We hear you all saying it, we're nuts to go to Sweden in winter in a caravan. I guess we are, but it’s all part of the adventure :-) Who doesn't want to be huddled up cosy together with the family, a good book and a cup of tea? Of course we will be doing more than that.... There will be snow to clear; going for walks while we air out the caravan; watching films/series on the hard drive; cooking-eating-washing up; checking out the surrounding areas; meeting locals and going to visit houses for sale as well as spending a good chunk of our time researching more on how to be self-sustainable. Not to mention learning Swedish!
Before we get there we have to prepare ourselves and the caravan to be properly winter ready and maximise our enjoyment over the next few months. Having lots of layers of clothing is self-explanatory but adapting the caravan is something else.
To ensure we stay warm we have several heating options. Side note: we actually had several people ask us last autumn if we had any heating in the caravan. Not having any heating would be bonkers! We have under floor heating which Vince and our friend Ivo installed. This is only in the living area however, and not in the bedroom. It has many settings including one where it switches itself on during the night if the temperature falls below a predetermined level. Then we have the built-in gas heater which heats quickly and is also connected to pipes which can blow the heat around the caravan and under the bed if desired. This morning we have researched electric heaters and found a great solution: an infrared heater panel which we can install at the front door on the wall and so will not take up extra space or make any noise unlike conventional portable fan heaters.
What about the electricity consumption you may ask. Well, yes, we do pay according to our usage but this heater is only 350W so won’t break the bank. Another side note: a friend of ours saw the tent from the outside but not the caravan behind and asked ‘Would it not be a bit cold in a tent in winter?’ We then pointed out that we also have the caravan!
The Isabella Silver Crown tent we have attached to the front (approx. 4.5m x 2.5m) is not suitable for severe winter conditions. It also prohibits access to clear snow from the roof, so yesterday we ordered a smaller winter-proof tent (1.6m x 1.6m) which will be invaluable for removing wet clothing after walks etc as well as somewhere to park a pram and block the draught from the front door. To further mitigate the draught we also plan to install a curtain, somehow.
Snow is itself a good insulator so when enough has fallen, we will shovel it up against the sides of the caravan to prevent some cold from coming up from underneath.
Water pipes are something else which needs to be considered. If they freeze and burst you have quite a problem to deal with. To prevent this, the simple solution is to disconnect them, drain the pipes and not use them. But, if this is not possible then it is necessary to keep the caravan warm enough that the pipes stay at average room temp, day and night. We haven’t yet but it is also a good idea to insulate the pipes themselves.
All in all, it looks like we’ll be nice and comfy this winter, even if the temperatures drop to 30 or 40 below zero. Along with plenty of clothing and blankets (as well as spicy curries) we’ll stay warm!
Love to you all,
Caroline, Vince, little Amber and Fraggle