Van life is becoming increasingly romanticized through social media. Getting a caravan loan to own your own caravan or campervan can give you independence, let you travel the country, build memories, and support a minimalistic lifestyle, it isn’t without challenges. You can try to chase the sunshine, but cold weather is one hurdle all van lifers should be prepared for. There are a few ways to meet the challenge.

1. Get Heat Source

Make sure you have a safe, functional heat source for your van. Many pre-outfitted vans have built-in propane heaters. However, if you’re looking for alternative options, there are many to choose from. You could install a wood-burning stove. If you prefer to use electricity, consider a ceramic space heater or heated blanket. In a pinch, boiling a pan of water can even warm things up.

2. Use Insulation

Think about how cold your car or truck gets in the winter months. Your van will be no different if it isn’t properly insulated. If you are building out your van, be sure to add a layer of spray foam, wool, fiberglass, or thinsulate insulation between the metal exterior wall and your interior wall. You can add thermal curtains to all your windows. Installing rugs will also make a tremendous difference.

3. Learn Plumbing

If you will be traveling in below-freezing temperatures, make sure you fully understand your plumbing system. Some vans have pipes and tanks that are more to the interior. Maintaining your indoor van temperature or running a steady drip of water may be enough to keep them safe. 

However, most pipes, water heaters, and holding tanks will be at risk of freezing and bursting. The best option for exterior plumbing is to drain the water and winterize. For those that must have water, you may be able to prevent freezing by wrapping your water pipes with heat tape and pipe insulation.

4. Plan Route

Traveling long distances or into higher elevations can mean drastic changes in the weather. Some areas of the United States, like parts of Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Colorado, can face snowfall almost year-round. Make sure you aren’t surprised by those low temperatures and snow. Many campgrounds and roads close seasonally for the winter, while others close periodically depending on the weather. When in doubt, call ahead to make sure your route is clear. Not only do you not want to be stuck in the snow, but you also don’t want to be calling a Wisconsin Comparative Negligence Law team because of an accident.  Do all you can to keep your passengers and van safe.

5. Gear Up

Having the proper gear can make cold-weather travel much safer. If you know you will be driving in poor conditions, consider swapping on some snow tires, purchasing chains, and investing in recovery boards. It can be smart to plan for the worst and include equipment like flares, towing straps, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.

6. Prep Entertainment

Cold weather means you will probably be spending more time inside your van. For an avid adventurer, being confined to a small vehicle can get old quickly. Be sure to prepare some forms of indoor entertainment to help pass the time.

Van life can be absolutely incredible as long as you are educated and prepared. Don’t let cold weather catch you off guard.