Getting to know your van and manoeuvring

Before you head off to the Outer Hebrides, or Dordogne or even a week in Cornwall, we recommend a night or two, not too far away from home. Just yourselves and your motorhome.

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Like any relationship, the early days of motorhoming are all about discovery and learning.

For that first trip, choose somewhere within easy reach, where you can get to know your vehicle and familiarise yourself with the owners manual. Get the experience of driving onto a pitch and practice driving out on the open road.

It’s also worth taking some time going through your own drive away checklist. Here’s ours:

When you leave home the first couple of points may already be covered, but you’ll need to remember them when you leave a campsite. 

Drive away checklist
1. Turn off the gas at the cylinder
2. Empty the fresh and waste-water tanks and empty the toilet cassette in an appropriate place
3. Check the motorhome’s windows and roof lights are closed, internal doors and cupboards are closed, loads are safely secured and the habitation door is locked
4. Remove any chocks or levelling blocks
5. Make sure you’ve unhooked your electricity
6. Pull clear of the pitch and check the area for anything left behind
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For many of us a motorhome will be the largest vehicle we’ve ever driven. Both the Caravan and Motorhome Club and The Camping and Caravanning Club run manoeuvring courses where you can learn everything you need to know about driving your new motorhome.

The more experience and knowledge we gain, the more confident we become.

For example, driving a motorhome requires a little more time to manoeuver than other vehicles, with braking and accelerating taking longer. You must also consider the size of your van when approaching a corner and make sure you give yourself plenty of clearance. When reversing, be aware of the distance between the back of the motorhome and the rear wheels. A sizeable overhang must be taken into account.

Overtaking needs to be done with great caution, especially if there are cyclists or horses involved. Speed restrictions are in place for motorhomes and it will depend on the weight and class of the vehicle, which you can check online.

Most importantly, you need to know the dimensions of your motorhome, particularly when approaching narrow roads and low bridges. We keep a note of ours on the dashboard at all times!

Here’s Mel taking the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s manoeuvering course with the lovely Bernie.

The Overnighters