Are you someone who loves the idea of camping, but hates the cold? Or maybe you’re interested in trying out camping, but want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. In either case, this guide is for you! I’ll share some tips on how to stay warm while spending time in a campervan so that you can enjoy your trip without being uncomfortable. Let’s get started!

Will I stay warm enough in the campervan?

Before we get into the details, let’s address a common concern that many people have in regards to staying warm when in a Campervan. Will you be warm enough? Absolutely, yes!

You are hiring the state of the art when it comes to campervans here.

Everything about these campervans was designed and built by VW engineers, they’ve been making these campers for over 30 years so you can trust they know a thing or two! Every vehicle has a fantastic heating system that works very much like your heating at home, simply set the thermostat and you are done. The clever stuff all happens behind the scenes. You don’t need to worry about being cold.

Bringing your baby? That’s great, we love to see the whole family getting involved and you are never too young to start your vanlife. Read about how Ruth and her family got on in their campervan trip with a baby.

That said, we know you want to learn more so let’s dive into it.

Have a morning routine to stop the cold

Starting your day with a routine helps you get organised quickly and not only makes you feel better, but you’ll also be able to get warm faster in the campervan if you have a plan.

Make it cosy, turn on the ambient lighting

When you first wake up in the morning it can just look cold. The sun perhaps hasn’t risen fully yet and the campervan may be filled with a blue colour tone making it look less than inviting. Turning on the ambient lighting makes the space look warm and cosy, perfect for getting into the right frame of mind and setting yourself up for the day.

Always have your clothes laid out the night before. 

Now the campervan is looking cosy, it’s time to get you warmed up. Lay your outfit out the night before you go to bed, definitely have a fleece or a hoodie close to hand. This means that when you get up in the morning, all you have to do is slip on your top quickly instead of hopping in and out of a warm bed trying to find clothes in the morning. Once you’ve got a top on, you will warm up a lot quicker.

Turn on the campervan heating

Did you leave the heating on low overnight? That’s perfectly fine if you did, you’re already a step ahead! The VW California heating system is different to the Grand Calfornia heater but whichever model you have, now is a good time to turn it on if it’s not on already.

Start the heating system before you get fully out of bed so it’s nice and warm by the time you are ready to get up and face the world. On the Grand California, you might want to also turn on the hot water for a shower. Remember, this takes about 30 mins to get up to temperature so give yourself adequate time for it to warm up.

Get the Kettle on

This is one of the best ways to kick-start getting yourself feeling warm in a VW California campervan. Putting the kettle on may seem simple, but it’s very effective at keeping you cosy! Just make sure that you have enough water in the tanks, ready for your morning brew!

How to prevent condensation in your campervan

Why do you need to try and prevent it? Well, condensation occurs when water vapour in the air turns into droplets and sticks to surfaces, forming moisture. The result is that it can make your surroundings feel a bit cold and damp, we really want to avoid that, or at least reduce it.

But it’s inevitable really, warm human bodies breathing just causes this to happen naturally. The balance is to keep the heating on a low setting but have adequate ventilation to help reduce the build-up. The more people (or dogs) sleeping in the vehicle, the more ventilation will be needed.

Pop-top roof vents

If you are in one of our VW California Ocean models, the pop-top roof vents are a great way to prevent condensation. As your body emits water vapour through breathing, it will rise and exit through the roof vents keeping the campervan clear of moisture. This means that you can sleep comfortably in a VW California campervan without worrying about condensation building up.

Crack open the windows

If you are sleeping in the VW California Ocean with the pop-top roof closed or you have the Grand California model, we find it best to crack open the front cab windows just a little. Only a couple of millimetres is required to reduce the condensation build-up but still keep the campervan nice and warm.

If you wake up in the morning and the windscreen is dripping with water on the inside then you know you need a bit more ventilation for the next night.

Cover the Windows

In addition to having the campervan well ventilated, covering the windows will also help to keep the condensation to a minimum. You probably have the blinds closed anyway for privacy but did you notice the small details? On the Ocean model, the rear windows are double glazed and the blinds have a silver backing to reflect the heat back into the vehicle. Those clever engineers!

Just remember to remove the covers and open the blinds before driving away!

Generating Heat

The next step in keeping warm while in your VW California campervan is to generate heat. We find that keeping the heating on low with all of the above methods should make sure you are cosy enough. But if it’s still cold, just turn up the heating a bit more, that’s what it’s there for!

Using the heating system

Your campervan comes equipped with a heating system to keep you nice and warm whatever the weather. The heating system on our VW California Ocean model is the same, every vehicle has the diesel heater option. This runs independently from the engine, uses very little fuel directly from the main fuel tank and can be controlled manually or automatically by setting a timer or simply setting the thermostat to maintain a constant temperature.

The system on the Grand California will either be the diesel/electric option, very similar to the Ocean model, or the gas/electric model. Either way, they both keep you incredibly warm. The heating system on the Grand California can be run 100% from the campsite electric hookup cable if required. The Grand Californa also has a hot water system so a warm relaxing shower is definitely possible. How nice is that!

Is the heating system noisy?

No, not really. It’s not silent by any means, there are fans that have to spin to push the heat around the vehicle so a certain amount of noise is to be expected. My personal experience of this is that, yes, there is an increase in the noise levels whilst the heater gets up to temperature but once it does the noise reduces significantly. The fans will only kick again when the ambient temperature drops.

I’m a very light sleeper, if an ant broke wind, I’d probably hear it and I sleep soundly in the campervan with the heating on a low setting all night.

Use the landscape to your advantage

When you arrive at your camping spot take in the landscape. It may offer some natural advantages depending on how you pitch.

  • Can you park where the sun will rise? That’ll help warm up the van naturally in the mornings.
  • Any natural windbreakers around? That nearby hedge can help to shield the vehicle from the wind.
  • Any trees to park under? Trees can help retain the heat, just be careful of bird-poop and raising that pop-top!

Hot water bottle

Keeping your feet warm is one of the best ways to keep the rest of your body warm. Place a hot water bottle into your bed before you go to sleep to warm up the bedding. If you need them, slip on some socks..or maybe warm your feet on your partners back. If you listen carefully, you can hear their shrieks of delight!.

Keeping the pop-top warm

On the Ocean model, if you are going to be sleeping in the pop-top roof then you will thank yourself for planning a little bit in advance. Make sure you have the pop-top roof already open at least an hour before bedtime, that’ll give the area some time to heat up.

Heat rises but it sometimes has problems moving into all the roof space area due to the design. This can lead to cold spots. To combat this, try and push up on the roof bed a little. The roof bed is on a hinge with gas struts. If you can get it to stay at a 45-degree angle then it’ll allow warm air from the campervan to flow up the sides of the roof bed and fill the pop-top space.

Spinning the front seats inwards facing the living area, can also help direct heat from the vents upwards and into the roof space. Finally, use a hot water bottle under your duvet or sleeping bag to help take the chill off.

Safety First

Whilst we want you to be warm and comfortable, safety is our number one priority so here is a shortlist of things that we definitely don’t want you to do.

– Don’t use the gas hob for heating purposes

It may be tempting to turn on the gas hobs to quickly take the chill off, but please don’t. It’s just not worth the risk. Always use the proper dedicated heating systems that duct any exhaust gases outside and away from the vehicle.

“Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas produced by burning gasoline, wood, propane, charcoal or other fuel. Improper ventilation, particularly in a tightly sealed or enclosed space, may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels.”

Ventilation, Ventilation, Ventilation should be the Mantra

-Don’t bring that used BBQ inside to keep you warm

Yep, for the same reasons as using the gas hob to keep warm. A smouldering BBQ can continue to give off carbon monoxide, in a confined space that’s not going to be good for your health.

Wearing the right clothes to keep warm

Sounds obvious right, but choosing the right clothes to wear is pretty crucial so we’ll say it anyway. There really aren’t any tricks here, just be sensible and dress for cold weather keeping the layering system in mind.

Don’t be like Bat-Man

“Rub your chest, your arms will take care of themselves”, bad advice by Ra’s al Ghul to BatMan during his training. What a load of rubbish, definitely don’t follow that! It’s actually the reverse. It’s your extremities, feet, hands and head (especially for us baldies) that lose the most heat as they have the most exposed skin area. So look after those areas first, pop on a hat or some gloves.

Don’t forget about those tootsies, I hate having cold feet! The hard flooring on the campervan may take a while to warm up so try and minimise bare feet on the cold floor for a while.

Choosing the correct bedding for keeping warm

Duvets and sleeping bags will have a TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rating. The higher the TOG, the warmer you’ll be. 4.5 TOG is considered being a summer duvet whereas 13.5 is for winter. General the higher TOG, the thicker the duvet. Storage inside the vehicles is always at a premium so decide what you want to compromise on, you may be surprised how much room a thick duvet takes up!

The heating systems inside the vehicles are really very good, it’s not like camping in a tent. Personally, we use the same medium-weight 10.5 tog all year round but we might slip on a t-shirt to wear whilst sleeping in the winter months or an additional blanket on top of the duvet.

Have a bedtime routine

It’s a good idea to have a regular sleeping schedule. When you have the same routine every night, your body becomes accustomed to the pattern and you’ll find it much easier to drift off. But, hey we get it….this is your holiday, so anything goes!

Have a hearty meal

You don’t want your body to get too cold, which will make sleeping harder. Loading up on carbs and proteins is the best thing you can do for yourself before sleeping in a campervan.  Food and drinks with an energy-boosting effect, such as coffee and coconut oil, should be avoided at this time because they tend to be stimulants, which will keep your mind awake when you want it to shut down for sleeping.

Be organised

Organising everything you need to take care of before sleeping is a key step in sleeping well while on the road. Preparing your sleeping space will not only make sleeping more comfortable, but it’ll also reduce the time it’d take you to do so in a pinch.    Pack things away but keep your clothes ready for the morning.

Plan for night-time trips to the toilet

If you are staying in the VW Grand California campervan then you have the enviable option of using your own facilities. The light inside the bathroom will come on automatically so no need to reach for the torch.

For those in the California Ocean you may have selected the porta potty option. In this case, it’s worthwhile making sure you’ve placed it inside the campervan before you go to sleep. Leaving it in the boot when you really need it is a mistake that you only do once. You can trust us on that one!

For everyone else, it’s the dreaded nighttime trip to the toilet block! For this, make sure you have some footwear, a torch (there’s one in the cigarette lighter on the Ocean model) and a dressing gown at the ready.

Oh and by the way, no need to slam that door on the Ocean model, that’ll make you sooo popular with your camp-mates, the Ocean has an electrically assisted side door. Just push it gently and the motor will do the rest.

Campervan hire extras to help

We have a number of extra items that you can hire to make like a bit more comfortable. The vehicles come very well equipped to deal with most conditions in the UK. You may want to consider hiring a thermal pop-top screen if you are planning a winter trip or taking the vehicle on a ski trip. Check out our extras page to see what’s available.

Summary

When staying warm in one of our campervans you don’t need to worry. The heating system takes care of the hard work. You can make life easier by dressing in warm layers and adjusting your clothing depending on the temperature.

But definitely make the most of the fabulous and cosy heating system.

Finally, you can help to reduce condensation by opening the windows a little and remembering to close the blinds to help retain the heat. We hope this has been helpful and removed any worries about keeping warm on a campervan holiday.

So what’s stopping you, pack up your van and take to the road!

Happy travels!

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