Winter may not seem like the most obvious time for a road trip, but it has much to recommend it. Unlike the summer months, roads and attractions are likely to be emptier meaning you can spend more time at your destinations and less time in traffic jams and queues. If you do not own your own camper van, you will be pleased to know that camper van hire is significantly cheaper in this off-peak season, perhaps allowing you to take a longer trip or treat yourself to a more luxurious camper van. So, pack up your winter gear, hire a camper and take to the road!
The key to a successful winter road trip in a campervan is good preparation. Be aware of the following challenges the season can throw at you and plan accordingly.
The most obvious difference to a summer trip is the weather. In the winter you need to be prepared for a wide variety of conditions – snow, rain, wind, sleet and fog as well as the crisp, clear conditions you are probably hoping for. When packing, make sure you pack your winter clothing including a waterproof coat, gloves, scarf and hat. A number of thin layers are usually more effective than one thick layer and allow you to easily adjust your clothing when you relax over a pub lunch by a roaring fire. Thick socks are a must, as is waterproof footwear, including boots if you are intending on taking snowy walks.
You will also need to plan for keeping warm at night. Wool blankets and the right sleeping bag will make all the difference to a good night’s sleep. Hot water bottles and hand warmers too will be valuable additions to your kit list. Plan your meals around the winter weather, with soups and hot chocolates being wonderfully comforting as well as tasty on a winter’s day.
Winter can make driving hazardous, so check weather forecasts carefully before setting off. If your itinerary or travel time can be flexible, you may be able to avoid travelling in poor weather. While most roads will be open and moving quickly in all but the most extreme conditions, you will need to be particularly careful if you are heading away from the main roads. Days among snow-capped mountains will be magical, but these roads can be particularly hazardous and you may need to use snow chains on your vehicle.
Heat and water
If the temperature is likely to drop below zero, you will need to take precautions to make sure your water supply does not freeze up. Keeping the water tank almost empty and having drinking water inside your van is a good idea, as is draining wastewater continuously into a bucket rather than storing it for later disposal will help prevent cracked pipes.
Opting for camper van hire with an electric hook up and making sure the sites you choose have the option to connect it, will allow you to use electric heating. Other choices can include propane and gas heaters or even wood burners.
When planning your route do not forget how much earlier it gets dark in the winter. If your site is in a remote area, you may wish to time your journey so you arrive in daylight. Crisp winter’s nights can result in spectacularly starry skies, particularly when you are away from the bright lights of the towns and cities. For budding astronomers, these cold, dark nights are likely to be one of the highlights of the trip.
Not all campsites are open the entire year, so check the opening times of your site in advance to avoid disappointment. The good news is that the sites which are open will be less crowded, so you will likely not need to book far in advance, allowing your winter road trip greater flexibility. Attractions too often have specific winter opening times, so check these if you are planning your trip around a specific attraction. Winter also has countless attractions of its own, from festive events and Christmas markets to winter sports, all of which can be easily enjoyed on your winter campervan road trip.