Winter RV Camping Tips
The temperatures are plunging, and the sun is appearing less and less in the sky, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on one of your favorite hobbies. Campground availability is at an all-time high and the atmosphere is crisp, quiet, and relaxing. Best of all, no bugs. Winter camping can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that your off-season adventure can’t happen. You’ll just need to take some extra precautions.
- Verify Seasonal Closings
Imagine that you are all packed up for your trip, your family is excited, and everything seems to be in order. Until you crest that final hill and approach your destination. Right there across the entrance, is a big closed sign. The campground you were planning on using is closed for the season and there is nothing you can do about it. All your hopes of a winter vacation are dashed and now you have to explain to the rest of your family what has happened.
This scenario can be easily avoided by verifying that your destination is open for the winter season. It seems like such an easy step, but it can often be lost in the shuffle of planning a trip. Many campgrounds, such as those run by the National Parks, are open for parts of the winter season but on restricted hours or closed entirely. Make sure to call ahead and check on the parks hours before beginning to plan your winter getaway.
- Winter Maintenance
Making sure that your RV is ready for the trip is a top priority. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in unfamiliar territory with an RV that won’t do what you need it to. To make sure your trip is a smooth one, we have compiled a list of tasks you’ll want to double check off your to do list before hitting the road.
- Check the Tires
- Check Carbon Monoxide Detector
- Check window seals
- Consider purchasing an RV skirt
- Test your furnace
- Top off Heating Fuel
This may seem like common sense but sometimes the best advice escapes us when we are busy preparing for a trip. Make sure that you are full of heating fuel before you leave. When planning, take extra precautions to check that you are either close to a refill station or bring extra tanks with you.
You’ll need more than just your RV furnace as a source of heat. If you rely on only the furnace, you’ll go through a ton of propane and risk running out. Consider bringing electric heaters to subsidize your propane usage.
- Prepare for Harsh Conditions
Be sure to protect your water and sewer lines from freezing. By placing a heating pad over your RV water pump, you can prevent frozen pipes. Another option is to use heat tape to help warm the hose and keep water flowing. Heat tape can be found at a RV supply shop or home hardware store.
Inside the camper you can leave your cabinet doors open to allow interior heat to reach the pipes in the walls.
If you are experiencing moisture in your camper you can use a dehumidifier to help regulate moisture. Another way to prevent excess moisture is to leave a roof vent slightly open. About ½ an inch should do the trick.
- Plan Larger Meals
Part of the camping experience is the meals that you get to cook over an open fire, or sometimes in your RV oven, depending on how adventurous you are feeling. Something that you might not think about when packing and planning meals is how much the cold weather revs up our metabolisms. Our bodies burn energy to keep us warm and we get our energy from our food. Be sure to pack enough food based upon your planned activities. If you plan on taking leisurely walks, you may not need as much as you’d need if you are planning on going cross country skiing.
- Pack appropriately
Just because you can be inside doesn’t mean that you’ll always be warm. Pack plenty of warm, dry clothes. Take care to pack extra socks and gloves. Your hands and feet are most likely to get cold while exploring your campground. Bringing along a heated blanket to stay warm in bed will help give your camper that cozy feeling.
- Driving in the Snow
Driving an RV in the snow is very different from your everyday driver. RV’s are rear wheel drive, meaning that most of the tools you use to control your smaller vehicle in the snow won’t work. If you start to slide, you’ll have to go back to pumping the brakes or steering with a slide. Applying power while driving your RV can make the situation worse. Honestly, your best plan if a snow or ice storm hits is to get off the road.
If you still plan to brave the snow, there are a few precautions you can take. First, make sure that you have good snow tires. Most RV’s don’t come with them, so you’ll need to make a trip to your local tire store. Once you are on the road leave plenty of space between you and the cars around you.
RV camping during the winter is not for the faint of heart. Conditions can be harsh and extra precautions need to be taken, but many of the winter instillations only need to be done once. It also allows you to see a whole new kind of wonder that nature only offers during the colder months. If you feel ready to take on the challenge, let us know about your experience in the comments below. Safe travels and happy camping!
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