How to make the most of your caravan this winter

How to make the most of your caravan this winter
For some hardcore caravanners there’s no such thing as an off-season. With all the comforts of home on four (or more) wheels, why wouldn’t you enjoy a self-driving holiday in the middle of January?

And then there are caravan fans who prefer to hit the open road with the sun in the sky and a warmer weather forecast to look forward to. 

Here, with the help of The Camping and Caravanning Club, we share our tips on maximising your mobile home fun, no matter what your preference. 

Tips for using your caravan this winter

1. Check your lights and windscreen

winter-caravan-lights-windscreen

Visibility is key to safe driving, especially during winter months when sleet, snow and fog can seriously impair your view of the road. That’s why it’s crucial to check all your lights, including fog lights, and to replace any faulty bulbs. If you’re going on a longer trip, you might want to pack a few spares too. 

Make sure you top up your screen wash to clean any unwanted specks and stains from your windscreen and pay special attention to the suggested concentration levels to prevent the fluid from freezing. 

It’s also worth turning on the air conditioning, even in the height of winter. This will dehumidify your windscreen a lot quicker than using just the fan blower and only needs to be on for a short amount of time to work effectively. Turning the AC on regularly will also ensure that the system works well during warmer months.

Chipped glass can be a greater hazard than usual at this time of year as it may increase glare in low winter sun. Even if the damaged area is small, it’s best to deal with chipped windscreens as soon as possible.

2. Inflate your tyres

Make sure you check your tyres and inflate them to their recommended pressure. Tyres lose air quicker in low temperatures and a drop in pressure occurs more often in caravans or vehicles that are used less regularly. Deformed tyres can affect your steering and fuel consumption as your caravan experiences more resistance on the road. 

Low temperatures can play havoc with other parts of your caravan too. You should insulate external water tanks and their pipes, either with specially designed jackets or by wrapping a blanket around them. Simply lifting tanks off the floor with polystyrene or a plank of wood will also help. Anti-freeze in your waste tank can also prevent any nasty frozen surprises.

You might want to consider fitting winter tyres too. The safer tyres work best in temperatures below 7°C.

3. Invest in a spare battery

Batteries work overtime in colder temperatures, and you might want to consider fitting a new one before you hit the road. You’ll need extra lighting and heating to enjoy life on the move, both of which will put your electrics under increased pressure. Many motorhomes use two or more batteries, so packing a spare power supply (or two) isn’t a terrible idea.

Talking of batteries, it might be worth investing in a wind-up torch. Rather than relying on disposables, the human-powered devices could prove very handy when setting up or packing up your pitch in low light. You can even add reflective tape to steps and trip hazards that could catch you out.

4. Keep an eye on the weather forecast

winter-caravan-weather

Even the hardiest caravan owners have to take their keys out of the ignition once in a while. Met Office warnings can help you to assess if driving conditions are unsafe, while local travel updates and road signs should tell you if certain routes are closed to high-sided vehicles.

Remember, when you’re on the road you should drive cautiously. Longer stopping distances and slower speeds are all part of the driving experience in adverse weather conditions. If you need more advice for driving in winter, see our guide on driving safely in snow.

5. Pack an emergency breakdown kit

Specialist caravan breakdown cover is a must but there are a few more precautions you can take. You should always carry a mobile phone with a portable charging pack and take warm clothes and blankets too. Boots, a shovel and tow rope could help to get you out of a tough spot and it’s always worth bringing some food and hot drink in a flask.

Iain Geddes, Senior Technical Adviser at The Camping and Caravanning Club, explains it best: “Winter camping can be a wonderful experience but if campers are concerned about hitting the roads in winter conditions, then specialist breakdown provision for caravan and motorhome owners with Arrival Breakdown Cover from the RAC is a great way to get peace of mind.”

For more ideas on what to pack for your journey, including first aid kits and hi-vis jackets, see our guide on what to pack in an emergency breakdown kit.

Arrival Breakdown Cover

Get specialist personal based cover for caravans, motorhomes and campervans from just £11 per month.^

Arrival Breakdown Cover
Arrival Breakdown Cover

Winter caravan storage tips

winter-caravan-storage

You’ll need to store your mobile home somewhere safe after your winter tour, or if you’d prefer to take your caravan on the road in warmer conditions.

Make sure you check the five areas below to keep your pride and joy in tip-top condition.

1. Storage and security

When it comes to storage most caravan owners have two choices – leave your vehicle on your property (either outdoors or in a garage) or keep it in a remote storage compound. For help finding a site near you, you can apply for a storage pitch through The Camping and Caravanning Club. 

Wherever you leave your caravan, you should make sure it’s secure. Check if there are CCTV systems or high fences to deter would-be thieves and vandals and fit wheel clamps and hitchlocks too. Remember, if you’re going to park your caravan outside, try to avoid leaving it under a tree; leaves, branches and bird droppings could cause damage over time.

2. Exterior

If you’re serious about keeping your caravan in the best possible condition, you should protect it with a coat of wax and a protective cover. Before you do, it’s important to clean your vehicle, ideally without a pressure washer. Ensure you remove any signs of green or black mould and resist the urge to stand on the roof as you scrub your caravan clean.

You should consider turning your wheels every six to eight weeks to reduce the chances of damage. Keep the rubber out of direct sunlight too. Apply grease to any moving mechanical parts, like corner steadies’ rotating screws and the spare wheel carrier, and wipe petroleum jelly or WD-40 (after checking it will not affect the plastic) over the electrical contacts on your car-to-caravan connector.

3. Interior

winter-caravan-interior

It’s time to get the vacuum cleaner out. Remove any crumbs from your interior to reduce the risk of mould developing and pay special attention to the kitchen. Wipe surfaces down with anti-bacterial sprays and use WD-40 on hinges to protect against rust.

Once you’re happy that everything’s clean, your next priority is keeping the caravan well ventilated. Keep your fridge door ajar – there may be a special catch for this purpose – and stand cushions in an upright position to improve circulation. You might want to cover upholstery with breathable materials, like old cotton sheets, to keep dust off too.

4. Water systems

The best way to protect your water system from damage is to drain it thoroughly. Open all taps, drain valves and remove any drainage plugs, including the external plug for older water heaters. You should remove any filters and keep them somewhere safe to reuse on your next trip. Finally, don’t forget your toilet system. Emptying and cleaning your waste tank before storing will be a lot less painful than doing it in the spring.

5. Electricity and gas

Ideally, store your caravan somewhere with access to an electricity supply. This will let you power up systems from time to time and keep the battery charged. If this isn’t possible, try disconnecting the battery to charge at home periodically. Remember, if you disconnect a battery it will discharge over time and eventually lose storage capacity.

Before you make any decisions about what to do with gas cylinders you should check the rules at your storage site. Some venues will not allow you to store cylinders with your unit and you may have to keep them in the open air (not in a shed or garage) and in a secure place. The cylinders should be kept away from heat ignitable materials and two metres away from open drains and openings into cellars or buildings. 

RAC Caravan, Motorhome and Campervan Breakdown Cover gives you peace of mind should you break down whilst touring, no matter the time of year. It includes everything that you’d expect from the RAC together with specialist benefits designed for caravans, motorhomes and campervans.

Arrival Breakdown Cover

Get specialist personal based cover for caravans, motorhomes and campervans from just £11 per month.^

Arrival Breakdown Cover
Arrival Breakdown Cover

^£11 a month for existing Camping and Caravanning Club members purchasing new personal based Caravan Standard cover only on a monthly renewing contract. Vehicle based cover from £10 a month. New member personal based prices from £16 a month.

^£11 a month for existing Camping and Caravanning Club members purchasing new personal based Caravan Standard cover only on a monthly renewing contract. Vehicle based cover from £10 a month. New member personal based prices from £16 a month.

^£11 a month for existing Camping and Caravanning Club members purchasing new personal based Caravan Standard cover only on a monthly renewing contract. Vehicle based cover from £10 a month. New member personal based prices from £16 a month.