How to Prepare For a Ski Trip In a Motorhome
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 fresh 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. Surprisingly, 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 down 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 for those ski trips:
How to Prepare For A Ski Trip In a motorhome
How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
1. Snow Chains – How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
- 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 motorhome.
We use both snow socks and snow chains however, some countries will only allow the use of chains.
2. Fresh Water Tanks
External fresh water tanks will freeze. If you want fresh running water in the motorhome 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 tank was located in the garage – yet despite having blown air heating in here and putting a sleeping bag over the tanks – they still froze.
4. External Fresh and Waste Water Tanks
External water tanks will still freeze – any insulation will only delay the inevitable.
5. Waste Water Tanks
- Leave open the waste drain and let the waste water drain away into a shallow rimmed bucket to help stop freezing.
- 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 regularly.
- 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!
6. Heating – How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
- Campsites don’t very often have a 16amp supply like we have in the UK.
- This means that any electric heating won’t run effectively or have 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 such as 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 staff 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 – a heating system eats the gas in the bottles.
- Take the maximum capacity gas bottles that your motorhome 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 gas bottle in country if you need to – without the worry of having no method of connecting it up.
- Remember Calor gas UK bottles are not sold in Europe.
- It’s powerful and efficient so will keep you warm.
- Fill up the diesel in an Alpine region where the diesel will be a different mix – especially provided for Alpine conditions.
7. Take a long handled brush
This simply helps to clear the snow off the motorhome roof and windows.
8. Take a shovel – How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
A shovel helps to dig out the motorhome when the snow and ice fall. Not forgetting it will help to build the obligatory snow man!
9. Carpet pieces
These are a really good, cheap way to put beneath tyres, which then act as a grip to help get the motorhome off both snow or mud.
10. If you get stuck in ice on a pitch
The campsites will have a tractor to tow the motorhome if you do get stuck in ice or snow.
11. Extra Strength Windscreen Wash
We put extra strength windscreen wash in the filler and then keep the windscreen wipers off the windscreen glass when we’re pitched up.
12. Silver Screens
We put the silver screens on the windscreen when we arrive and keep them in place throughout. One tip is to just lower the top half during the day to let in light and sun – which will in turn warm the motorhome.
13. Park in a Sunny spot
Parking in a sunny spot makes such a difference to the ski experience . Not only does it help to warm the campervan during the day but it also helps melt any snow and ice.
14. Electric Lead
We carefully lift up the electric lead out of the snow each morning, this not only helps to avoid freezing but also prevents the lead getting buried under any fresh snow fall.
15. Windows – How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
If you’re motorhome doesn’t have flush fitting windows such as Seitz, try to prevent the build up of ice in the window frame.
Any protruding plastic windows can be more problematic in extreme temperatures. As melted snow freezes around the window, this can break the plastic window itself.
16. Be prepared for bad conditions
By this, I mean bad conditions even before you reach the Alps!
For example, we were once stuck in snow on the French motorway just south of Calais, with no where to go except a service station as the motorway had to close.
We stayed overnight with lots of other people, until snow ploughs tried to clear one lane overnight and we could all eventually hit the road again.
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 lots of groceries back to the van and you won’t want to have to move the van if you can help it.
It’s therefore, a good idea to stock up at a large supermarkets before reaching the Alpine resorts.
18. Take a water container and funnel
- This helps to fill the fresh water tank by hand as needed.
- Very often water taps on a site are switched off during Winter so there may not be the option of using a hose.
- Water is usually accessed from inside a heated building, we use a plastic sledge to pull the container back to the van!
19. On Site Ski and Boot Storage
- Usually there’s a drying room for boots and clothes on site.
- 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. Showering – How to prepare for a ski trip in a motorhome
- We wear a dressing gown to walk to the shower block, it basically saves taking lots of bulky clothes into a narrow cubicle.
- It’s not ideal if you take lots of clothes to the shower – these are usually small cubicles and your clothes may get wet!
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.
- From Boxing Day until after New Years Day, the locals and tourists arrive for the skiing and it won’t go quiet until the schools return.
22. Ensure you have travel insurance
- Travel insurance is so important and checking it covers for skiing and any other activities that you may do is even more so.
- Think about sledging, toboggan, ice skating etc and check the travel insurance covers everything you may do.
23. There are some great campsites
Campsites often have a ski bus stopping 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!
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