Calming those towing fears…

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Most people take to towing surprisingly easily once they've tried it, but it's easy to understand why plenty of people are put off caravanning because they fear towing.

Let's face it, some people don't cope well with parking in Sainsbury's, let alone driving with something several meters long behind them.

But everyone has to start somewhere, and the best place to start is with a towing course. It's the best investment anyone new to caravanning can make; you will learn all the theory first, and then you can practise somewhere safe (i.e. not on public roads) with an experienced instructor to show you how - including reversing. Both the Camping and Caravanning Club and the Caravan and Motorhome Club run excellent courses - and they have their own caravans you can use. Highly recommended!

Another option is taking your driving licence along to the regular caravan shows in Birmingham or Manchester as there's usually towing taster sessions available provided by the Caravan and Motorhome Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club. They usually have a small fleet of cars and caravans available (so you don't even need your own) - and someone to go out on a short, local route to show you how. Better still, they're free, so what's not to like
These taster sessions will be enough to help you get over your initial fears, but do go ahead and then book a full session. Look out for details on the websites for the shows as sometimes you can book a time slot in advance (a good idea as they usually get busy).

So, if you've done some training (and especially if you haven't), the best advice is not to go too far on your first towing trip. It's best to stick to roads you know well so you're not going to be distracted by navigating as well, plus there's bound to be something you've forgotten, so if necessary, you can easily pop home.

You will feel more comfortable if you can see what you're doing and what's going on around you, so good towing mirrors are absolutely essential. And if you can, go and find a large, empty car park to practise manoeuvring, especially reversing.

Bear in mind that you might also need to know and practise where to load things in the caravan for the best noseweight and stability (you'll learn all about this on your towing course). Poor loading, with too much weight in the wrong part of the caravan can have a disastrous effect on stability. You might need to pull over and make adjustments if it doesn't feel right. It's also worth pointing out that caravans don't always tow so comfortably if they're empty as they tend to be a bit bouncier - so a bit of weight in them is good, but not too much (as you don't want to be over your loading margin either).

Finally, the support of other caravanners is often a great comfort to newbie towers, so you could benefit from joining an owners club, the Caravan and Motorhome Club or the Camping and Caravanning Club and booking in to one of the many weekend rallies or meets they hold all over the country. You'll get a warm welcome when you arrive and be surrounded with plenty of people with years of experience on hand (if you need it).

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