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Matt Johnson

Winter RV Safety: How to Stay Secure on the Road

MattGlamperGear
Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Nov 27, 2023Updated: Dec 12, 2023

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – winter does not mean you have to stop camping. In fact, it’s an amazing time to camp. But the winter weather does pose some challenges. Having lived in Colorado and camped during the winter in our RV, we faced all sorts of conditions.

With that, we’re covering various aspects of RV safety for winter camping so you and your family can have an enjoyable experience on the road in the colder months.

The importance of winter RV safety.

Limited Visibility on the Roadway in a Winter Storm
This picture shows how difficult it can be to see vehicles in front of you during a winter storm.

Winter RVing can be a thrilling adventure, but it’s essential to prioritize safety to ensure a secure and enjoyable journey.

Here are a few reasons why winter RV safety matters—

  • Protecting yourself and your loved ones. Cold weather can pose health risks, so dress in layers, carry emergency blankets, and have a well-stocked first aid kit onboard to stay safe from frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Safeguarding your vehicle. Winter can be tough on RVs, so inspect and prepare your vehicle before hitting the road. Check tires’ tread and pressure, brakes, heating system, and insulation to prevent breakdowns and unexpected repairs.
  • Being prepared for weather-related hazards. Snowstorms, black ice, and reduced visibility are common during winter travel. Stay updated on weather forecasts and road conditions, plan your route accordingly, and consider driving during daylight hours for better visibility.
  • Minimize potential safety concerns. By recognizing the importance of winter RV safety, you can minimize risks and embrace the beauty of winter RVing. Stay safe, stay warm, and enjoy the wonders of the season.

Remember, putting safety first is key to ensuring a smooth and secure winter RV trip. By following these guidelines and staying prepared, you can have an unforgettable winter adventure while keeping potential risks at bay.

Essential winter driving tips for RVers.

When it comes to winter RV travel, one of the most important aspects of staying safe is knowing how to navigate snowy and icy roads.

Road conditions can quickly change, presenting challenges that require extra caution and preparation.

Here are some essential winter driving tips for RVers to help you reach your destination safely—

  • Slow and steady wins the race. Reduce your speed and maintain a safe following distance. Slower speeds give you more time to react to potential hazards and help prevent skidding on icy patches. We recommend staying around 10mph below the posted limit.
  • Be mindful of braking. Allow for longer braking distances when driving on snow or ice. Start slowing down earlier than usual and apply gentle pressure to your brakes to avoid locking up the wheels. If your RV is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), let the system do its job by applying steady pressure. Depending on your speed, we recommend at least a 8 second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use chains or snow tires. Consider using snow chains or winter tires for improved traction on slippery roads. These can provide the extra grip needed to navigate through snowy and icy conditions. Many highways in areas of increased snowfall have pullover spots for you to pull over and put your chains on.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Stay informed about weather conditions along your route so you can be prepared. Watch for winter weather advisories and adjust your travel plans accordingly. If conditions become too hazardous, it’s better to postpone your journey or find a safe place to wait it out.

By following these winter driving tips, including reducing your speed, practicing gentle braking, considering snow chains or winter tires, and staying informed about weather conditions, you can confidently navigate snowy and icy roads.

Preparing your RV for winter travel.

As we dive into the heart of winter, it’s crucial to ensure that your RV is ready for the chilly season. It’s not just about packing warm clothes and hot cocoa; preparing your RV mechanically and maintaining it well can make a world of difference in your winter travel experience.

We’ve put together this comprehensive checklist based on our experience with RVing in the colder months.

Area to CheckDescription
Check tire pressureCold temperatures can cause tire pressure to drop
Inspect and replace wiper bladesEnsure clear visibility during winter weather conditions
Test and replace batteriesCold weather can drain batteries quickly
Check and change engine oilCold weather requires oil with proper viscosity
Inspect and clean furnaceEnsure efficient heating during winter camping
Check plumbing insulationProtect the RV’s plumbing system from freezing
Inspect and seal windows and doorsPrevent drafts and heat loss inside the RV
Clean and treat RV roofRemove debris and apply sealant to prevent leaks
Check and replace propane tanksEnsure an adequate supply for heating and cooking
Store emergency suppliesBe prepared for any unforeseen circumstances

Remember, taking the time to prepare your RV for winter travel can save a lot of headaches down the road.

While winter landscapes can be stunning, they can also present challenges that require extra caution.

Here’s a closer look at some common weather-related risks and how to avoid them.

Snowstorms.

Snowstorms can quickly reduce visibility and create treacherous driving conditions.

Before hitting the road, stay updated on weather forecasts and plan your travel accordingly. If a snowstorm is in the forecast, consider delaying your trip or finding a safe place to wait it out.

If you must drive in a snowstorm, travel at a slower speed and increase your following distance as we mentioned in the tips above.

Ensure that your RV is equipped with proper snow tires or chains for improved traction.

Black ice.

Black Ice on a Roadway
This photo shows just how difficult it is to identify black ice on the road.

Black ice is a thin, transparent layer of ice that forms on road surfaces and is difficult to spot.

It can be extremely dangerous as it reduces the friction between your RV’s tires and the road.

The only way to avoid black ice is by staying informed about road conditions. Listen to local authorities’ advice and pay attention to any warnings or advisories. Drive slowly and avoid sudden braking or acceleration, as these actions can cause your vehicle to slide.

If you notice your RV sliding on black ice, remain calm and allow the vehicle to come to a stop naturally. Black ice is extremely hard to see before it’s too late.

Reduced visibility.

Winter conditions, such as heavy snowfall or blowing snow, can significantly reduce visibility on the road.

When faced with reduced visibility, use your headlights and fog lights to improve visibility for yourself and other drivers. Avoid using your brights as they can washout your visibility more.

Reduce your speed and be extra cautious when changing lanes or passing other vehicles. If visibility becomes too poor, it’s best to just pull over and wait it out.

Staying warm and cozy: Tips for insulating your RV and efficient heating.

Insulating your RV and having an efficient heating system can make all the difference in ensuring your comfort and enjoyment.

Here are some tips to help you stay warm and cozy during your winter adventures.

Insulate your RV.

First and foremost, insulate your RV to prevent heat loss and keep the cold air out.

You can use insulation materials like foam boards or fiberglass insulation to cover any gaps or areas where drafts may be entering.

Pay special attention to windows, doors, and any openings in the walls or floors.

Adding thick curtains or thermal blinds can also help to keep the warmth inside and the cold outside.

Heat your RV.

Next, make sure your heating system is working efficiently. Regularly inspect and maintain your furnace or heating unit to ensure it’s in good working condition.

Clean or replace furnace air filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

Consider using electric heaters or space heaters as a supplemental heating source, especially in areas where the main heating system may not reach effectively.

However, always prioritize safety and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using any portable heating devices.

You’re ready for some high-adventure winter camping!

That’s it! If you follow our tips and recommendations, you’ll be well on your way to having a great time in a winter wonderland.

If anything, just always be prepared and take your time on the road. Treat everything as it’s a hazard and approach it with caution.

We want you to have a blast this winter, so get to your destination safely.

MattGlamperGear

Matt Johnson


Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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