Whether you’re seeking out snow for a winter skiing trip or off south for some sunshine, we’ve got some advice for making the most of your low season break.
Kit out your vehicle correctly
If you’re travelling in cold climes, having all the right sleeping gear and clothing is one thing, but there are a few technical things you’ll need to consider too. For example, if you’re a butane gas user, you’ll want to switch to propane for the winter – it’s far more suitable for lower temperatures. Whereas liquefied butane fails to change to gas vapour in temperatures below 0 degrees C (32F), propane will vaporise in conditions as low as -40 degrees C (-44F).
Fridges can over-cool in colder months, so purchasing a cover for the external air vent is a good idea. Dometic and Electrolux fridges need covers in temperatures below 10 degrees C, while Thetford fridges require them when the temperature falls below 8 degrees C.
Make sure you request an overhaul of your heating appliances before you go away. Heating services are not normally included in standard habitation services, as they require extra dismantling work. Specify it as an extra when you take your vehicle in.
Have snow chains or winter tyres handy if travelling on the continent. In Germany, for example, it’s a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted, and getting stuck without appropriate ones may land you an on-the-spot fine. To find out which countries require special measures in winter take a look at the AA website.
Don’t overlook the little things
If you’re heading to somewhere warmer, there are still a few bits and pieces you won’t want to forget. In Spain, you’re required to carry a spare pair of glasses, and while it may not be compulsory in other countries, it’s always a good idea particularly if you’re driving alone. It’s also mandatory in Spain to carry two warning triangles if you’re towing.
If you’re heading to Italy, be aware that small petrol stations often close between 1pm and 3.30pm, as well as on Sunday afternoons. With that in mind, try to ensure you have enough fuel to avoid getting caught out during those hours. And be sure to distinguish between petrol (benzina) and diesel (gasolio).
Ultimately, it’s always worth doing research when you’re travelling abroad. Knowing the small things and being well prepared means less chance of coming unstuck in an unfamiliar place where you may not speak the language. Happy winter travelling!
Rob has been involved in the leisure industry since completing a BTEC in Travel & Tourism in 1993. Previous roles have included the promotion of tourism in Yorkshire and running a motorcycle touring company in the Australian Outback.
He is the General Manager at Alan Rogers Travel Group, responsible for the ongoing development of the Alan Rogers website and the publication of the Alan Rogers Guides and 'Destinations' magazine.
He regularly travels with his wife and young daughter in their Dethleffs 'Campy' caravan. A keen cycling fan, Rob can often be found in a field in Belgium during the 'Spring Classics' season or riding his Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle.
Can you point to Europe’s only desert on a map? Do you know where you can stand with your feet in the snow while looking at Africa? Guess where you can find castle-crusted crags, stranded in time, yet only an hour’s drive from bustling seaside resorts? Fancy skiing this morning, followed by a dip in the sea this afternoon?