Packing for van life isn’t quite the same as packing for a short road trip or even a camping weekend.
Van life is a long-term lifestyle, so we need to pack accordingly.
Try to make sure your campervan accessories have a dual purpose where possible.
Don’t overestimate how many clothes and shoes you need. If you only use it once in a while, don’t pack it.
Deciding what to pack is a serious step in repreparing to live in a van. Essentials are probably all you’ll have space to pack. But what should be on the list?
This article provides a complete campervan packing list of van life essentials. Some of the items here will make fantastic campervan gifts too!
You know your own lifestyle better than we ever could, so add more or less to this list for your needs.
This list gives a sound basis from which to start thinking about what to pack for your campervan trip or long-term van life.
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The campervan appliances you choose depend on your budget, van lifestyle, size of the van, and the activities you enjoy.
Choosing the best van to live in for your lifestyle is important.
Once you’ve bought your van, fitting essential campervan appliances will elevate the comfort and convenience of your van life.
Before you buy your appliances, make sure you do your research.
- Where will you install them & will they fit?
- Will your campervan electrical system cope with the demand?
- Do you need to add a few camper solar panels to boost your capacity?
- Will your campervan water system accommodate your water needs?
Here’s a list of the most common campervan appliances to consider:
- Campervan oven
- 12v fridge
- Heaters for campers
- Campervan toilet
- Roof vent
- Water filter
- Camper van lights – LEDs
- Portable solar panel
- Wifi booster
Camper Kitchen Essentials
Eating well for a healthy lifestyle in a camper van is much easier with a well-equipped kitchen.
With limited space indoors, having compact and practical camper kitchen accessories makes life easier, more organized and minimizes the storage we need.
We’re now on our 2nd camper van, and over the years, we’ve perfected the contents of our van’s kitchen cupboards for our needs.
These camper kitchen essentials make sure we eat well and cook just about anything our culinary skills can stretch to.
- Pressure cooker
- Chopping boards
- Plates & bowls
- Thermos flask
- Can opener
- Camping coffee makers (no need for electricity)
- Cast iron skillet
- Oven gloves
- Vegetable peeler
- Tea towels
- Airtight storage containers
- Waste bin
Campervan Bathroom Accessories
Some campervans have fully fitted bathrooms. Others have outdoor camper showers and emergency use only toilets.
Your solution depends on the size of your van, how much space you’re willing to give up for the luxury, and on personal preference.
But what campervan bathroom accessories do you need to pack?
To make your campervan showering experience a little more civilized, here are a few bathroom accessories to include on your van life gear essentials packing list.
- Lidded bin
- Nappy sacks
- Wooden mat
- Long shower hose
- Shower curtain
- Trigger shower head
- Waterproof toilet roll holder
- Hanging organizer
- Hand sanitizer
- Eco-friendly shampoo & soap
Laundry & Cleaning in a Campervan
If you live in your van for anything longer than a week at a time, you need to consider how to do your van life laundry.
There are campervan washing machines on the market, but in reality, they take up a lot of space and need mains electric supply.
Laundrettes are a good solution, but in some countries, they are quite expensive.
It’s best to have the means to wash your own clothes when living off-grid. For that, you need a few of these van life essentials.
- Washing line
- Peg bag
- Scrubba wash bag
- Laundry bag
- Hand-held or small vacuum cleaner
- Dustpan and brush
Knowing what to pack for a short holiday is difficult enough. But how to decide what clothes to pack for van life or campervan road trips?
We need to prepare for all weather conditions, activities we enjoy, and most likely eventualities.
Space is limited, so we often launder and try to get fast-drying, lightweight layers wherever possible.
You may be surprised at how little you really need when you only have a 40-liter storage capacity for your clothes, as we do!
Here’s everything we pack (each).
- T-shirts x4
- Fleece sweaters x3
- Jeans x1
- Hiking trousers x3
- Shorts x2
- Shirts/blouse x2
- Light cardigan x2
- Sun hat
- Wooly hat
- Big wooly socks (for slippers) x2
- Pajamas x2
- Underwear for one week
- Socks x5
- Walking boots
- Hiking shoes
- Flip flops
- Waterproof jacket
- Warm down coat
Travel Tech Essentials
A few travel tech essentials can make a difference to your van life and adventure travels.
These electronics will help you stay in touch, navigate, capture memories and provide a means to run a blog, write a book or simply watch Netflix.
Most important, aim for the 12v options of all the campervan battery charging devices and cables.
If you live in your camper van full time, you’re likely to experience a variety of climates year-round.
In summer, nights can be hot and sticky. In winter, outside temperatures can fall below zero.
This means you’ll need a selection of blankets, duvets, and sheets to keep warm or cool, depending on the weather.
Consider investing in vacuum storage bags to reduce the storage space they need out of season.
Campervan security is important to protect your investment from theft, your home from burglars, and yourself from harm.
In some circumstances, it can even help reduce the cost of campervan insurance policies.
Vehicle thieves and burglars are often opportunists. Remove any temptation from view, and visible deterrents like locks and other security features are often enough.
Prevention is better than cure.
You can get a full breakdown of everything we recommend you include in a roadside emergency kit here, including a free downloadable checklist. But here are a few things on that list:
- Portable alarm
- Security locks
- Steering lock
- Fire blanket
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguishers
- Carbon monoxide detector
- Fire alarm
Outdoor Living Camper Essentials
If your campervan is small, your van life will be spent beside the van as much as inside it.
Even with a larger campervan or RV, living outdoors is part and parcel of van life.
So what camping gear do you need to take in your campervan?
Here are a few outdoor living camper essentials to get you off on the right foot.
- Portable hammock stand
- Camping chairs
- Camping table
- Driveaway awning
- Sleeping bag
- Gerber knife
Campervan Tool Kit & Maintenance
Accidents happen, things wear out, and stuff breaks. It’s a fact that life living in a van isn’t exempt from.
A well-equipped campervan tool kit will help you through most issues.
You’ll need spare parts and tools for mechanical issues as well as for camper van interior repairs.
- Air compressor
- Tyre pressure gauge
- Selection of spanners
- Allen keys & torque keys
- Gaffer tape
- Spare fuses & lightbulbs
- Brake fluid
- Transmission oil
- Engine oil
- Fan belt with a plan of how it fits
- Hose clips
- Spare set of vehicle number plates
- Torque wrench
- Wheel nut socket
- Air filter
- Fuel filter
- Rubber mallet
- Small hammer
- Wire cutters
- Electrical crimps & terminals
- Selection of rubber hoses
- Drill & drill bits
- Pot rivets & rivet gun
- Spare parts for appliances
- Appliance instruction manuals
Most of us carry smartphones these days. With a wealth of useful apps available covering all sorts of conveniences, van life assistance is never far away.
Ideal for wild camping and boondocking, navigation and sightseeing, fuel prices, and translation service when traveling abroad.
Here are some of the most useful apps we use regularly.
- Google translate
- UK Petrol Station Comparison
- ASCI Campsites Europe
Odds and Sods
And a few extra things to add to your van life essentials list:
Printable Van Life Essentials List
Click on the image below or the link below it to print your own copy of our complete van life essentials packing list.
Angela Devaney, a former IT project management professional, embarked on an adventurous journey of full-time travel, which included touring West Africa in a converted overland truck and converting an ex-military 4×4 Sprinter van into a camper for a five-year South American expedition. She now utilizes her hands-on experience to create practical RV living and van life advice as a full-time digital media producer, reaching over a million users annually through her YouTube channel, blog, and newsletter. Angela also lends her expertise as the editor-in-chief of the Campervan Electrics Handbook.