Updated: Dec 8, 2022
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One thing I'd recommend to anyone who is considering undertaking a long term road trip or indeed considering permanent vanlife is to take your vehicle out for a few test runs before hitting the road in earnest.
Last week I did just that in Star, my new to me 1995 Hymer B564 motorhome.
I booked into a local(ish) campsite, without electric hookup as I wanted to test a few things on the van that I was unable to test during the initial viewing or subsequently since the purchase due to her being parked up on the road.
Why do a test run in your motorhome?
Whether you have bought a brand spanking new campervan or motorhome, the chances are some bits may be new to you, or indeed, you may be like me who has never lived for any lengthy period of time in a motorhome.
So besides wanting to test things like the gas appliances, the awning etc, I also wanted to get a feel for what I would need on the road. And I am so glad that I did this test run as it allowed me to figure out that there were a few issues and/or things that I had not considered needing!
What to test in your motorhome or campervan
Obviously, you're going to want to test as much as possible BEFORE you purchase your motorhome or campervan, however, it isn't always possible during viewings for many reasons including, for example, no gas available, no water in the freshwater tank, no electric hookup etc.
As I intend to spend lengthy periods of time 'wild camping', ie, not on a campsite with electric hookup etc, it was important for me to test how the existing solar panel and leisure batteries dealt with the load I would be putting on it.
Test motorhome/campervan gas appliances
If you're planning on doing any off-grid stretches then it's imperative that you have gas on board. Typically your hob, fridge, oven and boiler/water heater will run off gas.
Most motorhome and campervan fridges will be able to be run on electric, battery and gas. However, unless you are physically on the move in your van, it's not recommended to run the fridge on battery for too long as it can be rather hungry!
So I checked all my gas appliances. Hob worked great. The fridge, whilst it ignited doesn't seem to be working efficiently and after some 24 hours hadn't really chilled the items in it very much at all. So I will be having this looked at when she getting a habitat service. It's likely, and I'm hoping, that it just needs a good cleaning out at the burner. I didn't try the water heater/boiler on this occasion as I'm waiting for that to be serviced before I use it.
Test water pipes and taps
Check the taps and pipes wherever you have them in your motorhome or campervan. In my Hymer, I have taps in the kitchen at the sink and also a basin and shower in the toilet/shower room. In addition, I also have a Thetford cassette toilet so I was sure to check that also. Seems all my water pipes and taps function as they should! Yippee!
Test electrical items
What I knew prior to this test is that the van does not have any USB charging points in it, for this reason, I have arranged that the motorhome guru will be installing a couple of double USB points for me when he comes to do the habitation check.
Be sure that you have sufficient means and outlets to charge up the items you will need to charge. For me, this includes my mobile phone, tablet, laptop, camera batteries etc.
Test everything else!
In addition to the internal bits, I also tested the awning, which worked great however I learned that I had no way to secure it. I had no tent pegs or tie-down ropes and as a consequence of a rather strong wind, did have to wind the awning in. These items have subsequently been ordered.
I also learned that I did not have the necessary tap connection to fill the freshwater tank onsite. The taps there were threaded male taps. I, therefore, had to purchase some tap adapters!
In addition, I hadn't thought about toilet liquids for the cassette toilet so these were also promptly ordered whilst I was onsite!
Once I have taken the van out for further test runs I will publish further blog posts about the MUST HAVE items you need in your van before you head off so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and Newsletter!