Cartwright Chronicles, Features

Caravan gifts for your loved one this Christmas

Dan Cartwright has over 12 years of experience in the caravan and motorhome industry. He is a judge for a number of prestigious leisure vehicle awards and regularly heads off in his motorhome with his family. Every week, Dan shares his insights with the community. Here’s what he has to say this week.

In the leisure vehicle industry, sponsorship deals are commonplace. For listicles that feature gift ideas, that means plenty of authors will have been sent items to review and sometimes even been paid to recommend them.

So, over the next few weeks in the Cartwright Chronicles, I’m going to be keeping it real with you. Instead of specific product recommendations, I’ll be offering inspiration around different categories of caravan-related gifts.

Today, the focus is on caravans, but next week I’ll be talking motorhomes, with the following surrounding campervans. Rather than suggesting you buy particular products, this guide will provide a description and a rough price, so you can be the one to discover gifts that sound interesting and be able to explain to your loved one why and how you chose them.

The practical gift under £20

If there was only one thing I could recommend for under £20, I would choose clip-on stabiliser feet every time. There are a few different manufacturers of this item and I have to say – it’s a tremendous idea. If a caravan lover in your life (or if you are the caravan lover) doesn’t already have clip-on stabiliser feet, they will love them. 

If you fall victim to unexpected weather conditions, or your grass pitch is rather soft, your stabilisers will sink into the ground. These handy gadgets massively increase your surface area, so forget blocks of wood or chocks – these clip on and make hitching (and unhitching) so much easier on soft ground. I even bring them when I’m testing caravans!

The practical gift for pets

Now, this is technically more of a gift for pet owners, but I’d suggest investing in some wearable dog towels. When you’re at home, out walking and get soaking wet, you probably turn to a particular kitchen drawer for the dog towels.

With caravans, the interiors tend to be carpeted, and obviously the space is much smaller. So, a wearable dog towel will do exactly what it says on the tin. Your pup will dry off, your caravan will be protected and above all, your pooch will feel comfortable and snug. These can range from £35 to £70, depending on the brand you choose.

Gifts for the awning

Most people who own a caravan have an awning and, while premium leisure vehicles tend to have a single exterior socket in the awning side, not all models do. However, through a vast reduction in cost and an increase in the capability of battery technology, the options are becoming more diverse and accessible.

My first recommendation in this category would be an integrated light, perfect for when you need to step out to the toilet block in the pitch black, but they’re also capable of charging your phone or simply making your awning that little bit more cosy.

You can pick up an integrated light from anywhere between £20 to £100 and even get them connected to things like Bluetooth speakers, or wire them up via an auxiliary cord. I’d recommend a middle-of-the-road light, with good reviews on the site you’re buying from. Overall, a really nice addition to help you enjoy your awning and wherever else you may bring it.

An additional item for the awning – reflective or hi-vis ropes. These are cheap (around £15) and when you shine a light on them, they reflect. This comes in very handy to help prevent you from tripping over your guide ropes in the dark.

Gifts for comfort

Caravanners don’t tend to be the most picky people when it comes to comfort, but there are a few little things that can go a long way to enriching your holiday experience.

First, items like wearable sleeping bags and oversized, padded jackets can make the inevitable, freezing-cold morning walk to the toilet so much more comfortable. Most of us don’t enjoy getting out of a warm, cosy bed in the first place, especially when heading into icy temperatures, so this is an item I’d recommend to anyone.

Thinking ahead to warmer climates, though, a cooling mattress topper is something I’ve tried and tested, and probably wouldn’t go on a hot touring holiday without it anymore. They can range in price quite dramatically from £50 to several hundreds of pounds. However, they are essentially a breathable layer of foam that cools down your mattress in the summer.

Gifts for tech-lovers

First up in the tech category – a mini projector. You can connect it to devices like your phone or laptop and, when you’re watching a movie, it will enlarge it over a short distance to create a cinema screen.

Generally, you need a big white wall for projectors to work. Luckily, you have a caravan! Spend your summer evenings outside, maybe in your awning, enjoying your own caravan cinema experience. Mini projectors can start from as little as £30, but I’d suggest looking at the specifications and potentially buying one for £50 or more to make sure you get a device with good brightness.

Also worthy of a shout here is a caravan Wi-Fi system. For some reason that I can’t explain, they just always seem to get better reception than your phone. Once you have it set up, you can simply link all of your devices to it. However, if your leisure vehicle isn’t prewired for it, it can become rather expensive, as it needs to be dealer-fit.

The gift for big spenders

There is one king in this category and its name is… roof-mounted AC unit. These can vary in price from £1,000 to £2,000 depending on the heating system in your caravan. If you have a Truma or Alda, you can find ones that work alongside them to provide full climate control. With the unit, you can simply set your temperature and the caravan will maintain it.

The gift for DIY lovers

A windscreen cover for your car. Hear me out…

You can either create this yourself or buy and adapt one. The purpose of this is to have a giant checklist of all the things you need to do before heading off. This saves you from driving away with your breakaway cable attached or all of your precious plates lying on the table waiting to smash.

It sounds elementary, but it’s really useful to put it across your windscreen when you park and use it as a guide before leaving your home, pitch or wherever you are. If you choose to create your own, you’ve got a personalised checklist that’s fun to make, but don’t forget to include practical things too!

Some of these gifts are transferable between caravans, motorhomes and campervans. Stay tuned though, as we’ll have some motorhome-specific ideas coming for you next week.

Photo credit: Chad Madden / Unsplash