Some Key Accessories to Help You Feather the Nest Once You Arrive at Your Warmer Winter Destination
Thinking of packing up your RV this winter and heading someplace warm? As incredible as it sounds to leave behind the ice and snow, you should know a few things before joining the flock of RVers heading south for the winter.
Our family joined the flock of RV snowbirds eight years ago and never turned back. I retired the snowblower stored in the garage of our suburban Midwest home and instead kept our swimsuits and shorts out year-round. When you own an RV, you have the ultimate freedom to chase the best weather across the United States. Short, dreary days got you down? Just load up and head south. It’s really that simple. Or is it?
Isn’t it Always Warm Down South in the Winter?
When we left the Midwest and hit Florida during our first RV winter, we expected warm days by the pool and soaking up that Florida sunshine. After all, we’d left winter to those unlucky folks back home. We were surprised to find out just how cold it can actually get in Florida. In fact, South Florida is usually the warmest of any US winter RV snowbird location, and yet it can still get below freezing off and on throughout the winter.
During one of our RV winters, we headed all the way south to the Florida Keys. It got so cold that winter that, on several occasions, iguanas were actually freezing stiff and falling from the trees. Officials issued a falling iguana warning because they can really hurt if they fall on you or even cause damage due to their large size. (Fortunately, when they warm up, the iguanas generally go about their business again.) Now that was something wild and unexpected to see!
During our years on the road, we have also wintered in Southern Arizona and Southern California and felt like we were freezing at times. It didn’t take us long to discover that wherever we went to try to escape the winter cold, there would still be times when it was below freezing. Luckily, the cold snaps don’t usually last long, and it’s still incredibly warm most days compared to the weather up North. However, now that you understand this unfortunate truth of being an RV snowbird, you will need to be prepared for occasional cold temps in your RV.
Staying Warm and Avoiding Moisture
So what’s the big deal about short cold snaps? If you have the right supplies, it’s no big deal at all. By packing the right items, you will stay cozy and comfy until the return of the perfect sunny days you came to the South for.
The most obvious items to bring along are those to help you stay warm. If you have a fireplace in your RV, you may be surprised at how much heat it puts off. I never thought we would use our fireplace much, but we actually use it all the time. It takes the chill off fast and helps limit propane use.
If you don’t have an electric RV fireplace or if you need a heat source in the bedroom, an electric space heater is a versatile item to have. A slim tower space heater, such as one from Lasko, doesn’t take up much space and can be a helpful way to quickly warm things up. Of course, if it dips below freezing, you will need to crank on the RV’s furnace to help prevent RV tanks and water lines from freezing. A heated water hose helps for those longer cold snaps. Make sure you keep the RV’s propane tanks filled throughout the winter months so you’re ready for these short cold snaps.
Another really nice-to-have item to get the most out of your winter outdoor RV seating area is a portable firepit or a propane firepit. Bringing your own firepit is great for campsites that don’t provide one or for areas that don’t allow on-the-ground fires due to restrictions. Be sure to check area campfire restrictions to make sure a campfire is allowed. Some places require a campfire permit.
When the temps begin to dip outside, moisture can quickly begin to build up inside your RV. We notice that when it’s in the low 50s or colder, our fifth-wheel’s windows start to fog. This condensation can seem harmless, but mold can begin to form over time. Some of the most common places for moisture to build and mold to form are under your RV mattress and in the closets.
To prevent moisture issues, it helps to use a dehumidifier inside your RV and a smaller rechargeable dehumidifier like Dri-Z-Air or Eva-Dry inside of closets. To protect your mattress from moisture, you can place a mattress underlayment like Den-Dry between the mattress and the plywood to increase airflow.
Level Up Your Outdoor Living Space
RV snowbirds often travel more slowly or even spend the entire winter in one area. You will want to make sure your outdoor area is decked out and ready to enjoy the nice weather. Grab some comfortable camping chairs. Our favorites are the Rio Hammock Loungers. They are comfortable and fun to sit in, and friends who stop by all love them.
Speaking of being comfortable outside, you’ll also want a great grill for cooking and entertaining. Consider getting a small propane grill like the Weber Q2000 or a flat-top grill that is portable while still providing a nice-sized grilling area, like those from Blackstone Products.
Outdoor Recreation Fun
One of our favorite options for outdoor fun is our electric bikes. Not only do we enjoy buzzing around the campgrounds on our e-bikes, but they have a far enough range to explore local bike trails and even to run to a nearby business and back. Many e-bikes also fold for easy RV storage.
Television and Internet Options
When it’s chilly outside, or you want to wind down in the evenings, you will want to enjoy watching television in your RV. Or maybe your RV has an outdoor television, and you love to hang out at your campsite watching sports or movies. One great option for RVers is the outdoors DISH Tailgater. This portable satellite TV option can be activated and paid monthly throughout the winter months. Then the service can be paused during the months when it isn’t in use.
You will also want to have reliable internet service to stay connected. You may be staying in a rural area with limited internet or in a sold-out campground where the cell networks are facing heavy congestion. It helps to bring along your own unlimited internet provider, such as Starlink. Depending on the Starlink plan you have, the service can also be paused when not in use.
As you embark on your journey to warmer climates, remember to pack these essential items to enhance your comfort, avoid issues, and have a blast. And remember to rub it in a little to your friends and family back home who are battling the freezing cold!
Top Snowbird Tips
- Keep your RV winterized until you arrive at your snowbird destination to avoid issues.
- Make reservations as far in advance as possible. Snowbird states are popular and can book up a year in advance.
- If campgrounds are full, consider boondocking, checking into county park campgrounds, or using a state park campsite cancellation finder such as Arvie.