To the casual observer, towing might look like a simple case of ‘hitch it up and off you go’ – but there are some important things to remember.

  1. Play the percentages
    The 85% guideline has been the caravanner’s friend for decades. Both major caravanning clubs recommend towing no more than 85% of the weight of your tow car, especially if you are new to towing. It’s a strong recommendation rather than a legal requirement, but you’ll find car and caravan more stable if the car weighs substantially more than the van.
  2. Load safely
    It’s easy to overload your caravan, especially if you’re packing for a fortnight away with the family. Check that you are not exceeding the van’s Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM), which is the most it is permitted to weigh when fully loaded.
    It’s not just about how much weight is in the van, it’s where you put it. In the car, load the heavy items first so they are on the boot floor and as close to the rear axle as possible. In the van, make sure heavy items are low down and above the axle or axles.
  3. Check, check and check again
    Make sure your outfit is safe and roadworthy before every journey. Check that the car and caravan tyres are inflated to the right pressure, make sure all the lights are working, and be sure you have hitched up correctly.
    It might seem like overkill to some, but having a checklist that you tick off at the start of every journey will make sure nothing important is missed.
  4. Always use towing mirrors
    Having a clear view behind you is essential to stay safe while towing. You can’t change lane safely if you can’t be sure whether another vehicle is about to overtake you.
  5. Plan ahead
    What appears to be the most direct route isn’t always the best way to travel when you have a caravan in tow.
  6. Smoothly does it
    It’s understandable that some drivers are nervous when towing, especially if they are new to caravanning. But being on edge doesn’t make for an easy journey. As any experienced caravanner knows, towing doesn’t feel the same as regular driving. You will notice some pushing and shoving from the caravan, and you can see it moving slightly in your mirrors. If you chase every slight movement with agitated steering corrections, you’ll only make things worse. Instead, keep your steering, braking, and accelerating smooth and relaxed.
  7. Never rush
    You’re on holiday! Why hurry? Give yourself plenty of time to complete your journey, and allow for regular breaks every couple of hours so you stay alert. If you allow lots of time, there’s less temptation to speed. You’ll find that car and caravan will be more stable at the recommended speed limits than at higher, illegal speeds.
How to pack your caravan correctly
  1. Be courteous
    A well-driven rig needn’t hold up other traffic, but on a twisty single-lane road you might find a sensible pace is lower than that of other vehicles. If you notice a queue of cars building in your mirrors, pull over when it’s safe to do so, and allow the mob behind you to pass. They’ll love you for it!
  2. Get some training
    Towing a caravan is something any competent driver is capable of doing safely, but there are new skills to learn. For anyone starting out, or a driver who wants to brush up on their skills, a towing course is highly recommended.