Caravan travel in 2021: restrictions, risks, health advice | Practio

Caravan travel in 2021: everything you need to know

Caravan travel

Caravans, campervans and converted vans have seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, allowing travellers greater flexibility and easier access to nature. In the following article we’ll go over the main health risks and precautions to take when travelling by caravan or campervan.

COVID-19 and caravans

Camping and caravan sites in the UK have been open since July 4th, and this autumn and winter the national tourism agency is encouraging more people to take domestic holidays. Staying in campsites and caravans has surged this summer as a method of travel which allows for relatively low social contact. With constantly changing quarantine rules for foreign holidays, it can be a safer bet to book a staycation without having to worry about isolating on your return.

The current regulations mean that you are allowed to stay in a caravan, so long as there are no local restrictions in the area where you live, or the area you intend to travel to. If you live in an area with “very high” tier restrictions, you should avoid travel when not essential.

Always check the official guidance on local COVID alert levels, as well as the current restrictions in your local area.

If you intend on travelling outside of the UK, be sure to check the restrictions in force at your destination.

If you are travelling abroad, check the Foreign Office advice on your destination, as well as the local restrictions in place at your destination. Be aware that you may have to quarantine on your return.

COVID-19 travel advice for caravans

Campervan and caravan travel can be a good choice at this time as it allows you freedom of movement while still allowing you to minimise contact with people outside of your household.

  • always check local restrictions

  • do not travel if you feel unwell

  • if you’re hiring a van or caravan for travel, try to find one with basic facilities for cooking and washing (this will mean you don’t have to eat out or use shared facilities)

  • book ahead - some caravan sites might be closed or booked up, particularly during school holidays

  • check what facilities are open at the site you intend to visit, as some are only currently allowing caravans which are fully equipped

  • plan and stock up on what you need to avoid making unnecessary stops

  • make sure you have at least 2m of space between your caravan and others

Camping safety tips

In this article we'll cover:

  • where to stay

  • what to take

  • health risks

Where to stay

It’s always advisable to stay at a campsite or caravan park, to be sure that the area is safe to stay in and that you are allowed to stay there. If you park your caravan or campervan in an area where you are not allowed to stay overnight, you may be asked to leave or face a fine.

Depending on where you are travelling it is also a good idea to stay clear of long grass and shrubbery which can be home to ticks and other insects.

It's important that you stay overnight in official camping and caravan sites

Take a first aid kit

Your first aid kit should include essential items such as:

  • plasters

  • dressings

  • scissors

  • alcohol- or iodine-based disinfectant

Avoid tick bites

It is also a good idea to include a pair of thin-tipped tweezers or some kind of tool specifically for removing ticks, particularly if you intend to do any outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling.

Ticks are small creatures that feed off the blood of mammals. They are dangerous because they can carry infections, which you can catch if they bite you. The faster you remove a tick, the more likely it is that you can avoid infection.

If you are in a risk area for ticks, try to stay away from areas of long grass and shrubs, and wear loose clothing that covers your legs and ankles. You can tuck your trousers into your socks so that skin is not exposed.

In parts of Europe, there is a risk from catching Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis from tick bites. It is important to check whether you are visiting a risk area before you travel.

Water

Many caravans and campervans have water storage facilities, and you can usually fill these with potable water at petrol stations. Always check whether water is drinkable or not.

If you are hiring a campervan you may want to find one that is fully equipped so that you do not have to use shared facilities

Cooking and stoves

Particularly during colder seasons, people sometimes use camping stoves for warmth. Using camping stoves in enclosed spaces can result in a buildup of carbon monoxide, which can be harmful or lethal in the worst cases. Be sure to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a camping stove.

In many areas, outdoor fires are prohibited due to risks of forest fires. Always check before starting a fire. If you are allowed to build outdoor fires, ensure that they are away from trees, shrubs and tents. It is a good idea to have a quick method of putting a fire out, such as a bucket of earth or sand, or a fire blanket. After you have finished using it, make sure that the fire is completely extinguished.

Animals and wildlife

For most people staying in caravans or campervans in Europe, the risk from wildlife and stray animals is low, particularly in the UK. In other regions of the world, be sure to check whether there is a risk from rabies, particularly if you are camping in a rural area with a lot of stray animals.

In general it is best to keep a safe distance from wildlife, even if they don’t seem harmful. It is recommended that you do not touch stray animals (such as dogs or cats) and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards if you do.

If you have a dog, make sure you keep them on a lead when appropriate.

Tetanus

Tetanus is a rare but serious bacterial infection found around the world. The tetanus bacteria can survive for long periods outside of the body, and is usually found in the soil and manure of animals, particularly horses and cows. Tetanus is contracted in humans when the bacteria enters a wound by either soil or dirt. 

Tetanus is part of the primary course of vaccinations in the UK, as is given as part of the diphtheria, polio and tetanus vaccine.

The best method of prevention against tetanus is vaccination. Protection from the tetanus vaccine usually lasts for 10 years. If you are taking part in an outdoor activity in a rural area, you may want to get a diphtheria, polio and tetanus booster.

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