The Situation: Winter break

Suspects: Two impulsive college students that have a fair amount of mud on their hiking boots

Plot: A Road Trip around California, hitting all the bucket-list national parks


This year, I moved from Sydney to live in the States. And, the day my boyfriend and I decided to go on the road trip was the kind of day in August where your clothes stick to your skin even if you sit right in front of the fan, holding an icy drink. I couldn’t even imagine snow at that point. But, the itinerary flowed. Of course we’ll go to Yosemite. Zion. Death Valley. Joshua Tree. Big Sur.

W⚡️⚡️K E N D S @jucyusa #JUCYUSA

A post shared by S U E 🐨 (@suekang_) on


Then, December arrived and we landed in Oakland, California to pick up the JUCY Van the following morning. That night, I realized I was way out of my depth as a Sydneysider. Let’s be honest, every winter we furiously click ‘like’ on memes that declare our shock at the dropping temperatures. We forget it gets cold in Sydney. And cold for us is …. 20 degrees Celsius. These Americans have a different kind of cold. My skin felt like it had frozen off. My bones felt the wind attacking me.


So, this is how I dealt with the freezing temperatures on my road trip:


  1. The Strategic Perks


Actually, going during winter worked out for us. My boyfriend and I wanted to see Death Valley. The stars! The landscape! Had we gone during the balmy summer months, we wouldn’t have been able to visit, because we don’t like the sound of dying from extreme heat. Fun fact: Death Valley Reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees Celsius) in 1913, making it the hottest place recorded in the world.

Since I love visiting places that don’t boil my brains, Death Valley during Winter was perfect. We got to hike Ubehebe Crater – that walk was so varied, so much fun. Every 5 minutes the landscape opened up to something new. A new crater in the distance! Another mountain range in the far off horizon! Oh Look, just next to us, a 600 feet drop into the Crater!


Ubehebe Crater Credit @suekang_


The Walks: You can walk around the rim of the Ubehebe Crrater which is only a 1.5 mile round-trip. You can visit several smaller craters on the way as well, like Little Hebe.

Little Hebe

Little Hebe Credit @Ca_mp_be_ll

You can also walk down into the bottom of the main crater which is super fun because you basically slide into it, then you struggle getting out of it. Don’t attempt this if you don’t want to sweat furiously.


  1. The Winter Pack From JUCY


The Winter Pack for us included a sub-zero sleeping bag and thermos drinking flask. I have to say, we used those two things every day (and night). The van already came with this really thick quilt that was just as good as the sleeping bag. But, if both of us had tried to fit under the one thing (whether it be the quilt or the sleeping bag) it would have been uncomfortable and one person would have rolled away with the whole thing, leaving the other to perish in the cold. A sad, lonely ending. So it was great that we had both so we could be cozy separately. The thermos was the best because every morning we boiled water and made coffee and drank it liberally.

Being Cozy in our JUCY Van at Death Valley

Being Cozy in our JUCY Van at Death Valley


  1. By Being Extremely Lazy


I always left my toothbrush within easy reach of the bed. This was because I knew every night we would make our bed in the van and then settle in with all the doors closed, making everything all cozy and warm. And then, who wants to leave the bed and go around to the sink in the back to brush their teeth?  So I always just leaned over the back and brushed my teeth without ever leaving my sleeping bag. Extreme Laziness. Saves lives.


waiting for a mate

Waiting for a Mate with Jucy

  1. By Booking a Campsite with Hot Showers At Least Once


My boyfriend insisted that every night we sleep in a National Park. And that showers were unnecessary. Those were for the weak. For crazy people. But, after sleeping inside Yosemite the first night and then finding the road to Death Valley closed due to snow, I persuaded him that we can sleep in a commercial campsite for one night. And, we stumbled into this place (Yosemite RV Resort) with hot showers and not only that, but the entire bathroom was clean and heated. It was incredible. It was also totally empty as well because of the winter season. I think that was my favourite night in a JUCY van. Warm, clean and so cozy.


Our Cozy Winter Van

Our Cozy Winter Van


Thanks to JUCY for helping me make this road trip possible. Find out more at and follow them on social media @JucyUSA #JUCYUSA



About The Author

Writer based in O'ahu and Sydney. Pretty sure she spends more time hiking and camping than she does at home. Check out all her road trips on her instagram @suekang_

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