Living in a Van: How to Survive Winter



winter locationsEverybody’s situation differs and much depends on how well you insulated your van and what kind of heating you installed. Most should follow the crowd and GO SOUTH!

Four distinct areas are well-suited for the colder months of the year, each with their own advantages and drawbacks.

Southern California
Generally mild temperatures, yet in the high desert areas, temperatures can fall rapidly during the night.
Still some free or low cost camping available, but mostly in the desert areas, away from big cities and entertainment.
Go and see the annual wild flower displays, each spring in the deserts of Anza Borrego.

South-West Arizona
The Yuma desert in the south-western part of Arizona usually offers the best temperatures, however freezing regularly occurs at night in the desert.
Choice of free/low cost camping, especially on BLM lands. Several Long Term Visitor (LTV) areas on BLM lands let you stay all winter for a modest fee.

South Texas
Only the most southern tip of Texas offers reasonable winter temperatures, but few free/low cost campsites can be found in this area. When temperatures allow, it may be a better choice to move North a bit to the area around San Antonio, where you can find a little more entertainment and more choice in camping.

South Florida
Most storms often miss Florida, thus may be offering the best weather. Yet free camping is almost unavailable in the very bottom of the state. During the milder parts of the winter, when there are no freeze warnings, moving north to Central Florida offers better opportunities in camping, great white beaches and more entertainment like Disney, Bush Gardens and Universal Studios.

victoria bc cherry blossomsFinally for those van owners, who have to spend their winter in Canada, there’s still Vancouver Island. Beautiful place with reasonable temperatures. Unfortunately, little sun and more rain and average nightly temperatures only slightly above freezing. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy winter sports, but bring a warm coat, gloves, hat and boots.
Victoria is a great place to spend the winter with its spring cherry blossoms, that equal those in Washington DC. A short ferry trip allows for easy access to Vancouver and its city life, that it has to offer.
There are a few free/low cost camping areas available, but it might be a better option to get a monthly rate at a commercial campground in Victoria.

Tips to stay warm in your Cargo Van


  • Wear a hat, to keep your feet warm.
  • Wear wool socks.
  • Go to bed warm: even a few push ups will make you feel good.
  • Shake up that compressed sleeping bag.
  • Fill a water bottle with hot water and heat up your sleeping bag.
  • Keep nose and mouth outside the sleeping bag: it prevents damp.
  • Cover your sleeping bag with an extra blanket.

Links to free camping websites

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