Choosing Between a Motorhome or Caravan for a Winter Holiday
The Camping & Caravanning Club Logo

Motorhome vs Caravan: What’s Best for a Winter Holiday?

It goes without saying that either vehicle can do a perfectly adequate job; but it’s likely one will be more suited to your specific needs than the other.

So if a winter trip is on the cards, which is likely to suit you best?

The right vehicle and the right cover

Motorhomes and caravans both demand extra care when driving in winter. If you feel you will benefit from an extra confidence boost behind the wheel, our caravan manoeuvring course or motorhome course could be just what you need,.

If you’re heading for a single destination, a caravan might be the best fit. You can set up camp and use the car for shorter trips like shopping or exploring the gorgeous winter landscapes.

If you’re planning a multi-stop tour, a motorhome is ideal. With everything ‘ready to use’, you can simply step into the back to enjoy all your home comforts. It’s ideal for lunch breaks when on the move, for example. It can be less challenging than a caravan to manoeuvre on slippery road surfaces.

Keeping warm

Staying cosy inside is half of the fun on a winter break. So both heating and insulation are key things to consider when deciding between a caravan or motorhome. Choose wisely and either a caravan or motorhome can offer you the right combination.

Increasingly, innovations like hard foam insulation, even heat distribution, and low energy consumption are factored into both motorhome and caravan designs. It’s important to understand the effectiveness of these features, which is where an independent standard rating system can help.

For caravans, the standard is BS EN 1645-1, Thermal Insulation and Heating. If winter holidays are your plan, look for the Grade 3 rating which means the interior temperature can be maintained at 20°C when it’s as cold as -15°C outside. It also guarantees the water system will work when it’s as low as -15°C outside.

For motorhomes, the standard is slightly less stringent, arguably explained by the large windscreen and extra doors in the integrated cab area. The motorhome standard is BS EN 1646-1. If a vehicle has Grade 3 status, it shows it is able to reach an interior temperature of 20°C when it is -5°C outside and that the fresh water supply can operate in temperatures as low as -15°C.

So check the official rating and take each model on its own merits: don’t assume that one category of tourer is better than the other. As a general rule, though, if you’re likely to be camping in extremely cold temperatures, a caravan may be a better choice for staying warm and cosy.

Features and layout

Imagine coming home to a pre-heated tourer from a cold day rambling or skiing. Bliss! Telematic sensors, often available either as standard or as an optional extra on both motorhomes and caravans, are the answer. Connect via your mobile phone and turn on your heating via text message before you get back. (Just make sure you have a signal!)

In both caravans and motorhomes, extras such as heated towel rails can come in handy, and don’t underestimate the value of a winter use awning as an annexe. Awning cover comes as part of Club Care’s touring caravan and motorhome standard insurance, so you won’t have to worry about loss or damage.

The location of the water tank is vitally important: if it’s external, it will almost certainly freeze up in sub-zero conditions. So, ideally, it’s worth ensuring the fresh tank and its plumbing is contained within the heated interior.

In smaller motorhomes with less space inside, an external tank is unavoidable. But lagged pipework, a thermal jacket for the tank and a thermostatically-controlled immersion heater within the tank can also prevent freezing. 

Drive safely

Although roads may be cleared and gritted, snow and ice are hazardous and increase the risk of having an accident, so it’s essential to take precautions if you’re heading to snowy destinations.

Fit winter tyres to your motorhome before you embark on your trip, and take a set of snow chains with you, too. Having winter tyres and/or carrying snow chains (and using them, where directed) is a legal requirement in some European countries: in France, for example, snow chains must be fitted when driving on roads covered with snow. It’s wise to check the specific requirements for your destination before you set off, to make sure you aren’t inadvertently driving illegally (which will affect your insurance).

Your motorhome battery is put under extra strain during winter months. If you have a breakdown on the road, make sure you stand clear of your vehicle while you wait for assistance to arrive.

Windscreen damage is behind almost half of all Motorhome Insurance claims, so effective protection against windscreen damage can help you avoid unnecessary hiccups whilst on holiday.