Ready to roll? Preparing for the motorhome season ahead

Motorhome

The UK’s roadmap out of COVID lockdown hits a landmark point for motorhome owners on 12 April. With campsites throwing open their gates to only ‘self-sufficient’ visitors, Wrapper takes a look at what you can expect from the start to an unusual season, and offers some tips on making sure you’re ready to hit the road again…

On the road again: Checks for bringing your motorhome out of storage

If you did a thorough job of getting your motorhome ready for the winter, getting back on the road again should be a straightforward and drama-free undertaking. But whether your motorhome has been parked up on your property all winter or has spent lockdown in a storage facility, there are a few checks you’ll need to do to make sure it’s in tip-top condition for your first road trip of 2021. The last thing you want, now you’ve finally been
granted some freedom, is to rock up on-site for the first time in a year and discover your water pipes are cracked and the mice have been at your awning.

With that in mind, here’s a quick checklist of the things you’ll need to give the once-over before you even think about booking your first pitch.

  • Check for cracks on the bodywork (including the roof) and make any necessary repairs
  • Check all sealant is intact
  • Check all windows for cracks, and look out for signs of calcification
  • Check vents, doors and air conditioners for cracks
  • Check for signs of damp – watermarks, mould, or a strange, musty smell are tell-tale signs
  • Open all doors, windows and sky lights to give your motorhome a good airing
  • Check all tyres thoroughly. Blowouts are a common cause of accidents, so check for signs of bulging, cracking and low tread depth. Check the sidewalls for signs of UV degradation too, and finally check your tyre pressure and top up as necessary
  • Check the inside of your motorhome for signs of insect or rodent activity (remember: they like small spaces, so be sure to check all cupboards and areas where cables could provide an entry point to those unseen corners)
  • Carry out a good spring clean, including washing all cushions, curtains and bedding
  • Check the battery (as well as your spare)
  • Reconnect the water supply and check the plumbing is working. Look out for any cracked pipes, and check all pumps and valves are working properly
  • Clean the water pipes, water heaters and water tank, then rinse and refill
  • Check your gas cylinders and test equipment. Check for leaks from your cylinder before connecting the supply and testing the equipment that runs off it, e.g. refrigerator and cooker
  • Check the generator. If you have trouble starting it, try topping up the fuel and checking the oil level
  • Check your awning for mould, tears and holes
  • Check oil and coolant pressure, and make sure wiper blades are in good working order
  • Check your road tax and insurance are in place and up to date 

Book your motorhome site early

As a motorhome owner, you’re possibly feeling pretty smug at the minute. You’re among the lucky, self-sufficient few who can go on holiday between now and when hotels and other shared accommodation providers are allowed to open on 17 May. And while that’s great news in terms of being able to get away from it all, it does mean that there’s likely to be a mad dash to snap up pitches, on sites that are operating with reduced capacity. You’re going to need to book early to avoid disappointment. This is likely to be the case for the rest of the season, as travel abroad remains restricted and anyone wanting a holiday is forced to book a staycation. Be aware that not all sites will be open until a bit later in the season, and this will have a further impact on availability.

Those sites that are opening from 12 April will have different coronavirus-related restrictions in place, which makes some a more popular choice than others – make sure you know what on-site facilities you can’t do without before you begin your search. Access to shared facilities and communal areas will be limited at some sites, and non-existent at others, and it’s fair to assume that sites granting access to shower blocks are likely to book
up fast. The Camping and Caravanning Club, for instance, is initially opening all its sites without facility blocks, meaning no access to on-site toilets, showers, dishwashing areas or laundries until 17 May. You’ll need to be fully self-sufficient if you want to park up at one of those sites at the start of the season.

The Caravan and Motorhome Club will be opening its sites in England from 12 April and will be allowing access to toilets and shared washing and cleaning areas, but again, there won’t be access to showers. The club’s sites in Wales will open from 12 April, but with no indoor shared facilities (including toilets) available, and sites in Scotland won’t open until 26 April, with as yet no guidance on the availability of communal areas and shared facilities.

Basically, you’re going to need to book early if you want to be sure of finding a good spot anywhere.

Motorhoming, but not as we know it

We have lived with COVID for long enough now to know that we can’t go anywhere without being prepared. Face masks, hand sanitiser and other PPE are staples of every adventure, and even a quick trip to the corner shop for a pint of milk needs careful planning. Your first motorhome holiday of 2021 is no different, and you’ll need to make sure you’ve got plenty of all the protective equipment you need before you arrive on site.

You’ll also need to plan ahead to ensure you’ve got everything you need for washing, showering and toileting, due to the limited access to on-site facilities that is likely to be in play for at least the first month following lockdown easing. Most sites will be allowing access to fresh and wastewater facilities, but you’ll need to have enough toilet chemicals to cover you if you’re unable to access on-site toilet blocks.

Another thing to think about is shopping. At sites where shops have reopened, there’s likely to be a reduction in either the services available or the items for sale, so it would be wise to take as much with you as you can. This includes things like LPG, which many sites aren’t selling at the moment.

There will be lots of other restrictions and requirements in place at sites all around the UK, aimed at keeping visitors and staff safe. If you plan on pitching up at a Caravan and Motorhome Club site, for example, anyone in your party who is over the age of 16 will need to provide Test and Trace (or variant) information, so it will save time and hassle at check-in if you can have the app installed and ready to go before you hit the road.

Motorhome sites during COVID

Wherever and whenever you are going, just be sure to check the requirements and restrictions in place at your chosen site before you hit the road, so you know exactly what to expect and exactly what will be expected of you. Some potentially common COVID-safe measures will be:

Contactless check-in – Probably by phone from your vehicle
Contactless stays – Many sites will be operating cashless systems wherever possible
Social distancing – Pitches will be spread out to ensure the safety of everyone on site, with strict limits on capacity and restrictions on guests mixing
Enhanced cleaning – Cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting activities will be ramped up at most sites, so access to any shared and communal facilities will be restricted
Visitor restrictions – Many sites have a blanket ban on visitors at the moment
Key deposits – Handing over barrier and/or facilities keys on departure is unlikely to be in- person. Sites will have a contactless check-out process so any keys can be properly sanitised between guests
Playgrounds – Playgrounds at sites across England and Wales may be open in line with COVID-secure protocols. It will be up to parents and guardians to ensure social distancing is being observed, and that children wash or sanitise their hands before and after using any shared equipment
Shops – On-site shopping facilities are likely to vary across sites, so check with your individual site ahead of your visit. Availability of LPG, toilet chemicals and rock pegs might well be limited, so it’s a good idea to have everything you need before you travel
Restaurants and bars – Again, availability here is likely to be on a site-by-site basis, so check with your chosen site before travelling. Some sites will offer takeaway food services, others will have visiting mobile catering units, and others will have no facilities available whatsoever.

How you can help

The sites are doing everything they can to keep staff and visitors safe, but there’s plenty you can do to ensure your first motorhome trip after lockdown is safe.

  • Wherever possible, use your own facilities
  • Wear face coverings whenever using the indoor communal and shared facilities
  • Keep to footpaths when on site, to ensure you’re not encroaching on anyone else’s pitch (social distancing, people!)
  • Follow social distancing guidance at all times
  • Regularly wash your hands, and use hand sanitiser before and after using any shared facilities
  • Follow the latest UK Government advice on social gatherings
  • Always follow the latest government advice in the area you are visiting
  • If you start feeling unwell while you are on site, let the site manager know and take the appropriate action to get a COVID test

There’s no denying your first motorhome trip after lockdown will look a little different, but as long as your rig is ready, you book early and you take everything you need with you, there’s no reason you won’t be able to recapture that sense of freedom and adventure you’ve been so badly missing. Keep an eye peeled for more helpful articles coming through the Wrapper blog, but otherwise, stay safe, and happy touring!