What you should not do
If you are traveling in a motorhome for the first time, you must pay attention to a few things. We show the most common beginner mistakes and how to get around them.
Driving safety, loading, disposal – we explain what beginners should pay attention to on their first camping holiday with a (rental) mobile home. If you avoid the following mistakes, little can go wrong on the first tour.
Set off unprepared
It’s going soon; the camper is ready to go? You have to take a little time to check the most important points after the winter break, for example: Do the tires still have enough air pressure? Are you maybe ten years old? Then quickly buy new ones from Airstream dealers. How does it look in the water tank? Does it have to be cleaned thoroughly again here? And the onboard battery increases its performance significantly if you charge it from the mains before the extensive tour. It is also worth looking at the gas bottles’ filling level, especially when the outside temperature is excellent and you want to use the heating.
Walk around in the motorhome while driving.
Anyone who thinks there is a lot of freedom of movement in a motorhome while driving is wrong. Because not only do the driver and front passenger have to be buckled up, this also applies to all other passengers – regardless of whether they are children or dogs. Accordingly, the number of passengers must correspond to the number of seats with seat belts. As in every car, children in the motorhome need an age-appropriate seat that must be fixed correctly (keyword: Isofix). If possible, remove the table from the seating area. Lying down in the motorhome bed is also taboo while driving. Thanks to various security systems for four-legged friends, dogs and cats can travel safely in the motorhome.
Drive off with a full freshwater tank
Only absolute newcomers to motorhomes make the freshwater tank as complete as possible when starting their vacation. Professionals, on the other hand, only fill the tank half or a third. The tanks usually have a filling volume of approx—95 to 170 liters. With 30 to 55 liters, there is enough water to wash your hands and go to the toilet on the go. The reason for this economy is apparent or instead on the scales: Every liter means an additional load that the motorhome then has to cope with. You can easily refill at most petrol stations and all campsites. A look at our App Stellplatz-Radar (available free of charge in the Apple App Store or theGoogle Play Store )
Load the mobile home haphazardly.
Camping vehicles are not trucks! To estimate the payload, i.e., the load capacity with people and luggage, you should know the actual curb weight of the vehicle and the permissible total weight. It is not advisable to throw all your luggage into the motorhome chaotically and thoughtlessly. In general, the following applies to the weight distribution: heavyweight downwards, lightweight upwards – this is how a low center of gravity stabilizes the vehicle. Store things logically so that they can be easily found again.
Don’t forget The house on wheels rolls! Therefore everything should be stowed away well. Pottery is usually well stowed away in rental vehicles. Otherwise, storage systems help to ensure a secure hold. So that the driver is not distracted on the way, it should be checked before departure whether there are objects on the open shelf surfaces that could fall. It is better to find a safe place – there are usually enough storage compartments in the motorhome. Secure everything well so that the load stays where it belongs. By the way: non-slip loading reduces the background noise in the motorhome when driving.
An adventurous driving style
You should never set off without a test run – otherwise, the journey will turn into an adverse adventure. No matter how safe it is on four wheels, you must also note that mobile homes, for example, have different braking behavior and different visibility than cars. The test should be carried out again when the vehicle is fully packed and, therefore, weighs even more.
Motorhomes require more caution when driving than handling a car. The correct view of the exterior mirrors, maneuvering in tight spaces, and driving behavior in bends – all of this has to be learned. It is helpful to practice in an empty large car park on a Sunday before the big trip with the holiday vehicle. The driver safety training courses organized by professionals, such as recreational vehicle manufacturers or automobile clubs, are even better.
Driving to the point of no-more
If you want to drive as long as possible in a row to get to your destination as quickly as possible, you have to reckon with the following problems.
Problem 1: A marathon ride is exhausting, and who would want to start their vacation with such a show of strength? Avoid too long daily stages!
Problem 2: Driving through can be dangerous, especially at night and when you are fatigued. During the day, too, the following applies on long journeys: Plan to change drivers!
Problem 3: If it is a family vacation, the little ones can become intolerable if they sit still for hours and cannot let off steam. Therefore take regular breaks!
Problem 4: Traveling instead of racing is the motto of a motorhome. Driving fast is often not allowed at all and reduces safety: the journey is the destination!
Our tip: try to reach your destination before sunset to enjoy the evening comfortably in front of the mobile. And include the time it takes to switch the camper van from driving to living and sleeping mode. Otherwise, there will be stress that you don’t need on vacation.
Blindly trust Navis
Hardly anyone goes on a journey without an electronic navigator, and in fact, the navigation system makes route planning much more straightforward. Even devices consider the special conditions of camping vehicles (size, weight) when calculating the way. A remnant of healthy skepticism should remain in these cases as well.
Again and again, it happens that Navis unsuspecting campers in winding old streets guide or suddenly secret paths are recommended. Motorhomes have little space there. If you do not want to follow the desired route on the map simultaneously, there is only one thing left: trust signs and, above all, your instinct, and do not follow the commands of the navigation system at any cost.
Be sure to look for a place in the sun.
Attention sun worshipers: Too much sun harms not only the skin but also the beauty of sleep. Because if you put your motorhome on the pitch in the blazing sun, you may not get the summer heat out of your four walls anytime soon. The nights are more like a stay in the sauna, and there is no restful sleep. Especially if your motorhome does not have onboard air conditioning, it is better to choose a place in the shade! If the direct sun cannot be avoided: put down the blinds during the day and ventilate them well in the evening.
One of the unsightly tasks when vacationing in a mobile home is known as “dumping,” i.e., wastewater disposal. A distinction is made between gray water – from the shower, sink, and washbasin – and black water, the wastewater from the toilet. A bit of discipline is required: the latter should be emptied regularly to avoid unpleasant surprises the next time you go to the quiet place.
Do it yourself
You are neither MacGyver nor Bear Grylls. No, a few braided twigs, some leaves, and fire steel are not enough to create a comfortable sanctuary. If you don’t have it, you’d better leave the DIY and go to a specialist shop before your first camping trip. There you can get advice from experts when buying awnings, sleeping bags, drive-up wedges, and other accessories.
Camping and Campgrounds are the perfect places for new people in contact to come. G round-laying rules for harmonious coexistence should note all campers. When you’re not entirely apart, there are plenty of opportunities to make friends and meet like-minded people.
The only ones to avoid are mosquitoes and ants. Our tip: the lemongrass scent around the tent or vehicle drives them away. If you are looking for peace in front of other people, you should learn more about expedition vehicles and wild camping/parking space rules.
Leave too quickly
Breakfast is over; we continue to the next exciting destination. The quick departure is particularly appealing in rainy weather. Based on our own experience, we recommend that we take enough time to tidy up the whole living space; otherwise, something is guaranteed to go down noisily on the next bend.
Take your time to check the interior: Are the cupboards, refrigerator, and skylights closed? A tour around the motorhome shows whether the power cable is disconnected and the windows and storage space flaps are closed. Is there a supply and disposal station on-site? Then the inevitable hand movements are done quickly – and with some fresh water on board and an empty wastewater and sewage tank, you can look forward to new adventures much more relaxed.