Winter in a VW Bus: Tips for Keeping Warm & Dry

Photo by: Buslifers Ambassadors, Mygrations NL

When you think of traveling the world in your VW Bus, what do you imagine? Care-free adventures, BBQs by the beach, sipping drinks under the stars? Many of you may be dreaming of all this in sunny parts of the world where it’s easy to travel light whilst enjoying some outdoor living. However, if you are planning for winter in a VW Bus or a trip to somewhere in colder climes, keeping warm and dry will be a top priority for you.

Photo By: Buslifers Ambassador, The Tonio Project

From insulation to heating, we’ve compiled an extensive list of advice for winter travel in your VW Bus to help make your travels easier and cozier.

Prepping your VW Bus for winter

It may not be the most glamorous of subjects to kick off with but, trust us; you’ll be grateful for the time you spend prepping your VW Bus for colder weather.


You may have already learned this the hard way but insulating your VW Bus is one of the most critical stages of a bus build or restoration project. Ensuring your VW Bus is adequately insulated will find it way easier to heat, cool, and regulate the temperature.

When it comes to materials, you have tons of options to suit all budgets, but there are some crucial points to remember. Whatever material type you end up using your insulation should be:

  • Non-toxic
  • Moisture & mould resistant
  • Resistant to vibrations and won’t disintegrate

Some popular materials with Buslifers include Polyisocyanurate Rigid Foam Insulation Board, Extruded polystyrene Foam Board, and Close polyurethane spray foam. All of which are readily available from DIY stores.

Prefer to go with a more environmentally friendly option? Havelock Wool, stock wool insulation specially designed with Buslifers in mind. 

Buslifers Top tip – If you’re researching VW Bus insulation you may have already come across a material called Reflectix. This is fantastic to use as a window covering on hot days. But, it’s almost ineffective as an insulation material compared to the other synthetic and natural materials we have recommended.

Carpets, curtains, and soft furnishings

Just as you would at home, to make your VW Bus feel that bit cozier, you might want to consider laying down some carpet. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, why not whip up some sets of curtains? They will help stop heat escaping from windows and doors.

The thicker the material, the better it will be for keeping the heat inside your VW Bus. However, if you need an easy-clean option, rather than carpets, consider one of these fluffy shag rugs. They are easier to clean as required.

Double Glazing

Depending on how modern your VW Bus is, you may already be one of the lucky ones and have double glazing fitted as standard. A DIY method would be to purchase some Perspex to fit the window frames. However, you may want to consider contacting a specialist company that can professionally fit double glazing in your VW Bus.

Heating your VW Bus

Whenever we speak to fellow Buslifers, one topic that always crops up when it comes to cold weather is the best heating system for a VW Bus? The good news is there are a few options to choose from and here is just a very brief run-down to get you started.

Photo By: Buslifers Ambassadors, Rolling Tucker

Buslifers top tip – When installing any heating system for your VW Bus, we recommend speaking to a professional first. You will need to purchase a fire extinguisher and ensure your heater complies with all regulations.


When we think of a cozy VW Bus, a beautiful little wood-burning stove is likely to feature. Are we right?

Relatively cost-effective to purchase like this cast iron stove, fuel is also cheap and often free if you are up for a bit foraging.

However, you will need to take into account storage for your wood fuel. It’s also important to consider what size wood burner is most appropriate for your VW Bus. Too big and you might end up over-heating!


For those serious about heading out in your VW Bus all year round, a diesel heater is one of the most reliable options.

Despite being on the more expensive side to install (costing up to £2000), they have some tremendous benefits. Hooked up to your VW Bus’s fuel tank and electrical source, they use average no more than 0.1 liters of diesel per hour. Hardworking, diesel heaters work well for larger VW Bus models, and sourcing diesel is rarely an issue.

However, it’s important to remember to get your heater regularly serviced to avoid fuel emissions.


Easy to use and efficient! It’s no wonder gas heaters are so popular with Buslifers.

Another easy system to source fuel for, gas heaters are also ideal for freezing temperatures.  However, we recommend doing your research as there are plenty of gas heating systems to choose from. They can vary widely in price and be prepared to pay up to £1000.

Buslifers top tip – If you’re installing a gas heating system in your VW Bus, there are a few safety points to consider. Be sure to calculate the right amount of ventilation required for the space of your empty bus. You will also want to install a carbon monoxide detector.


After some instant heat? A portable electric heater could be just what you’re looking for in your VW Bus.

For safety, we would recommend purchasing either a fan heater or an oil heater, both of which are very cheap to buy. However, you will need to have an electrical power source. Another downside of portable electric heaters is that they can get costly if you are planning to use them long-term.

Buslifer winter warming common issues


We’ve already spoken about insulating your bus to stay warm during the winter months, but what happens when temperatures begin to rise in a small space? That’s right, moisture builds, and condensation starts to form.

Therefore, when we consider our VW Bus insulation, we also need to take into account ventilation. The easy answer is to crack a window and even better, crack two to create a good airflow around your bus.

Drafts and leaks

There is nothing more annoying than a draughty VW Bus on a cold winter’s night. Especially after you’ve invested in insulation and a super-efficient heating system.

The most obvious culprits for draughts are your windows and doors. Replacement rubber seals are easy to source for DIY stores. Fit these and you can wave goodbye to chilly draughts in no time.

If you’re also experiencing leaky VW Bus doors and windows, to the point that it sometimes feels like you’re in a rainstorm, replacement rubber seals should also help resolve this. Another common cause of leaky seals is missing rubber bungs. These can be sourced from DIY stores and if you work out the size needed, are another easy fix.

Wet clothes

This might seem like a small problem, but wet clothes during winter are no laughing matter, and they don’t mix with a life on the road in a VW Bus.

Investing in a heating system like the ones we’ve featured is the obvious way to ensure your clothes dry quickly but to speed things along, we also recommend investing in a simple drying rack like this one.

Buslifers top tip – Are you after some extra space to dry clothes, particularly outdoor coats, and boots? If you have one of these pop-up privacy tents, you can repurpose it as an outdoor waterproof drying rack.

Photo By: Buslifers Ambassadors, Janis Driving

A Buslifer shopping list for cold weather

Duvets – When it comes to staying toasty on colder nights, there is nothing like investing in a good quality winter weight duvet.

Hot water bottle – When all else fails, boil up some water for a comforting hot water bottle. If you’re feeling creative, we’ve even found you this cute VW Bus hot water bottle knitting pattern.

Patagonia jackets – If you haven’t discovered Patagonia yet and their fantastic range of jackets, check out their best-selling Nano Puff Jackets. Their innovative insulation will keep you warm in all weather conditions; they are 100% recycled too.

Hand warmers – As Buslifers, we love a useful compact gadget, and these rechargeable hand warmers are just the ticket for cold fingers.

Pet dryer – Buslifer pet owners will know just how miserable it can be living in their VW bus with a damp dog! The good news is you and your dog don’t have to suffer. A simple solution is to grab yourself one of these microfibre pet towels or if you love something a bit different why not give the Puff-N-Fluff dog dryer a go!

Photo By: Buslifers Ambassadors, Social Traveling

Have you traveled in your VW Bus during the winter months or visited some of the world’s coldest destinations? Tell us about your adventures in the comments below!

We have plenty more helpful Buslifer blogs to get you set for life on the road in your VW Bus. Check out our 7 Things to Consider When Renovating Your Classic VW Bus and Learn How to Have Access to Wifi on the Road at All Times.

Lorna Mann
Author: Lorna Mann

Passionate about nature and outdoors. Lorna is a contributor to the Buslifer community, writing on topics, including sustainability and ethical living.

1 Comment
  1. […] out more about keeping your VW Bus heated in Tips for Keeping Warm and Dry […]

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