How to keep cool in the van…

As you know already my van is quite old at 17 years, meaning it doesn’t have air-con like the new version vans and campers these days. When I first started to build the van I was more interested and planned how to stay as warm as I could (because I live in England and was building the van in the winter….cold) Once I started to get to summer I had to start thinking about how to stay cool. During my Europe trip I have to do my best to keep as cool as I can during the day and especially at night when I’m trying to sleep. This is another question people have asked me via social media so I decided to write 10 things to hopefully help you in the future to keep as cool as you can in your vans.
  1. Drive with your windows open to allow airflow through the van. I have the 2 at the front and 2 small ones at the back. There is no way of cooling the air in my van unless I install an aircon unit, something to think about when buying your van.
  2. Use silver reflector sheets in the cab windows. Most of the heat enters via the windows at the front of the van where I sit to drive. I have a large windscreen silver sheet and 2 smaller door silver sheets to put up when my van is parked
  3. Have a thick dividing curtain/sheet between the front cab and the living area. Some vans have that dividing wall already but I’ve noticed mine does keep some cold out at winter but mostly keeps the morning sun heat coming into the cab. I also try to park my van so the rear doors are facing sunrise to help this.
  4. My van is red which does absorb the heat so think about lighter colours when you’re selecting / building your van.
  5. I’ve installed 2 small USB fans in the rear of my van. One near my sink and one near my head when sleeping in my bed. I feel the one near my sink more when I’m getting a wash and the airflow on wet skin does feel good. The one near my head when sleeping is a lifesaver, it just keeps me cool enough to sleep at night.
  6. I installed mosquito / fly nets to the small windows at the back of the van. These work great when there’s a small flow of wind outside and passes through the van at night. 
  7. Curtains on all the windows at the back – I originally fitted these to give me more privacy but after hitting the heat in Europe I have found out it also keeps some of the sun out.
  8. Tinted all of the windows at the back – same as above, I had installed this for privacy but does help to keep some of the heat out during the day.
  9. Bottled water – I always have at least 6-12 2 litre bottles in the van and 2 of these are always in the fridge keeping cool. Nothing tastes better than ice cold water while its 35*c outside….even better than an ice cold beer.
  10. Bambo sheets / bedding – sounds random but I actually was given these as a present before I left (thank you Catherine) and it really helps to keep me cool at night. The pillows draw away sweat if it’s really hot and the cover is nice and light to cover you. I always try and sleep covered just in case mosquito’s find their way in the van, in really bad insect areas I use my mosquito net above my bed too.

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