caravans the way they have changed

the caravan can

A lot of people hold very strong opinions on the subject of caravans. Some will quite happily spend every spare weekend and holiday living the life, basking in the economical freedom and tranquillity that caravanning can afford. Others wouldn't batter an eyelid if this country's entire complement of road-clogging, plastic porta-homes were assembled in a big field just outside Birmingham and put to the torch. It's interesting that something as essentially inoffensive as a caravan can engender such strength of feeling but what makes caravaners love their caravans so and how much of what the non-believers hold true is actually accurate? Could it be time to dispel some myths?

Non-caravaners tend to base their deep held prejudices on a series of half-truths concerning the rank awfulness of caravan holidays. These are often based on distant childhood memories of wet weekends spent in wardrobe-sized caravans on dismal seaside campsites during the 1960s and 70s. Experiences like these can render a perfectly rational person staunchly determined never to set foot inside a caravan again but are such people missing out? The modern caravan experience bears little relationship to that of 30 or 40 years ago. In many cases, the reasons people give for never wanting to anything to do with caravans are no longer valid.

Caravans are cold, damp and draughty.

The days when the term 'water ingress' would strike terror into the heart of any caravan owner are gone. A few years standing outside braving the Great British weather and the caravan of yesteryear would soon start letting in water with all the regularity once displayed by the Titanic. Wafer thin walls didn't provide much by way of insulation either. Now, however, modern caravans can be used in all weathers, winter or summer, rain or shine. Almost all feature integral electric or gas heating systems, proper insulation and more effective sealing against damp.

Caravans are cramped.

Today, caravan designers apply many of the advanced packaging techniques seen in modern cars to maximise the usefulness of the space available. Considerable attention is paid to the ergonomics and there's no shortage of ingenious solutions to storage and accommodation problems. Obviously, you're governed by the size of caravan you car can tow and a two-berth model will be cramped if you try to sleep four people in it but with the right towcar and the right caravan, you'll have space to swing the cat of your choice.

No hot water, washing facilities or toilet.

There was a time when the choicest pitches on any Caravan site were the ones in reasonable proximity to the toilet and shower block. The sanitary facilities in caravans of the past being really only suitable for use in the direst of emergencies. Now, however, caravans come complete with bathrooms of the first order. Chrome fittings, proper flushing toilets, separate shower cubicles and heated running water are the norm.

No cooking facilities.

Preparing a gourmet meal in a modern caravan is a distinct possibility with the average kitchen set up now including gas or electric hobs, a microwave oven and a reasonably sized fridge. Storage facilities for food and utensils are usually plentiful too. There's definitely no excuse for resorting to the traditional baked beans, over-barbequed sausages or barely recognisable charcoaled chicken drumsticks that were the staples of caravan holidays in the past.

Uncomfortable to sleep in.

Very tall people will still have problems sleeping in some caravans, simply because the beds tend to be a little on the short side. These days there are fixed bed models, though, and these are probably the ones to go for if you are of above average dimensions - they usually provide a bit more room. Right across the board, beds have come on considerably in terms of comfort. Both the fixed beds and the ones that fold out of sofas, tables, etc will be well-sprung, with the latter category being reassuringly easy to assemble.

Impossible to manoeuvre.

Hauling a whopping great caravan behind your family car when you head out on holiday might be a daunting prospect for some and actually parking the thing successfully when you reach your destination can be more than a little tricky but, as with so many things, practice makes perfect. There are numerous caravan towing courses run by reputable organisations like the Caravan Club that, for a small fee, will teach you the basics and get you off on the right foot. Then, once you've mastered the basic technique, it's just a matter of practicing.

The other important thing is to make sure that your car is capable of towing your chosen caravan safely, most dealerships will have access to the Towsafe computer tow matching system that will match your car to suitable caravans.

Nowhere to use it.

Caravaning is in the ascendancy at the moment with more and more people taking the plunge but what's even better news for caravaners is that there has been a corresponding rise in investment in caravan site facilities. There are more sites with hard standings that can be used all year round, more with top notch facilities and more with entertainment provided on site. The range of choice for caravaners has never been better.

There's no doubt that caravans have improved considerably over the last few years. They had long been described as a home away from home but unless your real home had paper thin walls, a serious damp problem and questionable sanitary facilities, this wasn't strictly true. Now, however, it is far more accurate. Today's caravans come with all the mod cons and the public are increasingly realising how cost-effective and how much fun owning one can be. The people who are still dead set against the very idea of caravanning are running out of valid reasons for their position and fast.