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Winter RV Camping: From Freezing to Fabulous

| Updated Jun 20, 2023

Have you been thinking about winter RV camping?  It's time to make your plans and get out there and do it.

If you follow these suggestions, your winter RV Camping trip will be just as easy as it is in summer. You'll just wear a little more clothing!

While international and airline travel has slowed down this year, more and more folks have discovered the joy and fun of RV camping around North America. It’s no surprise, really. RV camping lets friends and family get outside of town and enjoy everything that this wide-open country has to offer in safe, small groups. That’s why Forbes is even calling 2020 the year of RV travel.

While RV summer vacations are great, what do you do when winter sets in but you still have the travel bug? Hunker down at home for a few long, dark, and dreary month?

Not us!

Winter RV camping can completely transform the way you see nature. Snowshoeing, skiing, circling around a cozy bonfire with friends and family as the snow gently falls—winter camping is nothing short of magical.

Jennifer and I love winter RV camping, but we’ll be honest with you—the fun and joy it brings comes at a price. Winter camping requires a little bit more work and “stick-to-itiveness” than summer camping, but when you’re properly prepared, spending the winter in your RV will be highly rewarding, fun, and (most importantly) warm. Here are a few steps you can take to make this winter enjoyable and memorable in your RV.

Also, have I mentioned there’s no bugs in the winter? Oh, how wonderful winter can be!

Here's a video from one of our recent winter RV camping trips:

Staying Warm While Winter RV Camping

First things first. When you or a loved one is cold, all the fun and happiness drains away with the warmth. That’s why the first step to a successful wintertime RV trip is to make sure you have enough heat to be comfortable.

When it comes to the interior of your RV, there are two easy tools you can buy—a space heater and Reflectix.

Space heaters are small and very effective at heating a single open space such as the cabin of an RV. You can buy them nearly anywhere at a variety of price points and extra features. However, keep in mind that nearly all of them are electric. Some gas-powered heaters exist, but they are really designed to be used in tents or other well-ventilated, outdoor areas so you don’t want to have them inside your RV as they could be unsafe.

With a small electric ceramic-style heater, make sure to camp at sites with electrical power outlets so you don’t drain your battery. The last thing you want when RV camping in the dead of winter is a dead vehicle!

If you use propane to heat your RV, electric space heaters can be a nice supplement so you can save on gas refills. You can even bring the space heater outside to keep your feet warm while you enjoy a beautiful wintertime sunrise or sunset.

To stay warm on your winter RV Camping Trip – Use Reflectix

Another great tool is a material called Reflectix. This is a super easy to use insulator that can be sized to fit over your windows and any other areas where heat might escape. All you need to do is measure your window, cut the material, and fit it wherever you need.  More information on Reflectix and space heaters can be found on our gear page here.

Here's a video on how to install Reflectix for your winter RV camping trip:

Believe it or not, your RV can get a little too warm inside and start to feel like a sauna. If you need to vent a little heat and get some air circulating without opening up entire doors and windows, consider getting a rooftop vent cover so you can let out a little heat and stuffiness without letting the snow in.

Lastly, your engine wants to stay warm too, so don’t forget to install an engine block heater if you’re camping somewhere extremely cold so your vehicle can still run smoothly.

Water Usage While Winter RV Camping

Beyond staying warm, another tricky necessity is water. Running water can be hard to find in the winter. Many RV owners will winterize their vehicles by putting away any water hoses and pipes, or campsites may not have any water available due to the freezing temps. While you could use heating lights and insulation such as an RV skirt and foam sleeves to prevent pipes and spigots from freezing, another method is to use bottled water.

You can use bottled water the same way you would use your running water in the kitchen and bathroom, the only extra thing you need to remember is to chase the water down the drain with an equal amount of RV antifreeze to prevent any winter damage. Keep it on hand in the kitchen as well as in the toilet to use before flushing.

Safe Driving While Winter RV Camping

photo of rv on winter rv camping trip on snowy roads
This is us in our previous RVs on one of our winter rv camping trips

RVs can be very reliable when it comes to winter driving. In fact, I’ve rarely needed to use snow tires or chains unless traveling through a region that requires it by law. However, you should never drive outside your personal safety limits. If you look at a snowy road and think, “I wouldn’t feel safe driving here in my passenger vehicle,” then it would be wise to avoid it in your RV as well.

When you do drive in winter conditions, remember to take it slow and easy. The lanes can be hard to find. Sometimes it’s even hard to figure out where the road ends and the shoulder begins. Luckily, if you are driving on a road that uses rumble strips, you can use them to help guide and keep you on the road.

Lastly, don’t forget, storms pass. If you are caught in whiteout conditions and no longer feel safe driving, pull over and take a break until conditions lighten up—take it slow.

Extra Tips For Winter RV Camping

photo from a winter rv camping trip
That's Jennifer and Mike, with Bo, on our winter camping adventure last year

When you’re winter camping, don’t forget that there is still fun to be had outside! Packing plenty of hand and toe warmers can make a frigid outdoor adventure a thousand times more enjoyable. They are cheap, safe, easy to use, and last all day long so you can be out and about—whether it’s dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing, or more.

Winter provides so many unique opportunities that summer travelers miss out on. Because of the extra work required to prep, these winter adventures tend to be more enjoyable when you are staying in one place longer. This is especially true if you have to insulate your pipes, install RV skirts, or perform other winter tasks every time you arrive at a new site.

So, when planning out your winter trips, don’t be afraid to go to fewer places while spending more days at each location. This will reduce the amount of effort and work needed to “settle in” at each new campsite.

Here's a video we did on selecting the proper clothing for your Winter RV Camping adventures:


The Winter Wonderland Awaits for Winter RV Camping!

If you’ve been enjoying RV camping all summer, don’t stow the gear in the garage just yet. Keep the adventure going into the colder months and discover a whole new side of nature. If you’re curious for more RV travel ideas and tips, or just want to learn more about this hugely satisfying lifestyle, follow our blog, podcast, and YouTube channel!

photo of Bo on one of our winter rv camping trips
Bo was in his element! Not just humans enjoy winter RV camping – so do dogs!

Curious about the gear, gadgets, accessories, and RV products Mike & Jennifer use and recommend?

On this RV Lifestyle Travel blog, our RV Podcast and our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, we mention all sorts of RV-related products and gear that we use, So we created a special page links to them. We update this all the time.  CLICK HERE to go to it directly. 

Get more RV travel ideas, tips, news, and perks!

Each Monday Mike and Jennifer Wendland publish the insiders RV Lifestyle Newsletter, where they share weekly articles about RV travel that inspire and inform. As soon as you sign up, we'll send you for free the RV travel checklist that Jennifer and Mike use. You can save it to your computer and print it out for every trip like we do. No more forgetting things!  Plus, besides the insider's newsletter each Monday, you'll get lots of special perks and RV discounts. 
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Mike Wendland

Published on 2020-11-23

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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