Travelling with a mobile home and sleeping in your own bed at your holiday destination – affordable and individual holidays are what makes camping so attractive. The passion of campers even goes so far that holidays in a van are no longer limited to the summer. Winter camping is a trend! However, in contrast to the summer variation, there are a few things to consider when camping in the snow. SnowTrex provides 10 tips to help make winter camping a complete success.
Camping on a ski holiday
For motorhome fans, the greatest luxury is being able to take their own four walls with them wherever they go. What could be more comfortable than sitting in your own heated living room and watching the snowflakes fall, then stepping outside your “front door”, breathing in the fresh mountain air and enjoying the view? Campsites can be found everywhere in the Alpine regions, often and fortunately close to popular ski areas. Whether it be Ötztal, Zillertal, Allgäu, Arlberg or Seefeld – Austria is a country of campers. You can even find large caravan sites in South Tyrol or Switzerland for a somewhat different skiing holiday. They all have one thing in common: the guests live in the smallest of spaces in their private living room and bedroom and can often expect the amenities of a hotel outside the van. Nevertheless, as a winter camper, you should be prepared:
The right campsite
Despite all the romance in the snow, the temperatures are low and winter sports are intense, meaning winter sports fans with motorhomes are looking for a little comfort on their plots. This is how many operators have adapted to winter camping. The basic equipment of a campsite includes sanitary facilities with showers and washrooms as well as electricity, water supply and waste removal at the site. Furthermore, winter campsites should be equipped with services such as drying rooms for ski boots and clothing or a ski depot. On the larger plots, there are often small rows of shops with a bistro, kiosk and supermarket for daily needs. Wi-Fi is available in the main buildings of the respective areas and sometimes, a sauna is even integrated.
If you want to have a really luxurious winter camping holiday, you should go to a luxury or star campsite. On the one hand, luxury is reflected in the comfort of the plots, where winter-proof supply pillars for electricity, water and waste water are available, as well as fixed gas connections or gas containers on request. For daily needs, there are showers, changing tables, washing machines, dryers and a scullery, which are located in enclosed buildings. Secondly, such campsites are also partly equipped like high-priced hotels – for instance with a chic restaurant serving typical regional cuisine, a bistro, a modern spa with sauna, a vinotheque, a sun terrace or the obligatory ski drying room. For even more privacy, a private bathroom can also be booked directly at the campsite on some plots.
Vehicle suitable for winter
It goes without saying that your vehicle should have winter tyres fitted for your winter camping holiday. In addition, winter campers should not forget to carry snow chains. The winter campsites are often located at an altitude of a few metres, so in the event of snowfall, it can otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach the site. Furthermore, the vehicle should have a heater on board and be properly insulated. Nighttime in particular will otherwise simply be too cold in the vehicle.
Check gas supplies
To be prepared for the cold temperatures, it is not enough to simply have a heater on board. Most caravans need sufficient gas to keep it running. Propane gas cylinders usually hold 11 litres, which is sufficient for about 2 to 5 days, depending on the temperature in winter. It is therefore strongly recommended to have a second bottle on board for changing. Ideally, the vehicle also has a so-called “DUO-Control-System”, which automatically switches from the empty to the full gas cylinder.
Keep water frost-free
Water is a big issue in winter because it is known to freeze at 0 degrees. This is nice for skating fans, but not for winter campers with water tanks and water pipes. Heated water tanks are recommended – at least for the fresh water – to prevent them from freezing. For the waste water, you can either put some antifreeze in the collection tank or let the water drain off directly. Some antifreeze should therefore also be added to the drain pipes.
Vehicles that have a boiler with an antifreeze guard are also highly recommended for winter camping. The antifreeze guard ensures that the boiler valve opens automatically when the temperature drops below 4 degrees Celsius. This can, of course, also lead to unpleasant surprises if the boiler is suddenly empty. Therefore, first turn on the on-board heating and then allow it to preheat for about an hour!
Use shore power
On-board batteries do not perform as well in cold weather as in summer. Winter campers should therefore connect their vehicle to shore power. This also applies to the fridge, which can be a real gas guzzler.
Set up the awning
Anyone who has ever set up an awning knows that this can sometimes be annoying work. However, it’s worth the effort, especially in winter! The awning can serve as a climate lock as well as a dirt trap, storage space and additional refrigerator. It also extends the space on which you can move around protected from the weather – ideally as a terrace with a small petroleum heater.
The right tools
The classic hammer and pliers should not be forgotten on any camping holiday: with the hammer, for example, you can easily knock stakes into the (icy) earth, and with the pliers, you can get them out again at the end of your holiday. A broom is also part of every good camping kit: while it is used to sweep the sand away in summer, in winter, it can be used to remove dirt and snow – even on car roofs, for example. An ice scraper with telescopic pole and a small shovel for shovelling snow should also be included in winter.
Retain warmth with thermal covers
In winter in particular, thermal bridges should be counteracted in order to keep the precious, accumulated heat in the vehicle for as long as possible. A thermal cover, for example, is recommended for the front windscreen of the vehicle, which also prevents the windscreen from freezing. There are even special protective covers or mats for doors or pop-up roofs that keep the heat inside the vehicle.
The right clothing for winter camping
As with any active holiday, the right clothing is a must for a winter camping holiday. In addition to warm, breathable outdoor clothing, warm, thick blankets, thick caps, gloves and socks should also be on board. Thermal/hot water bottles or heated seat cushions complete the outfit.
Additional offers included
Upon payment of the tourist tax, campers are given a card at most campsites, which allows them to use various amenities in the region. In many cases, the ski bus, for example, is free of charge, allowing you to leave your car where it is. Winter campers should also bear this in mind when choosing the right campsite.
So, no matter what your expectations are when you go on a ski holiday, you will definitely find a suitable campsite, like the campsite in Grainau, for example!
FAQs about winter camping
Definitely! In several ski areas, there are winter campsites that are completely geared towards the needs of snow campers.
Some examples of places where winter camping in combination with a ski holiday is possible include Grainau in Germany as well as Bruck am Großglockner, Fieberbrunn, Lofer, Kleinarl, Kössen or Zell am See in Austria.
You will definitely need: a vehicle suitable for winter, including snow chains, sufficient gas supplies, antifreeze for waste water, heatable tanks for fresh water, tools and winter-proof clothing!
Heatable tanks are recommended for the fresh water. Antifreeze can be used for the waste water.