When you first buy a motorhome the temptation is to get your motor running, then head out on the highway looking for adventure. Burning off up the road without a care in the world is actually pretty unwise. There are things you really should know first – from the important to the incidental - and so we’ve picked a few of each and compiled a handy list. These are our tips and suggestions for making the early days of your motorhoming that little bit more comfortable…
When it’s new to you, you won’t be familiar with the intricacies of the vehicle - from driving capabilities to the onboard systems. It makes much more sense to steadily make your way home, and then make yourself a brew and settle down to read the instruction manual that came with the motorhome.
What you learn from doing this will really help you operate your motorhome to its best potential, and avoid any pitfalls or mistakes. You’ll find out where everything is located (including the fuse box, spare wheel and fuel cap release), and you’ll learn how things work and how to operate the onboard systems (bed conversions, heating system, entertainment system, etc).
Part of your driving capability will be your handling of the vehicle, and so it’s important to be aware of the weight and how that feels. The weight of your motorhome obviously increases with each item placed in it, and that combined weight will have an affect on your driving due to (perhaps even subtle) variations in how the vehicle responds to it. Also, from a legal perspective, it is important to be aware of the weight of your vehicle as there are different requirement either side of a particular weight…
It’s very important to make sure you have the correct number of berths to provide somewhere to sleep for your passengers. In essence, it’s no good being a family of four but only having a two berth motorhome, etc. You must also ensure that the number of travel seats (ie. seats with a seatbelt) equals the number of people who will be travelling. For instance, if you have a six berth motorhome but there are only three or four travel seats then only three people can actually travel. Six could sleep in the vehicle, provided three did not travel in it.
That particular weight is 3,500kg. This is the vehicle’s MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass) and if yours is below it you can drive on a standard UK driving licence. Anything above it and you will have to undergo more testing (theory, practical and medical) to achieve a C1 categorisation on your UK driving licence.
Putting the wrong type of fuel into a motorhome is, like with all vehicles this happens to, a serious problem. Diesel in a petrol engine is less likely to result in any permanent damage, but petrol in a diesel engine is a much more serious problem. If your motorhome takes one type (diesel or unleaded) and you put in the other, do not start the engine.
Take your keys out of the ignition, put the motorhome in neutral and call a recovery service or mechanic for a tow. If you do start the engine, the fuel mixture will circulate. Friction between components will increase, causing damage to fuel lines, pump and catalytic converter. This can be costly to rectify so you should be particularly vigilant.
Mixing up the motorhome’s fuel cap and fresh water cap is a rookie error. The fuel tank usually has a black or yellow cap and the water tank should have a white or blue one. If you do happen to make the mistake of putting fuel into the water tank you should seek technical help, or use a tank cleaner. If you do the opposite, and water to the fuel tank, you should call motorhome breakdown services.
It’s a smart move to develop a list of the things you will need for day-to-day living in your motorhome, and purchase them. The list is sure to include things like a kettle, travel cutlery, batteries (for remote controls etc), torches, LED lighting, and bedding plus pillows. It’s also a good idea, when setting off on a trip, to make a list of the things you take with you so, when you are about to make the return journey home, you can check you have everything.
You will get used to this over time – pretty quickly, in fact – but taking too much on holiday in a motorhome is something of an error. It will all contribute to ‘the weight issue’ that we mentioned earlier – but it will also mean more clutter. If you can plan in advance what clothing you actually need to take to meet your daily requirements then that will help. Cover your bases (make sure you pack something smart casual for a night out) but always consider the weight and ask yourself if you really need to take that pair of Christian Louboutin’s or that snow jacket!
No-one’s doubting your ability to find the way from A to B without the need for technological intervention - but the humble sat nav is actually one of the most useful and important bits of kit you can have as a motorhome owner. This remarkable little box (or app, if you have a sat nav installed on your phone) will plot your route for you and give you instructions along the way. Some may say that removes the spirit of adventure, the need to improvise if you take a wrong turn, say, but it definitely improves your driving efficiency as sat nav’s can bring you up-to-date information on important things like traffic flow on particular sections of motorway.
You certainly need to be safe when you’re on the road for any length of time, so it makes sense to stock up on gear that will make sure you are. Having torches, a fire blanket, fire extinguisher, CO2 detection and smoke alarms in your motorhome will at the very least give you peace of mind. You should also carry a triangle warning sign to put out if you break down. Many motorhomes do not have a spare wheel (as a cost and weight saver) so you could make sure you have a tyre repair kit for a temporary fix.
All vehicles are potential targets for theft – whether of the vehicle or from the vehicle - so it’s important to make sure you do what you can to put motorhome security in place. Pedal and steering wheel locks (to fit each time the motorhome is parked) are relatively inexpensive to purchase and are a great visual deterrent. They will ensure any thief has second thoughts and will almost certainly pass your vehicle by. You could also fit an alarm in the motorhome and, where you park it at home, a CCTV system. This system may not stop a theft, but it can provide you with footage for use by the police and in your insurance claim.
Your motorhome is an enclosed space, and therefore any cooking smells can linger – particularly if the food is very strong and pungent. An added problem could be that remnants of the food get stuck in the grey waste system causing the smell to really linger.
A sensible habit to get into is to, after each trip, clean and tidy your motorhome. Empty out the fridge and clean it so that there is nothing in there. Clear out the cupboards (put all the remaining non-perishable food into a large box and store it in your house), and clean them down. Clean out the bathroom and flush systems through. Tidy up the living spaces, and remove bedding etc, so it can be washed and stored in your house (as opposed to staying in the motorhome’s eco-system and being susceptible to damp issues).
Don’t worry! We know there’s a lot to take in – and, in fact, there are more things to know than just the ones we’ve listed here. Over time you will get acclimatised to this fantastic way of living, and eventually have familiarised yourself with many new tips and tricks, and all of the extra bits and pieces you need to buy along the way. Here at Leisure World we offer top quality motorhomes (plus campervans and caravans), and our accessories store will keep you well stocked with the things you need.
Back to Blog