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The Ski-Bum Vanlife Checklist: Are You Ready for Winter?

The ultimate winter road trip, vanlife style.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Bored with doing yoga in a bikini on the top of a restored VW Bus (aren't we all?), vanlifers are tackling a new challenge: road-tripping to catch fresh powder at ski resorts across the United States.

Have adventure rig, will ski, we say, and so do the folks over at Ikon Pass. The Ikon Pass offers access to over 41 resorts worldwide, 33 of which are in North America. All you need is one pass, one rig, and your gear to create the most amazing version of connect the dots ever.

Are you ready for winter vanlife? Use this checklist to find out.

Item 1: A Warm, Cozy Bed

There is no point in hitting the road for a camping ski trip if you won't be getting any sleep. That's the beauty of the van (or camper, or RV)...pull it over and voila! Naptime.

Make sure your bed is big enough for you to sleep comfortably, and outfitted with enough blankets and an insulating mattress to keep you warm and comfortable at night. If you're not sleeping, your turns will suffer. Trust us.

Item 2: Wet Gear Drying System

When the powder is flying, everything gets wet. Make sure there is enough room in your rig to hang or drape your clothing and other gear, so it has a chance to dry overnight. Dry gear is warm gear, and when you're on the road, you want everything to be as dry as possible.

Nothing says "I wish I had a hotel room" like squirming yourself into damp, half-frozen long underwear in the morning.

Item 3: Insulation and a Heater

Most rigs—especially those made for the regular camping market—aren't equipped to handle winter travel. But don't despair, many can be turned into winter rigs by adding insulation to the walls and windows. If you want running water in the winter, things get a bit trickier, but not impossible. 

Make sure you have a heater and know how to run it properly (heaters always need to be vented!).

The bottom line to winter vanlife? Staying warm and dry is key.

Bonus! Item 4: WiFi

If you plan to be working from the road (and if you can, do...longer road trips!), make sure you have your internet all ironed out. You might be able to eek free WiFi in a resort parking lot or by sidling up to a Starbucks, but it'll get tedious pretty fast.

Either work off your cell phone data or pick up a wireless hotspot from any of the major cell carriers.

Where to Stay

Some of Ikon Pass' ski destinations allow camping right there in the parking lots. Does it get any better than that? Crystal Mountain's lot B is the mother ship for winter road trippers, offering full hookups for $40 per night. Other options include Revelstoke Mountain Resort in British Columbia and Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico.

For those resorts that don't allow overnight camping, use a resource like Campendium or iOverlander to find free or paid camping nearby. Don't be afraid to ask around on the ski lift either...locals are often willing to share some local beta with fellow snow-worshippers. You might even find yourself at the receiving end of a friendly driveway and a home-cooked meal.

In the end, no matter how you make your way to one or more of the 41 Ikon Pass resorts around the world, you'll be living the dream. Just be sure to keep your clothes dry, your body warm, and your tires on the road. We'll see you out there.

Buy your 2019/2020 Ikon Pass or Ikon Pass Base now.

Photos courtesy of Ikon Pass

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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