Winter Motorhoming – READ THIS earlier than you go!

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Planning to journey in your motorhome this winter? Earlier than you set off, there are some issues it is advisable to find out about winter motorhoming, residing in a van throughout winter and find out how to keep protected (and heat!) in colder climate.

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Winter Motorhome Life- the challenges

After I stop my job to journey in a motorhome virtually fulltime, I by no means actually thought-about the winter.

Oh, we considered it in a enjoyable way- ought to we go to the mountains and 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 stock two all yr?

Can you employ a motorhome in winter?

Completely, however there’s much more to motorhoming in winter than simply setting off. There are some particular professionals and cons of roadtripping in winter.

Execs of winter adventures with a motorhome or camper:

  • Far much less vacationers at standard sites- that is the time to go to cities like Rome, Venice or Paris, but in addition busy locations just like the Menin Gate warfare memorial in Ypres or Neuschwanstein Fort in southern Germany.
  • Many locations are lined in snow, making the pictures magical. It’s additionally a should if you wish to go snowboarding!
  • In the event you take pleasure in night time images, you may get some epic pictures on clear, crisp nights.
  • The roads are usually quieter (besides key days like Boxing Day
  • Campsites are much less crowded

Disadvantages of winter street journeys:

  • Many sights and locations of curiosity shut for the winter
  • Many campsites shut too, so areas on the ones accessible are wanted. Attempt to keep away from grass pitches if in any respect attainable.
  • There are fewer hours of daylight, so much less time to discover
  • Street circumstances might be tough, particularly in snow and ice and particularly when you’re not used to it
  • Your motorhome can get damp, condensation and mildew when you don’t take care of it correctly (extra on that later)
  • Drying garments is usually a ache (extra on that later too)
  • Sturdy winds and rain might be robust to sleep by means of (ask any of us who survived Storm Denis in a van!)
  • It may be COLD (until you’ve gone south) so that you’ll use a variety of fuel/ electrical for heating and it takes longer to heat up.

Through the years, we’ve acquired a routine down for our winter journeys, and we all know the pitfalls to search for and find out how to cope with them.

Motorhome skiing- how to winterise and prepare your motorhome or campervan for winter in the mountains
The way to winterise and put together your motorhome or campervan for winter within the mountains

Forms of winter motorhoming

There are a number of varieties of people that use their motorhomes within the winter, broadly categorised into:

  • Those chasing winter sunshine
  • Others chasing snow and mountain life
  • Those that reside fulltime of their motorhome or campervan
  • Everybody else, who simply enjoys exploring and spending time within the can when attainable, even throughout winter.

Every of those teams has barely totally different issues, 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 with the ability to spend 90 days in each rolling 180 has made it tough to remain away all winter, but it surely’s nonetheless attainable 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 an entire lot it is advisable to do in a different way than through the summer season, though don’t overlook you now must adjust to the French winter tyre legislation (even when 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.)

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It does additionally get chilly in winter in lots of locations in Europe, even when you’re heading additional east and going motorhoming in Croatia or Greece. We are able to make no ensures, however when you’d like some concepts for locations to remain or go to, right here you go:

Chasing the snow- motorhome snowboarding

In the event you’re the opposite finish of the spectrum and searching for snow, there’s quite a bit you’ll must do to arrange your motorhome for winter within the mountains.

Gear it is advisable to carry for winter campervanning within the mountains

In addition to the standard gear you want for motorhome touring in Europe, you’ll want to hold:

  • snow chains (ensure you know find out how to match them upfront and TEST them!) We by chance purchased the incorrect dimension they usually didn’t match. 🙁
  • It’s possible you’ll want winter tyres; just like the new French winter tyre legislation
  • Shovel
  • Lengthy-handled brush
  • Bucket/ bowl to gather gray waste

You’ll additionally must verify your camper van heating is working high quality and probably 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 standard.

In the event you’d like extra ideas and methods, take a look at our put up on motorhome snowboarding right here, which tells you all the things it is advisable to know earlier than you go.

Dwelling fulltime in a motorhome 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 dealing with 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 and if it’s attainable to make use of a motorhome in winter, even when it’s a UK mannequin, like a Swift.

I can safely say that we went motorhome snowboarding with our Swift- and it was high quality. Positive, it was a bit chilly, and we would have liked to insulate the pipes a bit higher, but it surely did the job.

After all, European producers from nations who’re used to mountains and snow could have the next insulation, however additionally they value extra, so do loads of analysis when you’re planning to spend so much of time in chilly environments in your motorhome.

Producers like Hymer use the next issues:

  • “winterproof” means the motorhome might 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 contemplate

In the event you’re planning a winter motorhome journey, there are many issues to contemplate.

(In the event you’re new to motorhoming and need some assist with the place to begin, right here’s find out how to plan EPIC motorhome journeys anyplace you wish to go.)

Largest issues with winter motorhoming or residing in a camper yr spherical

However, in winter, there are some additional issues to contemplate. The most important issues with utilizing a motorhome or campervan within the winter embrace:

  • The place to remain
  • Climate
  • Gear to deliver
  • Staying heat
  • Coping with damp and condensation
  • Coping with moist garments and muddy/ moist boots- drying them
  • Solar energy and managing assets
  • Discovering contemporary water and emptying water

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 difficult.

We not too long ago took our motorhome right down to Biarritz in southern France- STUNNING place to go to when 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.

For Europe

We’ve been members of the ACSI Tenting Card scheme for just a few years now and it’s good when you’re capable of journey exterior of peak season (which is often finish of June till September.) In the event 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/ guide are nice locations to verify to see when campsites shut. There are sufficient which keep open all yr; you simply want to search out them. There’s often at the least one close to each main metropolis/ standard space. After all, the extra standard the world, the faster you’ll must guide.

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 guide (often by cellphone or e mail.)

For the UK

Campsites for UK winter street journeys can a bit bit tricker. ACSI does have some UK websites, however they don’t present all those that are open all yr.

We use an app known as Seek for Websites to search out campsites close to our vacation spot, then verify their web site or cellphone to ask. Sure, this may be laborious and irritating.

Another choice is to make use of a web site like, which lets you seek for your dates, necessities (like a motorhome exhausting standing pitch with electrical and which permits canines) and then you definitely guide by means of them.

Lastly, when you’re a member of a motorhome membership, you should use their web site or guide to search out locations.

winter motorhome trip tips and full time camper living all year round- how to use a motorhome in winter
Winter motorhome residing in Sierra Nevada

Aires in Europe in winter

Many Aires in France and Europe keep open all yr, until they’re closed for upkeep or as a consequence of heavy snow (or the roads near them being closed.)

Nonetheless, there are sufficient of them that when 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 often, the faucets may be turned off to keep away from harm.

READ MORE: The way to discover and use Aires in France and Europe

Different motorhome parking in winter

After all, there are many different schemes when 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.

Be taught find out how to discover in a single day parking spots across the UK and Europe right here

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 robust winds, fog, or snow?

None of these are a lot enjoyable in a van. Don’t overlook, you’ll be able to at all times regulate your plans to go well with no matter is forecast- that’s among the finest issues about motorhoming.

Be sure you carry water, snacks and ideally some sizzling 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 ideas for deterring mice and rodents in motorhomes and campers.

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!)

van life with kids- everything you need to know about travelling in a motorhome or camper van with a child
Our motorhome in winter- our daughter liked it 🙂

Mud Mats/ Traction Grip mats

This stuff are a lifesaver. Final yr, we broke all our personal guidelines and camped up on a grass pitch.

And acquired caught.

Attempting 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 should use the carpets from inside your van when you’re actually caught, however they’re be ruined. Save your self the fear and carry a set of those all yr spherical.)


We don’t often 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 frequently use a hard-standing pitch relatively than a discipline.

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 might be pegged out securely within the corners so doesn’t fly away and which is wipe-downable. Some folks choose two smaller ones to allow them to use a smaller dimension when wanted.


Screenwash is extra necessary in winter than at every other time of yr. There’s a lot salt and grit on the street that it could actually 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 once you want it most. The Demon Ice spray can be nice because it slows down re-freezing

Don’t overlook an ice scraper when you don’t have one already! You’ll want one with a longer deal with like this so you’ll be able to attain all off the windscreen!

Inside mat

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 when you wipe your toes (paws) on them!

It’s straightforward to wash with a jet wash once you’re cleansing your van however will final a very long time between washes if wanted.

Consuming water

Most aires and campsites will preserve a faucet operating. DON’T flip this off- it’s operating in order that the pipe doesn’t freeze (operating 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 at all times 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 keep watch over your water consumption, which incorporates issues like showers, because it’s all coming from the one tank, relatively than providing you with a backup water provide only for consuming.

Winter motorhoming- damp and condensation

Condensation in a motorhome or campervan is a ache within the bottom and is without doubt one of the greatest points with winter motorhoming. There are a number of methods to cut back the issue, however only a few which do away with it fully.

Regardless of the chilly, your van will profit from a bit air flow, so attempt to open a window at the least as soon as a day for some contemporary air.

Some folks run a dehumidifier, however you may battle with electrical energy for that. Non-electric damp containers or pouches (like those you place in wardrobes) are a good suggestion to take in at the least a few of the moisture within the air.

See all our ideas for decreasing condensation in your motorhome right here.

Coping with moist/ muddy clothes

The most important factor to determine is the way you’ll cope with damp garments and moist/ muddy/ snowy sneakers. Taking all of them off on the door is crucial (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 have now 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, but it surely saves there being damp gear in every single place.

In the event you’re doing laundry on the street, that is the time to make use of website amenities or an area laundrette. Be sure that all the things is dry earlier than you deliver 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

In the event you’re travelling with a canine, there are some things you’ll undoubtedly must cease them masking the complete van in muck.

Listed below are our high suggestions for winter vanlife with a canine.

Window Vac

One of many BEST motorhome equipment we’ve ever purchased is this Karcher window vac.

It removes condensation from inside your home windows in seconds AND it’s good for when it is advisable to clear your motorhome. All in all, value each penny.

Thermal Display

We LOVE our thermal display screen from Rainbow screens. Not solely is it a enjoyable speaking level, but it surely does its job exceptionally effectively, slicing down condensation and warmth loss by means of the home windows.

(Disclaimer; we have been gifted the display screen, however we’re not being paid or inspired to incorporate it on this post- we genuinely suppose it’s good.)

Nonetheless, we all know it’s costly, so right here’s a less expensive different for you:

READ MORE: Epic motorhome and campervan devices to make vanlife even higher

Winter motorhome living- Staying heat

Staying heat in a camper when it’s chilly exterior is usually 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 hotter.


Even when you’re chasing the sunshine down in Spain, it could actually nonetheless get chilly sufficient to want 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 might be used to. It additionally means it is advisable to be selective about how a lot electrical energy you might be utilizing without delay (you don’t wish to be THAT van which is continually tripping everybody’s electrical energy…)

Gasoline heating works effectively, however you’ll use a variety of it- we use round 6kg each 2 days.

Diesel heating is a superb different, however many vans don’t include it as normal. In the event you do match it, concentrate on the burden and the way it impacts your motorhome payload. Another choice is an oil-filled radiator, however be certain that it’s low wattage.

12v heated blanket

YES, you’ll be able to 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 acquired chilly within the again seats if we didn’t drive with the heating on. This blanket mounted all that.

You may also put it UNDER your quilt 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.

(In the event you’re , that is the powerbank I’ve)

Excessive Tog quilt

Is there something higher than snuggling below a heat quilt on a chilly night time? Make winter nights a bit extra bearable with a 15 tog quilt like this one (though clearly not when you’re going to Spain!)

Different ideas embrace carrying a LOT of sizzling 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

In the event you’re on a campsite, you’ll in all probability have first rate entry to electrical energy. Nonetheless, when 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’ll be able to at different occasions of the yr. The solar isn’t as robust, there are extra nighttimes 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’ll be able to, however don’t depend on it as your solely energy supply. In the event you’re planning on being off-grid quite a bit, 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 very good cost commonly and customarily babying them. Discover out extra about taking care of your motorhome leisure battery right here

LED lights

We at all times suggest putting in LED lights in your van to avoid wasting power- particularly when you’re staying off-grid quite a bit, however in winter it turns into important as ‘regular’ bulbs drain the ability too shortly. Be sure you deliver spares- they’ll be on for longer throughout winter and also you’ll in all probability want to switch a pair.


Cooking within the motorhome might be problematic throughout winter. You need one thing hearty and filling, however the longer you prepare dinner, the extra steam goes into the environment, inflicting damp and condensation.

Additionally, when you’ve spent all day exterior, you in all probability gained’t wish to prepare dinner once you return. That’s why we have now 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 in addition good issues concerning the On the spot Pot. Each are value exploring.

After all, there are numerous methods to take pleasure in winter motorhoming. In the event 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 a different way. You may even pre-cook hearty stews and convey it with you.

Equally, when you take pleasure in staying off-grid and wild tenting along with your motorhome, you gained’t want a lot additional until you go someplace very chilly (like up a mountain!)

Simply bear in mind to verify your programs earlier than you go and do your pre-trip motorhoming checks to make sure your car is protected in no matter circumstances you may end up driving in (like heavy rain!)

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