Winter doesn’t have to spell the end of your campervanning travels – but if you’re going to get out among the elements, you need to be prepared.
There’s lots to be said for touring out of season such as fewer vehicles on the road, more space on campervan sites and cheaper rates.
The weather is always bad during the winter either – we’re often blessed with spells of dry, crisp weather in the UK.
But you do need to plan a bit differently when it’s cold, as low temperatures bring other complications for campervan owners.
We’ll address how you overcome some of those heat-related challenges in this article and generally just offer up some tips on how to prepare your campervan so that you’re not caught out by the drop in mercury.
What checks should you make on your vehicle before you set off?
Winter weather is pretty taxing on vehicle, so it’s important that you carry out some checks on your campervan to ensure that it’s ready for the road ahead.
The last thing you want is to breakdown or be involved in an accident in the bad weather.
Here are the things to check on your vehicle before you set off:
If you’ve done quite a few miles in the spring and summer, your van’s tyres will have worn through a fair bit of rubber. So, make sure they’re within the legal limits.
The legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre, according to law.
The tread must meet this minimum requirement across its complete circumference.
However, most safety experts recommend a minimum tread depth of 3mm for tyre replacement.
Worn tyres are particularly dangerous in the wet because a tyre’s tread helps disperse water away from the contact patch between tyre and road.
Look out for nails, cuts, or odd bulges in your tyres. To check the tread depth, use the RAC’s 20p test.
You should check the oil levels every couple of weeks, and definitely before a long journey.
However, it’s easy to forget to check – so make it a priority ahead of your winter travels.
If you think you’re needing to top up too frequently, you might want to consider popping along to your local garage to get their thoughts.
Make sure the coolant is in between the minimum and maximum levels, topping it up where necessary.
Safety warning: you should check the coolant when the engine is cold!
Wipers and screen wash
Your wipers are going to get more use in the winter than the rest of the year, and the last thing you need is a smeary windscreen as you’re trying to safely navigate the icy roads.
So, if they’re juddering or causing smears, have them changed.
While you’re at it, top up your screen wash, and consider taking a spare bottle of fluid with you in case you run out mid-journey.
To stop ice formation in your window-washer unit tank, hoses and nozzles, add a good quality window wash antifreeze concentrate and increase the concentration in especially cold weather.
It goes without saying that your lights are hugely important in the winter when visibility isn’t always perfect.
Many vans will alert you on the dashboard if you have a bulb out somewhere.
However, it’s a good idea to physically check your van over to make sure all the lights are in working order.
Check for any bulbs that might have blown or any cracked or dirty lenses. And don’t forget the fog lights, too!
What should you bring with you on your winter travels?
Once you’ve done all your vehicle checks and rectified any maintenance issues, your attention should turn to ensuring you have everything you need to keep you comfortable and safe on your winter travels.
Here are the things you should consider bringing with you, so that you don’t suffer for the weather:
If your campervan doesn’t have built-in heating, you seriously need to think about investing in a heater.
There are a few options you can take when it comes to manufacturing a bit of heat with a heater.
A fan heater is your best bet if you need a quick burst of heat during the night – but they can be noisy while in operation, so aren’t ideal if you need the van to be as quiet as possible in order to sleep soundly.
Instead, a small oil-filled heater can be used to tick over silently during the night, keeping the van at the temperature you want.
You can pick one up for as cheap as £30. It might just be the best £30 you’ve ever spent.
Find yourself a sleeping bag that is made specifically for use in winter when temperatures drop below freezing.
‘Mummy’ sleeping bags are particularly effective at keeping you warm.
Tapered at the bottom to help keep warm air inside and close to your body, you’ll be cosy all night long.
Pack clothes that can be worn in layers to keep you warm, and that are easy to get dry.
You don’t always need to bundle up in heavy coats or jumpers, a couple of warm layers beneath a good waterproof and windproof jacket will work wonders!
Extreme weather kit
If the weather gets particularly Baltic and starts to snow, you want to ensure that you’re not going to be left stranded.
So pack an extreme weather kit consisting of windscreen de-icer spray, high visibility vest, hand warmers, LED torch and a snow shovel.
You can go overboard on preparing for the winter – after all, by and large, the UK doesn’t experience too much extreme weather.
As long as you’re warm and safe for the duration of your trip, you’re golden.
Protect yourself with campervan insurance
Once you’ve winter-proofed your van, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the puzzle: campervan insurance.
Getting the right kind of coverage means you can get on with all your travel adventures knowing you're protected in the case of the unexpected.
We can provide a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance that could provide the following possible benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your Campervan whilst you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Discounts if you’re a member of a club
- Panel of leading Campervan insurers
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Value up to £150,000
Get a quote from Motorhome Protect today so you can hit the road whatever what the weather.