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The Best Tips And Tricks To Stay Cool In A Van During Summer

Summer can be a tough time for van dwellers. There are few ways to stay cool aside from traveling North or heading to a higher altitude. Fortunately, we’ve come up with a few tips to stay cool in a van during summer. To start, read through our post on insulating a van for hot weather.

In that post, we discuss covering windows to block radiant heat, insulating the floor and walls, and installing a vent fan on the roof for maximum airflow. Once a van has been built, there’s not much that can be done about changing the vehicle’s construction. However, there are still tricks you can do to stay cool.
Infographic on ways to stay cool in a camper van in summer

Tips and Tricks To Stay Cool

Spend as little time as possible in the van

Body heat and other activities will rapidly heat up a van. Spend time in shopping malls, libraries or museums throughout the day.

Avoid running high-capacity electronics

Charging laptops, watching television or running a refrigerator is going to release a lot of excess heat. Try to find alternatives like charging your laptop at Starbucks or using a cooler instead or a refrigerator.

Spend time in the shade

Use an awning attachment, or find a tree that you can spend time under during the day. The temperature can drop as much as 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit in dry environments when sitting in the shade.

Use vent fans or smaller portable fans

Ventilation is the one of the biggest things you can do to keep your van cool. If you don’t currently have a vent fan installed in the roof, consider purchasing a smaller battery powered fan, or a larger electric fan to keep the air flowing.

Read our post: Best roof vent fans for a campervan

Keep doors and windows open

For proper airflow, keep doors and windows open as often as possible. Keep in mind bugs may become a problem in some environments. Consider purchasing window screens or creating DIY bug nets to prevent this problem.

Soak a t-shirt in cool water

Often it is easier to cool yourself rather than your environment. If you are able to pick up ice or cold water, use this to soak an old towel or t-shirt in, then wrap the towel around the back of your neck or head. This will significantly reduce your body temperature.

Purchase a cold therapy gel pack for the neck and shoulders

If you have a refrigerator or cooler, purchase an inexpensive gel pack for your neck and shoulders. You can keep the pack in a refrigerator or cooler at night and use it to cool off during the day.

Use a handheld water mister

Not the most long-term solution, but a small handheld water misting fan may be all it takes to get you through the hottest part of the day. These are often battery operated and should cool you off in the short-term.

Drink lots of cold water

An obvious but often overlooked solution is proper hydration. Drinking lots of cold water throughout the day will keep your body temperature lower.

Run a generator and AC

This is the most cumbersome option, but if things get really hot consider purchasing a generator that can be used during the day to run a small AC unit.

Park somewhere with shore power

Another solution that may not be accessible to everyone is to park at a campsite or somewhere with electric hookups. This will give you the power you need to run an air conditioning unit or other cooling solution.

Sleep outside

During the summer, body heat can warm the van fast. Consider spending the night outside in a sleeping bag or tent if you are staying in campgrounds or on BLM land.

Kate And Ian Moore, Authors At Parked In Paradise

Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.