While the majority of campers travel during the warm weather months, there are RVers who are out year-round as well. Those with flexible schedules can take advantage of the great opportunities available during the shoulder seasons. Fewer crowds to deal with and easier access to prime campground spots are two great benefits of spring or fall travel. Some brave souls even venture out to experience winter adventures in their RV.
No matter which season you are camping in, though, it is possible to run into cold weather (especially in northern latitudes and/or high altitudes). For example, despite being in southern Texas one winter, we experienced snow and even ice! Being prepared will help you to make the best of your RV experience even when the temperatures drop. Here are some tips to help you stay warm and cozy should you find yourself encountering a cold spell.
Guest Post by Robin Buck
Turn on the Heat
The first thing you might think of when you are cold is to turn on the heat. There are several heating options for warming up your RV. If electricity is included in the camping rate, many find it cheaper to use an electric space heater or electric fireplace to raise the temperature inside their RV. If you are paying for electricity, then using your propane or diesel fuel is usually cheaper.
When using propane or diesel, you will need to keep an eye on fuel levels so that you don’t run out. Consumption will definitely increase in cold weather! You should always exercise caution when using portable heaters and keep plenty of open space around them. I think the safest kind is one with a built-in shut off control in case it is knocked over or starts to overheat.
Keep the Water from Freezing
Should temperatures get below 32 degrees, your water tanks, water hoses, and sewer hoses are all susceptible to freezing. The first thing we do is fill the freshwater tank and then disconnect the water hose from the RV to avoid the risk of it splitting. We then just use the onboard water from our freshwater tank. Alternatively, you can purchase a heated water hose to avoid worrying about the line freezing. Another helpful hint is to leave your gray and black water valves closed unless you are actually dumping the tanks.
A concern during very cold weather is preventing your holding tanks and interior plumbing from freezing. Our motorhome has a basement heater and floor heating that help warm the bays and water tank areas. If your RV does not have that capability, you could consider purchasing water holding tank heating pads. Campers who are going to be in a cold area for a long time often invest in an RV skirt. RV skirting comes in a variety of types and puts a barrier around the RV to insulate the underside of the vehicle from cold and wind.
Protect the Inside
There are some smart things you can do to keep the heat inside your camper. First, make sure your RV is properly sealed. Check for drafts around doors, windows, and slide-outs and seal any needed areas with weatherstripping. Second, use foam inserts to block skylights and fan openings. Third, insulate your RV windows with plastic film or foil backed insulation or at least keep shades down to hold in the heat.
For those that don’t have heated floors, using lots of carpeting on the floor can make walking around much more comfortable. If you can position your RV to face the sun, you can take advantage of natural heat to help warm up the inside. I also recommend taking the opportunity to bake some yummy treats and use the warmth from the oven to help keep everyone nice and cozy. Finally, be sure to protect from moisture buildup with a dehumidifier or product like Damp Rid to avoid mold or other water damage.
After you have taken care of the RV, don’t forget to take care of yourselves. Get out the fleece tops, down socks, and electric blankets to keep everyone comfy. Sip warm hot chocolate and marshmallows while you enjoy a day of games, reading, or watching movies inside.
Hopefully your bout of cold weather will be short lived but knowing some tips and having a plan to combat the cold will get you through it. Being prepared will allow you to enjoy camping experiences in different locations and seasons. The great thing about having an RV, though, is that you always have the option to go south or somewhere the weather is better if you decide you don’t like it. Stay warm out there and happy travels!
Robin and her husband, Mike, are Air Force veterans and empty nesters who travel full-time in their Entegra Anthem motorhome. Always ready to explore, they love nature and wildlife, meeting new friends, and discovering America’s many hidden gems. Robin chronicles their adventures and experiences on her travel blog RVing with Robin.