When you think of RV living in the winter … can’t you imagine the snowbirds that travel south in the winter to live in RV in a temperate climate?
Well it’s not us, we do things a little different than normal, just ask our family!
Our choice of full-time RV living found us on the banks of the Missouri River, where we currently work as a private campground and are preparing to spend our third year of winter camping in Missouri, where the weather can be nice one day. and brutal the next. .
A lot of people think we’re crazy … crazy about this full-time RV lifestyle, but even crazier about wintering in Missouri when we could be in Arizona or Florida or Texas where the winters are hot and sunny. .
Well, we are used to raising eyebrows!
We had those same destinations in mind until the camp owner hired us for year-round work and we fell in love with the beautiful setting on the banks of the Missouri River.
We decided that winter camping in the cold and snow would be a new experience to add to our adventurous full-time RV life trips.
Maybe it was the challenge of figuring out how to comfortably survive RVs living in winter that drew us in, or maybe it was the Universe telling us that it was time to change our perception of winter.
(We are big complainers of the snow and the cold).
In fact, it was both!
We didn’t realize that our first VR experience in winter weather would occur during BLIZZARD 2011!
Little did we realize how much our outlook would be tested when total snowfall for the winter set a new record for our area … 43 inches to be exact!
Our preparations for life in RVs in winter were valuable lessons for survival. Our only preparations for winter before this were to have the snow shovel and melted ice close at hand by the front door.
We spent hours googling advice from other RVers. It took a bit of research to find the correct information, as most tips for winterizing an RV were focused on preparing the motorhome for winter storage, not for living in an RV IN winter.
We made countless trips to Lowes, Westlakes, and Bass Pro to ask for help with our winter RV project. (Again, the raised eyebrows of the employees who tried to help us!)
The most valuable resource of all was found at a local mobile home supplier. It was there that the answers to all of our questions were answered by knowledgeable people who knew how, what, where and why to protect our RV during the winter. Their solutions were practical and simple … they were incredibly excited to help the crazy couple who have this notion of living in VR in winter weather!
For starters, all the pipes, inside and out, that I could get to, were wrapped in foam pipe insulation. Empty spaces around pipes and storage tanks were filled with insulation. The interior roof vents were covered with plastic to help keep cool air outside. EASY TO DO – Tasks familiar to any homeowner … and especially essential for RVs that live in areas where severe cold and snow and ice plague you for several months.
I read several suggestions to cover the windows to protect myself from the cold, but I did not dare to block my view, especially since I can look out the window and look at the river; It is my saving grace while I am hidden inside. as snow flies and temperatures plummet.
This kind of view is what makes life in VR so valuable.
We quickly learned that for RVs living in winter weather, it was necessary to protect our water supply and sewer hose from freezing temperatures. With the help of the mobile home store staff, we designed a water hose from a small plastic pipe fitted with connections to the camp’s water pump and our caravan. This pipe was wrapped in electrical heat tape, which was then wrapped with foam pipe insulation.
Our flexible sewer hose was inserted into a larger PVC pipe for added insulation. It took a few adjustments to find the right elbows for the pipe, but we did it! Now the outside hoses were protected and we had a protected water supply for our first RV living experience with winter camping!
These solutions worked very well to protect our water supply and sewer hose; But, when we unhooked everything for a road trip, we soon realized how “EXACT” our parking lot had to be when we got home. It took several attempts to back up, zoom in a little closer, back up, pull a little more to the right, no, tilt it more to the left … over and over again until the pipes lined up just to reconnect.
Normally, it’s not a big deal to do this, but it was very cold that day. Just another part of the process of learning the art of VR living in winter weather.
As we began our second RV season living in the Missouri winter, we looked for other solutions that would help us quickly and easily reconnect our hoses. We had to find more flexibility.
Google search popped up again as we investigated more ways to survive the winter weather. The next winter our water hose was wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil, followed by heat tape, followed by foam tube wrap. We also purchased a heavy duty sewer hose that is capable of withstanding freezing weather. Now we had flexibility! No more rigid pipes to reconnect when we return to camp.
One of the most treasured discoveries in preparing for RV life in winter was the electric radiator heater. These heaters work well as a supplemental heat source in small spaces and stay warm without consuming a lot of electricity. Because natural convection distributes heat, there is no fan to make noise, making them incredibly quiet. We didn’t have to run the oven constantly, we never had to worry about running out of propane in the middle of the night and waking up to a cold caravan.
With all those fixes in place, the one big problem we found surviving RVs living in winter was condensation that built up under our mattress where cold air from outside meets warm bodies. (our bed is over the cab of the truck)
Create an air gap between the mattress and the floor of the bed. I went to Lowes with measurements in hand and asked for help in solving my crazy idea. Fortunately, I was helped by someone who knew exactly what we needed:
boards to use as slats and 1/2-inch foam board to place on top of slats and underneath the foam mattress.
Now the air can circulate … and the best part is that the foam board adds protection against the cold floor of the bed.
I AM a happy camper … RV living in the winter is a piece of cake!
Two years ago, we were stocking up on food, movies, and water because the forecast called for a blizzard! We were looking forward to many new adventures with RV life and winter camping, but a snowstorm was something we had never experienced! 18 inches of snow fell as we huddled safely in our trailer.
The next day, we were like little children. We couldn’t wait to get out and walk in deep, deep snow that had shed several feet deep.
If we had decided to take off that winter and settle in an RV living in sunny Florida, we would have missed the magical views of snow-covered fields that sparkle like fairy dust in the light of a full moon, surrounded by stillness.
If we had gone south for the winter, sure, we could have played on the warm sandy beaches, but we would have missed sinking thigh-high in the snow, like we did when we were three years and three feet tall!
I would have missed that magical January morning when I headed to the river, wrapped in my subzero sleeping bag, camera and coffee in hand … and saw the glorious dance of the seagulls flying and swirling with grace and majesty.
Life in full-time VR is our life and our dream.
It gives us freedom. It also gives us the opportunity to make the most of any situation.
What is that saying: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade?
Well, for RV life in the winter, when life gives you 19 inches of snow, you can go back to being a kid!