How To Live In Your Car In The Winter Leave a comment


If you prefer staying on the road, knowing how to live in your car can make your lifestyle minimal and sustainable. Here are the essential things you need to learn to make winter living in your car warm and enjoyable.

RELATED: Man Survives Yukon Winter in Camper Van

How to Live in Your Car Safely & Comfortably During the Cold Season

1. Organize Your Vehicle

Living in your car requires packing all your survival essentials with you. These include your hygiene kit, clothes, and food supplies to name a few. However, don’t forget that you only have limited space in your car, so bring only the items you use on a regular basis.

Stuffing all your things can be challenging, but it’s necessary that you pack as light and efficient as possible. You don’t want your vehicle to be messy and disorderly.

Place boxes inside your car, so that once you need to get something, you’ll find it immediately. Aside from keeping your vehicle neat, these organizers can serve a dual purpose to work as your tables as well.

2. Bring Winter Tools

transportation winter weather people vehicle concept | how to live in a small car

Winter car living means dealing with unfavorable circumstances like wind, snow, and ice. When these conditions become harsh, you’d want to use some tools to help you out with these elements.

Bring items like windshield scrapers, shovels, and tire chains, so you can survive your car camping. In case your vehicle gets stuck, these tools can also help you get going.

For additional light, bring a headlamp, lantern, flashlight, or even twinkle lights. Avoid using your vehicle lights as this can drain your car’s battery.

3. Use Sleeping Materials

female camper sleeping bag outdoors closeup | living in car checklist

Sleeping in your car may sound uncomfortable and cause you back pain, and with the cold weather, it won’t even be warm either. This is why it’s important to put sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets in your vehicle to get a good night’s sleep.

A portable air mattress would also be a great choice since you can easily clean, fold, and store it. You can opt to use blankets made of wool since it’s ideal for maintaining body heat.

Another option would be an electric blanket, but you’ll be needing a power source to use this. You can use your car’s cigarette outlet, but it might drain your battery.

To help you fall asleep faster, you can put hand warmers in your sleeping bags to get that extra heat.

Alternatively, you can use bottles filled with hot water, then wrap them with a towel, to help keep the warmth for a longer period of time. You might also want to use earplugs to block noise from your surroundings.

4. Keep Your Car Warm

front screen car sun protection | is it safe to sleep in your car

Since you only have limited heat sources during winter, you have to be resourceful in maintaining the heat in your vehicle. Be sure to bring butane, propane, and even wood which you can use in cooking your meals as well.

Keep in mind to turn off any heaters before going to sleep. Ensure that you also have proper air ventilation to prevent fume intoxication.

When living in your car during winter, you also need to deal with humidity as this can prevent you from retaining heat and your clothes from drying.

You can bring a moisture absorber or portable dehumidifier so you can comfortably sleep and to avoid the buildup of moisture in your vehicle.

Additionally, you can add reflective insulation to your windows. Aside from helping to retain heat, it also covers your car for your privacy and blocks sunlight so you can sleep comfortably.

For additional warmth, you can make your car headliner carpeted. This can also reduce noise from the outside.

5. Stay Clean

direction sign showers campground | living in a car by choice

As difficult as it may seem, taking a bath when outdoors during winter should never be off the table. Even though winter doesn’t make you sweat a lot, you should still take a shower to keep you refreshed and your living space smelling good.

Heat some water so you can comfortably kill germs and bacteria on your body. You can also take advantage of public swimming pools and shower rooms in some gas stations.

Keep your clutter and dirty clothes in a separate container so they won’t emit a foul odor.

6. Be Connected

free wifi sign coffee shop cafe | car living setup

You’ll have limited access to signal and internet when you’re on the move. If you happen to pass by a coffee shop, grab the chance to use their free Wi-Fi, including their electricity to charge your gadgets.

RELATED: What to Do When You’re Stranded in Your Car

7. Plan Your Overnight Parking Spots

campervan caravan vehicle van life holiday | how to keep cool while living in your car

Since you’ll be spending your nights outdoors, you have to choose inconspicuous locations where you can strategically park your vehicle. Aside from safety, consider the environmental conditions as well.

Find areas with warmer temperatures, and choose places that are not exposed to winds and storms. This will let you somehow roll down your windows for good ventilation.

You can also opt to park in grocery stores, rest stops, casinos, church, and hotel parking lots that are well-lit and have available restrooms.

8. Stay Funded

hands counting us dollar bills toned | how to live out of your car and travel

You’ll never know what you’ll encounter outdoors. Your car might suddenly need a service or repair, and most likely, you’ll run out of gas. It’s important that you have your cash or card with you in case of emergencies and for your peace of mind.

9. Wear Appropriate Clothing

happy man winter forest waving hand | essentials needed for living in your car

Keeping your vehicle warm is not enough. By wearing several layers of clothes, you’re trapping warm air between these multiple layers.

Bring extra clothes in case they get wet. It’s hard to fight the cold weather and to sleep at night if you’re not dry.

10. Keep Yourself Entertained

woman drinking coffee paper cup inside | living in a car

Due to extremely cold temperatures, outdoor activities may not be suitable to keep you entertained. Instead, bring books, video games, brainteasers, puzzles, and board games to kill your time.

11. Bring Cookware

cooking food saucepan on portable gas | how to cook when living in a car

It may be tempting to pack all your cooking utensils and pans since meal preparation in your car can be quite challenging. However, keep in mind to only bring items that are multi-functional.

For instance, a mug can be used both for your beverage and soup, and a spork can already replace several utensils. Bring a portable propane stove or oven that you can plug into your car’s cigarette outlet to cook your meals, and at the same time to reheat your leftovers.

You can also use a cooler to preserve your food items. Use your creativity in preparing your meals so you won’t spend too much eating in restaurants all the time.

Watch this video by Engineering Explained to make sure that your car is ready to go:



Knowing how to live in your car can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Ensure that you’re prepared well enough to make your adventure a memorable and fruitful experience.

Do you have other ideas on how to live in your car during the cold months? Share them with us in the comments section below!

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