Unless you are one of the lucky ones to live in your camper on a full-time basis, or have the option to drive it to a warmer climate like those snowbirds I hear about, then you might know what people like me go through. You know, the frustration of seeing winter again and like me, you recently said goodbye to your RV, unpacking it and storing it away for the colder months.
To me, I am used to seeing two types of camping options. The first being the one where you store your RV in a storage lot, only taking it out on those select weekends, or a planned vacation period. The second being the one where you invested in a campground that has seasonal campsites. This was the option we picked where our RV stays put, in a dedicated campsite. Something we have been fortunate enough to have for the past 5 years.
It’s a wonderful feeling when you can leave work on a Friday, get to the camper, flip on the generator that is already plugged in, unload the small amount of groceries you brought, only to put them away in an already cold fridge. It’s not long before you are sitting around the campfire enjoying some adult beverages, thinking about what you have planned to do this weekend, and the mini vacations you get to experience every weekend.
Seasonal campsites are better, in my opinion, because you can keep your camper stored in your permanent campsite for as long as you pay the seasonal fees or decide to move out completely. And, in most cases, you are permitted the luxury of constructing decks, having small storage sheds, right in the campsite, installing fences, planting trees and shrubs, bringing in gravel to level the spot to make your campsite a home away from home.
The difference being, leaving work, picking up the camper from the storage lot, hauling it out to a pre-booked campground, backing it into a site, sometimes in the dark, setting it up by lowering the jacks and leveling the camper, then waiting for the fridge/freezer to get cold enough to keep the groceries fresh while you watch the ice in that cooler you brought slowly melt. For you, by the time you get a campfire going is much later than someone like me who has everything done already done, and waiting for us to arrive. I agree though, there is not a lot of variety in having a permanent campsite, the same campsite you use every time, but it does have its advantages.
No matter what type of camping you do, there is still the same number of steps in the tear down and pack away phase. It is important for everyone to prepare our RV’s properly so our campers will remain protected during the coldest months of the year. Here are my top five ways to wash away the blues while you anticipate another fruitful camping season…
1. Take care of those batteries
First and foremost, having your batteries tucked away in your garage or storage shed would keep them from freezing. It would also provide a chance to keep the voltage/amperage levels in tip top shape. A trickle charger would do this very effectively. If you don’t already have one, investing in one would pay for itself in no time. Plug it in to any desired outlet, hook the battery clamps, red for positive, black for negative and let it charge on the 2 amp cycle. There are many things you can use a trickle charger for besides keeping your batteries topped up over the winter months. You could set it up at your campsite to keep your batteries in the best shape they can be, while you camp, by running an extension cord from the generator to the trickle charger, then to the battery. When the generator comes on, you get a fast charge that is a little better than a solar panel in most cases. This is especially handy if you are like me and have your RV parked in a seasonal site permanently. Making a dedicated spot in your storage shed or garage would everything organized as well.
2. Equipment maintenance could save you money
Having all your equipment in great shape can save you money in the long run. For me, other than making sure there is enough oil in the generator and lawn mower, I use the winter months to do some DIY maintenance. Our generator is for camping use only, so I always replace the air, gas and oil filters, flush the engine and replace the oil with synthetic oil, and check the generator battery while giving the machine a good cleaning while I am at it. It stays stored and covered in our heated garage until it is needed again. We also have a separate lawn mower at the campsite. For this, I usually spend an afternoon at the campsite to clean it, change all the filters and oil and remove the gas before leaving it stored in the shed we have at our campsite. You might want to consider having a dedicated machine for your campground too. Just like the rest of the machinery, if you have a chainsaw or other power equipment, the weekends could be used to get everything ready to go for your next camping adventure.
3. Spend some time repairing or building new furniture
Winter is a great time to spend fixing things like broken wooden furniture, changing the batteries in your solar lights, building a new bench or planter and even taking care of other things that get pushed off while you camp. You could take your time, picking one or two more complex projects to work on over the weekends. Things like I mentioned earlier, or picking your favorite project from the multitude of choices on Pinterest. Maybe a friend has mentioned or had something in their camper that you liked. Getting the plans and materials would make for a fun project which is another way to stave the winter blues. You could also ask for your friend’s help on the build. The point here is you have more time to fix things during the winter than you do while you are busy camping. Unless there was something you needed to address right away at your campsite.
4. Become a winter gardener
My wife always enjoys fresh vegetables and loves the look and smell of plants. We went so far as planting a few perennials at our seasonal campsite. But, that is not to say we augment with some annuals, for added color and ambiance. Preparing annuals takes a long time and spending money on nice pots could get expensive. Whenever I can, I try to recycle the pots we buy, which are a little higher quality, so I plan a few weekends to clean, condition and replant our pots during the winter. It is not hard to manage annual plants, all you do is use good earth, fertilizer and plant seedlings of your choice. Planting these over the winter months gives you something to do, which is not going to take a lot of your time, and see the results of your labour come through at the campsite. Maybe you can add a planter design to your list of builds too.
5. Watch for sales and purchase the consumables you usually use while camping
When camping season is over, some people tend to totally forget about camping until the weather warms up. Once this happens, people get excited and start buying the things they normally need, and a few extras like replacing that door mat for instance, but why not think of camping all winter long? Doing this will allow you to take advantage of the many sales that come around like Black Friday, Amazon specials, or Flyer deals. The one area which could be fun would be a Flea Market. There might be a lot of things at those events that would be a nice add on to the camper or campsite. Flea Markets, especially the indoor types, are popular where I live. Checking out buy and sell marketplaces is another way to collect the things you might want, and usually at a discount.