While we may more often than not think of caravans as being towed behind cars on the road, usually during busy Bank Holiday periods and during the school holidays, there are also static caravans which have more permanent bases (as well as plumbed in utilities).
Static caravans are usually based in holiday parks along the coast of the UK, as well as smaller campsites which may be based in more inland locations. Caravan sites will usually have a warden on site who perform daily patrols in order to ensure the safety and security of the camp’s residents.
Much like with a house, a static caravan can be filled with items which may be attractive to thieves – including electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones – so making sure these are protected at times when you are not present at the property is essential in ensuring you don’t lose money should something go missing.
What Should I Secure?
Even though static caravans are static, it can still be worth securing them with devices that you would usually associate with a touring caravan, including:
- Wheel clamps
- Hitch locks
- Corner steady leg locks
- Hitch posts
Even if the caravan itself is not moving it can still be worth using these devices to reduce the risk of theft, but there are a number of other security features that you can add to a static caravan in order to ensure that it is protected.
Check That They Can’t Get In
Like with a house, static caravans will have two main points of entry for burglars to target – the doors and the windows – and by ensuring that both are securely protected with strong locks you can not only help to deter thieves but also help to bring down the cost of your caravan insurance policy by taking these extra steps to protect your property.
Should I Fit An Alarm?
Aside from fitting external deterrents such as those listed above, securing the interior of your static caravan using alarm systems and even small CCTV systems can help protect your belongings and bring down the cost of your static caravan insurance.
Whilst many touring caravans will come with a Thatcham-approved alarm system, static caravans may need beefing up with extra security. With the advent of digital technology and with security cameras getting much smaller, setting up a small home network with a couple of cameras can help keep an eye on the property when you are away, and get alerts sent to your mobile phone if a movement is detected.
Can Having A Safe Help?
If you’re based at the caravan for long periods of time or rent it out to friends, family members or holidaymakers, you’re likely to keep few personal possessions at the caravan for times when you are there, including documents and mobile phones.
By investing in a small, fireproof safe and keeping it hidden within the caravan, you can secure items such as vehicle documentation and personal belongings like jewellery and mobile phones and keep them safe when you’re not present at the caravan.
If you rent out your static caravan, making use of a key safe can be a good way of restricting access when you’re not there, allowing you to keep important keys and other belongings in a safe place while you have guests.
Can I Secure A Caravan On My Home Insurance?
While it may be possible to insure physical belongings at the caravan on another policy, the caravan itself needs to have its’ own specific static caravan insurance policy, even if it is stored on a secure compound with regular patrols.
However, for anything inside the caravan, it can be worth checking with your home insurance provider if it is possible to add the contents of your static caravan to any existing policies – this can include home insurance and gadget insurance policies.
What Does My Caravan Insurance Cover Then?
A caravan insurance policy will cover the caravan itself against any damage caused by weather – including storm damage – as well as those caused by fire or accidental damage by third parties.
Caravan insurance policies will usually include features such as new-for-old replacement, and relocation cover in case the site becomes inhospitable due to weather and you have to relocate your caravan and even cover for anything else on your pitch, including furniture and awnings.
Contents cover can also be added onto a policy to help cover appliances and gas bottles, but bear in mind that storing gas bottles in the caravan could help raise the risk factor and thus lead to a higher premium.
What is Excluded From a Policy?
There are few things which are excluded from a caravan insurance policy:
- Damage caused by vermin or pets
- Accidental damage caused by tenants
- Damage caused by subsidence or a landslip
- Damage caused to water pipes due to cold weather
There may be other exclusions depending on your broker, so it can be worth double checking before you commit to a policy. Caravan policies will vary in what they offer, so it can be worth shopping around until you find one that suits you.
By taking the time to further protect your static caravan from potential thieves, either using new technology or traditional methods such as deadlocks and even a small CCTV system, you can help to reduce the costs of your caravan insurance premiums.
For those who grew up during the Swinging Sixties, there were two iconic vehicles of the 1960’s; the Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen Westfalia camper van.
Also known as a microbus, the Westfalia was a conversion of the VW Type 2 campervan, these vehicles became synonymous with those making great journeys in the 1960s, and were often the vehicle of choice for those embarking on road trips.
Nowadays, Westfalia campervans are still popular to surfers, seasoned campers and those who like to keep a bit of historical quirk on their driveways. The vehicles are also becoming more commonplace in the world of mobile catering, with modified campers being used as food trucks popping up more frequently at festivals.
Westfalia campervans, with their forward-facing cabs and distinctive engine sound, are still very much in demand even after all these years, with enthusiasts still meeting to show off their vehicles, discuss maintenance and even making use of digital mediums such as online auction sites to source replacement parts.
So where can you look if you want to buy one of these classic campers?
Buying A Campervan
When you’re looking to get your hands on a classic campervan there are many options at your disposal, and with plenty of enthusiasts out there keeping the vehicles on the road, there are plenty of resources out there offering support as well.
As your first step, look locally either in the car listings or advertisements in the local media, you may find a vehicle for sale close to where you are, which will save on travel time and give you the chance to test-drive the vehicle.
When buying a vehicle, viewing the vehicle itself is essential, so make sure you can actually see what you’re about to buy. Auction sites can be a bit of a risk, especially if you’re buying from abroad, always be sure you have at least test-driven the vehicle before committing to a sale.
Many enthusiasts will take on older campervans as restoration projects, and there are plenty of options when it comes to finding replacement parts as part of your project:
- Breakers yards – with many yards having older campervans in their yards, they can be handy for finding replacement parts – including mirrors, hubcaps and even cookers – being sold for scrap
- Auction sites – these can be a goldmine for those looking for parts – anything from replacement roofs to the kitchen sink – many of the parts will be ‘collection only’ so be prepared to travel where necessary
- Fellow enthusiasts – there are enthusiasts out there who will have a great collection of spare parts available to sell to their fellow enthusiasts, so try seeking these out at motor shows or through your local campervan club
When buying a vehicle of any kind, knowledge is power, and the VW Westfalia still has quite a following of enthusiasts, so it can be worth looking into whether there’s a local campervan enthusiasts group near you.
Networking with fellow campervan enthusiasts gives you the chance to discuss the vehicles themselves, maintenance tips, buying advice and even discover new and exciting roads to travel on.
Some groups may even offer discounts on campervan insurance policies, so it could be worth having a look around and becoming part of a club.
Insuring A Campervan
When it comes to insuring these classic campers, a regular car insurance policy may not cover your vehicle due to its age and risk factor.
Because of this, there are specialised brokers that offer campervan insurance policies, so shopping around can be handy if you want to find one that’s right for you.
How Can I Reduce My Premium Price?
By keeping the vehicle in good condition and secure, you can help keep your insurance premiums low, so bear a few things in mind when owning a campervan:
- How many miles a year do you cover?
Mileage can be a big factor when it comes to motor insurance, the further you travel in a year, the higher your premium.
If you are only going to use the van at certain times of the year, such as to attend motor shows and other special events, it could be worth seeing if you can agree a ‘limited mileage allowance’ with your broker.
A limited mileage allowance essentially sets a maximum mileage for a year, which if you don’t exceed in a year can help save you money on your premium. It can be handy if you only use the vehicle for show purposes or as an occasional runaround.
- Where do you store the vehicle?
Vehicle location is another factor which can affect your premiums, especially when it comes to where you live. Those campers stored in secure parking areas and in garages are going to be seen as less at risk than those which are kept parked on the street.
- What security features does it have?
Making use of additional security features, such as alarm systems, wheel locks and even in-van CCTV systems can help to reduce your premiums. By investing in some extra security you can help to reduce your campervan insurance premiums in the future.
VW campervans still hold a place in our automotive history, and there are still plenty of enthusiasts out there who are keeping the spirit of the vehicle alive and much more who are taking an interest in these iconic vehicles.
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For many motorhome owners, the lure of the roads and caravan parks in European destinations lead them to make great journeys in their vehicles to settle and enjoy some sunshine on the continent, enjoying the road trip along the way.
However, before you set off on your journey, there are a few things you must check first. Take the time to check your vehicle, your documents and yourself before you set off in order, this will not only save you hassle along the way but ensure you’ve everything you need in case of an emergency.
Watch Your Weight
When packing up your motorhome in preparation for a journey, check your licence before you travel, for the time you passed your driving test can make a big difference in what you are entitled to drive:
- If you passed your test since the 1st January 1997 then you’ll be able to drive a vehicle of up to 3,500kg (3.5 tonnes) – as well as an additional 750kg in a trailer if required. If you want to tow larger and heavier vehicles you’ll have to apply for, and pass, a driving test in order to be able to add a C1 category to your licence.
- If you passed your test before 1st January 1997 you’ll automatically have a C1 classification on your licence, which entitles you to drive motorhomes up to 7,500kg (7.5 tonnes) which would cover larger motorhomes and some smaller RVs.
When loading your motorhome in preparation for a journey, bear in mind the weight of the vehicle itself and the equipment on board as well as your luggage. If you overload your vehicle you risk not only a more uneven load but also put yourself at risk of potentially being stopped by the authorities.
What Documents Do I Need?
Depending on where you’re travelling to, making sure you have all the right and relevant documentation before you set off, is important. Some countries will require some documents from others, while some might have different legal requirements on the road.
Here’s a quick rundown on what you will need before you set off:
- Passport – check with any countries you are travelling through in case an additional visa is required.
- Driving licence – ensure that your driving licence is up-to-date and that you have the correct classification to drive your motorhome before embarking on your journey.
- Details on your vehicle – including your V5C logbook, MOT certificates and motorhome insurance documentation.
- Travel insurance details – including an additional European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which entitles you to healthcare while within the EU.
- International Driving Permit – if you intend to continue your journey past Europe you’ll need an International Drivers’ Permit that is recognised by your destination country.
- Tax disc – in some countries it is a legal requirement to display a tax disc, but in the UK the system for issuing tax discs has recently changed to a purely digital format. Ensure that you take proof of documentation of road tax just in case you need to provide proof.
- European breakdown cover – it is essential to take out some breakdown cover when you travel abroad, this will help ensure that should you find yourself in difficulty abroad – you can get towed to a nearby garage for repairs to take place – helping you get back on the road as quickly as possible.
- Camping Key Europe – this useful little card can provide you with discounts on pitches at campsites around Europe, even at high season, and provides a little extra security in the form of some basic-level third party insurance.
What Should I Have On Board?
Before setting off, you must also ensure that you have few essential things on board and on the show, including:
- GB sticker – required by law for travel in Europe, check your numberplate carries a blue GB graphic on the left-hand side if it doesn’t you’ll be required to display a GB sticker on the back of your motorhome
- Warning triangles – ensure you carry two, as some countries have a legal requirement that you must carry two, especially if you’re also towing.
- First Aid Kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare Bulb Kit
- Spare fuses
- Spare wheel
- High-visibility vests – vital in case you break down
- Breathalyser – required by law in France, you can usually buy these on the ferry or train before you reach your destination
Aside from important documentation, it can be worth carrying a few extra essentials in your motorhome during your trip:
- Currency for each country you intend to travel through – most will use the Euro, but take a small amount of each currency from the countries you’ll be passing through on your journey, this will ensure that you have a means to pay for small purchases such as food and petrol along the way.
- European adaptors for plugs – take a few for within the motorhome and some external ones should you need to make use of a power supply on site, to charge a phone for example.
- Phrasebooks for each country you are visiting.
- Sat nav – having a sat nav with European maps on board can help you to reach your destination accurately.
- Maps of each of the countries you are visiting – for if you’ve not got a sat nav or if you just prefer the traditional route.
- Address book with emergency contact numbers in – including family, helplines for insurance and breakdown, as well as numbers for UK embassies in each country you are visiting.
Be sure to check your mobile phone before you travel, see if you’ve got a European roaming plan or can purchase roaming data in blocks for the duration of your journey.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready En Route
Before you travel, ensure you’ve done a full check of your motorhome, checking that your equipment is working, your gas cylinders are safe, and your wheels are inflated to the correct legal limit.
Ensure that you also get your lights right, you must fit beam deflectors in order to avoid dazzling other drivers when night driving. These can be purchased at garages and car accessory superstores, and it’s worth picking up a pair before you reach the ferry as you’ll find them more expensive en-route. Don’t forget that you can fit them on the ferry crossing, so leave yourself plenty of time to take care of this.
Watch Your Speed
When travelling on roads in Europe in a motorhome, be wary of the speed limits of each country, and remember that the rules on overtaking still apply even in Europe, so keep your vehicle to within the first two lanes of a highway or autobahn.
Take time to check your vehicle, the rules of the countries you are travelling through and to, and checking that you have everything you need without overloading your motorhome so you can make sure that your holiday goes without a hitch.
Those who wish to take career breaks or have a year out in between studies to explore far-flung corners of the globe will embark on what is known as a gap year. Not just limited to students anymore, more of us head off seeking adventures every year, usually to backpack around locations such as South-East Asia, South America and Australia.
A gap year can also be spent touring, especially if you like to drive. The long and winding highways of the United States are a popular destination for these kinds of trips. Volunteering is also a popular reason for taking a gap year, with organisations offering excursions all over the world to help with nature conservation and humanitarian matters such as constructing schools and digging wells.
During a gap year, the world is your oyster. Now it’s a case of deciding where to dip your toes first, do you want to start in one part of the world and end up at another along the line, or just take your time exploring like a nomad?
After you’ve decided on where to start your journey, it’s time for the research to begin:
- Research the countries you want to visit; and not just the tourist attractions either, take the time to familiarise yourself with the culture and traits of where you are going.
- Brush up on your languages; look into phrase books and smartphones apps that can help you to get along in your country of choice.
- Note down the locations of your country’s embassies in the country you are travelling to in case of an emergency for which you require assistance.
Make A List And Double Check It
When preparing to take a gap year, it’s important to make yourself a checklist before you go, ensuring that you have all the correct documentation needed and enough money and clothes to see you through at least the beginning of your journey.
Before you travel you need to make sure you are covered in case of any incidents which might happen during your travels, including falling ill and getting injured, so it helps to have the following:
- Passport – the most important thing you should have during your trip – you can’t travel without it after all.
- Travel insurance – vital to have in case you fall ill or get injured during your journey. Talk to an insurer about a gap year travel insurance policy, which can help to provide cover for the duration of your trip.
Bear in mind though that there may be some locations where insurers will either charge a little more or not cover you at all because of an increased risk, so pick your destinations carefully when planning your trip.
- Health cards (including EHIC cards) – if you’re travelling within Europe, a European Health Insurance Card can help should you fall ill as it entitles you to access to treatment in countries within the EU.
It should be noted that an EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance, and should always be carried alongside a travel insurance policy to provide an extra level of protection.
- International Driving License – if you’re looking to drive during your trip, you must have a valid International Drivers’ Licence, which is recognised all over the world and can help with getting rental car access.
Also, if you’re currently studying and have a National Union of Students (NUS) card, it can be worth taking this with you as a just-in-case. Some tourist attractions around the world may offer a discount for students, so it can be worth taking along and trying out!
It’s best to be prepared for any situation when you go away, so packing a small medical pack before you travel is essential to your preparation for a backpacking trip.
Medical kits are available to buy at airports, and it can be worth looking into buying supplies once you get to your destination. Ensure that you declare any prescription medication you’ll be taking with you on your trip, as well as the prescription itself, and be sure to identify where your local pharmacy is in your destination should you need a repeat prescription during your trip.
Before you travel, book an appointment with your GP for a health check, and find out if you require any vaccinations for the countries you wish to visit. Diseases such as malaria, hepatitis or glandular fever usually will have an inoculation before you travel or a course of medication during your trip.
Find out as well if you require any medication as a result, including anti-malaria tablets, and be sure to stock up before you go.
Keep Clean Before You Carry On
Take a wash bag with you with a variety of items to keep you clean during your trip – including a toothbrush, hairbrush and wet wipes among others. Because airlines only allow a certain amount of liquids on your person during a flight, it can be worth seeing if you’d be better off buying items such as soap, toothpaste, shampoo and shaving cream once you get to your destination.
Budgeting is essential when it comes to a worldwide trip; you don’t want to fall short and be stranded far from home with no means of paying for a way to get home. So what options do you have when it comes to making sure you can afford things?
Financial preparation is an essential part of a gap year experience, from saving for the flight to getting jobs during the trip to pay for food, lodging and your plane ticket home.
If you’re saving for a trip, think about taking out a separate savings account to drop a little of each wage packet each month, you’d know then that you can accumulate a good amount to travel with.
When it comes to buying flights, shop around, and be sure to research gap year companies who may offer your flight out to your starting destination as part of the price of their package.
- Use a pre-paid card
Pre-paid credit cards allow you to load up a card with a certain amount of money, which essentially becomes your holiday budget.
Using a pre-paid card saves you the need to carry a large amount of currency on you at any one time, reducing your risk from thieves who might steal your wallet during your trip.
- Take a mixture of currency to begin with
However, depending on where you are going, you might be crossing several countries during your travels. It can be worth taking an amount of each countries’ currency as loose money, especially for buying items such as food and clothing as not all places accept a contactless card.
Don’t Pack Too Much At First
When you’re starting out on a trip, “less is more” can be a good philosophy to stick to, depending on where you’re going. You can always buy more clothes while you’re there of course, but be sure to take enough for at least your first few weeks, or until you locate the nearest laundrette.
There is nothing better than the chance of jetting off on a much-deserved holiday.
Even though many usually wait for last-minute deals, families with children who are restricted to specific holiday dates might choose to book as far in advance as possible to make sure that they get the holiday they have been dreaming of.
Booking a holiday can be an exciting time, but no matter when you decide to take the plunge, it is important not to overlook how you will pay for it.
Paying with the use of a credit card?
Purchases that are made with the use of a credit card benefit from improved purchase protection that is included in the terms of the Consumer Credit Act.
If the travel provider goes bust and you have not got travel insurance, you can still claim the entire sum of your money from your credit card provider, even if you only paid for the deposit using a card and the rest of the balance in cash. However, as per Consumer Credit Act rules, take note that this only applies when the cost of the holiday that you are buying is more than £100.
[Note: if you purchase your holiday through a travel agent, you may only get this particular level of protection if you buy their entire suite of travel arrangements, including a package holiday. For example, if you just purchase an airline ticket, credit card protection may not be applied, as the agent is only the ticket’s supplier and not of the flight itself.]
There are additional benefits, too, especially if your card offers a generous cashback or reward scheme.
Credit Card Charges
However, you must weigh any rewards that you may receive versus any credit card charges that the tour operator or travel agent or the tour operator may charge. Many travel agents or tour operators still ask for credit surcharges, for example of 1.5 percent of the holiday cost. This covers them for credit card fees that they incur for using either the MasterCard or the Visa systems (also known as the interchange fee). The said fees are now capped at 0.3 percent of the total cost of the credit card transaction. The holiday company may, however, incur other fees for credit card transactions so many charge a higher amount.
Need to borrow?
Borrowing money in order to go on holiday is not an ideal solution. For most people, however, spreading the cost of a holiday on a percent credit card is the only way that they can be able to afford a family getaway. If this sounds a lot like you, make sure that you use a credit card that is offering a long introductory 0 percent interest period for purchases.
Make sure to set yourself a repayment plan. It is important that you pay off your holiday before the end of the 0 percent interest period, and preferably before you will need to book for next year’s holiday, otherwise, you risk an increasing debt that will only become more difficult to manage. Some credit cards will allow you to set up a direct debit for a fixed percentage, and many will permit a standing order for a set amount.
Clearing your balance by making these automated payments will help you achieve the discipline that is required to repay your holiday debt.
Begin saving for next year!
The earlier you begin saving, the easier things will be regarding booking and paying for your holiday. Starting to save in small monthly or weekly instalments is basically what you’re doing when you make credit card repayments, so why not get ahead of the game and save some money immediately?
The first thing to accomplish is to open a new savings account. When analysing savings accounts, bear in mind that you will probably require access to your savings at least twice, first to pay for the deposit when you book your holiday, and the second to pay for the balance (typically around 12 weeks before you are due to depart). An account that enables you to make regular deposits is also a great idea, thereby allowing you to make small regular payments every time you get paid as compared to one lump sum, and meaning you are able to build up your holiday fund over the year.
A regular savings account could be a good way to kick-start the savings habit and ensure that you squirrel away a bit every month, or if you are planning in advance for a big trip abroad, then a short-term fixed rate bond may be a good idea.
Bonds that run for six months to a few years propose good returns, with some allowing early access to funds. It is always worth reviewing the terms and conditions of your chosen account, however, as penalties will usually apply for withdrawing funds within the term of the deal.