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30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps!

| Updated Jan 14, 2024

Don't get stuck in the cold in your RV! Here are ESSENTIAL RV winter driving tips and other helpful information, including the link to all the road condition maps for each state!

Winter RVing can be a unique and exciting experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. Cold temperatures, snowy roads, and limited daylight can all make for a more difficult and dangerous trip.

However, with proper preparation and knowledge, you can safely navigate the winter roads and enjoy all the beauty and serenity of winter camping.

In this blog post, we will share expert tips on how to prepare your RV for winter months, plan your winter RV trip, and drive safely in cold weather conditions. We'll also provide tips on staying warm and comfortable in your RV during your winter trip.

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RV Winter Driving Tips

Once you're on the road, it's important to know how to safely navigate snowy and icy roads. Here are some tips to help you stay safe while winter RVing.

How to Safely Navigate Snowy and Icy Roads

When driving on snowy or icy roads, patience is key. Following the RV 330 Rule will help set a good pace for your trip, and the following tips will help keep you safe:

  • Slow down and increase your following distance (it'll give you extra time to stop)
  • Use your headlights and turn signals (rule of thumb: If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on)
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating so you don't lose traction
  • Steer in the direction of a skid
  • If your RV has anti-lock brakes, press the pedal firmly and consistently.
  • If your RV doesn't have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to help gain traction while slowing down
  • Familiarize yourself with your RV's heating and defrosting systems before you drive to keep your RV windows clear

How to Handle Skidding and Sliding on Winter Roads

Never take black ice for granted! Just because you can't see ice on the road doesn't mean it's not there. Mentally prepare yourself by imagining what you will do if you start to slide.

If your RV starts to skid or slide on a snowy or icy road, the most important thing to do is to stay calm. Steer in the direction of the skid, and avoid braking or accelerating.

If your RV has anti-lock brakes, make sure to use them correctly by pressing them consistently and firmly. If your RV does not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal gently to slow down. (Pumping the brakes helps give you traction.)

Always Carry an Emergency Kit for Winter Travel

It's also essential to prepare an emergency kit for your winter RV trip. This should include items such as blankets, warm clothing, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a portable charging device for your phone.

It's also a good idea to include a small shovel, a bag of sand or kitty litter (for traction), and a bag of salt or de-icer.

Additionally, make sure to have a fully charged cell phone and a way to charge it while on the road.

Know How to Properly Use Snow Chains and Tire Chains

If you're planning to travel on snowy or icy roads, it's important to know how to properly use snow chains or tire chains. These devices can be a lifesaver in snowy conditions, but they must be used correctly. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and practice putting them on before you hit the road.

If you're going to be traveling entirely in snowy weather, consider putting snow tires on your motorhome or tow vehicle and travel trailer.

How to Not Get Stuck in the Cold! (30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps!)

What To Do If Your RV Is Stranded in Winter

If an emergency situation arises while winter RVing, it's important to stay calm so you can think clearly. Call for help immediately, and stay with your RV if possible. If you must leave your RV, make sure to take your phone, emergency kit, warm clothing, water, and a snack with you.

Here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Stay with your RV, as it provides shelter and protection from the elements. It's also much easier to spot an RV from the air than a person on foot.
  • Stay Warm: Dress in warm layers, use a good-quality insulated mattress pad or sleeping bag, and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth. Use a space heater or portable heater to supplement your RV's heating system, and make sure to keep your RV furnace or heating system serviced and maintained.
  • Create a signal for help: Place a brightly colored cloth or flag on the roof of your RV or on a nearby tree to signal for help. Keep a small light or lantern on at night (preferably one that is battery-operated and will not drain your battery.)
  • Conserve Fuel and Power: To conserve fuel and power, only run essential systems such as the heating system and refrigerator. Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Keep yourself hydrated and nourished: ration your food and water to last for at least a few days in case you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Keep your phone on but preserve its battery as much as possible. Turn on “battery saver mode” and only use it when trying to contact help.
  • Know How to Detect Carbon Monoxide in Your RV to ensure your heating appliances don't poison you!

Preparing Your RV for Winter

Before hitting the road for a winter RV trip, it's essential to properly prepare your RV for the colder temperatures and inclement weather. Here are some tips to help you winterize your RV and get it ready to drive and camp in winter conditions.

Insulate Your RV

Another important step in preparing your RV for winter is to insulate it against colder temperatures. This can be done by adding insulation to the walls, floor, and ceiling of your RV, as well as around windows and doors. You can also use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside and the cold air out.

Winterizing Your RV's Plumbing and Water Systems

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One of the most important steps in preparing your RV for winter is to winterize the plumbing and water systems. This process usually involves draining the water tanks, adding RV-specific antifreeze to the plumbing lines, and protecting any exposed pipes from freezing.

If you're unsure how to winterize your RV's plumbing and water systems, it's best to consult your RV's owner's manual or have a professional do it for you. But, the above video and this article on How to Keep Your RV Pipes from Freezing While Camping will help.

Maintain and Inspect Your RV's Tires, Brakes, and Battery

It's also crucial to maintain and inspect your RV's tires, brakes, and battery before heading out on a winter RV trip. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread to handle snowy and icy roads. Check your brakes to ensure they're in good working condition, and consider investing in winter tires or tire chains. Also, make sure your RV's battery is fully charged and in good condition, as it will have to work harder in the colder temperatures.

How to Stay Warm & Cozy While Camping

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When you're not on the road, it's important to stay warm and comfortable inside your RV. Here are some more tips to help you do just that.

  • Keep windows and doors closed, and use insulated window coverings or thermal curtains to keep the warm air inside.
  • Use a space heater or portable electric heater to supplement your RV's heating system.
  • Add weatherstripping or door sweeps to your RV's doors and windows to prevent drafts.
  • Use a portable generator to power your RV's heating system.
  • Insulate your RV's underbelly, pipes, and tanks with heat tape, foam, etc.
  • Use an RV skirt* to reduce heat loss from under your RV.
  • Keep the windows clean to allow maximum sunlight in during the day.
  • Use a good-quality insulated mattress pad or sleeping bag to keep you warm during the night.
  • Dress in layers and keep extra blankets in the RV for added warmth.
  • In severe cold, confine yourself to one room and focus on heating that small space.

*EZSnap Skirting and Fabricover skirting are very popular in the RVing community.

Our Top 5 Winter Camping Tips

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

Make your winter campout a lot more enjoyable with these quick 5 tips in the above video! It's all about staying cozy so you can focus on enjoying the beauty of winter around you. Watch the full length video to learn more.

  1. Cover your windshield to keep heat in and cold out.
  2. Invest in a battery heater (batteries work less efficiently in the cold)
  3. Have a backup heater (i.e., portable heater)
  4. Put Reflectix on windows
  5. Bring your fresh water in jugs and flush your toilet with antifreeze
How to Not Get Stuck in the Cold! (30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps!)

Planning Your Winter RV Trip

Once your RV is prepared for winter, it's time to start planning your trip. Here are some tips to help you plan a safe and enjoyable winter RV adventure.

Check Weather Forecasts and Road Conditions

Before hitting the road, it's essential to check the weather forecasts and road conditions for your destination and the route you plan to take. This will help you prepare for any potential winter weather, such as snow, ice, or freezing temperatures.

Know the Winter Driving Restrictions by State

A member of our RV lifestyle community, Ed Varga, gave us some helpful advice recently. He pointed out that some states restrict RV driving in certain weather conditions, just like commercial motor vehicles.

For instance, Pennsylvania DOT puts motorhomes in Tier 1 (the most restrictive tier) when it comes to “winter weather events.”

So, it's always a good idea to Google “winter driving restrictions in [state]” before you leave. This might spare you from getting stopped at a state border with different restrictions! Also, check out our link to ALL the State Driving road conditions below.

Choose the Right Route for Winter Driving

When planning your winter RV trip, it's best to choose a route that is well-maintained and has lower elevations. This will help you avoid steep and winding roads that can be dangerous in snowy or icy conditions.

Avoid mountain passes and remote areas if possible, as they can be more difficult to navigate in the winter.

Many state Department of Transportation have interactive road maps that will show you which ones have ice and snow – like this one from the Iowa DOT. The blue lines are roads that are partially covered.

30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps! 1

And HERE is the link for road conditions for each state – Winter Road Conditions.

We Are Huge Fans of Winter Camping!

30+ RV Winter Driving Tips AND Interactive Maps! 2

Now we say that knowing many people are not. Indeed, you need to actually enjoy snow and cold. But we know there are thousands of RVers out there who just need a little coaxing and some tips to get out there and have fun in their RVs year-round.

So that’s why we wrote The Winter RV Camping Guide.

In this 36-page ebook – (NOT a Print book) we’ll walk you through what you need to do before you leave home to get your rig winter-ready, and we’ll cover what to do when setting up camp.

Camping Comfort Food for Chilly Nights

The 7 Coldest States you may want to avoid 1

Comfort food warms the soul and the tummy! If you're camping this winter, try the following delicious comfort food recipes from our sister site, CampingFoodRecipes.com:

Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-01-14

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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