avatar Andrew Burgess November 15, 2021

Wrap your winter gloves around these colder weather travel ideas

Don’t miss out on half the fun of owning a campervan

Would it surprise you to hear that campervans aren’t just for summer?

Yes, friends – campervans are still cool, even when it’s cool out.

Just because the leaves have started turning or there’s a bit of overnight frost doesn’t mean you must stay locked up at home. Chalk it up to yet another great aspect of #vanlife if you like. But you can get use out of your campervan all year long!

And, to be honest, this is something that you might need to hear; If you haven’t woken up in your campervan on a crisp winter’s morning, you’re really missing out.

Ideas for getting away during the winter

Campervans have a key advantage over motorhomes or caravans when the temperatures drop. For starters, they don’t typically get decommissioned or packed away for the colder months of the year.

So, if you keep your campervan rolling – as either your primary or secondary vehicle – it’s always available. That means you can take off on a whim. So, why not take a day trip to the beach? Or drive out to one of our national parks so you can gently sip a relaxing hot drink after a short winter’s hike?

Speaking of hot drinks, have you ever plotted a course to check out a lively Christmas market? With the wheel of a campervan firmly in your hands, there’s not much to stop you now.

The fact is, a chilly autumn or winter evening in a campervan can be cozy, snug, and (dare we say it?) romantic. Especially after getting plenty of fresh air from a stroll or bike ride during the day.

The evenings are obviously going to get dark earlier than you’re used to in the summer, so grab the opportunity to relax in your own home-away-from-home. Plan to cook something hearty and comforting. Pour a glass of your favourite drink, put your feet up, and crack open a book or break out some board games. Then, later you can post a couple of cool #vanlife photos to your Instagram account so the folks back home have something to wish for as well. Perfect.

Wait a second. Don’t allow me to assume!

Maybe you’re more into activities than relaxation. Shockingly, it’s still possible come wintertime! Just grab some quality outdoor gear to keep you warm before you hike through the forest or up a mountain. How about setting up a barbecue or a fire pit, if it’s allowed? Almost anything is possible anytime of year with a campervan. It’s ready and waiting for your next travel idea. Even when temperatures are lower, you can grab some time away from your work and routine to decompress naturally – in nature even!

Preparation isn’t even half the fun

There are certainly some different things to be prepared for when camping in the winter months.

Obviously, you’ll need to keep warm. That’s easy. Just make sure your camper’s heater, gas, and electrics have been serviced and are fully functional. It’s also a great idea to check that you have enough gas for both cooking and heating. If you have a heater that runs on diesel, then make sure your tank isn’t too near empty. Speaking of gas, do you know the difference between propane and butane? Propane is better for winter because butane freezes at low temperatures.

Another factor to consider is that winter tends to make outside conditions a bit more wet and muddy. This means it will not only be you that needs appropriate clothing and footwear, but your campervan, too. Pack some grip mats, or invest in some winter or all-season tyres, to help you avoid getting stuck. Any season’s good to have some washable rugs for the floor, but in winter, especially. Head torches and gloves can be really useful for doing outside jobs, like connecting the mains hook-up, or getting something out of the back.

To keep muddy boots outside the campervan, either use a large plastic storage container (with lid) to leave by the door, or get an awning to leave them under (and also provide a buffer between the cosy interior and the weather).

Fresh and waste water containers are usually fitted inside campervans, which will prevent them from freezing.

Catch some sweet zzz’s whenever you please

Believe it or not, you can sleep comfortably inside the pop-up roof during winter. In fact, there are covers that fit over them if you need more insulation. And, if the canvas is damp when you lower the roof, grab the first opportunity you can to pop it up again to fully dry out. Experienced campervan owners will know that if it’s windy (at any time of year), you should take extra care when lowering the roof to avoid material getting caught and snagged in the mechanism.

These days, there are plenty of campsites open all year, and with good facilities, so you can get a warm shower. Not as many as in the peak summer months, obviously. But the good news is, most campsites are not as busy during the ‘off-season.’ Bottom line is there should be more space, but it’s still worth booking ahead if you can. Choosing a hard standing pitch will make your life easier (with less potential for mud) than a regular grass pitch, and an electric hook-up will guarantee you can charge all your gadgets.

Watch out for campsites that say they’re ‘gently sloping’, because the more wet they get, the less traction you may have. If you want to be super-prepared, take a tow rope just in case. Campsites with great views can get the brunt of any winter storms, so if the weather seems unpredictable, consider a pitch with a bit more shelter. If you’re going to put an awning up, storm straps will give you more confidence that it will still be there in the morning.

All signs point toward fun in the sun – and under the cold moon

When you really think about it, options for winter campervanning are almost as good as in summer. In fact, there’s one thing that’s much harder to do during the warmer months at all – using your campervan for a skiing trip. Yes, a campervan actually makes an ideal base for a ski trip.

Unlike a conventional car, it gives you more space to travel with all your kit and equipment, and if you’re heading to a campsite in Europe, you’ll be delighted to know they cater for skiers – with heating and drying rooms for your gear. If you want to save money, you can find ‘aires’ (in France) or ‘stellplatz’ (in Germany) close to (or in) ski resorts that cost a fraction of the price of a campsite (and usually still provide amenities like hook-ups and water).

Yes, all things considered, winter is a pretty great time to venture out in your campervan. Hopefully, this will inspire you to use your campervan at any time of year, and create even more memories.

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