Van Travel

Maybe your neighbor uses a caravan and is always exploring new places like Australia or a friend continuously posts different caravanning adventures on Facebook. Traveling with a caravan could be something you have always wanted to do and now you finally want to pursue that dream.

It’s understandable why caravans are popular (with more than 500,000 registered in Australia). They let you bring a comfortable and self-contained accommodation to an endless amount of destinations. Once you arrive at a location and unhitch the van, you explore an area easily with a towing vehicle.

Here are a few things you can ponder before you purchase, borrow or rent a caravan and start off on your first holiday. They are not quite as soothing as sipping sundowners from a site on the beachside, but once you master the technical side of caravanning, you will be prepared to embrace the far corners of the country on an adventure that brings your soul and life’s necessities with you.

Know What Your Weights Are

“You’ll first need to be able to find out if your car or caravan combination is suitable with the law,” RACQ’s principal media advisor of financial services, Kirsty Clinton explains. “This entails making sure you have a sound understanding of the towing vocabulary and how it applies to your situation.”

Some terminology includes tare weight. This is how much an empty caravan weighs (including factory fitted selections, but not liquids like water or gas). The payload is your caravan’s maximum carrying capacity. Aggregate trailer mass (ATM) is the most your caravan is permitted to weigh by itself (so the tare weight and payload combined). Gross trailer mass (GTM) is the most weight your caravan’s wheels can withhold when added to a vehicle in tow and you can also eliminate dirt with camping flooring, Camp Smart mentions.

Caravans made after August 1989 usually have the ATM, the GTM and the tare weight on the plates in most cases. Tow ball mass (or load) is the amount your towing vehicle takes in caravan weight when the caravan is hitched properly. It’s affected by how you allocate your load on the caravan and is vital for safety reasons.

Tow Ball Load and More!

To figure out what your tow ball load is and how much the caravan weighs with all the gear and provisions, pack up your van as you would normally and bring it to a public weigh station. Another way to make sure you’re not exceeding the payload is by weighing everything you are planning to place inside, including water, at your house.

Payloads can be quite restricted, so it’s best to “keep a keen eye on what you are bringing with you and cull as much as you can to make sure the caravan’s weight does not exceed the regulations,” Kirsty signals. You’ll also want to know the vehicle’s max towing capacity. This number mustn’t exceed the lesser of the towing amount indicated by the manufacturer, the estimated capacity of the tow bar and fixings, the caravan’s max carrying capacity and the max carrying capacity of the tires.