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Introduction to Full-Time RV Living in Winter
Winter is full of its own challenges, but full-time RV living poses an entirely different set of obstacles to overcome. This blog post will go over the top tips for full-time RV living in winter, as well as provide information on what you can expect during this season.
Why Should I Live/ Camp in My RV During The Winter?
Winter camping and RVing can be awesome if you are prepared. It gives travelers the chance to experience full-time RV living in a new way. Winter full-timing is full of its own unique challenges, but it can also be full of adventure and excitement!
If you love skiing or snowboarding, full-time RV living during winter may be exactly what you are looking for! Many full-timers also enjoy RVing in the winter because campgournds tend to be less crowded.
Many full-time RVers choose to winter in warmer climates. Think about it, if you are full-timing in an all-season campervan or motorhome, full-time RV living during the winter season can be pleasant!
Full-Time RV Living During Winter: The Three Major Challenges You Will Face
The three major full-time RV living challenges you will face during the winter are full hookups, finding places to camp with your campervan or motorhome, and extreme weather.
Finding Full Hookup Sites in Winter and Finding Places to Camp
If you love full hookups while RVing, then this can be very challenging when camping or parking overnight in the winter months. Many full-timers RVing in winter will face problems in finding parks that have full use of sewer and water in the cold months.
They may even find that RV parks and campgrounds shut down completely. This makes it much harder to get reservations and find a place to stay. Be sure to know your travel path and book in advance.
Extreme Weather While Fulltiming During the Winter Months
Winter full-timing means extreme weather! You can expect cold, snow, ice storms, hail, and blizzards during this time of year. This is only true in certain areas of the country. Be sure to do some research on the average temperatures and weather conditions of your desired camping destination and prepare ahead of time!
How Do I Stay Warm In Winter While Living/ Traveling in My RV?
The best way to stay warm in your campervan or motorhome during the winter is by having full hookups at an RV park. Some also offer heated showers and the use of toilets. You can also choose to winter full-time in a climate-controlled RV, such as an all-season trailer or motorhome. Below are some tips to help you prepare for the upcoming winter months.
Bring proper warm clothing for your winter stays and travels. You can never be too prepared! We recommend full-time RVers bring enough socks, gloves, and hats with them on their journey.
You can upgrade your bedding to assist in keeping warm throughout the cold nights. You can do this by bringing full sleeping bags, warm comforters, and/ or a good, warm mattress pad.
Portable heaters are very popular in the winter months with the RV community. They can be a great way to heat up your full-time RV living quarters when full hookups are unavailable or even when you just need some extra warmth.
There are tons of options for portable heaters on the market. A good one for RVing will include a tip-over feature, auto shut off in case of overheating or fire hazards.
A good RV skirt should be added to your rig before RVing during the winter months. This is a great way to keep your heat inside of your travel trailer or motorhome and not lose it through exposed areas of the exterior.
A great portable generator will serve as a backup to power your heating source during bad weather. You can also use your generator to provide electricity when full hookups are unavailable.
For more on RV portable generators, check out this article!
Insulate RV Windows
Insulating your RV windows will help prevent the loss of heat through your windows. This is a good full-time RV living tip for any time of year, but it’s especially important during the winter months!
Reflectix is a brand of insulation full-timers are using to insulate their windows. It has great reviews and performs under the high pressure of super cold winter months.
- Make sure that you air out your trailer when possible to avoid moisture build-up.
Insulating Your Slides
Insulating your full-time RV slides will help prevent heat loss. A great way to do this is by adding RV slide toppers.
These are great full-time RVing accessories that will help keep your slideouts safe during the winter months! We recommend full-timers use them even when it’s not necessarily cold outside, to prevent heat loss, damage, and water build-up on the slides.
They can be purchased at RV living supply stores and dealerships.
Keep Your Propane Tanks Full
If you don’t keep your propane tanks full, you may find yourself running out in the middle of the night. This is surely not an ideal situation. Most RV heaters are powered with propane. It’s also important during winter RV camping that you ensure there is no propane leakage before using your heater, especially if it has been off for some time.
- Be sure to complete proper maintenance prior to the arrival of the winter months.
Keep Your Pipes and Hoses From Freezing
The winter months can be harsh on your RV, especially if you live in colder climates. You’ll want to ensure that all pipes and hoses are protected from freezing temperatures with insulation or heat tape.
Insulate Your Water Lines If you don’t feel like spending money on this type of protection, it is an option to simply wrap your water lines with a towel before going to bed. This will help protect them from freezing overnight, but bear in mind they may still freeze during the coldest times of the day. A heated water hose is another great option!!
Even if you’re not hooking your sewage line up until the warm weather months when full-time RV living starts, it’s still important to protect this hose from freezing.
A great way to protect your sewer hose while hooked up is by using a ladder system to make sure that all fluids drain out. This will prevent the possibility of having frozen waste in your hose which could cause damage to it.
Toilet: Make sure to protect all seals and check for leaks prior to winter RVing.
If you’ve got exposed pipes in your RV during extreme cold weather, be sure to get them insulated. A great product to use for this task is pipe insulation sleeves.
Protect Your RV’s Exterior
Ensure that your RV’s exterior is free of any dirt and debris prior to full-time winter living in an RV. This will make it easier for you to remove the ice accumulation which could cause damage to your vehicle if left unattended for too long.
Another great tip is to remove any snow accumulation as soon as possible. If you let the snow build up on your RV, it could cause damage and/or block certain components such as doorways or windows from opening properly. You also don’t want water damage or moisture build-up.
Winterizing Your RV While Living In It
Winterizing your RV for living is very different from winterizing it for storage. If you plan to live or camp in your RV, you will want to winterize it thoroughly, but not so much as you would if you were going to be storing it full-time.
Do a full inspection of your RV and note any potential leaks or damage that could arise from the elements such as rain or snow. You want to fix these issues first, before winterizing your vehicle for full-time living in it.
You’ll only want to inspect the following:
– Fresh Water System (this includes water tanks, pipes, and faucets).
– Propane Gas System (before checking for leaks, you will want to ensure that all propane appliances are off and disconnected from your propane tanks.) You can check for leaks in this system with a solution of dish soap and water. If you see any bubbles, there is a leak in the lines which means it could be leaking (leaks are very dangerous).
– Black Water System You can check for leaks in this system by using a flashlight to look for any dark spots or residue on the outside of your tank.
Winterizing Your RV For Storage
Winterizing your RV for storage includes the above inspection items but requires more time investment. You will want to ensure that your freshwater system is winterized with the use antifreeze. You’ll first need to drain the pipes and faucets of any remaining water which can cause damage when freezing temperatures are present in storage units or outdoors during winter months.
For complete details on Winterizing your RV for storage, check out this article!
Venting, Heating, and Mold
While your first inclination may be to seal everything up and keep all of the heat in, you will want to be sure to vent your RV in order to protect it from mold.
– Be sure to ventilate your full-time winter RV living quarters in winter.
This will help prevent mold from growing on the insides of the windows and on other surfaces that may be damp or wet during cold weather months.
In addition, you should consider using a dehumidifier while full-time RVing in winter.
Another great product that helps with moisture absorption is damp rid. Damp Rid is a product that absorbs excess moisture, which will help prevent mold growth. Simply place the product in areas of your vehicle that are prone to moisture, such as on the floor in the bathroom area.
Safe Winter RV Driving Tips/ Driving During Freezing Temperatures
RVers will have to prepare for winter driving conditions. This is a scary thought to some. Make sure to bring the proper tools with you and be prepared for this type of driving.
Winter driving safety tips include:
– Make sure your tires are in good shape and full of air. Be sure to check the tread and sidewalls thoroughly before the winter months arrive.
For more information on RV tires, check out this article!
– Slow down!!! Your vehicle will not handle as well with the winter weather conditions, so you may need to slow down quite a bit more than what is typical for where you normally drive.
– Bring an emergency kit with you. This kit should include a full jug of water, some non-perishable food items, and a blanket. You should also include flares or triangles, a flashlight, and jumper cables.
– Don’t stop for anyone or anything unless it is an emergency situation. If you do need to stop, try and stay on the shoulder of the road as much as possible so that your vehicle won’t be hit by other vehicles coming up behind you.
– If you are stuck or need to make an emergency stop, turn on your hazard lights and put flares or triangles out around the car. Place them in front of and behind where your car is at.
-Snow Chains may be required for your vehicle when passing through certain areas. . Check the requirements before you leave on your trip to see if they will be needed.
- – If you do need chains, make sure that they fit properly and are placed correctly upon installation. Chains should not touch any part of the tires except for where it is supposed to go around them.
For more RV driving tips, check out this article!!
Extra Items To Pack For Cold Weather
When RV camping in the winter or full-time living during these months, there are some additional items that you can pack that may come in handy. Better to have what you need than to be stuck without it!
- Shovel: A shovel can be used to help get yourself out of a snowdrift. You don’t want to have the opportunity to use it, but you’ll be grateful that you brought one with you if something like this does happen!
- Tools: Extra tools that can assist with winter RV living and driving include: a full set of wrenches and screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, and adjustable wrench.
- Traction Mats: These can help provide you with extra traction if it’s needed in slippery conditions.
- Electric Heat Tape/ Wrap: This can be used to insulate exposed pipes and hoses that may freeze.
- Blankets: A full set of blankets is always good to have with you regardless of the season, but they can come in especially helpful during these months!
- Waterproof matches or lighter: This is just an extra emergency item to have on hand.
Best RV’s For Winter RV Living: What To Look For
There are so many RVs on the market today. It can seem daunting to try and figure out which one is right for you and your family. When it comes to winter living, there are a few features that you should look for. These include:
Some full-time RV living vehicles are not meant to be used in the winter. Check the specifications of your vehicle before you head out on a camping adventure! What does a four-season RV have that others don’t? They are made to withstand the full range of seasons, which makes them perfect for a full-time living! The windows are typically double-paned to help keep the cold air out during those winter months and there may be more insulation. The only way to know is to research the specs of your desired vehicle.
The full-time RV living vehicles that are four-season rated will typically be more expensive than other models on the market, but this is because you get what you pay for! These vehicles can last a long time and should be able to withstand full seasons of use.
* Full disclosure: There is a lot of debate about whether or not four-season vehicles are actually equipped for all types of weather situations. Do Your Research!!
Heated Holding Tanks-
Having a full-time RV living vehicle that has heated holding tanks can make all the difference during those cold winter months. This accessory keeps your tanks from freezing. The process of emptying your black and gray water is already daunting enough as it is! Why not try to cut down on some of these issues by purchasing one with this feature? When you’re full-time camping, every little bit counts!
A full-time RV living vehicle that has heated holding tanks is going to cost a little more than one without this feature. This addition will help out in the long run, though! Having warm water for showering and washing up really does make life easier during those cold months of winter camping.
At least two batteries:
You’ll need more power when it’s cold outside, so having at least two batteries will help keep everything running smoothly!
For more information about RV batteries, check out this article!!
Made With Weatherproof Materials:
Is the recreational vehicle made with weatherproof materials? If it is not, you may need to make some repairs or even purchase a different one. While full-time RV living in the winter can be fun and exciting, there are times when inclement weather could lead to problems with your vehicle if it isn’t made of durable materials that hold up against water damage from rain, sleet, or snow.
Smaller Trailer Is Quicker to Heat Up/ Cold Air Fix:
Purchasing a smaller trailer will make sense if you do not need a lot of room. They are great for cold weather camping because they tend to heat up more quickly than their larger counterparts.
You may want to consider purchasing one with a fireplace that can be plugged into your unit. Some RVs already come with a fireplace installed. Fireplaces are not only aesthetically pleasing, but they are truly functional. They provide a great deal of heat and can be used to warm up the entire vehicle.
Conclusion to Full-Time RV Living in Winter
I hope this post has answered any questions you have about full-time RV living in the winter. A lot of thought goes into how to live comfortably without being too cold or too hot, but when it’s all said and done, the pros outweigh the cons for me. Thoughts? Let us know! We are always happy to discuss life on the road with other adventurous souls who dream of living and traveling permanently in an RV.
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Hello! My name is Cortney. I am 45 years old. I live full time in a 33 foot airstream trailer with my husband of 21 years. I run my own business out of my tin can and love living small. I have two grown kids and three pets. I have worn many hats including mental health counselor and truck driver. My husband is prepping for retiring from the Navy in the next five years. He has been serving for over 22 years faithfully.