Heading North for the Winter?

There’s a term for those who drive south for the winter: Snowbirds. But what do you call someone who does the opposite? A Sunbird?…

King Penguins in the Falkland Islands

There’s a few reasons you could consider heading North for the winter:
  • Avoiding the wild crowds of the summer season. Skip all the effort fighting over the beach spots. Chill at the ski resort instead.
  • If you’re from the South, like we here at RVWN, experiencing the North during the winter can be a tad frightening, but it’s incredible and eye-opening. It’s a totally different kind of outdoor experience than you’re used to. Like snow. 
  • Save money. With all the traffic and business moving to the warmer climes, you’re sure to find great rates and deals in the colder reaches.
Now, if any of that interested you and you’re thinking about becoming a Sunbird (yeah, we are making that a thing), you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for cold weather RVing. It certainly has its fair share of difficulties, but we are here to help. Here are some things to consider when taking your RV through the winter.

Prepping your RV

  • Protect your plumbing! Your RV really is a home and wheels, and just as you have to protect the plumbing on a house, you have to do so for your RV.
    • Antifreeze: This is sort of a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. Just a small amount in your holding tank will do.
    • For Externals: You can purchase heat strips and heat tape to wrap your hoses, valves, and connections. Foam insulation doesn’t hurt.
    • Fill your internal freshwater tank and use that instead of an external water source. You can keep your hoses warm and safe and out of the cold after use.
    • Opening cabinets and allowing the heat in your cabin to reach the pipes goes a long way to keeping them from freezing.
  • Keep the Engine Hot
    • Check your battery before leaving home. Look for corrosion and damage. Make sure they are fully charged. The cold slows down the battery in every way, so it is more likely to freeze or die if it isn’t fully charged.
    • Your antifreeze to water ratio should be at least 50% antifreeze for freezing temps. If you’re going somewhere TRULY frigid, consider picking up a block heater.
  •  The Roaring Furnace
    • If you’re going to be in extreme cold, speak with a certified technician to make sure your furnace in fully operational.
    • Use space heaters and catalytic heaters when possible. Note that these add moisture to the air so a dehumidifier can be used to keep your RV dry and free of mold.

On Site

  • Let nature help! 
    • Park in the sun!! The sun will help warm your RV tremendously. Pretty obvious, sure, but a big one.
  • Avoid the wind
    • The wind will happily pull the heat from your RV any chance it gets. Park so that the wind doesn’t blow against the full sides of your RV.  Aim it to hit the front or rear instead, if possible.
  • Clear snow from the roof
    • Snow on your roof will pull heat from your cabin. Make sure to clear the top of your RV after a heavy snow.
  • Keep a blow dryer
    • No kidding. If things get really chilly and your pipes or hoses are frozen, using a blow dryer can help defrost them.
  • Stay flexible 
    • Winter camping can change quickly and drastically. Be prepared to spend an unexpected day indoors during a snowstorm. Have board games, movies, crafts, books, instruments, or other forms of entertainment ready for when you need to wait out the storm.

Got any tips for your fellow Sunbirds?

Let us know in the comments below the ways you like to prep for your trips up North!

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