Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We headed for the warm sunny south the first part of November. We arrived in Florida and it was freezing. Since this is our first year traveling, we were a bit disillusioned. The only place on the map that looked warm was Arizona and Southern California. We made a hard right on I-10 and headed west. By the time we reached Deming, NM it was snowing. We have had the weather app out, scouring it for a warm place. None to be found unless we head for Southern Mexico. Is this what RV winter travel is all about? We could stay home wrapped in our blizzard blanket a lot cheaper than chasing the sun all over the country. Are we asking too much? Did we miscalculate? Should we sell this motorhome with a cracked frozen water pipe and look for a tent to rent in the Virgin Islands?
—Rolling Ice Shanty in Ajo
You did miscalculate a bit. I think Mark Twain put it best, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.” My advice would be to slow down. I know gas is cheap right now, but as you have discovered, the jet stream can move faster than your motorhome. Stay south and let the warm weather find you. Don’t drive thousands of miles looking for it. You can expect bouts of cold weather all over the south during the winter months.
I understand why you had the misconception of warm sunny weather. You never see an advertisement of RVer’s huddled inside their rigs trying to stay warm. More often you see them basking in the sun enjoying outdoor activity in shirt sleeves. The cold reality is “weather happens.”
When it does you have to deal with it, usually for short periods of time.
Sorry to hear about your broken pipe. My suggestion would be to study your rig’s plumbing and figure out what must be done during long nights of below freezing temps. Running your furnace heat through the duct system is better than just using an electric space heater in the coach. It helps to keep the basement storage area warm and protect it from freeze damage. If you have exposed holding tanks and pipes, consider heat tape. A light bulb in the plumbing compartment can often prevent a disaster by contributing just enough heat to keep things from freezing up.
When you are feeling cold and despondent, turn on the weather channel and watch people commuting to work on the Dan Ryan in Chicago at 10 below. It will make you feel warm all over.
—Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink