How to Stay Warm in an Airstream

Airstream in the snow Polar vortex sounds like a made-up character meant to scare children at bed time. If you don’t go to sleep the Polar Vortex will sweep you away to the Netherlands (I imagine it’s cold there) where you have to live in a frigid cave and the only food to sustain your miserable existence is  cold beanie weenies served from a spoon made of icicles. But the polar vortex is all too real, folks. All too real.

George and I are determined to stick it out the weather in our tin can, but there’s been a couple of nights where I’ve questioned my sanity. Luckily we’ve made previsions. Here’s some tips for staying warm in an Airstream and in other old, tiny spaces. Airstream in winter

  1. Winterize
    To winterize the Airstream, we wrapped the pipes in insulation, caulked any and all cracks (it’s my favorite thing to do!) and made thick curtains. Most of the cold in our Airstream comes in through the single-pane windows and it’s surprising what a difference thick curtains have made.
  2. Layer up
    I’ll admit it, I hate being cold. It’s annoying and I’m quite the grump when I’m cold. In the Airstream I always wear socks, sometimes two pairs, and I’ve been sleeping in a sweatshirt. I also made this super comfy scarf/capelet (scarplet?) and I’ve been wearing it as I do chores. I draw the line at having to wear gloves in the house.
  3. Use rugs
    The floors of the Airstream feel like a giant ice cube some mornings. By using throw rugs in almost every area of the house, we avoid freezing toesies and add a touch more insulation to the floor.
  4. Invest in a heated blanket
    Heated blankets may just be my favorite invention ever. I mean, it’s a blanket that is warm. Throw one of those on the bed and you’ll feel like a piece of hot, buttered toast. In a good way. staying warm in an airstream trailer
  5. Heat the pipes
    Before we learned all of these tricks of the trade, our pipes froze… twice. It’s quite unpleasant to wake up to no water. Now we religiously check the weather, put the faucets on drip and use space heaters to heat the pipes.
  6. Have more than one source of heat
    We heat the whole trailer with two space heaters. We’ve chosen to not use any propane at the moment and it’s been working out just fine. I did have a small freakout when George spilled a drink over one of the heaters and it stopped working. (What are the chances?!) Luckily, we had two heaters and could use the other space heater that night as our primary heat source. If I was doing it all over again, I’d seriously consider installing a wood stove.
  7. Have a cuppa
    Nothing warms better than a piping hot cup of tea or coffee! I received an electric tea kettle for Christmas and that thing has been boiling non-stop. If you are a frequent hot beverage drinker, it may be an investment to look into.
  8. Have a backup plan
    And as always, have a backup plan. Hypothermia is no joke. Luckily, George’s family lives close to us and they have a wood stove. Living in the country means that if the electricity goes out, we’ll be out of power and water for days. I cannot stress how important a backup plan is in this kind of situation.

How are you staying warm? Let me know in the comments!





23 thoughts on “How to Stay Warm in an Airstream

  1. Loura

    I am so glad you posted this! I was curious about how you guys stay warm after you posted your capelet the other day.
    + I kind of forgot heated blankets existed, and how much I love them.

    Hope you guys are all toasty warm today!

    1. JotC

      Hello Melanie,

      I first came across your blog a year ago, right after my husband and I bought our 74′ Sovereign Landyacht (her name is Penelope Le Reign). We rebuilt her interior over the winter and Spring. We’ve been living in her full-time since June. We’re stationary too. This is our first winter living in her. We live in the mild, Pacific Northwest. It wasn’t until last week that I started stressing hard! We can handle cold with everythign you name in this post, plus a woodstove, but we are not coping well with the condensation on the windows. It’s very extreme in the mornings. What’s your condensation situation like? How do you deal?

      Thanks a bunch for reading this.


      J & P

      1. melanie Post author

        J & P,
        We have condensation, but it isn’t “extreme.” It’s one window in particular and we simply put a towel in the windowsill and change it when it gets wet. Condensation happens when the inside is much hotter than the outside. I don’t know if you could deal with it being a bit colder at night and just huddling under blankets or if you could insulate the windows better? Here’s a forum that might help: Good luck!

  2. Lou and Terry Axt

    We heat our Airstream with ceramic heaters as well. Duct – taping the inlet/outlet for the propane furnace cut down on the heat loss there. Agree whole-heartedly with the heated blanket…one our favorite additions!

    1. lovelibrarianmelanie Post author

      Ah yes! Duct tape is a miracle, as is the heated blanket. Thanks for the comment Lou and Terry!

  3. Jeni

    This is pretty amazing.. wish there was one of these on Airbnb to try out for a night! you must wake up to such beautiful views!!

    1. lovelibrarianmelanie Post author

      Jeni, there are some Airstreams to rent out on Air B&B! Check them out here:

  4. Mallorie

    Have you done the plastic/film shrink-wrap insulation on the windows? I can’t think of the actual name at the moment, but it’s like a plastic lining that you adhere to your windows (using a hair dryer usually) and it totally insulates and blocks the air flow! Growing up in a drafty farm house we always used that stuff 😉 Also if you don’t already- you should invest in a beanie that has a fleece lining around the ears. You won’t believe how much warmer you are with just that little extra! Hey! that could be a DIY project 😉 Fleece lining a beanie you already have to make it warmer! Hmmm… Anyways.. last but not least- REAL WOOL SOCKS are proof that Jesus loves us. I’m tellin ya. I can’t live without mine.

    1. lovelibrarianmelanie Post author

      I haven’t shrink-wrapped the windows. I’ll look into it! I do have a hat with fleece lining, but I’m down for lining anything with fleece to make it a bit warmer. Ha-ha! Also, I just talked to George about getting some more wool socks this weekend. You read my mind, girl.

  5. Pingback: Things I Wish I Knew Before Living Full-Time in an Airstream | love library

  6. fngrpntr

    I agree w plastic lining the single pane windows. I have the same situation & couldn’t believe how much that helped. However, I went one step further. You might or not might be able to do this, since your house is made of metal, but if you plan on a number of years there, it might be worth the effort to figure it out. I take old double-pane window sashes & simply screw them into my walls (wooden) over the existing windows. The old sashes are a bit bigger than the current windows. For your metal situation you could install some sort of permanent fixture that the sashes attach to. If curved walls are a problem, just use layers of stick-on weatherstripping to fill the gaps. This made a HUGE difference!
    If you don’t want to get that involved with permanent structural changes, I’d try multiple layers of bubble wrap. Works like a charm!

  7. fngrpntr

    Oh! And wrap straw bales around your base. That, or some other sort of insulation, will help with the cold feet.

      1. fngrpntr

        If you don’t have a cat, or don’t want to install an outdoor cat to live under the trailer, there’s always rat poison. Cruel, I know, but mice problems can become big, so I agree that taking care is in order. Mice like both insulation & straw bales, so I don’t know that either is a better solution.
        I’ve had good luck with rat poison: once a few die, it seems the whole family gets the message to move elsewhere. I actually just returned to a trailer after being gone 3 years, and only found one dead mouse & most of the poison uneaten.

  8. Suzanne & Kelly Faulkenberg

    Melanie….we move into our “all original” Airstream just a few days before Christmas! Septic is hooked up, as is water and electricity…just found out the furnace does not work! It IS always something…. I really wrote this to tell you, probably again, how much we have learned from your website……although I am an RN , my lst degree was in Art…love white..probably most or all ours will be bright white. Mostly, this is to thank you for always answering those who write you…very few of your thoughtfulness around! THANKS! MERRY CHRISTMAS to you both.

    1. melanie Post author

      Suzanne & Kelly, thanks so much for the comment. It really makes my day when people have nice things to say! And what a wonderful Christmas present you are giving yourselves! I love to do features of people living like me, so feel free to email me pictures of your home when you are finished. Merry Christmas to you all too!!

  9. Pingback: Link Love: 65 – a small life

  10. Pingback: How to Heat And Cool an Airstream Travel Trailer – a small life

Comments are closed.