First Time RVing In Winter – What To Know About Renting An RV

Canadream RV at a campsite in the winter

RVing in a campsite winter wonderland!

My husband’s family lived in the Arctic Circle before he was born, and his formative years were spent in Manitoba. So it should come as no surprise that he wants to go camping … in the winter.

I, on the other hand,  don’t really “do winter”. I’m more of a rainforest girl. But I love to camp and miss it all winter long.

Enter the perfect solution, or so we hope … a winter RV trip. All the adventure of camping, all the chill of winter, but with the comforts of home.

This winter we’re going to rent an RV from the good folks at Canadream and take a short trip.  I have to admit I’m totally out of my element so step one: book the RV.

In order to feel better prepared for the RV experience, I posed some questions to the representative at Canadream, who was extremely helpful. Here’s our conversation, which has some good procedural advice for any first-time RVer as well as stuff specific to winter use.

Front shot of Canadream RV

Making a first timer feel confident.

1. Can we leave our car with you when we pick the RV up?

Yes! Our pick-up location is about half an hour outside of Vancouver and we have a gated lot where you can leave your car.

2. What else happens at pick-up?

Please call us that morning to arrange a specific time to do the pick-up . When you arrive you will sign some contracts and be oriented to your vehicle and what is required to keep it running safely and ensure no freezing damage. You’ll also be able to check the contents and let us know if you’d like more blankets or other items.

To speed up the check-in, you can do an online check-in in advance so most of the paperwork is  waiting for you. We will take as long as you need, but you will probably be eager to hit the road!

2. The unit is “winterized” … what does that mean?

There are two types of RV you can use in the winter. Because you are going to a destination with electricity hook-up, we will actually be giving you a winter unit, where an arctic pack will heat exterior tanks so you can use the water. I assume you would prefer to have running water!

The terms can be confusing so to recap:

  1. Winterized – no water
  2. Winter unit – with water

The unit comes with a furnace which runs on propane and you will get an electrical heater as well. The temperature inside needs to be kept at a certain level to prevent freezing, and we will cover this all at check-in.

3. The unit comes fully stocked. With what?

Dishes, pots and pans, cutlery, bedding, towels. Everything to make your trip comfortable.

4. What extra items should we bring?

I think it’s nice to bring things that make you feel at home. For instance, a favourite pillow is always nice. Otherwise please just go through the supplies at check-in and we will be able to get you extra blankets or whatever you need for your comfort.

5. Is the RV hard to drive? Is there any way to practice?

No, it’s easy to drive … depending on weather conditions. We don’t know today the conditions in January, and these will vary depending on where you want to go. So just as with your family car, you want to know what the roads are like and make smart decisions from there.

6. So … should we have a Plan B?

I would say Plan B, should it come to that, would be to postpone your trip. It’s smart to check the weather ahead of your trip and if you see something troubling in terms of conditions … call 48 hours minimum in advance. Because it’s winter we can likely rebook you without too much trouble.

6. How far can we take the RV? Would we be able to use it to drive someplace for skiing, for instance?

With an RV the requirement is you have to stay on numbered public roads. You can’t take it off-road, or down a logging road, for instance. Not that you would be tempted to in the winter!

Really, though, you should be able to drive the RV as you would with an ordinary vehicle, and so you could take it on a day trip …  keeping in mind (as you would with any vehicle) that you need to check road conditions where you are going.

Well, it looks like we’re one step closer to this crazy dream. Thanks to Canadream for being so patient with all my questions. I’m starting to get excited for the trip!

Want to read about their winter camping trip? Read the blog below.

Winter RV Adventure for Camping Newbies at Sunshine Valley & Manning Park, BC

Post your BC winter camping and RVing photos at #CampinBC

Published: December 7th, 2017

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by vancouvercampingmom

Morgan was raised on camping by her father and maternal grandparents. A life-long Vancouverite, she is a tourism instructor at BCIT and Royal Roads University and a customer service trainer. Morgan lives in East Vancouver with her family and puts a heavy emphasis on family travel as a way to learn, grow, and reconnect.

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