Summertime is a great time for being outdoors with clear, sunny skies and warm temps that provide fun RV outings. Trips to the lake, the Grand Canyon, and state parks resonate heavily with RVers during this season.
Now that the days of summer sunny skies and warm temps have been replaced with fallen leaves and falling temps, you might be wondering what that means for the open-road trips in your RV.
Winter is here and may put a damper on outdoor fun. But don’t pack away the sunscreen just yet! Winter months don’t automatically mean the fun under the sun has to end.
Many people believe there is really only one option when it comes to RVs and wintertime, but that isn’t actually the case. Yes, the most common option of storing the rig is one choice, and it’s the right choice for many. That said, there are a few other options to consider and there might be a better one for you.
Below I’ve outlined four ways RV owners handle their rigs in the winter months, as well as some tips for each option. Each choice has its pros and cons and in this article, I’ll help you sort out the issues and answer the question: Winter is here; now what?
Store Your RV
As mentioned above, the first and most obvious option is to store your RV for winter. This is a great option if you’re happy with your current RV set up, plan to RV next summer, and/or have access to a place to store the rig. That said, there is some work involved, and for some, storing for the winter can be a relatively large financial investment.
To store your RV for the winter, you will need to winterize the unit. This involves draining the water out of the holding tanks and draining and flushing the water heater and then bypassing it before introducing RV antifreeze, which are a few requirements to winterize your RV.
Investing the time and work into prepping your RV will offset challenges caused by cold temps. If you are unsure of how to winterize, a local RV dealership likely offers a winterization service.
Storage options include storing on your land, a friend’s land, or paying for an indoor or outdoor storage spot. There are pros and cons to each and all should be considered.
If storing outdoors, using an RV cover is recommended. Some even choose to build an RV shelter.
It’s always best to store your rig as close to home as possible. Unexpected circumstances can always arrive. That’s why it’s a good practice to regularly check up on your RV throughout the winter. It’s best to check on your RV on a weekly basis but if you can’t manage check-ups that frequently, a once-a-month check-in is an absolute must!
Take Your RV South
The next option is to take your rig south to keep on camping and avoid the cold weather altogether. Obviously, this is a great option if you are retired or able to work remotely. That said, if you are in a position to head south for the winter, it can be an awesome option, especially if you aren’t a fan of cold weather.
Some RV owners live in their RV year-round discovering America, one destination at a time.
Related: The Best States for Snowbird Camping
While most think of Florida as the ultimate snowbird location, numerous other warm, sunny destinations await this winter season. Keep that summer fun alive during the colder months by traveling to the U.S. Sunbelt.
Consider spending a winter month in sunny Arizona and taking in the warm desert scene. With the sun shining 360 days a year, Yuma is known to be the sunniest place on Earth, averaging more than 4,000 hours of sun per year (out of 4,456 possible).
One of the most popular snowbird destinations is Quartzsite. Not far from the Colorado River, this dusty Arizona outpost expands to hundreds of thousands as RV folks arrive every winter for the largest rock hound exposition in the United States and free camping.
You don’t have to be lucky to find great RV parks during snowbird season in Nevada. While Las Vegas attracts legions of travelers every winter, the surrounding region deserves just as much attention. Pick a spot in Laughlin, Pahrump, or Boulder and ride out the winter in style.
RV snowbirds who visit New Mexico can marvel at historic pueblos and centuries-old buildings that date back to the Spanish Colonial era. After visiting the cities, explore spectacular landscapes at places like White Sands National Park.
During the winter, the seasonal warmth visitors enjoy from both the sun and the southern hospitality makes Texas the place to be when looking to escape the cold. With the Texas winter temperatures averaging in the mid-70s, visitors enjoy the sandy beaches of South Padre Island which is also the longest stretch of an undeveloped barrier island in the world.
Of course, when thinking of Texas, one can’t forget The Alamo. The 300-year-old Spanish Mission is located in San Antonio where the Battle of San Jacinto took place on April 21, 1836. Visitors also enjoy the miles of dining, shopping, and museums along San Antonio’s well-known Riverwalk.
RV snowbirds will feel welcome in ‘Bama. Cheer a classic college football game or take a stroll on sugar sands on the Gulf of Mexico. The cities of Mobile and Montgomery will show you new aspects of Southern cuisine and culture.
From Waveland to Pascagoula, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers up winter fun for snowbirds. Enjoy the sunshine, surf, and turf at Bay St. Louis, where charming Old Town is filled with upscale restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. Pass Christian’s quiet beaches will entice you to stay for a while.
Spicy gumbo and sizzling jambalaya aren’t the only things keeping RV snowbirds warm during winters in the Pelican State. Take a spin through festive towns like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, then venture in the bayous and lakes for sightseeing, angling, and hunting.
Plenty of RV resorts, ranging from southern Cali to Florida, offer a variety of activities, attractions, and beautiful scenery spaced throughout the southern border.
For the non-snowbirds, plenty of colder-weather locales beckon. Take in a tender Tennessee Christmas, a snow-filled Vermont vacation, or spend some time in the Pacific Northwest.
These trips will be just as much fun as the sunny-sky trips, but your RV will require a bit more work for these destinations prior to arrival. Prepping your rig for colder temps is an important process to prevent damage. One of the best things you can invest in for winter camping adventures is a heated RV water hose. A heated RV water hose will give you safe drinking water even when temperatures dip below freezing. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.
Embrace the Winter Weather and Go RVing
Cold weather doesn’t mean you can’t use your RV, it just means you’ll have to be more prepared than you’d usually be. If you love camping and don’t want to stop for the winter, then don’t! Instead, make the proper preparations and get out there and enjoy the RV life.
Depending on how cold your area gets, you may need to winterize the water system and camp without running water for the coldest months.
Make sure you always have full propane tanks when you head out.
Related: Handling Cold Weather in Your RV
Using space heaters can save on propane.
Moisture absorbers such as DampRid will help reduce damaging condensation. Applications for RVs include disposable absorbers (10.5-ounce tub), refillable absorbers (10.5-ounce tub), hi-capacity absorbers (4-pound tub), and hanging absorbers (14-ounce hanging bag).
DampRid’s crystals absorb excess moisture in the air to create and maintain the optimal humidity level in your RV.
Sell Your RV
There may never have been a hotter time to sell an RV, as so many people are still looking to buy. One option is to sell while there is a large market and buy a newer model in the spring.
There are plenty of buyers looking for used RVs.
Before you sell your RV, you can prepare your RV to ensure you get top dollar for the sale.
A bucket of household cleaning supplies and a little elbow grease can transform your RV’s appearance from “worn down” to “like-new” in less than a day’s time. A coach that sparkles and shines both inside and out can have a significant positive impact on its trade-in or resale value.
Ensure all important documents and paperwork is available, including the deed, transferable warranty, mileage and year, service and maintenance records, purchase receipts (tires, wiper blades, batteries, aftermarket items), documented changes that you’ve made to the RV over time, and any other documents you’ve accrued during the ownership of the RV.
Other key documents include your RV owner’s manual; paperwork or instruction booklets associated with appliances, electronics, and aftermarket items; and current registration.
Selling your RV might feel like the end of something, but it is also the beginning of your search for a new RV!
Now that you know your options for dealing with upcoming winter weather, you can begin making spring travel plans!
My parents live in the part of the United States that is Canada. It is so far north that Minnesota lies in the same direction as Miami. They have four distinct seasons: Winter, More Winter, Still More Winter, and That One Day of Summer.
—W. Bruce Cameron