We get it, cold temperatures don’t exactly scream “van life.” In fact, we’re proponents of taking van trips to warmer climates, but we also understand that sometimes there is a travel itch to be scratched no matter the season! We get asked often, “Is it too cold to travel in a van in the winter?”
Short answer: No.
Long answer: No, but we want to make sure you’re fully prepared! While we certainly can’t guarantee that it will feel like you are physically indoors, we can guarantee that there are ways to stay warm and your trip will still be a once in a lifetime experience.
Ultimately, a cozy winter camping trip might just be the perfect getaway. Here are a few tips on staying warm in your home on wheels when the temperature drops:
How to Campervan Comfortably in Winter
Heat up a hot water bottle to sleep with
Yes, you read that correctly! This is a tip from the pros! Boil some water before bed and pour into a water bottle to put inside your sleeping bag. You’ll be amazed at how much warmth this provides to the human body. Another benefit? You’ll wake up with a warm bottle of water to sip on as you make coffee and welcome the chilly morning!
Believe it or not, there is a correct way to layer your clothes. Base layer, mid layer, outer layer. The key is to make sure your core is warm at all times. Don’t forget to pack socks, gloves, and a beanie to keep your extremities warm.
Run the heat
We have heaters in our vans for good reason! As long as you start the night with at least a quarter tank of diesel, it should be no problem to run your heat during the night. Each heater has a timer to automatically shut it off, so you can keep some fuel in the tank for the morning.
Incorporate Hot Springs along your route
This is a fun way to explore and stay warm at night. Hot Springs, natural or man made, often have campgrounds nearby. Why not spend a night or two of your trip soaking in warm water? Not only does it add a unique element to your trip, but we guarantee that if you spend a few minutes in the hot springs before bed, you’ll be one happy camper crawling into your sleeping bag.
Campfires and Cocoa
Have a campfire (but make sure you’ve double checked on any fire bans in the area!) and sip on a warm drink while you’re at it! This is what we call #doubletime. Warm your outsides and your insides, all at once!
Pack the right fabrics
Wool, fleece, and synthetic materials will be warmer than cotton. Avoid packing your bag full of cotton layers and instead, try packing a fleece sweatshirt and a down jacket! Synthetic base layers are great items to wear underneath heavier outer layers. These fabrics will trap body heat and provide warmth that goes a whole lot further than cotton will.
We know those places like the Grand Tetons are ever-so-tempting with those snow capped peaks…but for your own comfort, we recommend considering a route that takes you South. Ever woken up among the cacti in Saguaro National Park? To the incredible desert sunrise hues in Death Valley National Park? The waves crashing in San Diego, CA? You can’t go wrong no matter where you go, but for the comfort of #vanlife, we recommend warm(er) climates.