Traveling South in a Winterized Motor Home

We are leaving Pennsylvania in the dead of winter in a winterized motor home and heading diagonally across the country for a long 8 to 9 day drive.  It’s about 2300 miles to Quartzsite from our Pennsylvania home.

winter travel in a motor home

Route from PA to Quartzsite, AZ

We intend on traveling in Minnie Pearl and have researched traveling with a winterized motor home.  Learning from many other blogs, it definitely seems possible to travel south and stay in our motor home as long as we are prepared.  We plan on staying at locations like Cracker Barrels, Flying J’s, Loves, Pilots and Wal-Mart’s, etc since there will not be many campgrounds open on the route until we get further south.

This is what we have learned and done to prepare for cold weather travel:

Black Tank:

  • Make sure there is RV antifreeze in the tank
  • After you use the toilet, pour a little antifreeze down the commode
  • If you have heated tanks, use them

Gray Tank:

  • Make sure there is RV antifreeze in the tank
  • Carry water with you to use in 1 gallon containers – keep them in your shower or bath tub

Heat:

  • The onboard propane furnace uses a lot of electricity for the blower motor (usually about 7 amps) and is very inefficient. If you stand outside by the furnace vent, you will feel the heat coming from the vent.
  • The furnace uses a lot of battery power to keep the blower motors going, so it is not ideal to use in a boondocking situation. It is very easy to deplete your batteries below 50% while using the on-board battery.  If this is done the batteries are at risk of freezing which can destroy the batteries.  If you deplete the batteries below 50% too many times, they will not last their lifetime.
  • Using the AC heat strip is an option that requires electric or a generator to run.
  • Portable heaters seem to be the thing that a lot of RVers use that do a lot of boondocking. There are a couple of types, but the most common seem to be a propane type called Mr. Heater.  Several models exist, including types that can be permanently mounted and tied into the RV’s gas line, as well as portable units that run on the one gallon portable propane tanks.  Most people use these units in the evening to warm up the RV before retiring for the evening and then first thing in the morning.  The units are very safe in that they have tip over shut off valves and low oxygen sensor shut off valves.
  • We bought the smallest Mr. Heater, the Little Buddy that runs on the one gallon disposable propane containers. It just arrived today and we have not tried it out yet.
    Camco heater

    Mr. Heater, Little Buddy

Bedding and Clothing:

  • We are going to bring an extra down comforter for the bed and some down snuggler’s for the morning coffee routine. We are also going to bring beanie caps for our heads.  This is something we used to do in our backpacking days.  Something else from that era is wearing Merino wool socks to bed.
  • We will be bringing clothing in layers, so we hope we are bringing the right layers. Looking at the temperature charts, it has been hard to judge exactly what we will need.  We hate to be cold!  It is always easier to take clothes off than to sit there and shiver!

Refrigerator:

  • Keeping food cold shouldn’t be too much of a problem. We have read that the outside vents of the refrigerator, both top and bottom, should be removed and duct tape can be used to close the top two vent rows.  This prevents the refrigerator’s coolant, which is a mixture of hydrogen gas, ammonia, distilled water and sodium carbonate from changing from a liquid to a gel when the temperature gets below 20 degrees F.

Ceiling Vent:

  • We purchased two Camco Vent Insulators to install in our ceiling vents to help alleviate the cold coming in. The insulators have 2.75 inches of foam and a reflective shield on one side and blocks out heat and light.   We read about these from other RVer’s blogs and the reviews on Amazon were good as well.  Installation is a breeze and requires no fasteners.  Simply press the vent, reflective-side up, into your roof vent for a pressure fit.
    Ceiling Vent Insulator

    Camco Vent Insulator

    We are looking forward to our trip to Quartzsite and the adventures along the way.  Hopefully, the research we have done will allow us to get there while staying warm and keeping the rig and all of us safe and sound.

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