Many people are finding Airstreams travel trailers to be so awesome that they want to live in them full time throughout the year, including winter. But do you think it is a good idea hauling and living in an Airstream in winter? Well, before you go for a road trip during winter in your Airstream, you have to make sure that everything is mechanically sound.

Camping during the cold winter months is a blast! You can decide on a location to take your family, friends, or go solo to satisfy your spirit of adventure alone. An Airstream travel trailer is an excellent option to take you to your ideal locations. It allows you to travel through the country during winter and go to warmer clients if you so choose, but sometimes you’ll need to endure colder settings depending on where you are vacationing.

Driving over the slippery sheets of ice on the road can prove challenging, but with proper preparations, the airstream can handle very well in chilly conditions. Like everything else, you have to prepare your airstream if you plan to live in it during winter.

There are several essential things that you need to ensure that work correctly or pack enough of them to get your airstream winter-ready:

Protect Your Airstream Plumbing Pipes During Winter

Have you ever experienced a pipe burst in your home as a result of the cold? Well, the temperatures sometimes fall below zero degrees Celsius. The cost of repairing damages caused to plumbing pipes as a result of this extreme temperature change can be tremendous. Therefore for your Airstream travel trailer make sure that your pipes are always protected, as the water left in the pipe may freeze, expand, and burst. This will cause a massive mess for you and may shorten your time living in an Airstream in winter.

Furthermore these types of damages to your Airstream trailer usually prove difficult to clean up, and you can spend thousands of dollars repairing the system. Woe unto you if it affects your wiring, as you may end up with blown fuses and potentially a fire.

Here is a list of things to do to winterize your RV plumbing and water pipes

  • Remove inline water filters if you have them and bypass your connections.
  • Drain the freshwater tank until it is completely empty.
  • If you have water still inside the water heater, you should also drain it by opening the drain plug and releasing the pressure valve. Make sure you have left the hot water tank off for at last 6 hours before you do this. Always be sure to do this when the water is cold and has no pressure.
  • Open both the hot and cold faucets in every sink, including those in the shower.

Find the location of the low point drain valves and open it. In many Airstreams travel trailer models, you will find two; one for cold water and the other for hot water. You can use the water pump to drain off the water and switch it off immediately the water is drained completely.

After draining every pipe, you should purchase rock salt used in water softeners (rather than antifreeze) and pour it down in all the piped channels. Add a few pounds to your tanks and you’ll lower the freezing temperatures of the water to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit. For other more specific ways to winterize your Airstream plumbing pipes, you should read the owner’s manual for more instructions.

While temperatures in the winter are the opposite of normal conditions, you should pay attention to every detail for you to enjoy your time during winter while living in your Airstream.

What About Extreme Freezing Temperatures?

The truth is, RVing in freezing temperatures will take a heavy toll on your plumbing and nearly every manufactured RV is not insulated well enough for this kind of extreme cold environment to begin with. While you can try to winterize with antifreeze or salt water solutions and such, these things aren’t good tactics for extreme freezing temperatures.

The best setups involve people installing those little wood stoves meant for RVs into their units to keep themselves warm in freezing temperatures since you get better energy output from wood than propane or electricity, and storing drinking water inside the RV rather than the plumbing which is so exposed to the elements. Even if you insulate your hot water heater well, your pipes themselves tend to be exposed and will freeze if the temp drops enough even if you wrap them in insulation.

Make Sure You Have Sources of Heating

You will want to counter the cold temperatures of winter by keeping warm as much as you can. Most of the time when it is very cold outside the majority of the people will stay indoors. When you are out in the wild living in your Airstream travel trailer full-time and get snowed in, you will have no alternative but to keep it also keep it warm inside, else you could potentially freeze to death. Don’t be caught by cold weather unguarded.

While you can wear cold weather clothing to keep warmer inside your Airstream travel trailer, you won’t be as comfortable as if you simply had a source of powered electrical heating.

It would be best if you kept the heat on while living in an Airstream in winter to avoid freezing. So, what are the things that you should do for your Airstream to stay nice and toasty inside?

Since warm air rises many people have found out that adding reflective cushion vent liners to their ceiling window hatches will prevent much of the heat inside your Airstream travel trailer from escaping. The reflective lining makes a difference in your room temperature compared to when you don’t have it in place, as windows are some of the least insulated weak spots on your Airstream travel trailer.

You might also add insulation in between your window shades and panes. If you don’t have reflective insulation, then you should consider using some kind of bubble wrap. Getting this is much cheaper, and serves a similar purpose. All you have to take as a precaution is do not let your children pop it.

Also, you can purchase thermal curtains for your windows. The curtains will trap the heat inside while keeping the cold air outside. The thermal curtains have insulation materials in them that are thick enough to trap the heat inside. If you want to create a real difference in your room temperatures, you should try thermal curtains in your Airstream travel trailer.

At night you have to have the right beddings to keep you warm. It would help if you had many blankets with you during your stay in the Airstream RV. You may have enough hats, gloves, coats, etc. but don’t forget to have plenty of blankets with you, too.

You should also consider purchasing cold weather clothing you can wear if it becomes very freezing at night. Thermal underwear is a good affordable choice that will help you retain your body heat and keep out the chill.

Many Airstream travel trailers come with a built in heating from either a propane heater or an electric heat pump; sometimes both. But sometimes people discover these units have broken for some reason right when you need it most. For this reason it is a good idea to have a portable electric or propane heater. If your Airstream travel trailer doesn’t have a working thermostat controller for your heat pump or furnace then you will definitely be needing to purchase propane or an electric heater; it can even be a good idea to have both in case the electrical system goes out on you. These two heaters will help keep your room temperature very toasty for you.

Make sure to have all the right supplies and even consider purchasing a backup generator. Snow shovels may even be helpful in case you get snowed overnight. When considering a generator you will want to have an additional energy source if your primary one breaks down.

Insulating the Outside of Your Airstream to Keep the Cold Out

Since you need to keep the inside warm and not let heat escape outside, you should also prevent the cold from getting inside in the first place. You can choose to install a skirt around your Airstream storage compartments (areas that often can be a draft entry point) when living in an Airstream in winter. You can purchase these skirts online, but if you find them too expensive, you can make also make one yourself using plywood and tarps.

During your travels across country the Airstream can suffer various dents and other damage to it. The dents might create holes in your Airstream that can create a draft. Before you set out on your winter journey you should have a professional inspect your RV inside and out to ensure these areas are sealed up. The professional can fill in these holes to prevent cold air from leaking inside, using either silicon caulk or a rubber coating. You can of course do this yourself too.

Finally, the other way to keep cold air from getting inside your Airstream travel trailer is to have daft stoppers, rubber seals or shrink-wrap around your doors and windows. Any opening that may have space in them when closing them should be sealed. The cold wind blowing will not enter your Airstream as easily then and as a result you will keep the cold out and the heat in.

You can also consider parking your Airstream trailer away from trees and other shadow so that during the day the sun can provide heat overhead This will at least create a slight difference in the temperature inside your Airstream in a natural, very organic way.

Closing Thoughts on Winterizing Your Airstream Travel Trailer

During winter the weather might get very fierce and chilly, and will often be very unpredictable yet with the right preparations you should not have many worries living in an Airstream in winter. By following my advice and taking necessary precautions you should be able to deal with nearly any problem when things go wrong. You can brave the snowy conditions once you have enough plans and preparations, and you can make fun out of the cold, harsh chilly weather. Go snowboarding or skiing, and make an adventure out if it.


Carey has been living full time as an RVer for several years, traveling extensively around the United States and some parts of Canada. As a digital nomad he lives like a vagabond while managing his companies remotely with a laptop and internet hotspot.