As we begin a new year, Allie and I have been talking about our future RV and travel plans. We have been discussing bringing the RV back out on the road again. After two years of having a home-base in Oregon, we find ourselves missing the anticipation and excitement that comes with exploring new places, and bringing our home along with us to do that. We have learned a lot about living in our home on wheels during our time being stationary, including how to better care for our RV, how to live and work full-time together in our small space, and about how to live in different climates and seasons in our RV.
Being born in New England, we have never been afraid of winter. There is a certain magic that comes along with freshly fallen snow, or tourist hot spots and popular trails that we get all to ourselves. We take winter at a slower pace, cooking lots of soups and baking bread from scratch. We catch up on shows and movies, and of course spend lots of our time crocheting for our small business.
We do enjoy the solitude and serenity that winter brings with it, but when we began RV life, we quickly flocked to Florida to spend our colder months, along with many other full-time families. We have loved chasing the sun and getting more time and access to the outdoors by staying in temperate climates. In our second year of full-time RV life, we drove ourselves out to the desert and soaked up the warm weather and dry climate throughout the winter months. It was thrilling to be able to sit in the 70-degree sunshine in Tucson in February or swim in the natural Florida springs alongside manatees in December. Deep down though, I think a part of us missed winter. For our third year of traveling, we decided to stay in Colorado through much of the winter, both to explore and to access more of the season for our small business.
Winter RVing in Colorado
Colorado winters are both beautiful and brutal. We traveled throughout the state and noticed a few things we hadn’t considered when planning our winter wonderland adventure.
- Elevation: We didn’t consider how much of an impact elevation change can make in both temperature and snowfall. In Denver, we rarely faced snowstorms, and the sunshine quickly melted any fallen snow, but up in the mountains we could go to sleep seeing the earth, and wake up to two feet of fresh powder outside of our door!
- Equipment: One one freezing cold night, we learned all about freezing hoses, pipes and spigots! We immediately ordered ourselves a heated hose, a spigot cover, and some insulation for our slideout areas.
- Heat: Our propane heater has struggled to work consistently since we purchased our RV and so we ordered ourselves two small space heaters to help supplement the propane furnace throughout the colder months. We didn’t anticipate how much colder the middle of our RV would get because there are no storage bays underneath that area, and because it is where most of our square footage is.
Colorado taught us how to make the most of winter in our rolling home. Once we settled into the flow of how to live day-to-day in our RV in the freezing temps, we got out and explored the beautiful state. From natural hot springs to endless mountain drives, Colorado winters are worth braving the cold weather to see some of the most stunning scenery our country has.
Our fourth year of traveling meant leaving the RV behind and trekking across the country with our suitcases, two puppies and our truck. We started our winter road trip in Vegas, made our way through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas before heading northeast to New England for family time. This trip taught us that we don’t like leaving our home on wheels for extended trips. We missed the comfort and ease of having our routines and our own space no matter where we are traveling.
This fifth year has been our wildest yet! Winter has been a particularly challenging season for us here in Oregon. Living on a mountain means weather can quickly change and can be more extreme than in popular PNW places such as Seattle or Portland. The PNW is also wetter than we were used to, and that has come with its own challenges.
Here are our top tips for wintering in the PNW:
- Get a Dehumidifier: This will save you so much work and energy trying to keep your RV dry in the wet PNW climate. We have two small dehumidifiers and have a daily routine of opening our bathroom vent fan after showers! As many RVers know, moisture is an RV’s biggest enemy, so keeping your RV dry becomes a priority in the rainy season.
- Insulate or Skirt Your RV: Skirting can be expensive, but consider it an option if you plan to be spending your winters in colder climates. You can fit skirting yourself, or hire an RV company to install it for you, but it is well worth the peace of mind as the temperatures drop. Your RV undercarriage will thank you in the long run!
- Be Creative: This is our biggest tip for getting through winter in your RV.
- On freezing nights, we leave our faucet dripping so that there is constant moving water (which is less likely to freeze).
- We put our tank heaters on so we don’t end up with frozen black or gray water waste.
- We have a small space heater facing our doorway area because we noticed that is where we feel the most cold air come in.
- We use reflexix in our windows and have covers for our vent fans that keep cold air from creeping in. All of these
- On wet days, we pull our mattress off the platform a bit to stop condensation from dripping from our windows onto the bed.
With all of our new information and knowledge about our RV, we feel that we could travel in almost any climate and season. When we sit down to think about places we still want to visit, we don’t have to worry about the weather, but instead, we get to focus on the fun and excitement of planning what life on the road will look like for us in the future!