If there’s one thing that us Scots were nervous for about camping in Australia it was the heat. Worst of all, surviving sleeping, eating and driving in a campervan during the height of Summer and at times 40+ degree days. We did a lot of research before trying these tips out for ourselves and can officially reveal the best ways to stay cool in a campervan.
Firstly our campervan did already come equipped with a few things to help beat the heat such as:
- Being correctly insulated for hot/cold weather
- Vents on the roof to maximise airflow
- Electric fan supplied
However, regardless if your van is owned or rented these are the little hacks to ensure you stay cool camping in the heat. Most importantly these tips cost very little to no money so are ideal for those (like us) road tripping on a budget.
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WATCH OUR 10 TIPS FOR KEEPING COOL IN A CAMPERVAN
10 WAYS TO KEEP COOL IN A CAMPERVAN
1. Stay Hydrated
This might be common sense, but as sexy as it sounds you will sweat A LOT more during your sleep when camping in the heat. If you don’t stay on top of your water intake before bed time you will wake up dehydrated.
Purchase reusable water bottles and take advantage of the numerous free fill up points. This will not only keep you cool before you go to sleep, but will prevent you waking up without a heat hangover. Not to mention, reusable water bottles help do your part for the planet too.
Why stop at just reusable water bottles? If you would like a further tip or 20 on how to have a more sustainable roadtrip our guide covers 20 easy ways to be a more responsible traveller. It includes more eco-friendly travel products we swear by as well as ethical and sustainable travel tips.
Stainless steel water bottle, eco friendly and perfect for camping.
2. Spend Less Time in the Van During the Day
Humans produce a crazy amount of heat, so by “chilling” in your van during the day time you are doing the exact opposite – you’re heating it up. During the day, the only time you should be in your van is when driving, otherwise eat outside and simply jump in the back when it starts to get dark and cooler.
3. Use Reflective Sun Shades
We saw these being used on pretty much every car in Australia but did not realise how much of a life saver they actually are. We invested a whole A$6.00 in purchasing one from K-Mart and put it up whenever we couldn’t find a shaded spot.
It was unbelievable how much heat it blocked out so we purchased a few more – one for the back window and both side windows. Not only do they keep the campervan cool but they help block out the sunlight for a better night sleep.
They are also great for hiding your valuables and the inside of your van from anyone trying to take a look.
Windshield sun shade. Reflective fabric blocks sun and keeps your vehicle cool.
4. Park in the Shade
Whether parking up for the night or even just a quick stop during the day, always try and find a space in the shade. It’s crazy how much of a difference this can make to the temperature of your van. Consequently, it will result in a much cooler and comfortable night’s sleep so when in campsites always head for the shaded spot or request one where possible. In one campsite during our Great Ocean Road trip the trees above our campervan even had koalas in them, so bonus points for shade & wildlife.
5. Use a Portable Fan
If you fear a sweaty night’s sleep, some hire companies offer fans as part of the rental. Alternatively, if you own your van and you’re not renting like us, you could invest in a portable Air conditioner. These are the best air conditioners for campers based on weight, price and efficiency.
This was a lifesaver during a heatwave we encountered near Cairns, Queensland however our fan could not be used in free campsites as it required power, so keep this in mind. Alternatively, you could purchase a smaller battery powered fan, or a hand held mist fan that won’t require being plugged in.
Battery operated handheld fan
6. Park at the Coast or High Up
For a cooler night’s sleep also head for the coast to take advantage of the sea breeze. Although at times, the coastal campsites are often the most popular for this reason (and obviously the views) so when heading inland aim for campsites higher up.
The temperature is obviously cooler up in the mountains and we could not believe the difference when we headed uphill during our East Coast road trip.
To find campsites that will keep you cool we recommend reading our guide to camping in Australia which covers our favourite offline and online resources for finding campsites.
7. Use Sun cream
Okay, this doesn’t necessarily keep your campervan cool but it keeps you cool. The Australian sun is like no other heat we have experienced and anything under Factor 50 will not protect you.
As if attempting to sleep in a hot van isn’t bad enough, attempting to sleep with sunburn is probably the worst nights sleep imaginable. Avoid sunburn and slip, slap, slop for a better night’s sleep.
Sustainble eco and reef friendly sunscreen butter!
8. Avoid Using Electrical Goods
We noticed this so much when we were charging our laptops. If your van also has a fridge or television, running these electronics releases so much excess heat. Alternatively, charge your laptops in cafes to avoid excess heat in your van.
9. Keep Doors and Windows Open
Ventilation is the one of the easiest things you can do to keep your van cool. For efficient airflow, keep windows and doors open as often as possible. This may result in a few unwanted guests so mosquito nets are encouraged.
Luckily our van came with mesh already over the windows, but we purchased a large mosquito net for the back for around A$30.00 from a camping store. You could make your own using netting and magnets which money saving Daz did try but for the effort and tantrums it was so much easier to purchase one.
Coghlan's double-wide mesh mosquito net.
10. Don’t Cook in the Van
Although it goes against our passion for cooking in a campervan, if you are seriously struggling with the heat use camp kitchens to cook in. Those two small rings can majorly heat up your van in a short amount of time so take advantage of the camp kitchens to avoid this.
Still looking to cook up a storm?
- Recipes with ideas for breakfast, lunch & dinner
- Digital E-book so you can download instantly
- Use offline on your phone, tablet, laptop or print off
- Recipe ideas without the need for bulky cookbooks or Wi-Fi
Without these tips our 5 week road trip would have been super sweaty and sleeping impossible. Summer is often the best time to road trip so now hopefully with these tips you are ready to take on the heat and won’t let the sun hold you back from van life.