25th May 2018
Towing a caravan for the first time can be a scary prospect, but it needn’t be.
I admit it, I was worried about towing from the get-go but five minutes in to my maiden journey on the Bristol to the Bosphorus adventure, my fears were put to bed pretty quickly.
Towing a caravan can strike fear into you the first time you hitch up and take to the road, but heading into my first tow with some confidence meant I slowly eased into the daunting challenge of driving across Europe.
My biggest obstacle to overcome was that for my first ever tow I would be driving on the opposite side of the road with 1.5 tonnes behind me. Not something to be taken lightly.
Part of being new to towing is having the confidence that you can deal with whatever is thrown at you. As a novice tower, my first experience was one that dealt with uneven road surfaces, a thunderstorm and heavy traffic as the night slowly drew in.
Having set off from Bristol on the first leg of the Bristol to the Bosphorus challenge, I spent the first part of the journey observing how other people tow as we made our way to Portsmouth. After an overnight ferry to France, I was eased into driving on the continent by taking the Advance 76-4 motorhome to our campsite for the night, Castels Chateau de l’Eperviere.
With 385 miles to get through on day 3 of our challenge I knew that at some point today I would be getting up close with some towing and my moment arrived after as we came through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Italy via Switzerland.
After a quick fuel stop in Courmayeur in the Aosta Valley, a driver change saw me settle down in the Skoda Kodiaq, one of our two tow vehicles. With the Pegasus GT70 Rimini behind me, I pulled out onto the E25 motorway and headed towards Turin.
The first five minutes were filled with a little terror but mostly excitement. This was my first real tow, and while I had an experienced tower next to me who offered pointers every now and then, it was largely left to me to just get on with it.
My first stint of driving on the other side of the road was going well; apart from some slipstreaming effects from vans and lorries, we were making good progress towards Lake Garda. The Kodiaq was proving exactly why it was named Tow Car of the Year by the Caravan and Motorhome Club and yep, the Kodiaq was King, towing like a dream.
But if the first 30 minutes or so seemed to pass with relative ease, things were about to get tougher. A dramatic change in weather lay in our path and in swirled an afternoon thunderstorm that hit us completely out of the blue.
In these kinds of conditions your driving when towing is really put to the test. Coupled with tricky road surfaces, the weather meant we were really up against it. There are certain aspects that need to be adjusted when towing, and particularly in adverse weather. It’s not only your judgement, control and speed that need altering but also your road positioning and awareness.
But as the weather eased and the storm passed, we were hit with obstacle number two… Italian rush hour traffic. As if the road conditions and challenging weather weren’t enough to deal with, we had heavy traffic as we made our way around the Italian capital.
As motorbikes, cars and vans squeezed their way in and out of traffic, we were left to sit and wait It’s a little harder to squeeze in and out of lanes with a caravan in tow. But as we patiently waited the day turned to night as we slowly made our way out of the heavy traffic before heading towards our resting spot for the evening Camping Fontanelle.
So bad were the conditions that I felt a real sense of achievement when I was told when we arrived at Lake Garda “if you can tow through those conditions, you can tow through anything”.
Over the next three days, I became more and more confident and relaxed about towing as we made our way from Italy onto Slovenia before heading towards Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia as we clocked the miles.
Taking on more rain (this time in Slovenia) before the warmer climates of Croatia, towing on the continent gave me the confidence to take on any adventure.
From my first experience in France all the way to taking on the hairpins of Croatia, towing doesn’t need to be a big deal and I can’t wait for the next time I get behind the wheel with a caravan in tow.
Experience the real freedom of the road with part 1 of our Bristol to the Bosphorus film.