‘Tis the season of cold nights by the campfire, fluffy blankets, flannel shirts and a hot drink in your hand. It’s cozy season my friends! This is why I’m sharing tips on how to hygge your RV and campsite.
If you don’t know what hygge is, here’s how Dictionary.com defines it:
a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
“why not follow the Danish example and bring more hygge into your daily life?”
A Young Mom + Alaska + Hygge
I’m a little late to the hygge party as far as reading the New York Times bestseller book, The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, which was published a couple of years ago. I kept meaning to read it, but just never did, until now.
Here’s a short description of what hygge and this book are all about:
Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge―pronounced Hoo-ga―is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”
Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day.
Although I just read the book, I’ve been applying this Danish secret to my life for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t know it.
My practice of hygge started when I was a young mom of one and the Air Force sent us to Todd’s first duty station – Alaska. We moved there in the heart of winter and I’ll never forget waking up that morning and walking outside of our hotel room. The temps were in the single digits with the wind chill at negative something or other. To say this was a shock to my Texas system would be an understatement.
It was cold. Very cold. I had a one-year-old with one on the way, living in a new state, experiencing a new way of life (military-life) and I was going to figure it all out and enjoy the process.
And when you live in a climate like Alaska, you learn very quickly that hygge, or coziness as its best defined in English, is essential to enjoying life there. The weather can be brutal in the winter, it’s dark and instead of complaining about something that is not in your control, you make the best of it.
Bringing hygge into your life is one way to do just that.
Hygge + RV Living
Although I’ve been applying the idea of hygge to my life for as long as I can remember, I think I really embraced it and experienced it fully when we moved into our home on wheels. (You can read about how we went from a house to an RV full-time in 100 days here.)
As defined in the book I mentioned above, hygge is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. It’s an experience. It’s being with the people you love.
RV life taught me how to place less importance on material possessions and more importance on creating experiences and memories.
I’ll never forget my first few moments when the fact that we moved into an RV to travel the U.S. and Canada for the foreseeable future sunk in. I was sitting in the travel trailer alone, parked at a grocery store, while my family was inside grabbing a few things. I had this overwhelming feeling of comfort come over me. It was as if I’d been holding my breath for years and I finally let it out.
My shoulders relaxed. I took a deep breath and I said out loud “We did it. We really, really did it.”
To me, this feeling was pure hygge.
There’s a line in The Little Book of Hygee that really sums up to me what RV life is all about:
“Hygge is humble and slow. It is choosing rustic over new, simple over posh, and ambience over excitement. In many ways, hygge might be the Danish cousin to slow and simple living.”
How to Hygge Your RV and Campsite
While hygge isn’t a thing you can purchase, hold in your hand or even really define, there are ways you can bring hygge into your life and into your RV and campsite.
In chapter six of The Little Book of Hygge, it’s all about the home. The Danish have an obsession with design, especially in their homes because they consider their dwelling place hygge headquarters.
So, how can you make your campsite and RV hygge headquarters? By tweaking this list of 10 things from the book that will make your home more hygellig to fit the RV lifestyle:
- A Fireplace
- Things Made Out of Wood
- Think Tactile
- Blankets and Cushions
What in the world is hyggekrog? It’s a “nook”, a place where you love to curl up with a book, a blanket and a cup of tea.
Since RVs are typically pretty small, your choices are narrow as to where you’ll create a little nook like this. For us, since we squeezed four (sometimes five) of us into 200 sq. feet, our “nooks” were usually either our beds or a place outside.
To make your RV bed your hyggekrog, make sure it has a comfortable mattress or mattress topper (we have this one), a blanket you love, a place to set a hot drink and some comfy pillows.
You might also like: 11 RV Sleep Tips: How to Get a Great Night’s Sleep
We did several things to create comfortable nooks outdoors at our campsite:
- My daughter brought her hammock with her when she visited, which gave her a place to read, nap and just be
- We set up this Gazelle tent which our youngest son used as his space to be by himself and chill
- Todd purchased this super comfortable camping chair and usually sat in it in the quiet of the morning before we were all up
You might also like: Top 7 RV Camping Supplies for Relaxed Outdoor Living
2. A Fireplace
Whether you have the luxury of enjoying a fireplace inside your RV or you have to build one outside yourself, sitting by the fire is the ultimate hygge experience.
When friends ask me what I miss most about full-time RVing, sitting by the campfire on a weekly basis is something I really miss.
There is something magical about sitting by the fire isn’t there? When you’re by yourself or with others, you can sit in comfortable silence. No one feels the need to say anything and instead just sit there and soak up the warmth, listening to the crackling of the fire and smelling the burning of the logs.
Not only can you sit around the fire in silence, but it also brings out great conversations. We quickly found out this is the easiest way to meet people at the campground. Invite them over for s’mores or drinks or both and let the conversations flow.
If you find yourself at a campsite that doesn’t allow fires, most will allow a propane fire pit.
Lighting, candles specifically, are so important to the Danish way of living that the author of the hygge book dedicated an entire chapter to it. He said that when Danes are asked what they associate most with hygge, 85% mention candles. And over half of Danes light candles almost every day during autumn and winter.
I don’t know about you, but RVing and candles make me a little nervous. In our travel trailer, we had very minimal counter space and our dining room table was used for eating, work and sometimes a bed. When thinking about getting a candle, all I could think about was how easy it would be for something to light on fire. They smell amazing, but they can be pretty dangerous.
But, candles for Danes aren’t about the smell. In fact, they mostly use unscented candles. It’s about ambiance, which is easy to achieve with lamps and the right overhead lighting.
If you have the room, adding a lamp to your RV space can really help to create a hygge environment. I remember early on in our travels driving up at night to the campground and seeing several RVs with a lamp on in the window. It always made me smile and it screamed (quietly of course) comfort.
4. Things Made Out of Wood
Surrounding ourselves with wood makes us feel closer to nature. When it comes to RVing, it’s easy to surround yourself with nature and it’s what a lot of us love so much about this way of traveling.
I’m sure, like us, some of your favorite campgrounds involve trees.
One of our favorite RVing experiences was in Vermont. Our campsite was huge and there were trees everywhere. Plus, they allowed us to hang a hammock and our boys were able to set up their slackline (click here if you don’t know what that is). Needless to say, we never wanted to leave.
On top of that, they had firepits we could use and the campground hosted an enormous bonfire one night.
Surrounded by things made out of wood? Check.
Not only is wood important to hygge, but nature in general.
I love this quote from the book about decorating your space with nature. He said, “Basically you want to think: How would a Viking squirrel decorate a living room?”
One way to do this is by covering things with sheepskin, cowhide, etc. (Fake of course.) I covered our ottoman with fur and it immediately gave the space warmth.
Ahhhh books. As soon as we started deciding what we would sell, what we would store and what we would bring with us in the RV for full-time travel, we knew books were going to be a big issue. Not only do they take up a lot of space but they’re heavy and for those of you who are experienced RVers, you know you have to factor in weight when it comes to towing.
All of us brought our favorite books with us, plus some others we planned on reading in the future. But we mainly relied on our Kindles. Our boys both preferred the Kindle paperwhite because it felt as close to a real book as you could get.
Todd and I used a Fire Tablet because we could also watch movies and shows on it.
But there’s just no replacement for a real book in your hands. Since we’ve gone back to stationary living, not only have we bought probably too many books already, but we visit the library on a weekly basis.
So, as far as books and RV living, here are a few tips we learned along the way:
- Bring your favorites
- If you buy a book while traveling, choose one you own to donate (Bring one in, take one out)
- See if your RV park has a library (Some have a “take one leave one” rule)
- Use a reading light for reading at night (I have this one)
Do you have a favorite mug? Bring it with you. What about a favorite teapot? Bring it with you.
While RVing, we all probably drank more tea and hot cocoa than usual. Doesn’t this picture of my slippers, a hot cup of tea with my feet perched on our fur-covered ottoman just scream hygge?
8. Think Tactile
Hygge is not only about how things look, but also how they feel. That feeling of your favorite mug in your hand? That’s hyggelig. Running your hands over a fur-covered ottoman? Also hyggelig. A real book? Hyygelig.
You get the idea.
If you’re traveling in a vintage RV, you can check that off your hygge list.
If there’s something you own that holds an emotional value and story, bring it with you. That could be anything from a mug, book, or an old ratty sweatshirt.
10. Blankets and Cushions
Blankets and cushions are a hygge must-have.
We all brought our favorite blankets with us and are glad we did. Our oldest son bought a Pendleton blanket early on in our travels and it has gone with him all over the country. He recently moved to Idaho and you can bet that Pendleton moved with him.
I also brought some comfy small pillows with us which warmed up our living area.
Hygge and RVing
As you can see, creating a hyggelig space while RVing is pretty easy. So much about the RV lifestyle is all about comfort and coziness, as well as bringing family and friends together.
Do you have some ways not mentioned to hygge your RV and campsite? Please share in the comments below so we can all benefit from your hygge ways. 🙂
Julie Bonner is one-half of the TREKKN team. She specializes in helping you whip up delicious meals in your tiny RV kitchen, as well as RV organization tips and helping fellow RVers make their RV feel like home. Her favorite RVing spot is in Banff National Park in Canada where yes, the water really is that blue and the people really are that nice.