Hot weather RVing is sometimes impossible to avoid. But my favorite RV hacks to survive summer heat waves can help you get through it. From a sweltering blast of heat in the Colorado Rockies, to a scorching July RVing in the Midwest, this is what I’ve discovered about the best ways to keep cool and enjoy the long, lazy days of summer.
My Favorite RV Hacks to Survive Summer
It seems easy enough to point your RV north to escape summer heat waves. You could also go high-altitude mountain camping, if that’s convenient. But during the last 14 years of fulltime RVing, I’ve found that breaking camp to search for cooler temperatures isn’t always possible. Sure, heatwaves happen, but they tend to disrupt life at the most inconvenient times, like when my RVing pet needs vet care or a family member requires help. Despite occasional hot weather challenges, we’ve learned to keep our tempers cool with these easy RV hacks to survive summer heatwaves.
Heatwave Hack 1: Take Advantage of Shade
If you have the option to orient your RV in any direction, always park in a way that gives you the most shade. For example, a trailer owner should point the rig west to northwest. Campers with motorhomes and vans should point the windshield north. If your RV is like most, with your door and awning on the passenger side, taking advantage of the sun’s movement will give you shade throughout the day (presuming you’re camping in the northern hemisphere). When parking choices are limited, look for a campsite that allows you to face either of those directions. Don’t forget to consult RV park maps before you book a specific site.
Heatwave Hack 2: Don’t Cook (or do it outside)
When the mercury rises, our bodies naturally slow down our appetites in order to save energy. Instead of working hard to digest food, the automatic processes in our bodies exert effort into staying cool. Help yours along by preparing simple, cool, easy-summer salads and snacks that don’t require cooking. Gotta cook? Take it outside with a portable RV barbecue grill or outdoor stove. The inside of your RV will stay cooler and you’ll get more time to relax instead of cleaning up.
Heatwave Hack 3: Shade Your Freshwater Hose
Asphalt and concrete temperatures can rise to 180 degrees during the hottest part of the day. Unfortunately, RVers hooked up to utilities don’t have the luxury of underground plumbing, which can make drinking from the kitchen faucet a miserable experience. If you’re in a park when a heatwave strikes, get your freshwater intake hose off the ground and into shade. Set it under your rig, cover it with a towel, or slide some cardboard between your hose and the ground and then cover it. Shading your RV water hose is such a simple idea, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself! This is one of those easy RV hacks to survive summer that I picked up from other RVers.
Heatwave Hack 4: Ditch Electric Fans (or try this hack if you must use one)
Last summer during a triple-digit heatwave, I bought two electric fans to cool our RV, us and our dog. Later I realized that I was doing more harm than good. Research shows that unless the outside temperature is under 95 degrees Fahrenheit, fans just push hot air around and do not cool people or pets during extreme heat. Our brains might think fans are helping, but our bodies’ internal thermostat still works overtime and pushes us closer to heat exhaustion. Staying hydrated is one of the best cooling hacks you can do. Drink extra water and encourage your pet to do the same with ice cubes and popsicles made from no-salt chicken or beef broth. Wear cooling scarves and get a cooling vest for your dog, too. If your RV has two ceiling vent fans with reversible directions, you can create a cross breeze by setting one fan to pull air in and the other to push air out.
Heatwave Hack 5: Cover Windows and Skylights with Reflective Insulation
There’s nothing I love more than morning sun. But in a heatwave, starting the day off in warm sunshine creates a cascading effect of inescapable, day-long heat. When you know a heatwave is coming, cover any windows and skylights with reflective insulation. Start with your reflective dashboard sunshade and work your way back. Install adhesive-backed hook-and-loop fastener tape in each corner of your skylights and RV door to cover them with reflective insulation. When you’re not using the RV air conditioner, keep some windows open but partially covered to encourage airflow.
Heatwave Hack 6: Maintain Your RV Air Conditioner Unit
It sounds like common sense, but like many RVers, I’m also guilty of neglecting RV air conditioning maintenance. With heatwaves now a regular part of summer living, I’m moving this RV maintenance job to the top of our priority list. Doing it is as simple as starting with removal and hand-rinsing of the internal air filters located at the unit’s intake area. Next, a rooftop inspection and dirt and debris removal around the A/C evaporator box can also improve efficiency and keep the RV cool during extreme temperatures. Here’s a helpful AC Maintenance Tips article to get started with more RV air conditioning maintenance tips.
The more you travel, the more you’ll find that living on the road doesn’t have to leave RVers vulnerable to extreme weather events. Preparing for the worst heatwave so you can enjoy the best of RV life keeps everyone on-board safe, comfortable and ready for adventures wherever you roam.