Planning to stay and journey in your motorhome this winter? Earlier than you set off, there are some issues it is advisable to learn about winter motorhoming, residing in a van throughout winter and find out how to keep protected (and heat!) in colder climate.
*We work onerous to make this the most effective motorhome journey weblog and highway journey web site doable, filled with useful content material for you. The web site is supported by our readers, so in case you purchase by means of hyperlinks on this website we could earn a commission- at no additional value to you. All opinions stay our personal.
When you discover this put up helpful, you possibly can additionally deal with us to a espresso – we promise to take pleasure in it whereas creating extra helpful content material like this- we’d even bask in a biscuit (or two!)
Winter Van Life- the challenges
Once I stop my job to journey in a motorhome nearly fulltime, I by no means actually thought-about the winter.
Oh, we thought of it in a enjoyable way- ought to we go snowboarding (extra on that later) or head as much as Norway to see the Northern Lights or head south to Spain for some winter sunshine?
However I by no means thought-about how we’d carry snow chains- would we cart them round all yr or retailer them someplace through the summer season?
What about winter tyres- when would we modify if we have been travelling away from the UK? The place would we retailer our summer season tyres? What a couple of hotter duvet- would we supply two all yr?
Can you utilize a motorhome in winter?
Completely. Many motorhomes can be utilized all yr round and the ‘low season’ undoubtedly has some benefits. You simply must know find out how to handle the downsides of winter tenting earlier than you set off in your epic winter highway journey in Europe
Professionals of winter adventures with a motorhome or camper:
- Far much less vacationers at well-liked sites- that is the time to go to cities like Rome, Venice or Paris, but in addition busy and historic locations just like the Menin Gate warfare memorial in Ypres or Neuschwanstein Citadel in southern Germany.
- Many locations are lined in snow, making the photographs magical. It’s additionally a should if you wish to go snowboarding!
- When you take pleasure in evening pictures, you will get some epic photographs on clear, crisp nights.
- The roads are usually quieter (besides key days like Boxing Day
- Campsites are much less crowded
Disadvantages of winter motorhoming highway journeys:
- Many points of interest and locations of curiosity shut for the winter
- Many campsites shut too, so areas on the ones out there are wanted. Attempt to keep away from grass pitches if in any respect doable.
- There are fewer hours of daylight, so much less time to discover
- Street situations could be tough in freezing temperatures, particularly in snow and ice.
- Your motorhome can undergo from damp, condensation and mildew in case you don’t take care of it correctly (extra on that later)
- Drying garments and laundry generally is a ache (extra on that later too)
- Robust winds and rain could be powerful to sleep by means of (ask any of us who survived Storm Denis in a van!)
- It may be COLD (except you’ve gone south) so that you’ll use lots of gas for the heating system and it takes longer to heat up the water heater/water tanks.
Through the years, we’ve bought a routine down for our winter journeys, and we all know the pitfalls to search for and find out how to take care of them.
Winter Motorhome van life- the truth
Right here’s a video of the issues I’ve learnt while residing within the motorhome full-time throughout winter. It was a STEEP studying curve. I hope you discover it helpful.
We hope you discovered the video helpful. When you did, we’d adore it if you adopted us on Youtube. New movies with suggestions for motorhoming and campervanning within the UK and Europe are launched weekly.
Kinds of winter motorhoming & van life
There are a number of sorts of people that use their motorhomes within the winter, broadly categorised into:
- Those chasing winter sunshine
- Others chasing snow and mountain life
- Those that stay fulltime of their motorhome or campervan
- Everybody else, who simply enjoys exploring and spending time within the can when doable, even throughout winter.
Every of those teams has barely completely different concerns, though a lot of the planning stays the identical. Let’s take a look at the variations under
Winter motorhome life within the sunshine
For anybody who desires to get away from the dreary UK winters, heading south to locations like Spain or Portugal in a motorhome is the proper answer.
After all, the BREXIT guidelines of solely having the ability to spend 90 days in each rolling 180 has made it tough to remain away all winter, however it’s nonetheless doable to spend almost 3 months within the sunshine.
If that is the way you’re planning to spend your winter in a motorhome, then there’s not a complete lot it is advisable to do in another way than through the summer season, though don’t neglect you now must adjust to the French winter tyre legislation (even in case you’re simply passing by means of.)
If you’re driving your motorhome or campervan by means of France (in addition to all the remainder of the gear you need- seize your FREE Europe journey guidelines under.)
It does additionally get chilly in winter in lots of locations in Europe, even in case you’re heading additional east and going motorhoming in Croatia or Greece. We are able to make no ensures, however in case you’d like some concepts for locations to remain or go to, right here you go:
Chasing the snow- motorhome snowboarding
When you’re the opposite finish of the spectrum and on the lookout for snow, there’s quite a bit you’ll must do to organize your motorhome for winter within the mountains.
Gear it is advisable to carry for winter campervanning within the mountains
In addition to the same old gear you want for motorhome touring in Europe, you’ll want to hold:
- snow chains (be sure to know find out how to match them upfront and TEST them!) We by chance purchased the fallacious measurement they usually didn’t match. 🙁
- It’s possible you’ll want winter tyres; just like the new French winter tyre legislation
- Shovel- a vital for chilly climate tenting
- Lengthy-handled brush
- Bucket/ bowl to gather gray waste
You’ll additionally must test your camper van heating is working fine- whether or not you utilize a diesel furnace, conventional Truma blown-air or propane heating system or one thing like an area heater. You’ll in all probability additionally must insulate your car, particularly the pipework and put an additional rug/ carpet on the ground.
Be sure you’ve had a full service in your motorhome or campervan earlier than you go and high up the screenwash; salt on the roads means you’ll use it much more than typical.
When you’d like extra suggestions and tips, take a look at our put up on motorhome snowboarding right here, which tells you every thing it is advisable to know earlier than you go.
Dwelling fulltime in a van in winter
For anybody who lives of their motorhome, RV or campervan fulltime, winter brings its personal challenges.
Like everybody who makes use of their motorhome within the winter, even when just for a weekend, you’ll be going through condensation, chilly, moist clothes, and extra. We’ll go into every of these challenges under.
What’s the Finest Motorhome for winter use?
Many individuals surprise which motorhome to purchase for winter use or winter RV residing and if it’s doable to make use of a motorhome in winter, even a British mannequin, like a Swift.
I can safely say that we went motorhome snowboarding with our Swift- and it was superb. Certain, it was a bit of chilly, and we would have liked to insulate the pipes and holding tanks a bit of higher, however it did the job.
After all, European producers from international locations that are used to mountains and snow can have a better insulation stage (some even have an excessive climate bundle and heated hoses), however additionally they value extra, so do loads of analysis in case you’re planning to spend so much of time in chilly environments in your motorhome.
Winterproof vs Winterised:
- “winterproof” means the motorhome could be warmed as much as a temperature of 20℃ (from 0℃) inside two hours, then keep pretty fixed.
- “winterised” means the temperature ought to attain 20℃ from -15℃ inside 2 hours, and the plumbing ought to work usually.
Planning a winter motorhome trip- issues to think about
When you’re planning a winter motorhome journey or winter RV tenting, there are many issues to think about.
(When you’re new to motorhoming and need some assist with the place to start out, right here’s find out how to plan EPIC motorhome journeys anyplace you wish to go.)
The largest issues with utilizing a motorhome or campervan within the winter embrace:
- The place to remain
- Climate situations and security
- Gear to convey
- Staying heat
- Coping with damp and condensation
- Coping with moist garments and muddy/ moist boots- drying them
- Solar energy and managing assets
- Discovering recent water and emptying water- and stopping the recent water tank or waste tank hoses freezing!
First, we’ll take into account the place you’re going to remain in a single day.
Motorhome campsites in winter
Many campsites across the UK and Europe shut throughout winter, which might depart discovering someplace to remain tough.
We not too long ago took our motorhome all the way down to Biarritz in southern France- STUNNING place to go to in case you get an opportunity. Seize your France journey guidelines right here:
However we struggled discovering a campsite which was nonetheless open. Many locations shut across the finish of October and don’t reopen till Easter.
There are two strategies we use to fight this and discover campsites which keep open all yr.
We’ve been members of the ACSI Tenting Card scheme for just a few years now and it’s sensible in case you’re in a position to journey exterior of peak season (which is normally finish of June till September.) When you can go to Europe exterior these occasions, you’ll save your self a fortune with an ACSI card.
Even higher, their web site/ app/ ebook are nice locations to test to see when campsites shut. There are sufficient which keep open all yr; you simply want to seek out them. There’s normally at the very least one close to each main metropolis/ well-liked space. After all, the extra well-liked the world, the faster you’ll must ebook.
The opposite methodology we use in Europe is to make use of Park4Night and discover campsites close to the place we wish to go, after which Google the web site of these campsites and see in the event that they’re nonetheless open. If they’re, we ebook (normally by cellphone or e-mail.)
For the UK
Campsites for UK winter highway journeys can a bit of bit tricker. ACSI does have some UK websites, however they don’t present all those that are open all yr.
We use an app referred to as Seek for Websites to seek out campsites close to our vacation spot, then test their web site or cellphone to ask. Sure, this may be laborious and irritating.
An alternative choice is to make use of a web site like Pitchup.com, which lets you seek for your dates, necessities (like a motorhome onerous standing pitch with electrical and which permits canines) and then you definately ebook by means of them.
Lastly, in case you’re a member of a motorhome membership, you need to use their web site or ebook to seek out locations.
Aires in Europe in winter
Many Aires in France and Europe keep open all yr, except they’re closed for upkeep or as a result of heavy snow (or the roads near them being closed.)
Nonetheless, there are sufficient of them that in case you solely wish to keep someplace for an evening or two as you’re travelling by means of, they make the proper cease.
Simply bear in mind, ones close to mountains might be closed and if they’ve amenities like water normally, the faucets could be turned off to keep away from harm.
Different motorhome parking in winter
After all, there are many different schemes in case you don’t wish to use campsites or Aires. Schemes like Brit Stops and France Ardour have companies that are open all yr, particularly locations like pubs within the UK.
You may, in fact, nonetheless use wild tenting spots along with your motorhome or camper. Simply beware of sentimental muddy locations in forests- you’ll get caught very simply.
Take into account the climate
Earlier than you head off in your winter motorhoming journey, pay additional consideration to the climate. Does the forecast embrace sturdy winds, fog, or snow?
None of these are a lot enjoyable in a van. Don’t neglect, you possibly can all the time modify your plans to swimsuit no matter is forecast- that’s among the best issues about motorhoming.
Be sure you carry water, snacks and ideally some scorching drinks- simply in case.
Mice and Rodents in your van
The opposite factor to recollect is that chilly climate will trigger mice, rats and different rodents to search for shelter… they usually actually love hiding in motorhomes and campervans.
There are methods to discourage them (humanely!). Listed below are our high suggestions for deterring mice and rodents in motorhomes and campers.
It’s also possible to see the harm they do on this video!
We hope you discovered the video helpful. When you did, we’d adore it if you adopted us on Youtube. New movies with suggestions for motorhoming and campervanning within the UK and Europe are launched weekly.
Gear to hold for winter motorhome life
Aside from winter/ all-weather tyres and snow chains, there are some issues we’ve discovered VERY helpful when motorhoming in winter (and even Autumn!)
Mud Mats/ Traction Grip mats
These items are a lifesaver. Final yr, we broke all our personal guidelines and camped up on a grass pitch.
And bought caught.
Making an attempt to push a 3.5ton motorhome out of the mud or off moist grass isn’t going to occur and with out these we’d have been stuffed (you need to use the carpets from inside your van in case you’re actually caught, however they’re be ruined. Save your self the concern and carry a set of those all yr spherical.)
We don’t normally use a groundsheet after we’re motorhoming. More often than not, we keep in Aires or wild camp, so we will’t get it out and on a campsite we regularly use a hard-standing pitch quite than a area.
Nonetheless, in winter a groundsheet turns into a necessity in lots of campsites. It stops us bringing a lot mud into the van- particularly as we journey with a mud-loving cocker spaniel.
Get one like this which could be pegged out securely within the corners so doesn’t fly away and which is wipe-downable. Some individuals choose two smaller ones to allow them to use a smaller measurement when wanted.
Screenwash is extra vital in winter than at every other time of yr. There’s a lot salt and grit on the highway that it could make the windscreen additional soiled.
Be sure you high up your screenwash and convey additional. We love this one because it’s made for all yr use, even in colder climates, so gained’t freeze on you whenever you want it most. The Demon Ice spray can be nice because it slows down re-freezing
Don’t neglect an ice scraper in case you don’t have one already! You’ll want one with a longer deal with like this so you possibly can attain all off the windscreen!
While we’re making an attempt to keep away from mud and moist footprints within the van, get a mat like this (pawprint non-compulsory!) We’ve used these for years on each the camper and our boats they usually actually are unbelievable for absorbing water from each canines and people in case you wipe your ft (paws) on them!
It’s straightforward to wash with a jet wash whenever you’re cleansing your van however will final a very long time between washes if wanted.
Most aires and campsites will maintain a faucet working. DON’T flip this off- it’s working in order that the pipe doesn’t freeze (working water is more durable to freeze than static water within the pipe.)
It’s as much as you whether or not you select to drink out of your motorhome tank or not. We used to all the time drink from our LifeSaver Jerrycan, which purifies 99.9% of all contaminated water, making it protected to drink.
Nonetheless, this yr we fitted an inline water filter, which suggests the water which comes out of the faucet within the kitchen is already filtered. It’s SO a lot simpler.
The one draw back is that it is advisable to control your water consumption, which incorporates issues like showers, because it’s all coming from the one tank, quite than supplying you with a backup water provide only for ingesting.
Winter motorhoming- damp and condensation
Condensation in a motorhome or campervan is a ache within the bottom and is likely one of the greatest points with winter motorhoming. There are a number of methods to scale back the issue, however only a few which do away with it fully.
Regardless of the chilly, your van will profit from a bit of air flow, so attempt to open a window at the very least as soon as a day for some recent air.
Some individuals run a dehumidifier, however you may wrestle with electrical energy for that. Non-electric damp bins or pouches (like those you place in wardrobes) are a good suggestion to absorb at the very least a number of the moisture within the air.
Coping with moist/ muddy clothes
The largest factor to determine is the way you’ll take care of damp garments and moist/ muddy/ snowy sneakers. Taking all of them off on the door is important (therefore a groundsheet being helpful), however the place will you dry issues once they’re moist? The place will you dangle moist coats?
We’re fortunate that in our motorhome we now have a heating vent within the toilet, so all moist gear goes in there to dry in a single day. Sure, it makes going to the bathroom a MISSION, however it saves there being damp gear in all places.
When you’re doing laundry on the highway, that is the time to make use of website amenities or a neighborhood laundrette. Ensure every thing is dry earlier than you convey it back- having a van filled with damp clothes isn’t any enjoyable in any respect.
If the campsite has a drying room for moist ski gear, use it.
Winter Motorhoming with a canine
When you’re travelling with a canine, there are some things you’ll undoubtedly must cease them overlaying all the van in muck.
Listed below are our high suggestions for winter vanlife with a canine.
It removes condensation from inside your home windows in seconds AND it’s sensible for when it is advisable to clear your motorhome. All in all, value each penny.
We LOVE our thermal display from Rainbow screens. Not solely is it a enjoyable speaking level, however it does its job exceptionally effectively, slicing down condensation and warmth loss by means of the home windows.
(Disclaimer; we have been gifted the display, however we’re not being paid or inspired to incorporate it on this post- we genuinely assume it’s sensible.)
Nonetheless, we all know it’s costly, so right here’s a less expensive different for you:
Winter motorhome living- Staying heat
Staying heat in a camper when it’s chilly exterior generally is a problem. You’ll in all probability wish to add insulation to your van and undoubtedly add one other rug or carpet on the ground to maintain it a bit of hotter.
Even in case you’re chasing the sunshine down in Spain, it could nonetheless get chilly sufficient to wish heating in your camper throughout winter and within the mountains it’s important.
Many campsites within the mountains don’t have 16 amp electrical energy provide and so your electrical heating may not work in addition to you’re used to. It additionally means it is advisable to be selective about how a lot electrical energy you’re utilizing without delay (you don’t wish to be THAT van which is consistently tripping everybody’s electrical energy…)
Fuel heating works effectively, however you’ll use lots of it- we use round 6kg each 2 days.
Diesel heating is a good different, however many vans don’t include it as commonplace. When you do match it, pay attention to the load and the way it impacts your motorhome payload. An alternative choice is an oil-filled radiator, however make sure that it’s low wattage.
12v heated blanket
YES, you possibly can have a heated blanket in your motorhome. I do know, I do know- you’re welcome. One of many issues my daughter HATED about winter motorhome residing was that she bought chilly within the again seats if we didn’t drive with the heating on. This blanket fastened all that.
It’s also possible to put it UNDER your cover earlier than bedtime to heat the sheets- simply don’t sleep with it on.
I even have a low wattage electrical blanket in my van, which I run off my powerbank. That is the one I’ve.
(When you’re , that is the powerbank I’ve)
Excessive Tog cover
Is there something higher than snuggling beneath a heat cover on a chilly evening? Make winter nights a bit of extra bearable with a 15 tog cover like this one (though clearly not in case you’re going to Spain!)
Different suggestions embrace carrying a LOT of scorching water bottles, carrying thermals and investing in some superior fluffy slipper socks like these.
Managing energy for winter motorhoming or residing in a camper yr spherical
When you’re on a campsite, you’ll in all probability have respectable entry to electrical energy. Nonetheless, in case you’re utilizing aires or staying off-grid, you’ll must pay extra consideration to your energy consumption and the way you’re going to high up your batteries.
Photo voltaic Energy
You may’t depend on solar energy throughout winter to recharge your batteries in the identical approach you possibly can at different occasions of the yr. The solar isn’t as sturdy, there are extra midnights and extra areas of shade. Additionally, you’ll be utilizing extra energy than you may usually.
If you have already got a photo voltaic panel fitted, then by all means use what you possibly can, however don’t depend on it as your solely energy supply. When you’re planning on being off-grid so much, a motorhome generator might be a good suggestion.
Your motorhome Battery
Batteries don’t like chilly. They don’t run as successfully so it is advisable to be extra vigilant about taking care of them, ensuring they don’t run too low, giving them a superb cost commonly and customarily babying them. Discover out extra about taking care of your motorhome leisure battery right here.
You may additionally wish to match a motorhome inverter too, particularly in case you’re planning to remain off-grid so much. This can show you how to make greatest use of the ability in your batteries; simply do not forget that photo voltaic will not be so good in winter so it is going to take longer to recharge your batteries when you’ve drained them.
We all the time suggest putting in LED lights in your van to avoid wasting power- particularly in case you’re staying off-grid so much, however in winter it turns into important as ‘regular’ bulbs drain the ability too rapidly. Be sure you convey spares- they’ll be on for longer throughout winter and also you’ll in all probability want to interchange a pair.
Cooking within the motorhome could be problematic throughout winter. You need one thing hearty and filling, however the longer you prepare dinner, the extra steam goes into the ambiance, inflicting damp and condensation.
Additionally, in case you’ve spent all day exterior, you in all probability gained’t wish to prepare dinner whenever you return. That’s why we now have a gradual cooker which we solely use throughout winter.
After all, this depends on an honest electrical connection. I’ve additionally heard good issues about thermal cookers (however by no means used one), which doesn’t want energy after the preliminary cooking and likewise good issues in regards to the Prompt Pot. Each are value exploring.
After all, there are numerous methods to take pleasure in winter motorhoming. When you similar to discovering a campsite close to your property which is open all yr and staying within the van for a weekend, you in all probability gained’t must do a lot in another way. You may even pre-cook hearty stews and convey it with you.
Equally, in case you take pleasure in staying off-grid and wild tenting along with your motorhome, you gained’t want a lot additional except you go someplace very chilly (like up a mountain!)
Simply bear in mind to test your techniques earlier than you go and do your pre-trip motorhoming checks to make sure your car is protected in no matter situations you may end up driving in (like heavy rain!)
Final replace on 2023-12-16 / Affiliate hyperlinks / Photos from Amazon Product Promoting API