you killing your engine if you use too much power overnight.
Powering the living area is a 12v leisure battery which can be charged from mains at home or if your campsite has hook-up. On the road, the battery taps into the engines alternator to recharge while you travel.
With this setup, you essentially have mains-like power in your campervan, with UK plug sockets and even USB ports now fairly standard, as are mains powered fridges, microwaves and the like.
However, these drain power! Things that will run away with your battery power include anything with a heating element so hair dryers, toasters and kettles are to be used seldomly if at all. Use alternatives like stove top kettles, make toast with your grill and if you absolutely have to have a hair dryer, try whenever you can to use camping ground facilities and make it a travel model, the lower the wattage the lower the consumption!
Another consideration which many motorhome owners act on is installing a second leisure battery to double your power storage. Most campervans have the space and it can be a life saver if you’ve been off grid for a while.
5) Be practical, be quick, be smart.
OK, that’s good advice for a lot of things but specifically for a motorhome, taking a quick and practical approach to things can make life a lot easier. For example, have the quickest shower you can and don’t run it to warm up or relax.
Don’t leave taps running when you don’t need the water, don’t leave lights on for no reason, and try not to use too many devices off of the motorhomes power at the same time… choose having the lights on when you are cooking instead of the TV!
Yes, that’s obvious but if you are aware of the differences involved in living in your tourer then you will save water, power and ultimately money!
There are two main type of fridge used in campervans; three way and compressor.
The three way fridges are used less in modern motorhomes and actually use heat to circulate coolant so they use either your on board heating fuel, when there is no electricity, they will use the 12v system when you are driving and will use the mains system when parked up and powered.
The other type is what you will be used to in your home, except it runs of 12v instead of mains power. As both will be a decent drain on your power, there are a few things you can do to make the best and most efficient use of your fridge.
Before you set off, it’s a good idea to turn your fridge on for a few hours using your mains hook up so it is down to temp before you start using the motorhomes resources.
As ever but especially when travelling, try not to open the door if possible. This lets out cool air and means the fridge will have to use a lot more power to get it back down to temperature.
And of course, if you’re not actually using it, make sure it’s switched off!
7) The Toilet!
The bit of the motorhome no one really wants to deal with but it’s part of touring and is much easier and cleaner than it used to be! If possible, use it for liquids only as chemical toilets are better for dealing with this. Save anything else for rest stops where you can.
Learn how to empty and refill your chemical toilet whilst it’s dry and before you go out on your first trip and you might save a lot of trouble later!