A Van Club

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The A'van Club of Australia Inc
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BEFORE SETTING OUT

There are a few things to consider and organise before one commences a trip in a caravan - any type! You should consider the following:-

Are you going to leave your home empty or organise tenants or house sitters?

Tenants will look after your home whilst paying you for the privilege. To place tenants into your home, you are probably best to plan a very long adventure discovering Australia. Tenants more than likely would prefer not to move in if they are to be evicted after a short period of time. House sitters benefit by not paying any rent for a fully furnished home. House sitters are more likely to move in for a short period of time and may or may not pay the living expenses like the power bill. House sitters may also double up as pet sitters.

Have you organised mail forwarding via a friend or through Australia Post?

There is nothing we love more than receiving a hoard of bills dressed in their finest window faced envelopes. Advertising, bank statements, rate notices, mobile phone bills, reminders, final notices and threats from collection agencies. Why should hitting the road remove the joy of such fan mail?
For as little as $68 per annum or $34 if a pensioner (Australia Post fees based on 2009), you are able to redirect your mail to a designated volunteer. Your volunteer needs to be equipped with sticky address labels, postcode book, marker pen and a pen, so when you contact them in advance of your next destination they are able to change the location of your mail. Here are some tips on how to go about it:

If the envelope has a bar code anywhere on it, have your volunteer marker pen it out. The bar code is designed to be read by a computer which will override the change of address.
Give them at least two week's notice when you inform them of the next post office you will be collecting your mail from.
Ask them not to bundle your mail together like a parcel or your mail may be delayed.

If your home is left empty, is someone able to keep up the lawns and maintenance?

Having your home look lived in is imperative whilst you are away to ensure the deterrence of thieves, vandals and squatters. If you've found someone wonderful enough to maintain your home, have them also remove newspapers and junk mail from your letterbox, and to occasionally put the garbage bins out. Perhaps offer them the use of your carport or driveway as storage for their second car or boat. Be sure your home insurance covers you if your house is left vacant.

Is your vehicle right to go?

It makes sense that your vehicle has been serviced before heading off. It is much easier to rectify any underlying issues in your hometown where you are familiar with the tradespeople. Be informed that break downs in remote areas are charged at a higher rate, especially if a tradesperson needs to drive vast kilometres to salvage you.

Before you drive off have you checked?

The towing capacity of your vehicle.
The oil, water, brake fluid, battery, etc.
Your tyre pressure is according to weight and manufacturers guidelines.
All wheel nuts have been tightened accordingly.
The coupling ball and socket is securely fastened.
The safety chains are correctly connected.
The brake and light connections are secure and that all lights are working.
The towing lights, number plates and registration labels of your caravan are clearly visible.
The rear vision mirrors are adjusted suitably.
The jockey wheel is removed from its clamp and stored, or if it is of the swivel mount variety, is it locked in the travelling position.
The front and rear corner stabilisers are in the up position.
The hand brake of the van/trailer has been correctly released.
The cupboards, doors and fridges are securely locked.
The roll out awning is stored correctly in the travel position.
The windows, roof hatches and stone shields are secure.
The TV antennae is locked in the travel position.
The electrical cord, water hose and grey water hose is disconnected and put away.
Your overall load is still secure.
Your insurance is most suitable for your rig.

Once your checklist has been ticked off in a confident manner, it wouldn't hurt to drive around the block a couple of times to test the braking and to double check everything is still locked into position. This will also give you peace of mind and allow a more relaxed, enjoyable journey.

(with thanks from The Grey Nomads website: http://www.greynomadsaustralia.com.au/)

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