Preparing The Motorhome or Campervan For The Ski Resorts of The Alps
How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome? Just thinking of the crisp, white, freshly powdered snow certainly has me wanting to venture off again to those fantastic ski resorts of Europe.
Wow!! There is nothing better than waking up to those huge snowflakes falling on the campervan, realising that the motorhome has disappeared beneath the freshly falling snow. How exciting!
Our first trip to the French Alps in a motorhome was back in 2005. Skiing was new to us at the time and so was our Swift Bessacarr, our first motorhome.
It also, turned out to be a swift learning curve, bringing a few obstacles and many surprises, although we absolutely loved it. Despite the temperatures dropping to a very cool -17C, it didn’t put us off returning year on year!
Making a motorhome or campervan Ski trip a success is due to the preparation. So here’s our tips to a stress-free trip on how to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome.
If you’re unsure where to stay, here’s our blog on campsites to stay at for those ski trips!
Our Favourite Ski Resort in a Motorhome, Le Grand Bornand
Ski Trip in our Motorhome to the French Alps
How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome.
1. Snow Chains
Don’t leave home without them!
All the ski areas and approach roads, will require, usually by law, vehicles to carry on board and use snow chains.
Ensure you buy the correct tyre size for your van.
We use both snow socks and snow chains. Some countries only allow the use of chains.
2. Fresh Water tanks
External water tanks will freeze. If you want fresh, running water in the van, you’ll need an internal fresh water tank.
3. Be Warned!
On our first Ski trip back in 2005, we had a Swift Bessacarr. The fresh water tanks were located in the garage, with blown air heating and a sleeping bag covering the tanks. Despite this, they still froze!
4. External Fresh and Waste Water Tanks
They will still freeze, any insulation will only delay the inevitable.
5. Waste Water
Leave open the waste drain and let the waste water drain away, into a shallow rimmed bucket to help.
This will fit below the waste outlet (a horse feed bucket is perfect). The waste water will just drain into the bucket, ready for you to empty each day.
On our first ski trip our waste tank froze immediately and stayed like that for the duration of our stay. When we did open the sink taps, the water just gurgled back up the plug hole!
Campsites don’t very often have a 16amp supply, like in the UK.
This means, that any electric heating won’t run effectively. Or, the capacity that you may be used to back home.
Expect a supply of either 6 or 10amp at best.
Electric heating combined with other electric appliances, lighting etc will sometimes trip the site supply at the pitch bollard.
This will need to be switched back on, probably by taking a trip in the cold to the site office to get them to open the box to switch it back on!
Even worse, it usually trips off the neighbours electric too!
It’s powerful and keeps you toasty warm, but it uses a lot of gas!
Unlike the gas hob, which uses less gas.
Take the maximum capacity gas bottles that your van can legally carry.
Think about buying a spare pigtail for the country you’re going to, before you travel.
It’s easier to then buy a bottle in country if you need to without the worry of having no method of connecting it.
If you’re completely new to this, for information, our Calor UK bottles are not sold in Europe.
It’s powerful and efficient.
Fill up in an Alpine region where diesel will be a different mix, especially for Alpine conditions.
7. Take a long handled brush
To clear snow off the van roof and windows.
8. Take a shovel
Helps to dig out the van and build the obligatory snow man!!
9. Carpet pieces
Great to put under the van tyres. They act as a good grip, to get you off snow or mud and back on the road.
10. If you get stuck in ice on a pitch
Campsites have a tractor, that will tow you off.
11. Extra Strength Windscreen Wash
Put this in the windscreen filler and keep the wipers off the windscreen when you’re pitched up.
12. Silver Screens
Pop them on when you arrive and keep them in place. Just lower the top half to let in light and sunshine.
13. Park in a Sunny spot
It will warm the van in the day and help melt the snow and ice.
14. Electric Lead
Carefully lift up out the snow each morning, helping to avoid freezing. It also prevents it getting buried, under fresh snow fall.
If you’re van has not got flush fitting windows, try to avoid a build up of ice.
On the protruding plastic windows, melted snow freezes around them and can then break the plastic window itself.
16. Be prepared for bad conditions
Even before you reach the Alps.
We were once stuck in snow on the French motorway. With no where to go except a service station, until snow ploughs tried to clear one lane overnight.
17. Stock up on food and necessities beforehand.
In most ski resorts there are only a few small shops, so it’s difficult to carry groceries back to the van, and you won’t want to move the van if you can help it.
For large supermarkets, stopping at a town before reaching the Alpine resorts is a good idea.
18. Take a water container and funnel
This helps to fill the fresh water tank by hand.
Very often water taps on a site are switched off during Winter.
Water is usually accessed from inside a heated building, we use a plastic sledge, to pull the container back to the van!
19. If you are staying on a site
Usually, there’s a drying room for boots and clothes.
There may be a lockable clasp supplied on the storage racks.
We often take a padlock, to lock the clasp and keep our equipment secure.
20. We take warm dressing gowns
Wear these to the shower block, it saves taking lots of bulky clothes into a narrow cubicle!
Clothes falling on the floor and getting sprayed by the showers, is not nice!
21. If you’re going at Christmas
It’s worth noting, that you’ll usually have the site and slopes to yourself until Boxing day.
It’s then that the locals and tourists arrive for the skiing and it won’t go quiet, until the schools go back.
22. Ensure you have travel insurance
Checking, that it covers you for skiing and any other activities that you may do.
Think about sledging, toboggan, ice skating etc.
23. There are some great campsites
Campsites often have the ski bus stop regularly outside the entrance, therefore, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting to the ski lifts.
If the ski lift is just a few minutes walk away then you’ll be expected to walk there!
Finally, if you’re like us, you’ll love the whole snow and ski experience! Have an amazing ski season and hopefully, we’ll hear, that you too will be returning year on year!