Hitting the road in a camper was the smash hit of last year’s summer vacation. With more people opting for self-catering accommodations in their tiny homes on wheels, campgrounds have seen record bookings and mobile home sales and assignments are at an all-time high.
But while the warmer months might be the obvious choice for a camping trip, there are plenty of good reasons to vacation in the great outdoors during the winter.
At this time of year, you can see nature at its most chilly, with snow-clad hilltops and even the possibility of spotting the northern lights. Plus, there’s always a country pub with a loud log fire that you can break into along the way.
Since the highways are free of vacation crunch and the campsites are quieter, road trips will be more relaxing, although of course you need to check the weather forecast so as not to get stuck in the worst of winter weather.
Out of season, camper rentals are cheaper due to lower demand, so grab a bargain and choose the models on offer.
For those of you considering their first foray into truck life, organizing can seem like a daunting task.
So we teamed up with Campervan Indie Campers rental marketplace to share some of their top tips on how to turn an off-season road trip into an amazing adventure.
Nobody likes the idea of defrosting a windshield with freezing fingers, condensation falling on walls and wet bedding. But maintaining comfort in your car is surprisingly simple.
what to pack
Make sure to wear warm clothes and plenty of removable layers. Woolen base layers are best, along with pants and sweaters. Hats, scarves, and gloves are also recommended, as well as a pair of sunglasses to deal with the low winter sun.
The four season sleeping bag is the perfect space saver. Many versions can be decompressed to form blankets as well.
Keep warm inside by storing hot drinks and soups that can be prepared on the camp stove. A hot water bottle is another great piece for the colder months.
Electric heaters are easy to use. Look for a portable version with a load of 2 kW or less, so that you can use other electrical equipment at the same time. Indie Campers can add these to your Campervan package for a small additional cost.
Finding a camping site with an electrical connection allows you to use the camper’s built-in heating system while keeping the battery fully charged.
Cover the windows on the inside of the truck after dark to keep the heat inside, as glass is a poor insulator. Close any blackout curtains or blinds, or use a foil glass protector, usually saved for the summer months, to help reflect the warmth back.
Storage: Choose a camper with an all-weather canopy as this will provide a handy place to leave wet or dirty shoes and protect them from rain or snow.
Having a variety of tools and equipment on hand will help tackle tight spots and changing weather conditions.
Winter gear for your pickup truck: Make sure you have an ice scraper to remove ice, snow, and condensation from camper van windows, although a credit card will do the job if that’s all you have to hand.
Group travel abroad: Some countries and regions, notably Scandinavia and the Austrian Alps, require the use of winter tires and/or snow chains, even for those just passing through. If you’re not sure how to check mounted tires, look for the letters “M + S” or an image of a snowflake inside a mountaintop on the tire walls.
If you intend to drive through mountain ranges, use snow chains anytime from November through April.
Before leaving, it is important to know how to fit them correctly. You can learn about this via the Indie Campers blog.
The rental company will supply the snow chains, as well as all other safety equipment that is legally required in the country where you start your truck rental, at no additional charge.
When the rain stops playing
If the weather isn’t playing ball and there’s no choice but to stay inside, there are plenty of ways to have fun out there in your truck.
The camper provides a cozy feel of home with the added charm of cozy quarters. After a long day outdoors, snuggle up with the pillows and blankets on the back seats and enjoy a movie marathon or party in a box. The best way to enjoy a movie is on the big screen, so invest in a portable projector. Many of them can be connected to a laptop, mobile device, or streaming device.
Portable canvases in various sizes are cheap to buy, but whiteboards offer a convenient alternative.
If laptop audio isn’t enough, Bluetooth speakers can provide something akin to a cinema feel.
Add some hot chocolate, popcorn and fairy lights and you’ve got the perfect setting for a magical evening.
Old school fun
Get rid of the screens and deal the cards. Whether it’s a standard deck of cards for a few rounds of the family’s favorite Uno and Dobble or the family’s favorite, a deck of cards takes up very little space but can provide hours of entertainment. Look for other smaller games like Dominoes, Pass the Pigs, or Mini Jenga.
If you are looking for solitude on your journey, escape from the outside world for a while by getting lost in the pages of a book.
Thinking ahead about a situation more dangerous than bad weather gives you peace of mind while driving. Should the worst happen, the first priority in an emergency situation is the safety of the driver and passengers. Once they are safe, turn your focus to the vehicle.
Make sure help is on hand: Rent a truck from a company that includes 24/7 roadside assistance wherever you’re traveling, and make sure you have the relevant phone numbers to call for downtime and recovery.
Insurance is essential for travel. You may already be covered for medical needs and personal belongings but the truck needs the same protection.
Indie Campers includes a basic insurance package for all camper rentals, including third-party accident coverage.
There is also a premium package available with more comprehensive coverage. Drivers must purchase the appropriate insurance package based on their expected use of the vehicle.
Your mobile home emergency kit should include tools, lights, and other repair equipment. You can customize your equipment based on where you’re traveling, but the basic things to have in each kit are: starter cables, a tire repair kit, a spare tire in case a full replacement is needed, a multi-tool or Swiss Army knife, or bungee cords A whistle and flares and a first aid kit.
Additionally, consider packing other useful items such as a fuel bowl, power bank, hi-vis jacket, and torch. Indie Campers offers a car lift and emergency triangle. Be aware that some countries, including France, require all vehicles to carry emergency kits that include high-visibility vests for use in the event of a breakdown.
Book a holiday
All that remains now is to reserve the truck.
Indie Campers has its own fleet of vehicles available for pickup trucks in centers in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, as well as dozens of cities across Europe.
Or head away to rent a pickup truck from its newest hub in Los Angeles.
You can find out more at indiecampers.co.uk.
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