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Winter Motorhoming – Ultimate Guide with Driving and Storage Tips

It could be quite challenging to take a winter motorhome trip especially due to the cold weather and other factors. Keeping warm and enjoying a great time should be your main aim.

Even with the seemingly bad weather and sub-zero temperatures, there are still numerous benefits to spending the greater part of the colder months inside your motorhome or campervan.

Can A Motorhome Be Used In The Winter?

Winter touring in your campervan is very easy and possible, even if you do not have the latest motorhome technology. There are winter-proof motorhomes that come with thermal insulation within walls, portable water containers, electrical heating elements, and other components to get you through the winter season easily.

If you do not have all these tech, there are some ways you can prepare your motorhome for the winter motorhoming trip, including getting winter tyres, hot water bottles, snow chains, and many more.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Winter Camping In A Motorhome?

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Winter Camping In A Motorhome

Using your campervan or motorhome in winter comes with its upsides and downsides. Before you plan your winter trips, you need to first consider both of these and then make your decision.

Advantages

When it comes to winter use of your campervan, there are certain advantages you enjoy. These include:

  • You get to enjoy eating extra and sipping on a hot chocolate drink to give you that extra warmth in the winter.
  • You get to enjoy the warmth of a sleeping bag, hot water bottle, or heated blanket.
  • Your places of interest will be serene and cool.
  • Your camping will be quite bug-free because unlike in the summer months, insects cannot survive the harsh weather of the winter.
  • Most modern motorhomes will have a much cooler inside than in the summer when the heat could be too much. The warm air circulation would keep your campervan warm and you will also be shielded from the outside temperature.
  • During the winter months is when people prefer staying warm in the comfort of their homes. This would ensure that there is a reduced crowd at any campsite, leaving you with solitary space.
  • Staying around campfires is also a great camping experience. The warmth you get from it just before heading into your winter campervan is delightful.

Disadvantages Of Winter Camping

These are some of the downsides you could be faced with when camping out in the winter season due to the colder climates and freezing temperatures.

  • One of the greatest challenges is battling the excess cold and trying to keep yourself warm. The winter storms and cold nights could be very challenging to live in.
  • You will use up a lot of your gas supply trying to heat up your campervan.
  • Your motorhome can start to get damp, which could result in the build-up of mould or mildew.
  • Rodents and mice would need a warm place to stay, making your motorhome the perfect spot during the winter months.
  • There would be a limited number of campsites, and the places you are interested in might be closed for the winter.

How To Prepare Motorhomes For Colder Temperatures?

Once you have decided that you are going to live within the comfort of your motorhome during the winter, you now need to prepare it to withstand the harsh temperature that comes with the season.

Tyres

Tyres

The tyres of your motorhome are heavy duty but they would still need to be protected when it comes to the colder months when the temperature drops very low in addition to being exposed to ice build-up or snow.

You can opt to get snow tyres but for travel trailers, you might not get a comparable version. So, you should rather go for an all-year-round tyre set if you don’t already possess one. When you park your camper, try to cover the tyres to protect them from dirt, salt, and snow. You should get heavy-duty campervan tyre covers that feature a thick lining to help to save your tyres from damage.

Brakes

This is something that every motorhome owner should know and stick to. Before going winter motorhoming, you should always check and make sure that your brakes are properly serviced to be able to withstand temperature changes and other conditions. Also, ensure you do not forget to replace the brake fluid every couple of years.

It is important to get your brake fluid regularly because the more you apply the brakes, the more the brakes tend to overheat. Vehicles are so much more fun when they respond properly as your foot hits the brake. The brake system will surely be under a lot of pressure, particularly if you are driving in regions with a lot of mountains and hills in addition to the colder climate.

Windscreen

Your windscreen will be subjected to a lot of salt spray when you go winter motorhoming, which would see that it gets dirty very fast. You need to make sure that your windscreen is clean and clear at all times. You don’t want your vision to be blurry when you are on wheels with a weight of up to three and a half tons.

You can get an extendable squeegee to help wipe off any dirt on the windscreen or a water-repellent glass treatment to let the water roll off.

Be Careful With Your Speed

During the winter, it is quite normal for the road to be damp. So, for your safety and that of your motorhome, ensure you always keep an eye out for the weather and be observant to know when the temperature goes below freezing levels.

Your motorhome or campervan will most likely not run into any issues on the main routes, but you should watch out for the smaller roads as they might not be gritted. Keep your speed down and your eyes on the road as it doesn’t take much for an RV to get stuck.

Motorhome Heating

One of the best things you can do to prepare your motorhome for the cold temperature is to make sure that the heating system is up and running. There are different ways you can heat up your motorhome. These include:

  • Gas Heating System: This type of heating system works in a similar way to a furnace. There is an impressive release of heat from the heater to warm up the campervan. When the atmosphere inside the van has gotten to the required level, then you can just leave the fire ticking to maintain that temperature. The heating system has a fan that sucks in the hot air and then evenly distributes it around the entire campervan.
  • Electrical System: This is a type of heating system that works with electricity. So, if you are at a campsite that has electrical hookups, then you can utilise your electric heater and save up on some of the gas that would have been spent trying to heat up your motorhome.
  • Solar Heating: As an RV owner, solar energy is probably the most eco-friendly option for you. You can utilise a solar-powered heater that runs on solar power to heat up your motorhome. You would not need to pay for the heat, but you should keep in mind that electricity is needed to power the fan that drives the airflow.

How To Keep Your Motorhome Warm In The Winter?

How To Keep Your Motorhome Warm In The Winter

There are some motorhome models that feature hot water heating on the double floor, while some come with proper insulation to battle the harsh weather.

If your vehicle does not come with these technologies, you can still keep your campervan/motorhome warm in the winter:

  • Get an oil-filled radiator to keep you warm and cosy at night.
  • Leave your drain tap open and empty the waste water inside a bucket.
  • Utilize RV skirting.
  • Install proper insulation in different areas of your vehicle including the windows, doors, and floors.
  • Separate the cab area from the rest of the living space with curtains.
  • Make use of solar panels to help convert the light from the sun into usable electricity for your camper.
  • Opt for a propane heater with advanced features like a fire-resistant casing, an auto shut-off feature, and an oxygen depletion sensor.

Can You Drive A Motorhome In The Snow?

Driving your motorhome in the snow can be a stress-free task, particularly if you are well-prepared before embarking on your journey. It is quite easy to use your motorhome all year round with the right techniques. Winterised motorhomes have an edge when it comes to driving in the snow.

What Are The Most Important Winter Driving Essentials

These are the very crucial items you should carry along with you when you plan to drive and camp out in the winter.

  • Carry Snow Chains: During winter trips, attaching snow chains to your winter tyres can help offer improved traction on the icy surface to prevent your vehicle from getting stuck or skidding.
  • Traction Mats: Traction mats are very flat and vehicle-packing friendly, which is why it is great to carry them along with you on your road trip. They help to provide better traction should you get stuck in the snow.
  • Pack A Snow Shovel: A snow shovel will definitely come in handy as there would be excess snow during winter and you need a tool to help you clear it out. Get one with a strong handle and don’t compromise on the quality to ensure it can take care of heavy digging.
  • Windscreen wash: Go for a screen wash that provides your motorhome with at least -45° protection.
  • Ice Scraper and De-icer: Get a quality de-icer and ice scraper to help you get rid of the snow that might accumulate on your vehicle while it is in the car park. This device will help you in eliminating the snow without causing damage to your motorhome.
  • De-icing salt: The de-icing salt is very important in helping to prevent water from turning into ice.
  • 12V Electric Blanket: Electric blankets are great for providing extra warmth and keeping you cosy during adverse winter weather. The 12V model doesn’t drain too much energy, so it would be gentle on vehicle batteries.
  • Small Space Heater: A small electric heater will be essential for many motorhomes during the winter as it gives that additional heat you need.
  • Extra Propane Tanks: If you are planning to visit any country in Europe with your winter motorhome, you should carry along some additional propane tanks especially if your drying room, hot water, cooking, and heating system depend on it.
  • You should also take along with you a low-wattage hairdryer to help you thaw out your water pipes should the worst happen.

Things To Consider If You Are Touring In Winter

If you are planning on going on tour in the colder months, then these are some of the best things for you to keep in mind;

  • If your campervan is prone to condensation, then you should ensure you wipe your windows frequently. Also, move your bedding and seating away from the walls and raise them as this lets warm air circulate beneath them.
  • Ensure that your mobile phone is fully charged at all times and keep your emergency numbers handy. Since you will be spending lots of time in your camper, take along a car charger with you.
  • Make sure there is antifreeze in the engine. Also, purchase a high-grade window wash antifreeze to prevent ice formation in the window-washer nozzles and hoses and unit tank.
  • Test your car battery and ensure you have a leisure battery in case of emergencies.
  • Ensure you drive carefully when you are in the snow. Monitor your speed and accelerate and decelerate slowly to prevent skids.

More Tips If You Go Camping In The Winter

More Tips If You Go Camping In The Winter

You can never be too careful when preparing to go touring in the winter. These are some more important tips to keep in mind;

  • When using your vent covers, ensure that they are not in contact with any gas appliance.
  • If you can, park on a hard-standing pitch so that it would be easier for you to get off.
  • In order to induce proper ventilation, ensure you leave the forced ventilation vents open.
  • Pack your winter gear but ensure you don’t put it on when you are driving. Your boots, hats, gloves, scarves, and coats might limit your limb movements when you are on the wheels.
  • There are mostly prevailing winds during the cold season, so try to park in a way that protects the vents.
  • Make sure you inspect the wiper blades to see if it still wipes effectively. Also, replace the fluid in the windscreen washer.

Travelling Abroad During The Winter

If you are planning to travel abroad for winter, then keep these in mind;

  • Pack lots of warm clothing and an insulated jacket
  • Before you make your trip, check the weather forecast of the country you are heading to.
  • Make sure your motorhome is in perfect working condition before you start your trip.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance.
  • Winter sports gear and moisturizer.

Changed Your Mind And Decided To Winterize Your Motorhome

If you change your mind and want to winterize your motorhome ahead of the winter, then there are some things you need to keep in mind.

Winterizing your motorhome is so much more than just parking your van and then remembering where you dropped the keys.

Some of the things you need to consider are interior and exterior preparation, the water system, the battery, and other components.

How To Store Your Motorhome In The Winter?

Follow these important tips to store your RV during the winter.

  • Drain the water system.
  • Keep the fridge and vent covers in the right area to prevent water ingress.
  • Re-caulk any holes or crack in the walls and windows.
  • Choose a safe spot to park the van and make sure it is well covered.
  • Save the batteries and protect the tyres.
  • Do periodic checkups on your stored motorhome.

Conclusion

While living in a campervan during the cold months is not for the faint of heart, there are still a lot of things to explore and experience. Many manufacturers offer dedicated winter packages on most motorhomes, which can help you through the struggles of the cold weather.

There are different ways you can get prepared for winter camping like changing your summer tyres to winter ones, filling your fresh water tanks on a regular basis, making sure to pack a leisure battery, double checking your fuel tank and water supply, and packing other essential items.

So, if you are planning on using your motorhome in winter, you can rest assured that your time spent will be enjoyable. With the top tips listed in this article, you should be able to camp out in the winter with your motorhome in most European countries and beyond.

If you are looking for the perfect vehicle for your winter adventures check out Oaktree motorhomes for sale. All models come with free 3-year RAC warranty and 1 year MOT

FAQs

1. How Cold Is Too Cold To Sleep In A Motorhome?

If you are going camping on your own, then it is too cold to sleep inside the motorhome without an electric blanket or sleeping bag when the temperature drops below 0 F. Even as a group, you are at risk if you sleep in temperatures below -10 F.

2. How Often Should I Start My Motorhome In The Winter?

Whether you are storing your motorhome for long periods in the winter or you are taking it for winter touring, it is advisable to carry it out for a run every couple of weeks. This is to keep the vehicle battery, water system, and other components fully functional. Don’t just start the engine and leave the vehicle idle, you are expected to take it for a drive. Just starting your motorhome and leaving it can pose more harm than good.

3. Can You Live In A Motorhome In The Winter?

It is very possible to live in your motorhome during the winter, but it is essential to follow the complete guide to camping out with your winter motorhome to ensure you don’t run into any challenges. To provide warmth during your road trip, you can carry along things like sleeping bags, a water container, and solar panel, or add insulation to your motorhome.

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