If you’ve got kids, then holidaying in the UK isn’t cheap. In fact, forget kids, UK holidays can break the bank whatever your circumstances. A good option to consider if you want to cut down on cost but still have lots of great holidays, is caravanning.
Caravanning ticks plenty of boxes – it’s cheaper (in the long run), convenient, and offers flexibility – all well and good so far. However, one draw back for many caravanners is … reversing! Towing a caravan forwards is a doddle, but getting it to go backwards – even in a straight line – is enough to break a man (and forget trying to reverse into a tight pitch)! I know all this from experience – after a few lucky escapes and hoping my reversing skills would eventually improve, the last straw was getting stuck in a car park – after being given a wrong turn by my navigator – and the embarrassment of having to wait for an attendant to rescue us.
Enough was enough – I decided to sign up to a Caravan Manoeuvring Course, organised by the Caravan and Motorhome Club (caravanclub.co.uk). On the Saturday morning of the course, I arrived along with five other participants, and was met by our instructor, Jack. We were shown into a classroom and, after a quick cuppa’ and the usual introductions, went through some basic details about towing weights, maintenance, and other useful nuggets of information. Soon enough though, we headed outside to one a deserted car park to get on with what everyone had really come for … some actual towing and reversing action!
The course provided three caravans (participants only needed to attend with their towing car) between the six participants, meaning the chances to practise what we were about to be taught were ample. The towing and driving exercises essentially involved Jack giving us a short talk before each of us had the chance to perfect each manoeuvre for ourselves – the principle being you learn by doing. First up was reversing in a straight line, which really isn’t as easy as it seems, with any slight movement of the steering wheel having the ability to veer you dramatically off course.
Next up was driving the caravan forward but having to negotiate some very tight corners, represented by cones – crushed cones at times! Again, Jack was on hand to talk us through the procedure and offer some interesting tips for achieving success. The last two exercises, which took place after some lunch, were reversing from different sides into a tight parking pitch – this is the holy grail for caravan reversers, and the bit that all the participants were dreading! Amazingly, I have to say with some more great instruction and a few attempts to practise, I had both these manoeuvres down to a tee … as did the other participants. One of the great things about the course was that although there were times I had to wait and watch while others were practising, this was a good learning experience in itself as I got the chance to see where others were going wrong.
Starting at 9am and finishing at 5pm, I would definitely say the course was worth it’s value (£150) and that, by the end of it, I felt more confident about reversing. Ultimately, perfecting the art of getting a caravan to go backwards, how and where you want it to, is all about practise.