Winter is approaching, and the traditional peak time for a caravan trip is now long behind us. There’s a good reason that many of us retire our caravans at this time of year – and that’s that the prevailing weather conditions aren’t often conducive to happy caravanning. While we can’t change the weather, there’s no reason that, with a little ingenuity and graft, we can’t minimise the effects that said weather might have on our trip.
We’ve extra incentive to do this, as many caravan sites, seeking to encourage business during the off-season, will offer special discounts to those willing to brave the elements. What’s more, we should consider that keeping your vehicle active and inhabited will help to fend off the damp that can set in if it’s left to sit on your drive for the entire winter.
Fortunately, this is one area where we’ve quite a considerable body of expertise to draw upon. Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we might get the best from a caravan trip during this time of year.
Wind is a considerable problem when you’re towing your caravan along an exposed motorway or A-road, as a sufficiently strong gust can easily yank your caravan from side to side, or even flip it over. Strong winds are a problem once you’ve gotten your caravan into position, too.
Before you set out on your trip, be sure to check the weather forecast for signs of high wind. If it looks like it’s going to be windy, then see if you delay the trip. One of the conveniences of a caravan holiday is that it can proceed at your leisure, and so you should use this convenience to avoid driving in unfavourable conditions.
Strong wind won’t just do damage to the caravan itself; they’ll also pose a considerable threat to any awning you might be using. Awning, like any tent, will act as a sail in sufficiently windy conditions, and can easily be yanked up and tossed aside. If there’s a risk of this, then try to pack your awning away before such winds arrive.
The freezing weather we most readily associate with winter is relatively scarce on the British Isles. This is a mercy, since towing a caravan on a snowy road is very difficult, stressful and dangerous – and so is difficult to recommend. If you’re already out in your caravan when the snow arrives, however, you might have no choice but to take your caravan back via snow.
If you’re familiar with driving on a snowy road, then you might be aware of some of the rules: drive slowly and steadily, avoid sudden braking and acceleration, and make your movements as gradual as possible. These rules apply all the more if you’re towing a caravan, as you’ll need to contend with an enormous weight pulling your vehicle back down hills – or pushing them!
Try to plan your route well in advance if you’re going to be towing a caravan in snowy conditions. Stick to main roads and motorways wherever possible, as these roads will be the most likely to benefit from grit. Where possible, choose the flattest, least undulating route, as this will minimise the likelihood of a loss of control.
If you’re lucky enough to own an all-range vehicle, then you’ll naturally be in a better position to navigate snowy conditions than your fellow road users. But this needn’t suggest that you can afford to drive any less carefully – in fact, many 4x4s are actually less safe than smaller cars, as their drivers are more likely to take unnecessary risks.
In the United Kingdom, we’re used to dealing with heavy rain. But last winter was incredibly mild, and witnessed deluges of an almost unprecedented scale. It’s only sensible, then, to prepare for similar weather this winter.
Where possible, one should avoid flood plains when planning camping trips, and be sure to check the weekly weather forecast before setting out. In the same way that snow and ice will effect braking and cornering speeds, so too will a coat of rain – so be sure that you drive accordingly. By the same token, a sufficiently violent deluge will reduce your visibility – so you’ll want to ensure that you can see the vehicle in front of you while driving. If the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse during your trip, then don’t be afraid to pull into a suitable rest station and wait out the storm.
Before you set off, you’ll want to ensure that your caravan’s battery is fully charged – and if you intend to make a long stay, then be sure to pack a spare battery. During winter holidays, you’re likely to be spending more time in your caravan than you might on a summer break. Moreover, since the daylight hours will be shorter, you’ll make more use of lighting throughout your stay. Prepare, and you’ll be able to avoid running out of power midway through your stay.
When you’re caravanning during wet weather, you’ll want to pack the clothes that’ll allow you to cope. Pack a waterproof coat or two, along with some suitable warm jackets, gloves and socks. Be sure also to be suitable footwear – a pair of Wellington boots will allow you to navigate even the most waterlogged campsite with ease. You’ll also want to ensure that you’ve packed suitable bedding, in order to avoid excess cold during the night-time.
During especially cold weather, there’s a danger that your waste water might freeze solid. This will make disposing of it incredibly difficult, if not impossible. There are two ways in which we might deal with this problem. One is to spend ages heating up our waste water – which is not how anyone wants to spend a holiday. Another is to add some salt to the waste-water container, and thereby ensure that its contents remain conveniently liquid.rain