One of my favorite parts about living in Denmark was the hygge atmosphere. This word, which every Dane quickly described to me as being non-translatable (and they’re right) isn’t a thing. It’s a feeling. It’s an experience. It’s a whole vibe.
Hygge is the word used to describe comfort and coziness. And hygge is precisely what I wanted to bring to fellow RV loving families when starting Cruisin’ + Campfires.
The challenge is, before you can bring the feeling of hygge to the outdoors, you first have to know what it looks like in practice. If you’re like me and wanting a way to infuse cozy elements into your RV and camping adventures, here are six areas to focus on elevating and simplifying for the most relaxed experience on the road.
Whenever a meal begins, Danes quickly whip out their lighters and spark a flame on the table. That firelight is full of calm, dancing energy, bringing everyone’s focus to the present. No screens. No distractions. Simply a dim light to keep the attention in the moment.
For many, this firelight defines the camping experience. It makes the darkness feel, well, less dark. It makes nightfall feel more inviting to linger a little longer around the campfire. The flames and smoky smell that lingers in the air are invitations to rest. Stories are told around the campfire, and days of running around adventuring end here.
When bringing hygge to the outdoors, it’s all about having the dim glow of the fire to offer that same sense of calm. Whether you build a wood fire, use a space heater that looks like a fire in your RV, or light up your propane fire pit, you’ll easily bring this fun element to your space.
The glow of the fire is a natural invitation for others to gather close. Similarly, a full picnic table of food brings people together for a meal. In Denmark, the hub and creator of hygge, meals aren’t a fleeting moment. They’re moments to be savored each and every day. It’s where I learned how to speak Danish, and it’s where families come together to talk about their day. That togetherness is part of the experience, and it’s a huge reason why families love to go camping.
When you’re gathering at the campsite, you’re creating memories and deepening bonds. Having a well-designed meal to bring people together can spark those conversations and cause everyone to linger a little bit longer, together. This feeling is why I created our campfire recipe card decks — to save the recipes that tend to draw those you love in and keep them nearby for longer. This is what tradition is made of and a great way to pass along your camping legacy to your family, too.
I love camping. I also love being able to speak without chattering, feel my toes, and move my hands. That’s why I love the RV life specifically. Rather than being limited to only getting outside when it’s warm enough, we can bring hygge to the outdoors by bringing our home on wheels wherever we go.
When headed outside, it’s all about stocking up on the right gear. I often wear my ski jacket for camping because it’s built for the cold. I also wear my fleece ear warmer to keep any chill out of my ears. You have to decide on the right layers for you.
In addition, it’s about cozying up when you sit down. Walking the streets of Denmark, you’ll often find a blanket on the back of the chairs outside the cafes. They are there and ready for you to wrap around your shoulders so you feel more at ease in the outdoors.
Warmth inside doesn’t have to rely on pure propane furnaces alone (although those are essential too). I like to sleep with a microwavable heating pad under the blankets to keep my body warmer at night. My kids love it, too! The added coziness brings just the right amount of warmth after a cool day outdoors.
Soft (Not Gritty)
When many people think of camping, they think of grit, dirt, and roughing it. However, since we’re talking about bringing the hygge to the outdoors, let’s look at the softer side of camping.
Before I get into how I design a softer approach to seeking adventure outside, it’s important to note that I know there will be some naysayers who think roughing it is part of the experience. That’s great if you grin and bear your way through camping. I opt for comfort combined with the outdoors. Onward.
One element of hygge is the soft touches that make things feel more homey. Throw blankets. Pillows (I sleep with two when we RV). Slippers. Aloe socks. Even the way I wash dishes with my Swedish dishcloths offers a softer touch. Look for ways to swap out the hard and uninviting cold for something more comfortable in your RV.
In Denmark, it seems that there’s always one more seat at the table for someone to join in. Neighbors are bringing flowers and talking to each other in the stairwells of their apartment buildings. People are gathering in the streets for coffee or an afternoon beer. It’s an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and at ease.
Camping is much the same. While we have our RVs, there’s something so fun about meeting new people at the campsites. You hear new stories. You say hello and bond over a shared love of getting outside. It’s inviting.
This open invitation for new and renewed connections is a huge reason I’ve created my camping greeting cards — to have a unique way to invite others around the campground table with you. To thank Harvest Host and Boondockers Welcome hosts for opening up their property to you. To invite others into your camping swirl.
Ultimately, no one feels comfortable and cozy, and there is no hygge in the outdoors when everything feels scattered, disorganized, and chaotic. To truly experience the outdoors in a relaxed way requires some level of simplicity.
That simplicity inspired my design for the RV packing checklist and analog trip planner. These two planners simplify the planning process and allow you to roll away confident that you brought everything you’ll need with you and nothing you won’t.
There are dozens of ways to bring hygge to the camping experience. These are just a few. Which element of hygge do you bring to the outdoors when you RV?