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  • Top Christmas gifts for the caravan lover in your life

     

    christmas caravan print

    As Christmas rolls around again, it brings with it the familiar sense of dread; just what do I get for the person who has everything?

    Chances are the caravan lover in your life will be spending most of his or her time thinking about their beloved travel buddy anyway.

    However, here at Sail and Trail we’ve done the hard work for you and we hope you’ll be happy with the list we’ve rustled up!

     

    1) This beautiful caravan print is the perfect gift for the arty caravanner in your life. You might not be on the road, but this simple print is a lovely reminder of your next caravan trip. The print is £25 and can come ready gift wrapped!

     

    2) Give National Trust membership for unlimited access to some of the most beautiful parts of the UK. With more than 500 National Trust sites made up of many historic houses, gardens and nature reserves, as well as events running throughout the year, you’ll never be far from a fantastic day out. Gift memberships starts from £63 for an adult, £105 for a pair, or £111 for a family.

     

    caravan christmas t shirt

    3) Perfect as a stocking filler or Secret Santa, the Nova Multi Quirl turns a miserable rainy day in the caravan into a cosy retreat. The tiny whisk is perfect for making the frothiest of cappuccinos, a perfect milkshake or delicious omelette. At just £13.99 and dishwasher safe, it’s not hard to see why they’re so popular!

     

    4) With this cool eco-friendly caravan t-shirt you don’t ever need to ask him what he’s thinking about again! Each design is hand printed onto organic cotton to ensure a long lasting t-shirt of the highest quality. £20.

     

    5) Not exactly a glamourous gift, but the Back2You Covert GPS Tracker is potentially a crimestopper and gives caravan owners the ultimate peace of mind by altering them to their caravan’s location on demand. This GPS Tracker is an essential bit of kit for any caravan owner. Save £50! Now just £175.

     

    6) Fun for all the family! This cute caravan jigsaw is the perfect way to spend an evening or rainy afternoon. £12.99

    caravan christmas jigsaw

     

     

     

  • Five reasons caravanning is better with solar panels  

     

    Many people are aware that they can save money and the environment by using renewable energy but not many people know how. By simply investing in a portable solar panel, you can enjoy a much better caravan or motorhome experience than before. And while there is an initial investment (ours start from £49.99) the benefits soon make it worthwhile.

     

    • Free electricity

    The sun’s energy is, of course, free! This means that no matter how much you use, you will never see a bill or face a charge for using a hook up, giving you more money to spend on the things you actually care about. The amount of money you save will be dependent on how much energy you previously used, but the savings could be huge over your solar panel’s life time.

     

    solar panels caravan motorhome

     

    • Reduce your carbon footprint

    As holidays go, enjoying a trip in your caravan or motorhome is already one of the greenest options out there. But by using a solar panel you are no longer reliant on electricity produced from non-renewable sources, helping reduce your carbon footprint and keep our planet healthy and beautiful for longer.

     

    • Be safer

    We hope it never comes to it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry and if the worst were to happen and you need the emergency services fast it would be terrible not to have a charged phone handy. A solar panel means that no matter what, you’ve always got a source of energy to power your communication devices.

     

    • solar panels caravan motorhomeElectricity, no matter where you are

    One of the most beautiful thing about having your own caravan or motorhome is that you can truly get away from it all. But what if you’re in a part of the countryside, so remote, there aren’t any electrical hook-ups? Having a solar panel means you can be on the furthest tip of the country, but still power a kettle – perfect!

     

    • Avoid falling foul to power cuts

    Unlike other energy sources, the sun’s energy never runs out, and even  in cloudy Britain, your solar panel will be sure to absorb some energy everyday (if it’s correctly set up and facing the appropriate way). This means that even if you have a hook up or generator as a primary source of energy, you’ve always got a reliable back up in solar.

     

    Check out our wide range of solar panels – starting from £49.99 here!

     

  • Preparing your caravan or boat for spring: The essential checklist

     

    As the nights are drawing out and it finally feels like spring could actually be here, we’re sure you are just like us and itching to get outside to explore the great outdoors, whether by water or land.

     

    However, the key to any successful trip is in the preparation – there is nothing worse than making it all the way to your destination to find out your generator won’t turn on, or your canopy has a hole in it – so we’ve put together some of our top tips to ensure that your first trip of the year is as excellent as it should be:

     

    • Go for a practise spin

    First things first; ensure that all your equipment is working before setting off. You will want to check your tires, engine, all safety equipment such as locks and alarms, as well as looking at your canopies, sails and soft furnishings for winter damage. It’s much easier to fix or replace damage when you are at home before your trip, than it is when you’re on the water or the road.

     

     

    • Spring clean time :) clean caravan

    If your caravan or boat has been inactive all winter, there will certainly be a build-up of dust (at best!). To get ready for the new season you will need a bucket of hot soapy water and some elbow grease to ensure your vehicle is ready to be occupied again.

    Ensure you are thorough as static vehicles are popular places for insects and small animals to escape the cold winter and you’ll also want to ensure you remove any traces of mould and mildew.

    Our best-selling range of cleaning products is available here:

     

     

    • healthy recipe caravan narrowboatGet ready for fussy eaters

    There are increasingly fewer and fewer places that don’t have a mini Tesco or Sainsbury’s within reach, but there are still some in the far flung corners of the British Isles!

    So if you are travelling with children, animals, fussy eaters or those with intolerances make sure you have stocked up on essentials and emergency rations. Hungry campers don’t make happy campers and you can’t always rely on there being an open and fully stocked shop at hand to save the day!

    It might help to create a meal plan for your trip before you head off, with recipes that work just as well with substitutions and are easy enough to rustle up in a caravan or narrowboat kitchen (see our easy summer and winter recipes for ideas).

     

     

    • Paperwork

    It’s always a good idea to ensure that your insurance is up to date and you have all the necessary paperwork in an easily accessible place.

    You will also need to check that all your services are up to date and that you have all the necessary documentation if you are planning a trip abroad.

     

    • Enjoy the Spring!

    No explanation needed :)

  • Can you afford not to invest in a GPS tracker for your caravan?  

     

    caravan security

    Not only is the number of caravan owners in the UK rising every year, the percentage of vehicles which fall into the luxury category is also increasing.

    You don’t need us to tell you that a caravan can be a very pricy purchase indeed.

    However, it is estimated that about 4,000 caravans are stolen every year, of which only about 10% are recovered and as winter comes ever closer, now is the prime time for thieves.

    The problem is heightened by the rise of professional thieves who use this time to break into caravans put away for winter and take them out of the country.

    On top of investing in the security measures we advise here, one of the most efficient ways to stop thieves is to invest in a GPS tracker.

    This tiny, little black box will sit undisturbed in your caravan until any movement is detected.

    The minute your caravan is moved from a certain point or geographic range (a virtual geo fence) it will send an alert to you or the police (or both!)

    At prices starting from £95, can you afford not to invest in a tracker that’ll help prevent the loss of a incredibly expensive vehicle as well as the heartache and annoyance of losing a prized possession and the objects in it?

    Find out more about the GPS trackers and security products we stock here

    For more tips on how to deter thieves and avoid caravan theft read our comprehensive guide – here.

  • Top tips for fun winter trips in your caravan or motorhome  

     

    Just because it’s getting darker in the mornings and evenings and the drizzle is getting just that bit closer to the bone, does not mean it’s time to give up on your favourite hobby.

    In fact, with the right preparation taking time out in your caravan or motorhome can be just as fun and rewarding in winter as it is in summer, if not more!

    Make sure you follow our tips to ensure you keep safe and warm though!

     

    • Check your tires

    If you are planning on travelling in icy conditions, make sure your tires are fit for the road. Most caravans have summer tires as standard, and if you are just making a short journey in relatively good conditions these should suffice.

    However, if you are likely to be travelling to an area where temperatures drop below 7 Celsius, it’s a good idea to invest in all-season or winter tires. These will have an optimised tread and grip to help your vehicle stick to the road. If in doubt, consult your caravan or motorhome guidebook to establish the effectiveness of the tires your currently have.

    Also, make sure to read up on local laws if you are leaving the UK as some countries insist on tires that meet certain specifications, especially in European countries.

    Of course, always err on the side of caution – if it doesn’t feel safe to be on the roads, leave it until another day.

     

    motorhome winter caravan
    •   Pack plenty of layers

    Piling on base layers and several thin layers which can be added to or removed as needed, has been proven to keep you far warmer than just one thick layer.

    It also means you can move around comfortably than if you are wearing say, one chunky jumper. A windproof fleece is always handy, and can double up as a pillowcase in the evening for maximum snugness.

     

    • Invest in gadgets

    While nothing quite beats the comfort of a hot water bottle, there are now countless other warming gadgets on the market that can help you make it through a chilly day or night, including portable gel hand-warmers, heated socks and, of course, the electric blanket.

    Also invest in a decent quality thermas flask, handy for keeping warm when you’re out and about.

    Please be careful about running a gas fire at night though, too many fire and carbon monoxide poisoning incidents have come from this.

     

    • Keep your eye on the water systems

    Even if you physically inside your caravan, a cold night can lead to burst pipes causing great damage at a great cost.

    Keep your eye on the tanks, pipes and cisterns and think about lagging them if you are concerned. At the end of your trip ensure to fully empty the water system and keep taps and other openings open.

     

    • Eat rightwinter caravan motorhome

    Earlier on in the year we shared some of our favourite winter warmer recipes that can be made easily on a gas stove. Keep warm with sausage cassoulet, stewed spiced apples, one pot pilaf and more – all at the click of a button!

     

    • Keep an eye on your awning

    A porch awning in winter is a great way to add an extra layer of insulation to your door and the windows on that side. It also gives you an area to store wet clothes and shoes without creating a damp atmosphere inside your caravan or motorhome (as well as obviously creating more living space!).

    However, it’s important to keep an eye on it in rainy, windy and snowy conditions. At worst it can get blown away completely, leaving your belongings open to the same fate, and at best get damaged.

    If it looks like your trip is set to coincide with some bad weather, it might be worth investing in a specialised awning complete with steep roof to help shift snow.

     

    Check out our online store for great motorhome and caravan buys!

     

  • How to service your own generator

    Use our comprehensive and illustrated guide to service your own generator and keep it running well for longer:

    Stale fuel is the No. 1 cause of generator starting problems. Manufacturers advise adding fuel stabiliser to the fuel to minimise fuel breakdown, varnish and gum buildup. But it's no guarantee against problems.

    We would recommend emptying the fuel tank and the carburettor once you're past a season or are going to store your generator for some time. If your carburettor has a drain, wait for the engine to cool before draining. If not, empty the tank and then run the generator until it's out of fuel. Always use fresh, stabilised fuel in your generator.

    service generator caravan motorhome boat

     

    Oil Change

    1. Loosen the cover screw and remove the left side maintenance cover.

    2. Remove the oil filler cap.

    3. Drain dirty oil into a container thoroughly.

    4. Refill with the recommended oil, and check the oil level. 5. Reinstall the left side maintenance cover and tighten the cover screw securely.

     

    generator caravan motorhome servicegenerator caravan motorhome service

     

    Air Filter

    A dirty air filter will restrict air flow to the carburettor. To prevent carburettor malfunction, service the air filter regularly. Service more frequently when operating the generator in extremely dusty areas.

    1. Loosen the cover screw and remove the left side maintenance cover.

    2. Press the latch tab on the top of the air cleaner body, and remove the air cleaner cover.

    3. Wash the element in a high flash point solvent and dry it thoroughly.

    4. Soak the element in clean engine oil and squeeze out the excess oil.

    5. Reinstall the air cleaner element and the cover.

    6. Reinstall the left side maintenance cover and tighten the cover screw securely

    generator caravan motorhome

     

    Spark Plug To ensure proper engine operation, the spark plug must be properly gapped and free of deposits.

    1. Remove the spark plug maintenance cover.

    2. Remove the spark plug cap.

    3. Clean any dirt from around the spark plug base.

    4. Use the wrench to remove the spark plug.

    5. Visually inspect the spark plug. Discard it if the insulator is cracked or chipped. Clean the spark plug with a wire brush if it is to be reused.

    6. Measure the plug gap with a feeler gauge. The gap should be 0.6-0.7mm(0.024-0.028in). Correct as necessary by carefully bending the side electrode.

    7. Install the spark plug carefully, by hand, to avoid cross-threading.

    8. After a new spark plug has been seated by hand, it should be tightened 1/2 turn with a wrench to compress its washer. If a used plug is being reinstalled, it should only require 1/8 to 1/4 turn after being seated.

    9. Reinstall the spark plug cap on the spark plug securely.

    10. Close the left maintenance cover

     

    Cleaning the Carburettor (Advanced)

    The carburettor sits on two studs behind the air cleaner assembly. To access it, first undo the large screw that secures the air filter cover. Remove the filter and the casing. Disconnect attached rubber hoses and slide the carburettor off the studs.

    After draining the float bowl of any remaining fuel (and replacing the screw), undo the large bolt in the middle to take the float cover off. Carefully remove the parts from the carb and clean any deposits.

    If the holes are clogged you can strip a piece of wire and use one of the strands to pass through the holes to clear it out. Do not use anything bigger the jets are made of brass and can easily be made larger, which could cause running problems later.

    Also spray with carburettor cleaner and make sure you get a good stream coming out of the emulsion tube and main jet. Reverse process to assemble.

    generator motorhome caravan
  • How to clean your caravan - our top tips

    With summer fast approaching, if you haven’t quite got round to it yet, now’s the time you might want to grab your rubber gloves and think about giving your caravan a good clean.

    While caravan washing isn't everyone's favourite task, thankfully, there are lots of products out there specifically designed for caravans which makes things easier. Here’s our short guide on the best way to clean your caravan:

    The essentials

    • Water: whether it’s from a hose, a power washer or a bucket or Dry Wash, which works on any surface even if you don’t have access to water.
    • Sponges, mops with clean heads and drying cloths.
    • For cleaning, you are going to need shampoo, tyre cleaner, window cleaning spray, etc.
    • Other essentials include elbow grease, V-shaped ladder with platform/ scaffold plate, finishing wax, toothbrush, Chamois leather etc.

     

    When to start cleaning

    • Once you have all these items ready, you can start the cleaning process. The best time to clean is a calm cloudy day – if it’s too sunny or windy your caravan will dry before you can do it yourself, leaving you with streaks and drips.
    • If the day is windy or sunny, it’s preferable to wash one side and rinse it and then start another side to avoid streaks forming.

     

     The process

    clean caravan
    • Always start from the top of the caravan. Place the ladder so you can comfortably reach the whole roof with the long brush. Use cleaning solution wisely and remove all algae, streaks, paint or other form of dirt that may have accumulated. You may need to move the ladder around to access all parts.
    • Hot water is great at removing bird waste and insect eggs from your caravan. Snowfoam can also be used for this purpose effectively. You can make your own with some detergent in a canister.
    • Use a specific canopy cleaner like this one for your awnings.
    • Side panels should be cleaned with a noodle mitt or soft brush. You can also use a microfibre cloth for this purpose. Make sure that you leave the cleaning solution on for some time (10 min. approx.) before going ahead.
    • Windows should be stripped of all dirt before cleaning them with the microfibre cloth. You can also use Chamois leathers, although they are expensive and may not produce the desired results. Finally, you should use a glass cleaner for extra shine – we recommend this one as it’s both heavy duty and biodegradable.
    • Compressed air cleaners or felt brushes are very effective in cleaning roof lights. Use them to reach inaccessible spots.
    • Overwintering spray and wax should be used at the end to make it easier to clean your caravan next time.

     

    Warnings

    • When you wash your caravan or motorhome be careful not to let the water seep inside. For this, you need to maintain a good distance, which can be easily done with a hosepipe or bucket to ease pressure.
    • Washing up liquid can be damaging to your caravan so if you used it by mistake apply polish to the area to immediately.
    • Do not use hard brush on plastic windows. This will result in scratches.
    • Buy larger microfibers to prevent wringing.

     

    These tips will save you a lot of effort when cleaning your caravan. Follow them diligently and your caravan will stay cleaner for longer and require less maintenance in the future.

  • 5 simple healthy summer recipes to cook in your caravan or narrowboat

     

    It's almost beginning to feel like the sun is going to break out from behind the clouds. Could it be that summer is actually here?

    We can never be sure in the UK, but just in case, we’ve put together some of our favourite recipes for meals to enjoy on a sunny day. Staying healthy when you’re enjoying a caravan or narrowboat break, can be difficult, but we’ve picked a selection of our favourite filling but healthy recipes.

    These are all tried and tested, though the occasional packet of crisps has been known to sneak in!

     

    healthy recipe caravan narrowboat

    1) Breakfast Tacos

    This super filling breakfast (or lunch or dinner!) dish is not only incredibly easy to make, but also easy to multiply up or down depending on how many hungry mouths you have to feed.

    All you need to do is beat the eggs, spinach and seasoning in a pan, line the tortilla with chopped avocado and some salsa, and add the egg mixture when cooked.

    The dish is filled with brain boosting ingredients, which is handy if you have a day of map reading ahead!

    Ingredients (per person): 1 tortilla, handful chopped spinach, ½ an avocado, some salsa, salt and pepper, 2-3 eggs.

    Optional Ingredients: You can make your taco as fancy as you like, add mushrooms, chicken, sweetcorn, anything!

    Top Tip: If you want to further reduce the fat content, use only the egg whites for the omelette part.

     

    healthy recipe caravan narrowboat

    2) Garlic Prawn and Any Bean Pasta

    The smell of garlic cooking is enough to get anyone’s mouth watering, and this delicious recipe is high in protein, making it super filling. Put your pasta on to cook, and five minutes before the pasta is ready, start cooking the oil, garlic and prawns in another pan for two minutes.

    Then add the beans, cook for a further two minutes (or until the prawns are pink), combine the contents of the two pans and serve with a generous douse of squeezed lemon.

    Ingredients (per person): Handful of pasta (wholegrain is preferable), 5-8 prawns, any green bean or pea (eg runner bean, mangetout etc), 2-3 garlic cloves, olive oil.

    Optional Ingredients: Add chilli for a kick and shallots for texture.

    Top Tip: If you are on your boat or your caravan is near water, try and find a local fisherman who may be able to sell you prawns caught that day.

     

    3) Hawaiian Pizza Wrap

    If you’re craving pizza, but trying to be good this summer, then the pizza wrap is for you!

    Like in your favourite pizza joint; simply the toppings to make your favourite pizza - but instead of spreading over a base, spread the ingredients on your wrap, fold up and you’re ready to go.

    Ingredients (per person): 1 low-fat tortilla, 3 sliced pineapple chunks, 1 tomato sliced, sprinkling low-fat grated mozzarella, 2 slices ham.

    Optional Ingredients: Add sliced black olives and a sprinkling of oregano to create more of a pizza feel.

    Top Tip: This dish is delicious hot or cold, if you’d prefer the cheese to melt you can dry cook the wrap in a frying pan - or pop in your microwave for 20 seconds if you have one.

     

    healthy recipe caravan narrowboat

    4) Bacon & Egg Salad

    Turn your guilty morning fry up into a delicious healthy meal with this crowd pleaser of a dish that is easily made in either a caravan or narrowboat kitchen. First hard boil your egg(s), then when they are cooking, assemble the salad. Peel and quarter the egg(s) and add to your salad before finally frying the fat-trimmed bacon. If you have a kitchen towell to hand soak, up all the bacon’s excess fat, cut it up and toss on. Perfect!

    Ingredients (per person): As much lettuce as you'd like, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumber, 1 slice of bacon, 1-2 eggs, low-fat dressing, salt and pepper.

    Top tip: If you have a grill, use that instead to cook the bacon.

     

    5) Creamy Chicken

    Don’t be fooled - just because this dish is creamy, doesn't mean it's not healthy and it's just perfect after a day of exploring in your caravan or boat. Start off by lightly frying the onions and chicken in a pan, add chopped peppers and cherry tomatoes, and when the peppers are cooked add the cream cheese. Stir until melted and serve with wholegrain rice.

    Ingredients (per person): Handful of cooked rice, 1 chicken breast, 6 cherry tomatoes, 1/3 bell pepper, 1/2 onion, 2 tbsp super low-fat cream cheese.

    Top Tip: Some people like to add lemon or lime to the dish, but do so after serving as it can cause the

  • Top Tips to Avoid Caravan Theft

    It is estimated that every year 4,000 caravans are stolen. Given only 10% of these are recovered, in all likelihood if this happens to you, you probably won’t see your caravan again.

    Regardless of the value of your caravan, having your possessions rummaged through and then taken is a horrible experience.

    Here are the best ways to avoid your caravan being taken:

    caravan security

    1) Get handy with a UV pen.

    Write your postcode and any other details you can fit on all over anything that could be removed from your caravan.

    While this won’t stop thieves from taking the items, it will help you get them back if the worst should happen.

     

    2) Take everything out of your caravan.

    Yes it’s a pain, but if you are leaving your caravan for a long period of time, remove everything, even the upholstery.

    The less attractive your caravan looks, the less a thief will be interested in breaking into it. Make sure you keep the curtains, cupboards and drawers open to demonstrate how sparse and unappealing your caravan is.

     

    3) Register your caravan with CRiS

    If you caravan was made in the UK after 1992, then it will automatically be registered with the National Register for Caravan Keepers. But if it is older, you should get it registered.  You’ll be provided with a unique 17 digit number.

    Doing so means if your caravan is stolen, the next owners or the police will be able to track it back to you.

     

     

    caravan security

    4) Fit your caravan with an alarm and tracking device

    Hopefully a blaring alarm will put off thieves from making off with your caravan, but to make your caravan extra secure fit it with a tracking system. This means if your caravan is taken, the police or tracking system operator will be able to track it.

    Always turn your alarm on - even if you are only leaving your caravan for a minute or two.

    We actually  offer a great multipurpose GPS tracker that allows you to keep track of your van (pictured to the right and currently with £30 off!).

     

    5) Keep it in a secure location

    Keeping your caravan in a dedicated, secure space when it’s not in use may seem like an extra cost, but it will give you peace of mind and can even bring your insurance costs down.

    A quick Google search will bring up the one closest to you.

    If this seems like too much hassle, think about employing a caravan sitter should you go away for a couple of days.

     

    6) Lock everything!

    Invest in a hitch lock, a wheel clamp, a wheel lock and any other lock you can lay your hands on to make your caravan look as unmoveable as possible.

     

    7) Keep doors and windows shut

    You may only be popping out of your caravan quickly, but always lock your windows, doors and rooflights. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  • Thought you knew everything about your caravan and motorhome hobby? Think again!

    We know there’s nothing better than visiting a new place or returning to a favourite one in your motorhome or with a caravan in tow, but did you know you’re actually contributing £6billion to the UK economy or that you’re sharing a hobby with Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Kelly Holmes?

    No?

    Well read on to find out more about the wonderful world of caravans and motorhomes in the UK.

     

    lorraine kelly caravan facts

    1) Caravanning is cool. Ok we’ve always known it – but now big name celebrities have cottoned on too, with Dame Helen Mirren, Billie Piper and Dame Kelly Holmes both members of the Caravan Club.

    There’s also a chance you’ll find yourself pitching up next to Loraine Kelly or Linda Barker on your next caravan trip, though whether that’s a good thing, we’ve yet to decide!

     

    2) Caravanning actually contributes more than £6billion to the UK economy every year and the industry employs more than 130,000 people – making it of huge importance to the UK’s economy.

     

    3) If you live in your caravan you are classed as being of ‘no fixed abode’ and if you want to have your voice heard in a general, local or European election the way you need to register to vote is a little different than if you live in a ‘fixed abode.’

    We write all about it here for the Canal and River Trust (just swap the word narrowboat for caravan!)

     

    caravan facts

    4) In the UK, more than 51 million nights are spent in caravans each year.

     

    5) There’s a lot of us. In fact there are more than 1million leisure caravans in use (that’s totalling touring caravans, motorhomes and caravan holiday homes).

     

    6) More people are caravanning than ever before. In 2009 one in five people were going on either a camping or caravanning holiday, now it’s one in three.

     

    7) The most popular countries UK residents to go on a caravan holiday are the UK, followed by Spain then France.

     

    most expensive caravan in britain

    8) The most expensive caravan in Britain was sold for a staggering £550,000 and comes complete with an iPhone controlled heating system (we thought all caravans had these!!).

    The static caravan based in North Wales was built to mark the 75th anniversary of park owners, Haulfryn Holiday Homes.

    Despite having an integrated sound and television system, underfloor heating and an en suite spa shower and toilet, it is technically still a caravan because of its wheels and chassis.

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