How to keep Your camper cool- survive vanlife when it’s crazy HOT

If you struggle with the hot weather in your motorhome or campervan and want some tips to keep your camper cool wherever you are, this is the post for you.

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It's hot. Crazy hot. Clothes-sticking-to-your-back hot. And yes, we're currently in a motorhome in the UK. Thank goodness we're not motorhoming in Spain!

I hate to complain about good weather, but sometimes it can be a little TOO good. In ‘normal' times, we prefer to head to the mountains with our motorhome, rather than brave the heat and crowds of France or Spain during the summer months.

However, it's well over 30 in the UK right now and travel isn't an option, so we're having to deal. Here are some of our best tips for staying cool in a motorhome or campervan during a heat wave, to try and make vanlife a little more bearable.


Stay cool in your motorhome by parking in the shade

This may not always be possible, but if you have a choice of parking spots or pitches, try to pick one in the shade if the weather is forecast to be hot. Even if it's only shaded for part of the day, it will make it much more bearable to be inside.


Open at least two hatches or windows to allow airflow in your camper

The more airflow you can get into your van, the better. Opening hatches and windows on both sides helps to create airflow, which in turn helps your motorhome feel cooler. Try to open them on opposite side or ends to encourage even more air movement. Another upside to allowing fresh air in is that it helps stop condensation and mildew in your van.

We hope you found the video useful. If you did, we'd love it if you followed us on Youtube. New videos with tips for motorhoming and campervanning in the UK and Europe are released weekly.


Keep blinds closed or use a screen

Take a tip from the Europeans and keep your motorhome blinds or hatch screens closed. If you have a reflective screen, use it. Just stopping a little light will help reduce the interior temperature dramatically.


Stay cool in your van by keeping indoor cooking to a minimum

Using a hob, grill or oven in your motorhome is just going to make things even warmer inside. As much as possible, try to cook outside so the heat doesn't build up. If you're like my husband and thinks a warm drink on a hot day is perfectly normal (weirdo 😉) then try to use a gas burner outside instead of the hob or kettle inside.

Don't forget that many campsites either don't allow BBQs or they insist they are kept off the floor. You'll want to invest in a firepit or stand or a BBQ with legs.


Try and put your awning on the sunniest side, so it protects the hot spot

A simple trick, but requires a little planning when you first park up. Try to figure out which way is South, and then put your awning on that side if possible. The more sun you can keep off the side of your motorhome, the cooler it will feel inside. This is especially useful if you're motorhoming in Europe and need to escape the heat.

Again, some campsites insist on you parking a certain way, so this isn't always possible BUT where you can it's worth a try.

New to motorhome or camper travel in Europe? You might find these posts helpful:

Tour Europe in a Motorhome; Motorhome Europe Travel
How to tour Europe in a Motorhome- step-by-step
Beginners RV trip planner
How to plan EPIC motorhome trips
Free motorhome parking and overnight stopovers in Europe for motorhomes and campervans
How to find Free motorhome parking and overnight stopovers in Europe for motorhomes and campervans
10 essential tips for campervan and motorhome life. Whether you're plan a road trip or full-time van living, these hacks and ideas with help.
Essential kit for Motorhoming in Europe (with free checklist)

NEED GEAR? If you need any kit or essentials for motorhoming in Europe, here's what we recommend and where to find it


For cooler vanlife, head to the mountains

We love to go to the mountains during summer (heck, we love to go to the mountains anytime- that's why we've started taking our motorhome skiing!)

It might be common sense, but the higher in altitude you go, the cooler the air will be. Don't be fooled- you can still get sunburn up a mountain, but living in a van will be much more bearable.

Some of our favourite summer mountain destinations include:


Park near water if you can- although you may get midges

We love to park near water as much as possible. Partly for the views and partly because our dog loves to swim. Being near the water makes everything feel just a little bit cooler than it does inland.

However, some places have midges or mosquitos near water. And in some places, they are so bad they can totally ruin your holiday. If you're going motorhoming in Scotland, don't say I didn't warn you!

Find Motorhome Parking and UK overnight stopovers- legal, free and easy.
How to Find Motorhome Parking and UK overnight stopovers- legal, free and easy.

Use 12v Portable Fans to keep a motorhome cool in summer

We have several 12v portable fans in the van to help move air around and keep things feeling cooler. These are the ones we have– they're easy to use and charge, and aren't too loud to use at night.


Remember lights give off heat 

If you're planning to spend any time staying off grid with your motorhome (also known as motorhome wild camping), then we highly recommend switching out your van lights for low power LED ones. This will help reduce the amount of battery power you use AND they'll give off less heat- win win.


Install a fixed motorhome air conditioning unit

If you're planning to spend a lot of time in countries where it gets REALLY warm during summer, you might want to sacrifice a chunk of your motorhome payload in order to fit a proper motorhome air conditioning unit.

These are very effective, but they do weigh a lot, so be sure to do your research before you choose and install one.


Buy a 12v Portable air conditioning Unit

An alternative option to a fitted air-con unit in the van is to carry a portable, 12v air conditioning unit. Now, there are lots of these on the market. Some are ‘proper' air con units, and some are called ‘swamp coolers'.

We bought a Transcool unit several years ago and it does the job fairly well. You can see our review of it here:

We hope you found the video useful. If you did, we'd love it if you followed us on Youtube. New videos with tips for motorhoming and campervanning in the UK and Europe are released weekly.


More tips to help keep your cool in hot weather

As well as the above tips to keep your van or motorhome as cool and welcoming as possible in warm weather, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

If you're travelling with dogs, be sure to walk them early/ late in the day when the weather is cooler.

For yourself, be sure to drink a lot more than usual and remember to wear sun protection!

Do you have any other tips for enjoying vanlife when the weather is warm? Drop them in the comments below so we can all benefit?

Want more tips for motorhome life?

Here are some more ideas you might find useful:

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