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Tips And Tricks for Traveling in A Winterized Unit

Are you getting ready for a winter road trip? Many people have found that, while a bit more challenging, winter is a great time to take to the road for a cross-country or even same-state adventure. When you do travel in the winter weather, however, you need to make sure your RV is winterized and you will be comfy and warm no matter what Mother Nature may throw at you.


Winter RV camping offers a break from the bustling summer season and a chance to relax in the beautiful snowy outdoors. Winter RV trips can be an affordable way to explore a popular ski destination or enjoy other outdoor winter recreation. If you are considering taking your RV out this winter, don’t let the cold weather get in your way.


However, you do have to do a few things to be ready for Ol’ Man Winter. This is a brief summary of things you should be aware of if traveling in winter.



1. Make sure your RV is winterized and ready for the cold weather.

2. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving.

3. Plan your route and make sure to avoid dangerous areas.

4. Stay safe while camping in cold weather.

5. Keep warm while traveling in your RV.

6. Deal with frozen pipes and other winter issues.

7. If all else fails, just drive south!


Now we’ll dive into each of these topics a bit more in case you need any additional pointers to help you remain safe in your RV or in a rental RV in winter.


1. Make sure your RV is winterized and ready for the cold weather.


You’ve probably seen the phrase “winterizing your RV” when planning a road trip someplace chilly. Your task is to figure out if your RV has already been winterized, and whether it needs to be. If you’re traveling someplace where temperatures are going to get below freezing, you’ll need to winterize your RV. It’s a process you can do yourself, though your local RV company may also do it for you.


Winterizing your RV means you’ve taken steps such as:

  • Emptying water tanks.

  • Draining the water heater and water lines.

  • Disabling plumbing in order to prevent the pipes (which run along the undercarriage of the RV) from bursting or being destroyed.

And, if temperatures at your cold destination won’t actually get below freezing, you may not need to worry about winterizing it. If a vehicle has been winterized, you won’t be able to use the sink or bathroom inside the RV as usual (unless you take extra steps like using antifreeze).


2. Prepare your vehicle for winter driving.


Check your engine antifreeze and refill it with the proper concentration of antifreeze and water. While water may be effective for cooling an engine in warmer months, using at least 50 percent antifreeze is essential for RV camping in freezing temperatures. For camping in very cold regions, an engine block heater can provide additional protection. Engine block heaters are meant to warm up your engine before you start it, and should run for about four to five hours prior to starting the engine if the temperature is below freezing.


Driving an RV in harsh winter weather requires the same common sense you need to drive an RV any other day, but a bit more so: Slow down and avoid being on the road when it's dark. But winter brings new variables: Motorhomes typically have rear-wheel drive (as opposed to front-wheel drive in most passenger vehicles), so the brakes will handle differently on slippery roads than what you’re used to. With RVs, it’s even more important that you ease on the brakes, and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead.


And when driving in snowy conditions, put your headlights on the low beam setting. The brighter your lights are, the harder it will be for you to see through the snow and keep your eyes on the road.


3. Plan your route and make sure to avoid iced or dangerous roads.


Plan your route carefully, and be sure to keep an eye on the weather. Freezing temps overnight can mean icy road conditions when you start out in the morning, even if they were not iced last night. Be careful and vigilant so you don’t get caught in any unpleasant or unsafe conditions. Keep up with your favorite weather app while you travel. “My Radar” is a very good app and there are many others that you can use to keep updated for the area where you are traveling.


4. Stay safe while camping in cold weather.


Make sure you stay safe in any weather, but in the cold weather there are more factors to take into account. Icing and snow on the roads are just one thing (well, two) to be concerned about. Also make sure you have plenty of propane for cooking, heating and hot water. And, please, if you are heading into some extreme conditions, get an extra propane tank to keep with your rig so that you don’t have any miserable and freezing mornings when you’ve found your tanks ran out of propane overnight. Be sure you have extra fresh water if you have had to empty your pipes, so you have plenty for drinking and washing. Another option to consider is a heated water hose. They are available at local hardware stores for about $100, and this may be worth it if you want to keep your water hose connected and not have to disconnect it every night so the water in it won’t freeze up. 


5. Keep warm while traveling in your RV.


Make sure you have that extra propane tank as mentioned above, as you will see you run through it a lot faster when you are using it for heat. But you may also want to consider an electric RV heater that will help keep the whole crew comfortable. You should consider having a backup/supplemental heat source also makes a lot of sense. A portable small RV electric heater could make sense or even two if you are driving a very large Class A rig.


6. Deal with frozen pipes and other winter issues.


There are several tips that winter RV campers and campgrounds can tell you, so that you don’t have to deal with frozen water pipes and water heaters and so forth. For example, you should keep your gray tank closed and only drain it when necessary, and also keep the RV hose flat to avoid dips that could cause ice dams in the hose and damage it. And, by far the most valuable tip we can give you is this: Purchase a heat cable and wrap it around the refrigerator condenser, located in an exterior panel of the travel trailer, to keep it from freezing and blowing.


If you don’t do this, and your condenser gets damaged, you could potentially be out $2,000+ for a new refrigerator. Yeah, this is probably the most expensive piece of equipment in the RV.


7. When all else fails, drive south! 


And, when all of these seem just a bit too much to bother with, we suggest you head south! This is definitely a great time to visit Florida, Arizona or Southern California and enjoy a sunny destination where you really won’t have to worry about freezing at all. Why not choose a warm, temperate climate and enjoy those awesome days in the sun? 


At El Monte RV Rental, we make sure our units are all outfitted appropriately for safe driving in any weather. Check with your local El Monte RV Rental location and see how you can rent an RV to take you anywhere you wish to go in whatever season you choose. And, please make sure to visit our El Monte RV Rental One-Way Factory Specials page to see about taking advantage of the new RV’s being offered at a dramatic discount from our Elkhart, Indiana factory. 


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