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Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Family Caravanning at Christmas: Everything You Need to Know

Although cold and a little snowy, winter presents some wonderful opportunities for the hardy caravan owner: scenic views of frosted valleys and mountains, plus cheap, empty campsites, could make this Christmas the most glorious, and peaceful, yet.

Imagine the whole family waking up on Christmas morning – stockings are filled, mince pies left by the window have mysteriously disappeared, and all around Jack Frost has cocooned the caravan and the surrounding field in a magnificent white blanket.

Family caravanning at Christmas

Family caravanning at Christmas

It’s a day of wonder, and what could be more majestic than opening presents in the middle of the great outdoors, with the morning sun glistening all around through trees and over rolling hills?

Top tips for dealing with the cold…

I know what many will be thinking…“but it will be freezing!” Don’t be such a Scrooge. If you bring along extra warm layers and duvets for the evenings, and ensure you leave the heating on to prevent pipes from freezing, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Insulating external water carriers with bubble wrap or old blankets is another creative tip that will keep you toasty, and won’t leave you chipping away at ice blocks just for the sake of a morning brew.

If it’s going to be an especially chilly winter, you will need to change your gas supply from butane to propane cylinders. Propane operates at a higher pressure and can still be used when temperatures plummet as low -40 degrees centigrade. (But be aware that you will also need to change the regulator, as it won’t be interchangeable between the two cylinders).

Those who have boldly gone before…

Debra and Chris took their two kids Max (5) and Jamie (9) caravanning in Northumberland for Christmas 2011, and said it truly was a magical time. “We wanted a change from the usual hectic Christmas in London and so took our caravan on a tour way up north for some actual peace and quiet” reports Debra. “The kids were reluctant at first (“but mum, how’s Father Christmas going to find us?”) but we managed to convince them when we said they’d be allowed to play football and go sledding all day without having to ask us for permission!

‘It was a lot colder than London, but it meant we actually got a white Christmas! The views were lovely, and on Christmas morning we all snuggled up like a family of penguins to open presents.”

Choosing a campsite

The winter months can get very harsh in the UK, and so you’ll want to choose your campsite carefully. Firstly, make sure you know which campsites are actually open over Christmas (you can see a comprehensive list of UK campsites here). Once decided, you’ll also need to be careful where you pitch up: avoid exposed areas (like cliff edges) and stay away from valley bottoms, where water may collect and make your trip uncomfortably soggy.

How to tow in the snow

Towing in the ice and snow is a serious hazard to be aware of when winter caravanning. Not only do you have to navigate the car, but also ensure the caravan doesn’t pull you off the road, and it’s much easier to lose control of both when the tarmac is slippery. Here are ways to minimize the danger of towing you van in frosty climes:

Michelle and Andrew Maddox with their dogs

Michelle and Andrew Maddox with their dogs

  1. Make sure tyre pressure is set to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Arrange luggage evenly throughout the caravan, with the biggest Christmas presents locked down low and close to the middle of the trailer.
  3. In order to avoid the caravan’s breaking system interfering with the car’s ABS, you should adjust the breaks on the caravan so they don’t react as powerfully (this should only be done on especially ice roads).

It is of course advised to drive slower, in a low gear and at a consistent speed in order to stay safe on the roads: and remember, delicate breaking! If you do find yourself slipping out of control, pumping the break pedal is recommended.

Cooking tips

You can do away with the open hearth and static walls, but Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the feast. Therefore it’s important to make sure it’s done properly. With limited space to work with it may be worth cooking the centrepiece before you leave, whether that be turkey, chicken or ham. This will leave you more space in the over for roasties and all the other trimmings.

Alternatively, you could book a table at a local country pub and relieve you and your family of a whole lot of stress. But be sure to book extra early as there are likely to be many others with the same idea!

Still not convinced?

Michelle Maddox, sales administrator at Salop Leisure, her husband Andrew, and the dogs regularly take their touring caravan on a small caravan site near Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia. They are passionate about exploring the great outdoors, no matter the time of year.

Our touring caravan is like home from home for us.We have central heating, double glazed windows, a shower, a toilet and a fixed bed. We love the freedom of being able to step outside into the countryside. What more could you want? 

The beauty of modern touring caravans is that they are so warm and comfortable that they can be used all the year round. If only more families were as adventurous as Michelle and Andrew!

On Christmas morning, we will be going for wild swim in our wetsuits in one of the lakes with our dogs, who love swimming

Ever spent Christmas cozied up in a caravan? Please tell your stories in the comment section below!

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