As we are into our third winter living and working in our motorhome full-time we have put together a list of our winter van life essentials – the things that have proved truly invaluable for us spending every day in our van. From mountainous areas, the coast, in cities, the countryside and even deserts, we have had a wide range of experiences whilst travelling through Europe in the winter.
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Our Essentials For Winter Van Life
No matter where you travel in Europe the temperature in winter is sure to drop at night and sometimes during the day so if you are not on (electric) hook up or even if you are, here are the top products we have found so useful when the temperature dips towards zero.
Insulated Window Covers
These are great for keeping the heat in the cab area. In most motorhomes the cab area is the place where most of the heat escapes as it’s not insulated as well as the rest of the van. Especially the windscreen and side windows, which both lose a lot of heat very quickly. We’d recommend investing in some insulated window covers will keep that precious warmth in after a long drive. Thermal covers can be purchased for the outside or inside of the windows; both are great for keeping the heat in.
If you have spent a long period of time in a camper or motorhome especially during the winter you will have found out that the floors get cold. Even if you have a great heater or combi boiler and the rest of the van is hot the floor does stay at a considerable lower temperature. As we work for long periods at the table on our laptops, we invested in an electric quilt which heats the floor up in the morning and keeps under the desk and our feet warm throughout the day.
Slippers and Cosy Socks
As mentioned above keeping your feet warm is extremely important when living in your motorhome full time in the winter. A pair of natural fibre socks have worked best for us and some snug slippers to go with them should keep your toes and feet warm and snug in lower temperatures.
During the night if your heating is on low or you switch your heating off altogether, its always great to have an extra warm throw on hand. It will help to keep that heat in, as like in a house or cabin the heat will escape eventually, our advice -keep it in as much as possible.
—> Warm throws range <—
Travelling In Winter Conditions
With the weather being so changeable during the winter and cold temperatures to contend with moving around can sometimes require a bit of planning. We’d recommend keeping an eye on the weather using Norway’s Forecast YR.NO – you can search any location in the world on their website/app and personally, we have always found it super accurate. This along with the winter van life essentials listed below will give you peace of mind even if you are traveling in wintery snowy conditions.
We have Continental’s Van Contact 4 Season Tyres which have the mud + snow rating and are great not only in the snow but in the wet too – they are also superb when it comes to fuel efficiency and as they are 4 season, they don’t needing swapping out for summer tyres and vice versa. This is a big investment for your camper but a must on our winter van life essentials list as they havebeen an awesome purchase for us.
We have never had to use these but are a necessary piece of kit when travelling in mountainous areas and areas which are prone to heavy snow and blizzards coming in quickly. A lot of areas in Europe have snow chains and winter tyres as compulsory by law so if you are wanting to drive through or explore these areas we would highly recommend getting both. Always check your tyre size before purchasing some snow chains for winter as they do come in different sizes and also practice putting them on before you leave for your trip or adventure.
This compact piece of kit has proven so useful and handy for us in the winter. Being able to dig out a bit of snow around our motorhome or behind the wheels to gain a bit of traction has made life a lot easier when moving around and if we have been parked up for a few days with a bit of snow around us. The spade also comes in handy when clearing snow off the grey waste and black services gutters and inlets that may have been covered by the snow.
Other Winter Van Life Essentials
There’s nothing better than sitting out under the stars in the snow or wintery conditions with a fire pit. One of our favorite things to do in the evening, and after purchasing our fire pit which doubles up as a BBQ this has been an essential piece of kit for our motorhome not only in the winter but all year round.
Refillable Gas Bottle
Living in your motorhome in the winter you will use a lot more gas than in the summer months. A useful commodity that can be quite expensive if you are just buying cylinder after cylinder with the added complexity of traveling through different countries with different cylinders and connections and being able to swap your empty bottle.It can all prove quite difficult, not to mention expensive. We invested in a refillable gas bottle from Gaslow that sits in your motorhome and is refillable from any LPG gas station anywhere in Europe. A big upfront cost but once installed this has proved a massive money saver for us. To give you an idea it costs us around £8 or €9 Euro to fill up our 6kg as opposed to around £30 for a non refillable bottle…..
Yes fairy lights! During the winter your leisure battery can take a bit of a punishing with the low temperatures ad the extra energy you will use from it by keeping warm and heating water. Having a few fairy lights around the van not only saves the charge on the battery but makes for some lovely ambient lighting in your motorhome.
We hope you have found our van life essentials list insightful and it has given you a bit of inspiration and help to get out there in the winter in your motorhome or your camper! Let us know if you have any questions or anymore useful essentials for the winter, we would love to hear!
Adam and Kelly x