Travelling in a campervan is a fantastic way to explore the world, but it’s important to ensure you’re comfortable and warm during your journey, especially in colder months.
As full time van lifers who have travelled to many countries across the UK and Europe, during some of the coldest months in the snowy mountains, we’ve gathered some essential tips and tricks to help you stay warm in a campervan or motorhome. So let’s dive in and make sure you’re well-prepared for your next adventure!
Insulating Your Campervan
Proper Insulation Materials
Using the right insulation materials is key to retaining heat inside your campervan. Some popular options include:
- Reflectix: A lightweight, reflective insulation material that’s easy to install and helps trap heat inside.
- Foam boards: Rigid and lightweight, foam boards provide excellent insulation and are available in various thicknesses.
- Spray foam: A versatile insulation solution that expands to fill gaps and cavities, providing an airtight seal.
- Rockwool: Rockwool insulation is a popular choice for campervan conversions, thanks to its thermal and acoustic properties. This mineral-based insulation is easy to cut and shape and is fire-resistant.
- Sheep Wool: Natural and eco-friendly, sheep wool insulation is a great choice for those looking to reduce their environmental impact. It’s also an excellent insulator and has moisture-wicking properties.
Insulating Windows and Doors
Drafty windows and doors can be a significant source of heat loss in your campervan. To minimise this:
- Use thermal curtains or window coverings to trap heat inside.
- Add weatherstripping or draft excluders to doors and windows.
- Consider installing double-glazed windows for better insulation.
Heating Options for Your Campervan
Built-in Heating Systems
Motorhome heating systems can broadly be classified into three types: gas heating, electric heating, and combined or dual-fuel heating systems.
Gas heating systems are a traditional and common option. They use LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) and work on the principle of blown air or wet systems. Blown air systems distribute heat through a network of ducts, allowing for a quick heat-up of the entire vehicle. In contrast, wet heating systems operate more like a home radiator setup. Heated fluid is circulated through radiators or pipes embedded in the floor, gradually creating a comfortable warmth. While gas systems can operate independently of an electrical hookup, a potential drawback is the need to refill the gas tank and monitor levels, which might be challenging on long trips or remote areas.
Electric heating systems are an alternative option, offering the convenience of using the campsite’s electrical supply. This eliminates the need for gas refills, and it also provides an eco-friendlier option, particularly when the electricity is sourced from renewable energy. Electric heating can be either radiant, working similarly to household infrared heaters, or convection-based, where electric elements heat the air that circulates around the motorhome. The main disadvantage here is dependency on a reliable electrical source, which may not always be available or constant in all campsites.
Combined, or dual-fuel systems, offer the best of both worlds. They can operate either on gas, electric, or both, depending on what’s available and most convenient. This flexibility allows motorhome owners to adapt to varying circumstances and resources during their travels. Alde heating is a popular dual-fuel system found in the UK motorhomes, with a reputation for providing a home-like heating experience.
Choosing the right heating system for your motorhome depends on your specific travel habits, budget, and personal comfort preferences. While gas systems provide independence, electric systems offer convenience and eco-friendliness, and dual-fuel systems provide flexibility. Regardless of the choice, the goal remains the same: ensuring a warm and comfortable motorhome experience throughout your adventures.
A popular choice for campervan owners, portable heaters provide a convenient and efficient heat source. Some options include:
- Electric heaters: These plug into your campervans electrical system and provide quick, consistent heat.
- Gas heaters: Powered by propane or butane, gas heaters offer high heat output but require proper ventilation.
- Diesel heaters: These run off your campervans diesel fuel supply and are known for their efficiency and longevity.
If you’d like to know more about campervan diesel heaters, check out our post here – Best Diesel Heater For Campervans | Top 3 Compared 2023
Staying Warm While You Sleep
Choosing the Right Bedding
Invest in quality bedding to stay warm at night. Some options include:
- High-quality sleeping bags: Look for a sleeping bag rated for low temperatures to ensure you stay warm.
- Duvets: Opt for a high tog rating to maximise warmth and insulation.
- Heated blankets: An electric blanket can provide additional warmth on particularly cold nights.
If you’d like to know more about the best camper bedding, check out our blog post here – Best Camper Bedding In 2023
Insulating Your Sleeping Area
- Use insulated window coverings or blackout blinds to keep the cold out.
- Place rugs or mats on the floor to add insulation and warmth underfoot.
- Consider using a thermal sleeping pad to add an extra layer of insulation beneath your mattress.
Keeping Warm with Clothing and Accessories
While having the right heating solutions and insulation in your campervan is essential, don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather as well. Here are some tips for staying warm with clothing and accessories:
- Layer up: Wearing multiple layers of clothing traps heat close to your body, making it easier to regulate your body temperature. Start with moisture-wicking base layers, followed by insulating layers, and finally, a waterproof outer layer.
- Insulated footwear: Cold feet can make you feel chilled overall. Invest in high-quality insulated and waterproof boots or slippers to keep your feet warm and dry.
- Hats and gloves: A significant amount of heat can be lost through your head and hands. Wearing a warm hat and gloves will help retain body heat and keep you comfortable.
- Hot water bottles: Placing a hot water bottle inside your duvet or under your blanket can provide additional warmth throughout the night.
Cooking and Hot Drinks
Utilising your campervans cooking facilities can also help keep you warm. Cooking generates heat, which can help raise the temperature inside your campervan. Additionally, hot meals and drinks can help warm you up from the inside out:
- Hot meals: Cook and enjoy hot meals like soups, stews, or casseroles to help warm your body.
- Hot drinks: Sipping on hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate can provide instant warmth and comfort during colder weather.
Monitor Humidity Levels
Managing humidity levels in your campervan is an essential aspect of staying warm and comfortable. High humidity can make your campervan feel damp and cold, while low humidity can cause dry skin and respiratory issues. Here are some tips for maintaining optimal humidity levels:
- Use a moisture meter: A moisture meter measures the moisture content in the air. By monitoring humidity levels, you can make adjustments as needed to maintain a comfortable environment.
- Ventilate: Proper ventilation is crucial for reducing humidity and preventing condensation inside your campervan. Open windows and vents regularly to allow fresh air in and moisture out.
- Dehumidifiers: Portable dehumidifiers can help remove excess moisture from the air, making your campervan feel warmer and more comfortable.
Creating a Cosy Ambience in Your Campervan
In addition to practical measures for staying warm, creating a cosy atmosphere inside your campervan can also contribute to your overall comfort. Here are some ideas to help you create a warm and inviting living space:
The right lighting can make a huge difference in how your campervan feels. Opt for warm white LED lights, which consume less power and emit a more inviting glow compared to cold white or blue lights. Fairy lights or battery-operated candles can also add a touch of warmth and ambience to your campervan.
Adding soft furnishings like cushions, throws, and blankets can make your campervan feel more comfortable and inviting. Choose materials like fleece, wool, or faux fur for maximum warmth and cosiness. These items can also be used to layer up and stay warm when you’re sitting or sleeping.
A warm colour palette can help create a cosy atmosphere in your campervan. Consider incorporating shades of red, orange, yellow, or brown in your interior design, either through paint, wallpaper, or soft furnishings. Earthy tones and natural materials like wood can also contribute to a warm and welcoming environment.
Personalising your campervan with photos, artwork, or mementos from your travels can make the space feel more like a home away from home. Display your favourite memories and create a space that reflects your personality and interests.
Using essential oils or scented candles can create a pleasant atmosphere and help you relax after a day of travelling. Opt for warm, comforting scents like vanilla, cinnamon, or sandalwood to enhance the cosiness of your campervan.
By focusing on creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your campervan, you’ll not only stay warm but also enjoy your time spent in your home on wheels. Remember, the key to a successful campervan adventure is a comfortable and inviting living space.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
As a responsible campervan traveller, it’s essential to be prepared for emergencies. Here are some items you should always have on hand in case of unexpected situations:
- Emergency blankets: These lightweight, compact blankets can help retain body heat in case your heating system fails or you get stranded in cold weather.
- Extra clothing: Keep spare layers of warm clothing, hats, gloves, and socks in case you need to bundle up during unexpected cold spells.
- First-aid kit: A well-stocked first-aid kit is essential for treating injuries and illnesses during your campervan travels.
- Roadside emergency kit: Include items like a torch, jumper cables, and tools to help you handle any vehicle-related issues.
Additional Tips for Staying Warm in a Campervan
Keeping Your Feet Warm
Cold floors can make it difficult to stay warm in a campervan. Consider adding rugs or carpeting to insulate the floor and provide a more comfortable surface to walk on. Wearing warm socks or slippers can also help keep your feet cosy during colder months.
Insulating Water Pipes and Tanks
If you have a water system in your campervan, insulating water pipes and tanks can help prevent freezing during cold weather. You can use foam pipe insulation or pipe heating cables to protect your water system and ensure you have access to water even in freezing conditions.
Parking Your Campervan Strategically
The direction you park your campervan can impact its internal temperature. If possible, park your campervan facing the sun during the day to maximise solar heat gain. At night, park your campervan in a sheltered area to minimise heat loss from cold winds.
By following these additional tips, you’ll be better equipped to stay warm and comfortable in your campervan, no matter the weather conditions or your destination. Remember, preparation is key, so invest in quality insulation, heating systems, and practical strategies to ensure you have a cosy home on wheels throughout your travels.
Conclusion – How to stay warm in a campervan
By following these tips and being prepared for any situation, you can ensure that your campervan travels in the UK and Europe are not only warm and comfortable but also safe and enjoyable. So, gear up, stay warm, and embrace the adventure that awaits you on the open road!
How can I insulate my campervan effectively?
Use high-quality insulation materials, such as Reflectix, foam boards, or spray foam
Insulate windows and doors with thermal curtains, weatherstripping, or draft excluders.
Consider upgrading to double-glazed windows for better insulation.
What types of heaters can I use in my campervan?
Portable heaters, such as electric, gas, or diesel heaters.
Built-in heating systems, like wet heating systems or air heating systems.
How can I stay warm while sleeping in my campervan?
Use high-quality sleeping bags or duvets with high tog ratings.
Consider using heated blankets for additional warmth.
Insulate your sleeping area with window coverings, rugs, and thermal sleeping pads.
What precautions should I take when using a gas heater in my campervan?
Ensure proper ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide build-up.
Use a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation and maintenance.
Can I use my campervans engine to heat the interior?
While it’s possible to use your campervans engine to heat the interior, it’s generally not recommended due to:
Increased fuel consumption.
Potential carbon monoxide build-up if not properly ventilated.
Excessive wear and tear on the engine.
It’s best to invest in dedicated heating solutions for a safer and more efficient way to stay warm in your campervan.
Can you use an electric blanket in a campervan?
Yes, you can use an electric blanket in a campervan, provided you have a suitable power source, such as an electrical hook-up or a powerful leisure battery. Ensure you choose a low-wattage electric blanket designed for campervan use to prevent excessive power consumption.
Is it safe to sleep in a campervan in the cold?
Yes, it is safe to sleep in a campervan in cold weather, as long as you take the necessary precautions to stay warm and comfortable. Ensure you have adequate insulation, heating, and warm bedding to maintain a safe and comfortable temperature inside the campervan.
Can I use a propane heater inside my campervan?
Yes, you can use a propane heater inside your campervan, but you must take certain precautions to ensure safety: Choose a propane heater specifically designed for indoor use and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ensure proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
Install a carbon monoxide detector as an additional safety measure.
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I have always wanted to travel and luckily I always got to travel to some amazing countries while I was growing up with my family and this really encouraged me to continue this and get out into the world on my own when I was older.
My goal growing up was really to see as much of the world as I could, but then I started going to work and really concentrating on my career and travel took a back seat. I still tried to get away a few times a year but I always knew there was an end goal which was to travel as much as possible.
So I got my head down and worked as hard as I could as an e-commerce manager. I have always been techy, I love computers and websites, so that’s where it gave me the idea to start this blog and also have my own web design agency. If you want to check it out or need any help then please take a look rrwebdesign.co.uk (shameless plug there)
But after covid, we both knew this was now the right time to take the leap and go and see the world after being trapped inside our house and working from home for a couple of years. We realised more than ever that you only get one life and you really need to make the most of it and do what you love!