Cold weather RV travel — driving safety for traveling in snowy conditions.

As the winter season approaches, many snowbirds hit the gas heading south. This migration starts as early as October and runs to as late as January. Some spend the Christmas season with their northern dweller family members. For many of these travelers, an already-cold climate follows them of their journey southward.

Cold weather tips

Here are some tips for the snowbird’s cold journey south:

  • Check and top up tire pressures. Over time and with the colder ambient temperatures, the pressures lower significantly.
  • Test run the furnace or other heating appliance prior to departing. Don’t forget also to test the generator if so equipped.
  • Motorhome owners with a basement should get an inexpensive remote thermometer and place the sensor in the basement near the water bay. This can help to monitor the basement temperature.
  • Take bottled water for drinking and personal use. Take RV anti-freeze to flush the toilet until you can fill the water tank.
  • Plan and depart around the best weather window. This may require leaving earlier or later than you really desired.
  • Pack enough food and like supplies to allow ample for possible delays en route due to weather or unforeseen events.
  • If running in wet conditions with a hard freeze predicted for that night, do not apply your park brake. Use wheel chocks to back up the parking brake, such as with a diesel pusher. Mechanical brake systems can freeze overnight.
  • If you have slide outs, do not extend them during an overnight stop when the forecast calls for snow. Accumulation, especially wet snow, can freeze hard and be difficult to clear in the morning. This can result in the inability to retract the slide(s).

Temperature Savvy

Don’t forget to adjust this with any mountain or high ground traveling if applicable. For every 1,000 feet of elevation a decrease in the temperature of about 3.5-degrees is to be expected. This temperature change as you change elevation is called the lapse rate.  The 3.5 F. is the average lapse rate per 1,000 feet, however steeper or shallower lapse rates can occur. Just be temperature savvy!

With a little planning, a flexible time schedule, and common sense, you will arrive in the southern warmth of your winter paradise in due course.

Peter Mercer — Escaping the Winter’s Grasp

Leave a Reply


  1. Anonymous

    Thanks, we learned most of this the hard way. 🙂

  2. Peter Mercer

    Peter Mercer

    Well, “The hard way” can be a tough road but, a good reminder of what not to do. Thank you for your very fitting comment.

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for the tips. Will take all of them into consideration when I leave in late Jan. from Ma.

  4. Peter Mercer

    Peter Mercer

    You are most welcome! Thank you for your comments and have safe travels.

  5. Anonymous

    Great suggestions Peter. Don’t forget the snow and ice scraper for the windshield if you may have freezing precipitation or snow overnight.

  6. Peter, great suggestions. Don’t forget the snow and ice scraper for the overnight precipitation that you have to clean from the windshield in the morning.

  7. Anonymous

    Don’t forget the snow and ice scraper

  8. Anonymous

    Don’t forget the long handled snow scraper and perhaps a snow shovel!

  9. Anonymous

    Don’t forget the long handled windshield scraper!

  10. Peter Mercer

    Peter Mercer

    Great point! Ice scraper/snow bush is a must. Thank you very much for your fitting input and reminding us that such a simple item is indeed a must.

  11. Thanks a lot for sharing. Your post is very helpful to me in my upcoming travel.

  12. Peter Mercer

    Peter Mercer

    Glad you found the post of interest. Thank you for your input.