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bill2011 09-12-2011 12:59 PM

Winter travel
We would like (probably next year) to take a late fall trip to southern US and maybe get back home in Eastern Canada near Christmas. Our coach is well insulated and well heated main floor and basement. As we travel back East though we could quite possibly get into snowfall and slippery roads. Who knows when winter will start? We are wondering:

1. Is it safe to travel in these conditions or is it definitely not?
2. Does anyone know of a source that we could use to locate campgrounds that are open in late fall early winter in US but also in Canada?
3. If anybody is doing this sort of thing how do you handle sewer dumping? Are there stations available?
4. Are there other issues should we be aware of?

Just wondering whether this is possible for us to do as that time of year seems to be our best opportunity to get away. All advice/comments appreciated.

Blaster 22 09-12-2011 04:21 PM

-We never travel when the roads are snowy or icy...why take a chance we are not in that big of a hurry.

-TL CG Directory will tell you when CGs are open/closed for the winter.

-With a heated basement, sewer dumping is normal.

-You'll have to figure out a way to have water. Either from the on board tank or an insulated/heated water hose.

bill2011 09-12-2011 04:33 PM

Hi Blaster,

So do you travel in winter but just stay put when road conditions warrant? What does the TL mean? (Campground Directory)
Thanks for advice.


sdennislee 09-12-2011 05:03 PM

TL should mean Trailer Life

42' box on icy roads, not good, once it starts to go where it wants you are probably just along for the ride.

I don't mind snow, but then agin I live in Alaska and have no choice about driving on snow. Just move slower and allow more time for everything.

In extreme cold you will find that in most places freshwater and sewer connects are closed to prevent damage from freezing.

My plumbing bays are heated as you said yours, I don't have any issue with freezing of either tank or piping.

Good Sam's Good Sam RV Club website has an decent listing/search feature for campgrounds. Go to plan a trip then list the area in the box to the left.

Cat320 09-13-2011 07:26 PM

We don't go where it snows in the winter. If it routinely snows, that means it's too far north.

GreaTOne65 09-13-2011 07:43 PM

I hate traveling in cold weather, period. We use to travel to AZ. at Christmas time, did it for nearly 40 yrs. We traveled on every kind of road known to man, icy covered, snow covered, and it's NO fun! Now that we are retired, we leave the 3rd week in Oct. Cold weather is no fun, as well as you think your perpared, cold weather cancels all of it.

This is just my sordid, honery impression, your results may vary, I hope they do! LOL!!

TGMarrs 09-13-2011 09:38 PM


Originally Posted by bill2011 (Post 956153)
1. Is it safe to travel in these conditions or is it definitely not?
2. Does anyone know of a source that we could use to locate campgrounds that are open in late fall early winter in US but also in Canada?
3. If anybody is doing this sort of thing how do you handle sewer dumping? Are there stations available?
4. Are there other issues should we be aware of?

Because of where we live, winter camping and travel is normal for us. Here is my 2 cents from living in the mountains for the last 5 years...

1. Safe? That is up to you and how you drive. Don't be in a hurry, and know when to get off the road for the night. Daytime is usually (not always) safer because even when the temp is below freezing, the sun and traffic can keep the road from getting icy. I have to drive on packed snow alot, even on Interstate 80. It is important to think ahead of time what action you are going to take if you start to slide - if you slide you have lost traction on the axle that is sliding, so you must have already thought about what actions you will take to transfer weight to the axle that is sliding. All the northern states have great websites for winter driving to let you see driving conditions along your route - use them, and if you don't feel comfortable with it wait. Road conditions change quickly here! Plan ahead so if you get stuck by a closed road for 2-6 hours you have enough fuel, food, and propane.

2. Many places that experience harsh winters have year around campgrounds, but water may be limited.

3. All the dump stations in my area are open year around, except the water is turned off late Sept or early October. I have dumped in -5 and had no issues. The black and grey is coming out fast and is not in the hose long enough to freeze or cause problems. I suggest using RV Dump Stations, Sani Stations, Dump Points; a comprehensive Directory to find them - they list when they are open too.

4. Other issues:
If you have a propane furnace, plan on filling up during your trip - You have a new coach so there should not be any drafts and your heating should be fine, but it will go through your propane tank very fast.

The other issue you will have will be fresh water - that will be scarce during your trip in freezing weather as most places turn off the water. We use bottled water for drinking and the on-board fresh water just for flushing and hand washing so it lasts longer.

If you have an ice maker in your fridge, turn it off and drain the hose behind the fridge - that area is vented to the weather and will freeze you hose.

Don't use too much supplement electric heat in your coach, as if the furnace doesn't run enough your holding tanks can freeze - this doesn't apply if you have aquahot since these systems have a separate thermostat in the basement independent of the coach.

Lock your electric step in the up position and don't use it while driving in snow conditions. The frozen road gunk will mess up your adjustments & cause other issues (stuck up, gets stuck down, gets stuck halfway, etc)

If you have a vent over the stove that vents to the outside, stuff some insulation in there or you will have a cold blast flowing into the coach just like an open window.

I hope you have a great trip!

Mr_D 09-13-2011 11:06 PM

I have driven on icy roads several times. Both times I was amazed how well the rig did and how poor the car drivers were!!
One time we got snowed in at a Wal*Mart, we were inside calling the DOT to check on road conditions. Then they announced over the intercom system that I-5 was closed, so we stayed there till morning. When we headed out the next morning there were lots of cars and trucks in the ditch. We didn't have any problems.
Anther time we were headed for Quartzsite, that morning we had a snow/ice storm that closed I-5 through Portland. We waited at home till they announced it was open and headed south. Again, the cars that filled up the safe stopping distance that I tried to leave were the problem. And, again lots of cars in the ditch, a few where the people were just climbing out after the slide! And again, no problems.
I do carry chains, it's required by law here in some of the mountain passes, but I've never even tried them to see if they fit and my MH owners manual says never to use chains. I can see why, there just isn't enough wheel well clearance for them.
I don't like driving in the ice/snow, but it's not impossible!

bill2011 09-14-2011 05:54 AM

Thanks everybody for all the valuable advice. On balance I feel we should be able to travel into December but will need to exercise safe and prudent caution based on conditions at the time.

LA-HODAG 10-04-2011 05:47 PM

Bill, I'm new to this forum but will add a little to this. My prior rig was 40' with tag axel, probably similar characteristics to what you drive. We love skiing and make several trips to the Sierras every year. If we are lucky, these require use of tire chains, which are much easier to mount on your RV than they are on your car due to the ability to lift the body with the jacks or air leveling system. If you will be going to mountainous areas, get some. Get the cable type from a big truck distributor online. They are not very expensive and you will be glad for the peace of mind even if you never put them on. Also, get a bunch of bungee cords to keep them tight across the face of the wheel like the truckers and bus drivers do.

Regarding driving in snow and ice, regardless of chain usage, NEVER use your jake or retarder, as lifting your foot from the throttle can cause your drive axel to suddenly lock up and cause them to skid. As has been noted, you do not want to be going sideways. Same rule applies to rain slick highways. If you have trouble getting started on slick pavement, lift the tag to put all the weight on the drive axel until you get underway.

We had hydronic heating, which heated engine coolant and circulated it through the bus, so the engine stayed warm while we camped. If you don't have that type of system, carry an extra 15 amp cord and plug your engine heater in directly to the campground power source. The engine heater really cuts into your available power if you run it off the coach's system through the 50 amp cord. You probably have a way to plug it in directly.

In really cold weather, significant moisture can build up inside the coach, especially if you use propane heat. I don't have personal experience with propane heat yet as we just got the Revolution, but I have heard that leaving a roof vent open an inch or two helps a lot. We have always done that on our last rig. Wastes some heat, but prevents dripping walls.

If its snows heavily while camped, you will need to sweep off the slide out awnings regularly. If snow is allowed to stay on them, it tends to melt and re-freeze, causing problems when you go to retract. You may need to sweep off the top of the slides as well, so a step ladder and broom are helpful to have.

Fill your water tank when you arrive at the campground and then drain the hose and put it away. I have never seen a hose heater that actually worked well enough to be worthwhile, but maybe there are some. You can surely get by for several days without filling up.

That was a great tip from another poster about the icemaker supply line. My last rig did not have an icemaker so it was not a concern, but I will heed that advice on our new rig.

The arms on our tow bar sometimes freeze up when we are camped. I have had to warm them up with a hair dryer in order to re-connect the car.

I got the winter driving tips from a bus driver trainer on another site and feel they are very important to pass on. The rest we just picked up over a few years. I hope you have a safe and fun trip.

LA-HODAG 10-04-2011 06:09 PM

p.s.: Chains go on the outside dual only. You only need two. Don't put 'em on the tag!

johnsonjm209 10-05-2011 06:59 PM

Travelling in Winter
When we travel from Ct. To Fl. in February we do a few things.

Unless the temp is 35 or higher I don't fill up my fresh water tanks. I use gallon bottles of water. I am usually in warm weather by at least the second day. I'm not going to do a lot of manual labor and get all dirty.

Prior to leaving, I download the DOT sites of every other state and I am able to view the current road conditions on each of the roads I am going to travel on.
I postponed our trip south a couple of years ago based on those sites, and left the next day on great, clear roads. I use my in house furnace when I am travelling if it is too cold. We like to be comfortable.

When I get below Virginia, I find a nice campground and stay for the night. I dump, and fill up my clean water tank. We are then good for the next 2 or 3 days to shower, shave and whatever. We still use bottled water until I am settled and hook up my filters.

Murphye4 10-05-2011 09:23 PM

Hi- I bought an electric nofreezewaterhose this Jan and it's been a life saver. I did a lot or research and there is nothing of this quality out there. Fairly pricy but my husband and I were finally fed up after our 4th year of winter travel. Only problem is that some sites don't protect the spigot from freezing so you may have to improvise and use heat tape or some other contraption. Good luck and happy travels this winter!

Mr_D 10-05-2011 10:01 PM


Originally Posted by TGMarrs (Post 957443)
If you have an ice maker in your fridge, turn it off and drain the hose behind the fridge - that area is vented to the weather and will freeze you hose.

Uhh.. The Dometic's I've had experience with have a heating wire alongside the hose and will not freeze as long as it's working and you have electricity to power it. I did make the mistake of turning the refer off and not draining the line once, had the line replaced and that's when the tech told me not to turn the unit off in winter unless I drained the line.

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