Our Great RV Journey this year started in January in Pennsylvania, and we immediately headed south to try to escape the worst of the winter weather. While we haven’t been parking in snow, the cold front in Texas right now has forced us to edit our itinerary. As we head farther south, I thought I’d share my advice for RVing in the winter and escaping the worst of the cold.
Tips for The RV
Have The RV Winterized
Some people choose to winterize their RV themselves. I prefer to have it professionally done. Some of that is just convenience, but to me, there’s also an element of safety. Pennsylvania is a very cold state, and if just one aspect of winterizing isn’t done or isn’t done properly, it could turn into a very big issue.
Winterizing involves a few different tasks. The water tanks are all flushed and cleaned to prevent freezing – and that includes the water heater tank as well. Then the water heater is bypassed so that antifreeze can be added to the other tanks. Antifreeze has to be run through all of the water lines (except the water heater itself) and through any faucets, drains, and more.
Once the RV is winterized, you can’t hook up water until it is de-winterized, which we had done on our way out of town.
Pack An Emergency Kit
Regardless of the weather, you should have an emergency kit in your RV (and your car, for that matter). It doesn’t have to be exceedingly complex – a first aid kit, a flashlight, jump cables. For winter travel, you just need to add a few things. Pack a shovel in case your tires get stuck in snow. A bag of salt and a bag of kitty litter can help with any ice you encounter.
The last thing I recommend is a portable charger. This is always a good thing to have. We purchased the Halo and it’s been one of my best purchases. We can use it to power laptops or charge the cell phone on the road, but it also has enough juice to jumpstart my truck – more than once on a single charge! Two years ago, I purchased a second Halo. The new one does not jumpstart my truck, instead it will inflate my tires. I can top off my tires on travel day, easy-peasy!
Tips For Driving The RV In Winter
Check The Weather
The first step is to check the weather. If a blizzard is about to move into town, you may need to leave sooner or postpone your departure. You also need to look up the weather for everywhere you’re planning on passing through. It’s much easier to change your driving plans before you find yourself in a storm. I usually watch the weather for anywhere we travel up to two weeks ahead. We don’t usually have a tight or rigid schedule, so if I know a weather event is going to happen on a travel day, sometimes we move on early, and sometimes we stay put another day or two. Tonight, we are staying an extra night at this campground because we are expecting wind gusts of over 50 mph tomorrow, and I don’t want to tow in that! Safety first.
Plan Your Route
Plan how far you want to drive in a day, what roads you will take, and make note of where you can stop. The RV is obviously bigger than your average car and you don’t want to pull off of the highway to stop at a McDonald’s that you can’t manuever the trailer into. I make note of where rest stops are along the route and I park with the trucks.
Additionally, during winter, stick to bigger roads and lower elevations. Driving on a curvy mountain road makes it more likely that you’ll experience snow, bad roads, and skidding out than sticking to a well-plowed highway. If you are not sure of the local weather conditions at your destination, call the campground and ask.
When you plan your daily driving distance, cut it a little shorter than normal. For instance, I’m generally willing to drive three to four hours a day, but may only plan for two, because I know I’ll need to drive more slowly, may have to adjust my route, or face another issue. You also should keep your times a bit shorter because at the end of the trip, you have to set up your RV for the night – and you don’t want to do that after dark in the cold.
On the road, drive slowly. If you do encounter any ice or snow, you want to be in control of the RV and be going slowly enough that you can compensate for any skidding without accidentally overcorrecting in panic. It also means any accidents are likely to happen ahead of you instead of around you.
When I set out on an RV trip, I tend to have at least a loose plan. But, as we are now, those plans need to be adaptable. Our plan was to head to Albuquerque from Amarillo, but a cold front, some severe winds, and other elements have lead to us changing our plan. Instead, we’re heading further south!
Always keep your plans flexible. Maybe you have to stay in one spot a bit longer than expected, or head in a different direction. One of the great things you’ll learn while RVing is, fun is everywhere. Some of our best experiences have happened because of plans changing. Don’t feel like your trip is ruined just because you can’t head directly on to your next planned stop.
Instead, roll with the circumstances. We are going to work our way down to San Antonio, and there are so many fascinating things to do there! We may not have seen them if we had continued on as planned. Yes, we’ll end up a few weeks behind on our plan, but we see a new city now and perhaps we’ll be able to attend some fun, local events in other cities that we would have missed.