Your Ultimate Road Trip Packing List For Van Life Adventures
Are you thinking of taking a Vanlife trip and are searching for some tips on how to make packing and travelling easier? Then this is the post for you! Below are some packing tips so you can be prepared for a fantastic vanlife adventure.
My friend Lee-Ann from www.befreewithlee.com has just returned from a massive vanlife adventure around New Zealand and she wanted to write a blog post for me, to help my readers prepare for their vanlife trips. Read her post below on how to pack for your vanlife adventure.
Your Ultimate Road Trip Packing List For Van Life Adventures
Fancy the minimalist lifestyle? Heading away on a van life adventure? Just going on a roadie? This post has you covered. There’s nothing better than remembering everything you need on your overnight adventure wherever that may be. It’s even better when you remember everything for your month long van trip around the country! Whatever you’re into, you will need to get your hands on a road trip packing list to save you a bit of coin.
Speaking from experience… nothing teaches you how to limit your purchases or teaches you how to pack lightly than living in a van (or tiny home). There is something incredibly rejuvenating and uplifting about having minimal stuff and having things you actually use in your space. When travelling for an extended period of time in a van you may be tempted to stuff every nook and cranny with items you may use, like the extra frying pan or salad bowl. Trust me, although you might think you need it - you just won’t. If you do, you can just do without! Or in my case if something breaks, you can just buy a new one. Like we did with our cooker many, many miles from home.
But this post isn’t about my trip. It’s about you and getting you sorted with the best road trip packing list for your van trip. I spent just over 3 months on the road with minimal stuff and learnt a thing or two along the way. Like holding my bladder and reusing plates that just had toast on them. I’m hoping the tips shared below serve as some use to you on your roadie, and if I’ve done my job, by the end of this post you should be in a better place than when you started. Hopefully with some clarity about what it is you actually need to have a good quality road trip.
Alright first let’s tick off the must haves.
Road Trip Packing List Essentials
There are plenty of items to go on your road trip packing list that I honestly don’t know where to start. It actually depends on how big your van, camper or car is and what you plan to do on your journey. But, let’s just assume you are travelling in a campervan for more than 2 weeks. If you’re into biking, skiing, rowing or whatever, I am sure you can remember to add these items to your list, right? Right. Well, let’s delve into a few generic road trip packing list essentials that I guarantee you will need.
Vanlife Packing Essentials
A cooker of some sort
An esky to keep your drinks cold
Battery pack / solar charger
First aid kit
Sunshade for your windscreen
Map of where you’re going (Hardcopy)
Salt and Pepper
If you would like a list of more general packing items head on over to Minimalist Journey’s post about Vanlife Essentials or campervan gear essentials from two wandering soles.
Okay, now let’s delve into a few things that you may not find on all the general lists out there.
Road trip packing list items you may not have even thought about
Sewing kit - A small pocket sized sewing kit will come in handy at least once during your trip. I can’t tell you the amount of times I ripped my harem pants and sewed them up. Getting in and out of a van isn’t the most elegant thing to do. If your van is a DIY job you may find yourself sewing up your curtains or a hole in your cushion covers. Perhaps even sewing up a hole in the good ol’ ugg boots. (A pretty useful item to take with you). If you are using a rental then maybe this tip isn’t so useful as hopefully the curtains and cushions are of good quality!
Camping Toilet - If you’re heading off grid, you can get some pretty handy toilets online with all the goodies you need. The good thing is porter loos like this don’t take up much space. If you're camping at a caravan park then you may not need a toilet if you're prepared to walk to the toilet blocks, however if you're travelling with kids, it could be easier to let them use this if they get up at midnight. You can always pop it outside when they're finished and empty it out in the morning.
Jet boil - I can not tell you how handy this is when you don’t want to get the gas cooker stove top out. It heats up within 2 minutes and can be an easy solution to your morning oats or that sweet cup of coffee. Absolutely perfect if you’re into hiking too!
Paper towels - Doing the dishes is going to be easy if you’re staying at camping grounds. Or, hard work if you don’t have a sink. Perhaps not even possible until you find a sink somewhere along your travels. Well, in Canada I used to rinse my dishes out with paper towels and chuck em in the bin until I found a place to do the dishes. It’s a pretty handy tip if you’re not always near a sink.
Can opener - Canned beans anyone? Even if you buy cans with a special can opener thing built in, I guarantee you will still need one of these! The amount of times I have tried to open cans that have the little pop handle that end up breaking on me… Seriously, anyone else experience this?! Pet peve…
Rubbish bag - This doesn’t have to be plastic!!! We used them when we had to but always used a supermarket bag to hold our recycling. But the good ol’ environmentally damaging plastic bags may be handy at times. Especially when you just don’t come across a rubbish bin for days.
Mosquito net - Oooh, I have a mini passion for these after building a really terrible one in my van. Seriously, if there was one thing to invest in on your road trip I would recommend a good quality mosquito net! The best ones I saw were clipped over the vehicle window from the outside with magnets. No more pesky sandflies!
Tissues - Because they are better than hankys.
Washing bag - This is probably my second favourite road trip packing list essential. Trust me when I say you won’t be doing washing for days. Or weeks! Having a place to store the dirty undies is a great idea. Your clothes just aren’t going to be as nice as they are back home and that’s okay. Just something to keep in mind!
Fairy lights - Not an essential but an added comfort. They are usually pretty subtle and provide a nice comforting light. If you have your own van the key is to staple them to the roof. It took me so long to figure out how to attach them, but staples are the best. Blue tack works okay if you are using a rental.
Water bottles - No Brainer and essential in the Australian Summer heat! Having a water bottle will save you filling up that 20L tank when you just want a sip. Water bottles fit underneath most of the drinking fountain water taps in campgrounds when the 20L just don’t.
Hand sanitiser - You’ll be surprised how many times you will use this! Hand wipes are also a pretty good investment.
Door Mat - You will park in some random places. Perhaps, even on gravel so it's nice to have something to put your feet on while you put your shoes on, when you’re getting up to pee in the middle of the night. Also helps to wipe your feet on to keep dirt and sand out of the van.
Clothes horse/rack - As well as a curtain line to hang your swimmers on. Great for when you’ve just been for a swim and want to dry your swimmers, as they will blow dry when you are driving. I got a clothes horse that attached to my door and was a great compatible option.
Dustpan & brush - Nothing worse than treading mud inside knowing you can’t get rid of it. Perfect for cleaning up food from the floor too!
Folding chairs - No brainer. Camping requires a camping chair.
Block of wood/wheel raiser - You’ll park in some random spots and this will save you finding rocks and arguments with yourself.
Bungee chords - Great to go on your roof rack as an extra washing line.
Dishwashing bucket - Great for if you don't have a sink!
Torch - For endless nights spent walking to the toilets. Also good for if your lights go out in your van or you want to go hunting for nocturnal animals at night. Torches are a must have!
There you have it. Your Road Trip Packing List for your vanlife adventure - wherever that may be. I hope you have an absolutely amazing time and find something useful from this post. If I could add one more item to the list, it would be advice. My number one tip is to live in the moment. Enjoy the freedom and space that living with minimal items brings, as well as the feeling of joy you will gain living under the stars. But, I am sure you will do this anyway! Thanks for reading.
Lee is a travel blogger located in New Zealand. She shares up to date and informative tips on travelling New Zealand including the best hiking and adventure experiences. She aims to inspire others to get out there and explore wherever and whenever that may be. Her hobbies are running, hiking, mindfulness activities, playing with her dog and spending time with family and friends. Catch her around New Zealand in her DIY campervan! For more of Lee-Ann’s travel articles, check out her blog BeFreeWithLee, her Facebook page or stay up to date with her adventures on Instagram.
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