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Motor Home Winter Driving Tips

Motor Home Winter Driving TipsMotor Home Winter Driving TipsWinter has a certain magic about it for sure and we love getting out and about exploring frosty forests, foraging for frozen berries and driving between stunning snow capped hills. There are many camp sites open all year round all over the UK so clearly we're not the only ones who like to go touring at this time of year!


Of course winter brings with it a great many dangers and problems, when the really bad weather hits we would much rather wait it out somewhere safe but there are times we just can't avoid travelling and inevitably find ourselves visiting family throughout the Christmas and New Year period.


The great thing about campers is that you are already far better equipped than the average car driver but there's still a lot to think about! See below for our top tips to keep you and your family safe whilst travelling in your Motor Home or car this winter:


1. Be prepared. The scouts certainly know a thing or two about safety and survival so their motto is definitely worth keeping in mind. Every vehicle should have a winter survival kit on board tailored to the vehicle itself and ideally also to the area(s) you will be travelling in. Despite the UK's small size it's still very easy to wind up stuck or broken down somewhere with no telephone signal to contact recovery or emergency services, so you may very well need to make do by yourself until you can get some help. Make sure your on-board kit includes some spare warm clothes (socks always seem to end up soggy despite waterproof footwear!), food, water, tools and rope, 

Buy AA Emergency Snow Shovel on Amazon now!Buy AA Emergency Snow Shovel on Amazon now!

and some form of high visibility clothing or a warning triangle. EVAQ8 stock a fantastic range of winter survival kits, they are the company we have purchased our vehicle fire extinguishers, snow shovel and also the reflective foil blankets that line Waki's walls as part of the extra insulation!

A shovel is an extremely useful tool to have with you in winter and come in a variety of sizes and styles. For moving large amounts of snow from your driveway the full sized deep plastic snow shovels are much better, but stowing a small folding metal shovel in your survival bag can be invaluable for forging a pathway back to traction when needs must!

2. Have enough fuel. With heavy rain, ice and snow causing accidents some roads may be closed leaving you with a diversion to navigate Buy 10L Jerry Can on Amazon now!Buy 10L Jerry Can on Amazon now!or a lengthy wait whilst it's cleared instead. We've all seen the news reports showing queues of cars forced to spend the night on a closed motorway somewhere in the country and without enough fuel you may have no heating! Again motor homes are better off than cars in this situation of course as they generally have better insulation in the walls and windows (and a bed on board to climb into!) but it would still be an uncomfortable night without heating. We have a myriad of alternative heat sources on board Waki in case we run out of one fuel type including gas, electric and the wood burner! We once had to resort to using the vegetable oil in the kitchen cupboard to get us the rest of the way to a fuel station when we did once cut it a bit fine (be aware that not all engines can handle straight vegetable oil!) and we now always have a compact 10L Jerry Can with more diesel and oil in the rear locker!


3. Smoothly does it. You're likely already well practised at driving your camper as smoothly as possible else your cupboard contents end up everywhere! Look as far ahead as you can to have the time to anticipate other traffic's movements. In icy conditions your braking distances will be even longer so remember to leave a large gap between you and the vehicle in front. Sometimes even the salt intended to help us can be the source of the slip, when freshly scattered it sits like gravel on top of the roads' surface and it's reported to sometimes be combined with slippery silicone to make it go that bit further!

Keep in mind that you really have no idea what the road condition is like around the next corner especially when touring a new area. A skid in a large vehicle like a motor home frankly doesn't bear thinking about, we figure the trick to avoiding a disaster is not getting in to trouble in the first place through careful driving.

Winter Driving TipsWinter Driving Tips

4. Stick to main roads. The higher volume of traffic generally means that the road surface is warmer than other lesser roads which may not have been treated by salting at all. The sat-nav may well be indicating that there are delays ahead but don't be tempted to take a diversion along lesser roads unless the main road is closed and you are following the diversion signs. The UK is a relatively small place but you can still find yourself in dangerous enough isolation in some areas, there are unpleasant stories of people freezing to death when broken down in a remote area because no one happened along in time to help. 


5. Give yourself time. Winter is not the time for hurrying anywhere so give yourself an extra hour or two for a long journey to allow for any diversions or road closures. These days we always seem to be rushing to get somewhere but just take a moment to think what's the worst that will happen if you're late? More than likely you'll quite simply be late with no real ramifications, compared to the heightened possibility of ending up in a serious accident if driving too fast for the conditions!

If you're running late to get booked in to a camp site for the night give them a call and explain your situation, many places still have someone on site or at least nearby outside office hours and will probably be sympathetic and arrange to get you settled in when you finally arrive. If you are tired with still far too many miles to go consider wild camping somewhere for the night and continue your journey in the morning when it's safer to do so.


If you find yourself stranded:


1. Stay with your vehicle.

Don't be tempted to hike cross-country to get help, let's face it your motor home is probably the best shelter you have available to you and is always likely to be discovered first. Even on a less used country lane someone will happen along soon enough so you might as well settle in and put the kettle on! 

Daily Mail: Lorry ploughs into broken down motor home M40Daily Mail: Lorry ploughs into broken down motor home M40

If you have broken down on a motorway hard shoulder or similarly fast road however, it is generally advised to wait for help a safe distance up the embankment instead of waiting in the vehicle itself. Being hit at speed by a lorry would be a devastating  accident what and despite their bulky size motor homes are not famed for their structural rigidity. This unfortunate news story from 2013 shows just what could happen and tragically involved several show dogs being killed in the accident that were inside with the family. It's just not worth risking this kind of incident for the sake of comfort so if you break down, quickly put your warm clothes on, bring your snacks and a blanket and go and wait in safety. 


2. Make your location more visible.

If you haven't managed to contact any recovery services your help will likely come in the form of a passer by. When you've been waiting for hours especially you don't want them to drive on past thinking your car is simply parked or abandoned so make it clear you need help! Tie a piece of hi-visibility fabric to your wing mirror, or of your vehicle is not directly visible from the road to a tree or bush that is. Put up a HELP! sign so you can remain in the warm. 


3. Keep the heat in.

Consider insulating the vehicle windows if you're having to go a while without heating. Despite having inches of clever insulation in all of our walls the temperature soon plummets inside Waki if we leave her parked without covering the cab windows, so we rely on our Milenco thermal blinds to enable us to live comfortably through winter. 

If you don't yet have blinds you can still make a big difference by taping a foil blanket or even some spare card board or newspaper to the glass. Don't block up any vents inside to stop draughts, they're a much needed source of fresh air to prevent carbon monoxide/dioxide poisoning in the small space!


4. Eat high energy food. Your body needs to continually release energy to create body heat and even a slight decrease in your core body temperature can begin to affect your decision making and organ function. Chocolate and sweets are great things to have in your survival stash, do you need any better excuse than your very survival? :) Saying that, do also remember to pack something with longer lasting energy release properties as well, to stave off the dreaded sugar crash that's bound to occur soon after. 


5. Drink plenty of water.

Ideally we should consume at least 3 litres of water everyday to function at our best, it may mean more trips out to 'nature' but dehydration can also lower cognitive and thermal regulatory functions. If you run out of water don't be tempted to eat snow, it's cold temperature will lower your own core temperature. Instead scoop some into a cup or empty bottle and bring it inside to melt first, of course you should gather the cleanest untouched snow you can find! 

With a motor home you have the benefit of carrying large amounts of water and supplies on board, or can make a nice hot drink on the stove while you wait! If you want an instant hot drink to warm you up, without using precious gas resources, you could always have one of these self heating hot chocolate drinks> we wouldn't normally condone drinking these kinds of chemical-laden beverages day to day but in a survival scenario the healthiest choice is the one that keeps you alive - pack one out on your hike and save one for the survival stash just in case!Buy Self Heating Hot Chocolate on Amazon now!Buy Self Heating Hot Chocolate on Amazon now!

Thanks for reading and stay safe out there! x


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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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