10 Tips for RVing during Winter
Most RVing is done during hot or mild weather months. However, the winter season is a great time to rent an RV because many places are less crowded and the natural beauty is awesome. Preparedness for RVing during the winter can vary from there being nothing special to do, to there being several things that you’d better be prepared for or you won’t be a happy camper. Even though most of us are good at packing warm clothes, hats, and boots, keeping you and your camper rental from freezing is another story. If you choose to go RVing during cold weather, here are 10 Tips to help you be prepared.
#1 – Check and Monitor the Weather Forecast
Check the weather forecast along your route as well as at your destination. The weather will determine many of the steps that you need to take in order to be prepared. If the weather forecast calls for freezing rain and snow you may decide to play it safe and alter your route. Alternatively, you may choose another destination altogether. You should regularly monitor the weather because it can change rapidly. Driving an RV rental in inclement weather is probably something that most of us would choose not to do if given a choice but if you are prepared can be a rather pleasant experience.
The weather forecast will also help you select which clothes to pack. Sometimes you will experience both hot and cold weather while on vacation. The nice thing about a motorhome or camper rental is that you can bring a lot of different changes of clothes without worrying about an overweight suitcase.
#2 – Don’t be a Griswold
In many locations, it is possible that you may not find open RV parks or attractions during the winter months due to it being their off season. Therefore, be sure to confirm reservations before you decide on traveling to any location. You don’t want to end up arriving at your destination with no place to camp or that the local activities are closed. Recall, this thing sort of thing happened to the Griswold’s at Wally World in the movie Vacation. Don’t be a Griswold!
#3 – Winterizing the Water System of Your RV
In case you are planning to use the campground’s city water hook-up in sub-freezing weather, you must be sure your RV water system is insulated and the temperature of pipes kept above freezing. If not, the pipes will freeze and could burst. You can start by using foam tubes on plumbing pipes if needed. Also, get an insulated electric water hose or an electric heat strip covered with insulating foam tubes to keep your supply hose from freezing. It will also be better if you keep one tap slightly running all the time. This will prevent water from freezing in the pipes.
#4 – Holding Tanks of the RV
In sub-freezing weather be sure that the holding tanks (i.e., drinking water, grey and black) are heated to prevent freezing. If necessary, you can use fiberglass batting for building an enclosure around the holding tank of your RV. Once this is done, install 2 bulbs (40 watts each) inside the enclosure so that the heat of bulbs can prevent freezing. You can also consider adding heating panels. These are available in 120V AC and 12V DC models, and be attached to the tank. Note: none of this will be necessary if your RV heater is working and the holding tanks are insulated and heated.
#5 – Sealing the Windows
Cold air will sometimes come through and around RV windows. You can help the situation by installing Plexiglas sheets or other insulating material, which are specially cut so they can fit into all the windows. Alternatively, cover the windows from the inside with foil-backed foam padding or moving blankets for an easier, cheaper solution.
#6 – Insulating Ceiling Vents
Most of the RVs have skylights or roof vents that are the perfect place for the heat to escape. Insulate these with foam and keep the foam in place with a piece of cardboard.
#7 – Equip your RV with CO (Carbon Monoxide) Detector
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is dangerous and deadly. One way CO can be emitted is if your heating system or generator is not venting properly. You can’t smell it, see it, or taste it. If you do not have a CO detector installed, you should buy a battery powered model, which is designed for use in RVs. It is important because CO can cause poisoning with symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, muscular twitching, headache, nausea and even death, which would undoubtedly ruin your whole trip! When you are checking out RV rentals, always ensure that it has a CO detector installed.
#8 – Check the Furnace before Heading Out
Check your propane tank(s) level and furnace operation prior to departure from the RV rental lot. If necessary use a soft brush or compressed air for removing the dust, insects, and debris off the furnace. You should also consider packing an extra heat source. A portable electric space heater is a good option to supplement heat or just in case the furnace goes out you won’t freeze. You just need to be sure that at least one vent or window is open for ventilation.
#9 – Do Not Forget to Pack Emergency Items
Always be prepared, especially when you’re RVing in the winter. Here’s a list of items that you MUST keep with you for your winter trip:
- First Aid Kit
- Weather Band Radio
- Tire Chains (if Snow or Ice)
- Extra Propane Tanks (or known supply source)
- Cash for Emergencies or Unexpected Fees
- Extra Food & Water
- Blow Dryer for Defrosting the Tanks and Pipes
- Gasoline-Powered Electric Generator
# 10 -Enjoy Your Winter Camping!
You’re definitely going to enjoy renting a camper during the winter. Just be sure that you’ve prepared for the journey. It is important that you watch the weather forecast and do all the things necessary to stay safe and warm. Once you are fully prepared, then there’s nothing that can stop you from having an amazing time.
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