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Old 01-04-2018, 01:49 PM   #1
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Cold weather travel & packing

This brutal stretch of weather east of the Rockies got me to thinking about how Snow Birds prepare for their trip south. Or others that travel long distances (multiple days) in extremely cold weather. Specifically, I'm addressing situations when there is a potential for below freezing weather for much of their trip.

My interest lies in how you protect your items that could potentially freeze; food, meds, water and other liquids such as laundry and dish soap, etc. To keep on-topic, I'm assuming that the trailer or RV has been winterized and will not be de-winterized until safe to do so. Take winterization out of the equation as well as leaving earlier in the year. I’m talking about protecting goods you pack that could freeze and cause damage, a mess, or become unusable.

There have been a few threads recently about traveling with the furnace on to keep the interior temperature above freezing. But a trip from say, Milwaukee to Florida could take two to three days of travel and camping (including pre-warming the night before) and I wonder if the typical compliment of 60 lb of propane would last that long. And what about the refrigerator in such cold conditions?

One solution that comes to mind is to simply pack all non-freezable items, eat at restaurants, stay at hotels along the way and stock up upon arrival.

Or wait for higher temps farther south to mitigate running out of propane.

What do you do? Or what did you do when faced with this situation and what would you have done differently?


Greg
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:20 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greghoro View Post
This brutal stretch of weather east of the Rockies got me to thinking about how Snow Birds prepare for their trip south. Or others that travel long distances (multiple days) in extremely cold weather. Specifically, I'm addressing situations when there is a potential for below freezing weather for much of their trip.

My interest lies in how you protect your items that could potentially freeze; food, meds, water and other liquids such as laundry and dish soap, etc. To keep on-topic, I'm assuming that the trailer or RV has been winterized and will not be de-winterized until safe to do so. Take winterization out of the equation as well as leaving earlier in the year. I’m talking about protecting goods you pack that could freeze and cause damage, a mess, or become unusable.

There have been a few threads recently about traveling with the furnace on to keep the interior temperature above freezing. But a trip from say, Milwaukee to Florida could take two to three days of travel and camping (including pre-warming the night before) and I wonder if the typical compliment of 60 lb of propane would last that long. And what about the refrigerator in such cold conditions?

One solution that comes to mind is to simply pack all non-freezable items, eat at restaurants, stay at hotels along the way and stock up upon arrival.

Or wait for higher temps farther south to mitigate running out of propane.

What do you do? Or what did you do when faced with this situation and what would you have done differently?


Greg


We stay in motels until we reach temps above freezing. We pack all “do not freeze” items in a Rubbermaid container and put it in the second row of crew cab seats (and we take that container into the warm motel room every night.) We purchase bulk water and the bulk of our food when we reach warm weather. We de-winterize when we reach consistently warm weather. We avoid routes that require tire chains. We will take the loooooong route rather than put on chains. I wash salt off the trailer ASAP.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:32 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by greghoro View Post
My interest lies in how you protect your items that could potentially freeze; food, meds, water and other liquids such as laundry and dish soap, etc.

I’m talking about protecting goods you pack that could freeze and cause damage, a mess, or become unusable.
Simple answer, anything that needs to be kept rom freezing should be kept with you. If you're in the tow vehicle, those items should be in the tow vehicle, too. If you stay in a motel, they go in the motel room with you. If you're going to be in the trailer with the heat on, those items should be in the trailer with you.

If you don't want to schlep stuff back and forth between tow vehicle and trailer and motel room, then Dometic makes portable top-opening 12vDC refrigerators in a variety of sizes that can be reversed to provide heat to the contents. They're available on Amazon. You might look into using one of those. And because they cool as well as heat, you can use them year-round.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:58 PM   #4
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Brother lives in Montana. When they purchased their SOB it was their plan to leave it somewhere South in the Winter and pick it up for trips. They have not done that. When it gets late in the year, they head home and travel from one full hook up campground to the next with reservations. They refill propane at every opportunity as required. They keep the furnace running 24/7. Everything else is as nornal.

When they get home, the coach is unloaded and delivered to the local RV dealer. They winterize and store it til next year's trips.

The trips North are short. Usually 2-3 days as they are often in Southern Colorado, Utah, or sometimes Yellowstone. The trip is usually in November, so not brutally cold.

Good luck with your planning. Pat
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Old 01-05-2018, 04:39 PM   #5
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We're living this right now!

We planned to dewinterize at a friends in VA but we are there now and it's 15 degrees and the wind is blowing.

We left NH Wednesday night trying to stay ahead of the blizzard. We failed. We drove right into the blizzard just as we got to PA. We pulled into the PA Welcome Center to wait it out. We stayed comfy but used a 30lb tank of propane staying warm.

We left this morning at 6 am. 1 degree and oh my the wind. Driving was not fun. Makes me think I need to get serious about a anti sway device.

We've been driving with the heat set at 45. Using a little anti freeze in the gray and black tanks. Fresh is empty. Brought a few gallons of water to flush and wash up.

How far south we need to go to dewinterize I don't know. Don't dare do it now.

All that being said we are having fun and what a way to start a 6 month adventure.

Larry
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:47 PM   #6
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We started carrying a jumper battery that has a small air compressor built into the pack. I spent an afternoon experimenting and found the compressor running on the internal battery pack, while puny, would blow out the plumbing if the fresh water hose is used as an air reservoir. Might be a way to reduce the risk of freezing damage without a major investment and it's an easy carry. A couple of gallons of antifreeze is a good "just in case" inventory item too. Pat
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:31 PM   #7
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Really great advice!

Just one other tip for driving. Oftentimes drivers in snow country wear minimal outdoor clothing and "city shoes", apparently on the assumption that the vehicle interior is nice and toasty, and they're just going door-to-door. This is a bad idea. On slick roads, if you end up in a ditch, behind a big accident, or need to help out another motorist, it's important to either be totally dressed for the out-of-doors, or at least have that warm parka, hat, and mitts where you can reach them in a hurry.
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Old 01-06-2018, 07:36 PM   #8
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Cold weather driving? I think that’s why we moved from Chicago to Phoenix and only pull the AS from May to mid October. Last summer we spent late August in Glacier NP, however it was high 90’s there. AC never stopped.
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Old 01-07-2018, 06:50 AM   #9
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I wonder if stuff would keep from freezing in the fridge with it being turned off. Reason I say this is, I have a bottle of water in my truck, and truck parked in an insulated but unheated garage.

The temps have been down to 5 or 10 with windy conditions overnight and that bottle hasn't frozen.

I also park outside at work, and that bottle of water didn't freeze in the last 2 weeks, and it hasn't been above freezing since Christmas.

Maybe it's 'magic' water, I don't know, but I thought for sure there'd be some ice in that bottle in the past week or so, but nope, nada, no icy.

Strange.
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Old 01-07-2018, 09:40 AM   #10
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No, not strange. The mass of the vehicle is a heat sink and stays warm for longer than the air outside. The building where our coach is stored stays warmer inside by about 5-10 degrees. It benefits from the temperature of the ground, which is an average of around 50 degrees. It also gets warmed by the sun each day. And then there is that miniscule output from the forklift and the guys/gals working to store and retrieve the coaches. A truck is solar heat trap, because of the glass.

Given an open crawl space that allows air flow, frozen ground, no sun, no operation of the vehicle and a series of 24 hour below freezing days, you might have a different outcome. Pat
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Old 01-07-2018, 07:56 PM   #11
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Greg, we do this every winter. I load and fully commission our Airstream when leaving our home in SW CO, including fresh water, and travel with the furnace set at 50º. All foods are in place in the coach, temp sensitive meds are in a small thermoelectric cooler in our truck. We take a break at rest stops every couple of hundred miles and check the interior. An hour before stopping for the night, I'll take a break and increase the furnace to 70º. Overnights in full hookup campgrounds provide electricity for a couple of small electric heaters to improve warming and airflow in the coach. If one propane tank runs empty it is easy to stop at a truck stop and refill that tank. Our journey to our sailboat in SW FL is 2400 miles, and with stops to visit along the way may take 7 - 10 days. It's quite comfortable, and for us preferable to motels.

The one winter when there was just too much snow to bring the Airstream home from storage, we picked her up on the fly and spent the first night in a motel. Commissioned her the next night at a campground in NM. Not quite as convenient as an at home loadout, but no problem.

Sure, I carry a winter emergency kit in the truck, as is prudent for one living in CO.
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:44 AM   #12
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I found that opening the blinds (including skylight blinds) while driving during the day helped keep the interior trailer temp up. The minute the sun starts to set I take a break and close all the blinds to keep the heat in. Of course that only helps on sunny days.
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Old 01-15-2018, 09:36 AM   #13
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Winter travel

It is 4f this morning in Missouri and we will soon head for the Florida caravan, hoping to travel via the Antique and Garden show in Nashville. What to do?? We are currently winterized. A call to our enroute RV parks arranged for parking spots close to bathrooms enabling us to wait on dewinterizing the water system, and the vibration of road travel plus modest furnace setting should be protective during travel. One poster mentioned flushing, etc. with auxiliary carried water, BUT REMEMBER the holding tank valve area is at risk of freeze damage.
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Old 01-16-2018, 08:30 AM   #14
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It is 4f this morning in Missouri and we will soon head for the Florida caravan, hoping to travel via the Antique and Garden show in Nashville. What to do?? We are currently winterized. ...

One poster mentioned flushing, etc. with auxiliary carried water, BUT REMEMBER the holding tank valve area is at risk of freeze damage.

In those brutal temps, have you considered flushing with full strength RV antifreeze instead? Or find a “pot to p*ss in” and dispose of it later. Desperate times call for desperate actions.


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