In large crowds or at an event, be sure to pay even more attention to be courteous to other travellers
The term ‘conscious caravanning’ encompasses many ideals. There’s the environmental aspects of travel — ensuring you are mindful of the natural environment and attempting to reduce your carbon footprint; then there’s the philanthropic aspect, where you devote some of your travel time to help others by volunteering in rural communities or ensuring you spend your money to help local businesses.
But another true measure of conscious travel is the respect with which you treat your fellow travellers — both the strangers you encounter along the way and the ones along for the ride with you, says Wayne Park, Relationship Manager with caravan and RV finance brokerage Credit One.
Park deals with RV owners in the process of buying their first RV or upgrading to a different model and, as an avid caravanner himself, he’s well placed to offer expert advice.
The first step to a conscious RV adventure is to plan everything out in advance. This might seem like a no-brainer, but ensuring you and your travel partner — whether that’s a buddy, spouse or even furry friend — are on the same page about what you need to take, how prepared you are for your adventure as well as the kind of holiday you all want to have.
“Some people like to make checklists and other people just know exactly what they need and what they take,” says Park. “It’s essential to be prepared and organised to take the angst out of the whole process which ultimately results in a much more harmonious holiday for everyone.”
Understanding how you will travel before you leave is another big tip — anything from meal planning to kilometres travelled daily, sights to be seen, and the destination that awaits you.
“Being mindful that you are going to be living in a small space with someone — this will help adjust to life on the road more easily and you will quickly find the whole caravanning experience will be enhanced and you can enjoy this great adventure better with your travelling partner too,” he says.
Ensuring your vehicle and your van are up to the task before you leave the driveway is essential.
“Get a service before you go, and do a walk-around inspection of the caravan to make sure everything is serviceable and working the way it should,” he says.
Check your lights, the fridge, water pump, and toilet system to ensure everything is in tip-top shape to avoid being inconvenienced on the road.
“Too often you actually see caravans pulled over to the side of the road because they now have to call for help, all because they didn't do a bit of a pre-check before they even left home,” Park says. Wheel bearings are one of the biggest culprits that can end a holiday before it even begins.
TURN HERE, WITH CARE
One of the biggest ways to be considerate to other travellers is by following a few simple guidelines when towing your camper or caravan, or driving your motorhome.
Not exceeding the speed limit is, of course, a legal requirement. You must always ensure to travel at a speed that is conducive to the road conditions, and you feel comfortable and safe travelling at. If you are new to towing a caravan, it can feel very daunting. Nerves kick in as you can feel the caravan adjusting and moving around.
Until you become comfortable and confident, naturally you will be driving with a level of caution. At this point you are watching so many things and listening for noises that you can lose track of your speed. Driving too slowly and inconveniencing others is just as important.
“Be aware that if you're not the sort to travel at top speed, or you find yourself with a few vehicles behind you, then perhaps the courteous thing to do is to find somewhere safe to pull over and maybe take a quick break to let everybody pass you, and then continuing on,” Park says.
Keep a 10-second distance between yourself and vehicles in front, and only overtake when you have enough room to do so. Once you do overtake, ensure you don’t just slip back to a pace slower than the vehicle you just overtook, thus creating a long line of frustrated drivers behind you.
Also, be respectful to truck drivers while on the road as well as when pulling into truck rest stops, says Park.
Be conscious of the noise you make at a park
“I think the poor old truck drivers cop a bit of the rough end of the stick when it comes to inconsiderate caravan drivers,” he says. This is a minority of road travelers, but Park says a few that can spoil it for the majority.
“Be conscious that if a rest area has a sign up that says that it's a truck parking area, the drivers may regularly use that particular spot to park up their truck and have a sleep.”
When parking your rig in smaller towns, make sure that you don’t block access for local traffic. Park away from main areas and walk back to the shops to get your coffee or to sightsee.
NO ‘I’ IN TEAM
The best kind of travelling partnership is a harmonious one — particularly for couples. Being conscious of each other’s strengths and weaknesses is key. Some people are naturals at reading maps while others have not yet mastered the art of camp oven cooking. But nothing tests a relationship more than the setup of a campsite. From reversing the van to just the right spot, connecting up to utilities and setting up the under-awning area, it can be quite the stressful experience.
“It’s quite interesting how different people survive the trip together, and it’s always by working together,” Park says.
“Working as a team and having a proper setup routine, so that everybody has a particular job that they need to do, is the best way to handle it — and to enjoy the trip!”
Being aware of your behaviour towards strangers who are out there enjoying the great RV lifestyle is also a key part of being a conscious caravanner. Be respectful to people you meet along the way, and embrace the social aspect of life on the road — but be aware that not everyone travels the same way.
“The caravanning community is an extremely social bunch who really enjoy the company of others and meeting new people,” says Park. “But it can be overdone as well. Sometimes people just want to be left alone, and you need to acknowledge that. Some are just there to spend some quiet time because they may talk to people all week, versus those who will gather at happy hour every night.”
At campsites, it is also considered bad manners to be very noisy right into the night, unless everyone joins in. So perhaps rethink bringing the karaoke setup out at 2am, and also remember some generators can be very loud and irritating. Leaving any rubbish around camp is also a no-no, and especially when you are packing up and heading off.
Park also says caravanners need to be mindful of others when using a caravan park’s communal facilities, whether it’s a games room, toilet and shower block or a barbecue area. Take your rubbish with you, and leave all areas clean and tidy for the next person who comes along.
Families who travel with young kids would be prepared for the inevitable onslaught of newfound friends into your van or camper when you establish yourself at a park.
“Be conscious of the fact that it's highly likely that you will be invaded by other kids, as they make friends quickly,” Park says. “Enjoy the newfound friendships that these kids have made, and the ones you will inevitably make with their parents which could lead to everybody sitting around and having a beer at happy hour. But also be aware that other families may need a break from the children of others, too.”
Also, while it may sometimes feel irresistible, it’s bad manners to laugh at people who are making a mess of trying to reverse in their van onto a spot, or bumble about trying to set up.
Travelling in convoy can be fun, but watch your speeds and be considerate to other drivers
“Instead of doing that, offer some help, especially if they've not reversed a caravan before, as this could be their very first outing,” he advises.
To avoid such a dilemma yourself, practice a few times at home before setting out — that way you can look like an experienced caravanner.
Being safety-conscious on the road includes protecting your valuables from theft, locking up your car and van when you will be away from either, and securing your campsite at night — particularly when free camping.
But it is also about looking out for other you really want. Having flexibility inside the loan to make extra repayments or to pay out the loan early is fast becoming the preferred option for many borrowers while keeping costs down. The Credit One Caravan team has a 22-year history of getting more people into this great lifestyle with a tailored loan as they deal with industry professionals day in and day out.
For more information about financing your dream or to obtain a pre-approval prior to negotiating with a dealer or private seller, make the smart choice and call the Credit One Caravan team on 1300 273 348, (07) 3420 7030 or visit creditone.com.au. people’s security, too. Park says it is a courteous and ‘neighbourly’ thing to remind others if valuables are left in plain sight in busy environments, or perhaps if the van is unsecured while no one is around.
Alerting others to potential dangers is a great way to be a considerate fellow traveller — everyone can learn a few things on the road!
Interested in climbing aboard the RV bandwagon? Credit One is Australia’s best-rated caravan finance broker and has access to a large number of financiers that can tailor a loan to suit your individual needs. That being either borrowing the entire amount or topping up with a partial loan to get the unit