We hope you’ve spent a summer of (somewhat restricted) fun in your van. But if you’re thinking about sticking her in the garage ready for Spring hang on a minute!! Great insulation and a powerful onboard heater open up year round adventures, whatever the British weather throws your way.
Getting your van ready for winter road trips needn’t be onerous: a little extra care when packing, some basic kit and a few quick checks of the van and you’re good to get on the road.
Have a Clear Out
Through the Summer it is wonderfully easy to keep most of your kit in the van ready to hop in and hit the road at a moments’ notice. Your packing list for winter trips will of course be vastly different and probably bulkier – all those extra jumpers, blankets, pillows and jars of hot chocolate take up space. Spend a little time having a good clear out before you repack for colder travel. Get rid of the erroneous flip flops, clear out your onboard larder and remove any sports equipment and gear you’re not likely to use through the winter.
Once you have your clear space, check out our tips on essential items to have on board for any road trip and make some simple adaptations for winter.
We’re big advocates of making your tiny house as cosy and snuggly as possible all year round. Through the colder period consider investing in some fairy lights, knitted blankets and throws, hot water bottles, extra cushions and pillows – think nesting! There really is nothing better than snuggling down in your warm van nest and watching the rain or snow fall outside.
Back to Basics
If you were planning a long road trip in the car at this time of year you’d carry out a few basic roadworthiness checks. Don’t skimp on this before your van adventure. Under the bonnet check the oil and water, stock up on antifreeze, carry extra fuel ‘just in case’ and ensure you have basic tools on board.
With your van also think about cleaning and checking the water tanks, making sure the heating is up to scratch (see below) and casting your eye over seals and edging to identify any leaks – especially in that pop top roof. As well as staying warm and cosy, keeping the inside of the van dry is hugely important to avoid any unwanted mould appearing.
When it comes to the outside, before the road salt gets to grips with your paint get some good quality body wax and give the bodywork a good polish. This will also give you a chance to spot any stone chips and touch up where required minimising to chance of corrosion.
In the van as in life, when that weather turns we all hanker after rich, hearty, warming food. With a little extra prep you can eat just as well on the road as you would at home. Our top tip is to batch cook your favourite comfort food and freeze it in portions. It will defrost slowly in the van and be ready for a first night feast when you arrive at your destination.
Or if you prefer, stock up on a few basics and whip up a simple, nourishing supper in the van. Try Matt’s delicious bean stew. You can get it prepped and simmering away whilst you head out to build up an appetite.
Turn up the Heat
We have a whole guide on the question of heaters! It’s likely you already have a heating system installed in your van but there are a few things to consider if heading out on your first chilly road trip. Making sure your heating system is working properly is the starting point. Check its functionality and arrange a service if necessary. If you need a little extra heat consider an additional electric or fuel heater depending on your travel plans. Modern heaters are small, efficient and powerful – perfect for any adventure, head across to the heater guide for more info.
If you’re planning a trip of more than 2 or 3 days, remember that the reduced sunlight at this time of year means you’ll get less power from your solar panels. We’d recommend keeping a mains plug in electric oil filled radiator heater on board to take some of the load. You’ll likely have more wet gear to dry out on winter adventures too and as above, keeping the inside of that van dry is hugely important.
If you still need a little advice on heating options, please do get in touch.
Upgrade Your Awning
A tarp or open awning is great for giving you an extra outdoor space in the Summer months but if you’re heading out on colder adventures it’s probably time to think about something more enclosed like a driveaway shelter. It will give you somewhere outside of the van to store any wet clothing or kit to keep the inside of the camper dry and warm. Look for something sturdy enough to withstand the wind, easy to put up and compact when packed down. Check out the Vango Palm Air as a starting point – it has enough space to spread out and have somewhere for wet weather gear to dry out and the blow up airbeams make it super quick and easy to erect in any weather.
Making sure you’re set up in case of a Winter emergency is vital. Check your spare tyres, think about investing in some snow chains, replace that bucket and spade with a shovel and basic tools and of course make sure any breakdown cover is up to date.
We’d also recommend keeping a portable jump kit on board. You will use extra energy staying warm and dry at this time of year which increases the risk of battery depletion over time. This Lithium Jump Starter from Halfords is compatible with both diesel and petrol engines and comes with a torch and handy USB charging point to charge your phone in an emergency.
A firepit is a staple of all camping trips whether in lazing away balmy summer nights chatting around it or using it to create a cosy outside space when the weather cools off. Check your firepit is in good condition and pack plenty of dry wood, paper and matches to keep that fire stoked throughout. Make your firepit work harder by investing in a grill and heating up your hearty, warming stew over it.
And there you have it! A little extra prep and some quick checks will keep you on the road all year round. Are you a fair weather camper or do you plan on getting out throughout the winter? Let us know!
*snowy pictures courtesy of Alex, Sheldon the dog and her Cambee – Stag!