Get out your sweaters and mittens, winter is back!
Whether you’re the king of the ski slopes or would rather stay inside by the fire, it always feels good to hit the road to a warmer destination during the cold season. So whether you want to go on a road trip for a few weeks or until summer returns, here are our favorite destinations to escape winter in a van.
It’s hard to beat California as the #1 destination to escape winter in a van. There’s a reason why many vanlifers take the road to the West Coast when the first snow arrives. What we particularly like about the Golden State is that you’ll find it all no matter what type of road trip you prefer!
Sunset fans? Take Highway 1 to drive along the coast and enjoy the ocean and rocky beaches. Want to take out your hiking boots? There are many state and national parks, including the famous Yosemite, Sequoia, Joshua Tree and Big Sur State Park. While there, iOverlander will be your best friend to discover California and spend some time in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Why not take a trip to cowboy country! Texas is more than just horses and ranches, and a trip there will make you fall in love with the place. The cities of San Antonio and Austin are worth a visit, while you should definitely eat at the food trucks in the capital, have a drink on Rainy Street and swim in Barton Springs.
If you’re planning a trip this winter, we especially suggest you plan some time on the Texas Gulf Coast. In the city of Corpus Christi, you can sleep right on the beach in Padre Island Park for $10 a night or free if you have the America the Beautiful pass. The town of Galveston is definitely worth a stop, while Surfside Beach is particularly special to us since it’s the place where Karo and I got engaged!
A warm destination that we hear less about, but which is absolutely worth discovering! With its unique landscapes of giant red rocks and evergreen vegetation, a visit to Arizona makes you feel like you are on another planet.
What we like about the region is that there is a huge amount of BLMs all over the territory. It’s possible to park overnight on Bureau of Land Management land at no charge for up to 14 days. For those of you looking to cut back on your road expenses, this is the perfect place to do it! Of course, don’t forget to pick up after yourself after you leave.
Snowbirds or not, Florida is a great destination to escape winter in a van! While the place has long been a classic for retirees looking for warmth during the colder months, Florida also has a lot to offer for adventure-seeking vanlifers.
Contrary to what you might think, it’s fairly easy to park overnight in a van for free in the few National Forests and in some areas managed by the Wildlife Management Area (with a permit). If you’re looking for something different from the beach, take a tour of the Keys, Everglades National Park and Blue Springs National Park, or check out the freshwater springs in Ocala National Forest.
Canada West Coast
If there is one place in Canada where vans gather to spend the winter, it’s British Columbia! The pandemic years have forced Canadian vans to move west for the winter, but the rediscovery of this region was really worth it. If you feel like treating yourself to a night or two of great comfort during your long journey across the country, the Alt Hotels in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Calgary are perfect for a rest stop on the road.
Of course, Tofino is always a favorite, but the south of Vancouver Island is really our favorite part of the province where the waves are almost always perfect for a good surf session! For a change from Vancouver Island and to avoid the crowds, we also suggest a trip to Salt Spring, Bowen and Galiano islands.
For those of you who want to get away from it all and explore a new culture, why not take a trip to Mexico? This destination takes a little more organization and preparation to get across the Mexican border, but once you’re there, you can enjoy your winter under the warm sun of this tropical country.
Baja is one of the favorite places for vanlifers in Mexico. The destination is just south of the border near San Diego and is easily accessible by van. While there are plenty of places to sleep in a van on iOverlander, sometimes it’s safer to spend the night at a campsite. Luckily, there are plenty of options, sometimes right by the water, for as little as $5 to $10 a night!