So, you’re making the move to living in a van full time? Congrats! There’s a lot to figure out as you make a transition to life in a smaller space. Like what type of camper van conversion to get, to how much you want to spend on the van itself, to what exactly you need to make life on the road more comfortable.
Here are 13 items you might want to consider when living in a van full-time. These items will help keep you stealthy, safe, warm and happy for van life.
I just bought a Chevy Astro van, and I’ve used many of these items myself both in the van and in the Prius back when I lived in a car to pay off debt.
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1. Magnets for your doors and drawers
It’s easy for stuff to shift around when you drive in your camper van, and these powerful magnets will keep doors and drawers safely clamped shut when you’re living in a van full time.
2. A tiny 200-watt heater for cold nights living in a van full time
Sometimes, it can get chilly inside your camper van as the temperature outside dips. If you don’t want to stay huddled beneath your sleeping bag or blankets all evening, try out a tiny heater. It doesn’t drain the power too much. I read that one van-lifer sets a timer for her heater to come on for two hours in the dead of the night to keep things cozy when living in a van full time.
3. Pick a stove for your cooking needs in your camper van
We all know a stove is a camper essential when living in a van full time, but you’ll have to think about what type. A lot of van lifers build a kitchen and stove right into their van and charge it using a marine battery or solar panels. Personally, I didn’t want to build a kitchen into my tiny Chevy Astro, so I bought a single burner to use on a picnic table at a campground.
I bought this particular single-burner gas stove. It’s big enough to fit a large pot in case I want to make soup, and runs on butane gas, which is cheaper than the propane/butane gas mix we use to run our Jetboil backpacking stove.
4. Window deflectors for keeping windows cracked
So, this might be more helpful for sleeping in a car rather than a van, but my boyfriend and I have loved these window deflectors. The windows can be cracked when it’s raining outside, and water doesn’t get inside your vehicle. We used these a lot when we were camping in rainy environments. I think it’s great for both a car or for living in a van full time – and I plan to buy some soon for my Chevy Astro.
You can put a 12 volt refrigerator inside your van, but you’ll need to install an external battery system to power the fridge. Many van dwellers instead choose a very high-quality fridge that keeps ice, food and drinks cold for days. A top-ranked one is the Yeti cooler. I love everything Yeti. It’s expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Some people who live in a van full time love to tack this Reflectix insulation on their windows as part of their blinds. It’s a great way to stay warm and cozy, especially if you’re planning on living and traveling in cold climates.
7. Blackout material for your camper van windows
Getting some black out material for your windows is essential for living in a van full time, especially if you want to stay stealth. While living in the Prius, we had our windows tinted, but I think some of this stuff would go hand-in-hand with a window tint, cause that morning sun is strong!
8. A sunshade for your front windows
We had to be super undercover while living in the Prius, and having sunshades over the front windows helped a lot. People couldn’t peer into the car as easily to see if someone was sleeping back there. A sunshade not only just keeps you hidden, it also keeps the heat down on sunny days.
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9. A DC to AC inverter so you can use a computer while living in a van full time
This handy pure sine wave DC to AC power inverter can be plugged into your cigarette lighter and is powerful to charge things like laptops and tablets. The inverter also comes with a couple of USB plugs for your phone. Could be a life-saver if you’re out in the woods and want to watch a movie or do some work on your computer.
10. Starter solar panels are a major camper essential
Living in a van full-time just wouldn’t be complete without some solar panels on your roof 🙂 There are a few ways to do this, and one is to get a starter solar power kit from Amazon. This is one awesome step to going off-grid and living in a van full time.
You will want a camp chair on those days when it’s just too beautiful to sit in your van. The Kelty camp chair is super comfortable and a top favorite.
I absolutely love my Verizon MiFi device and would recommend it to everyone. I currently live on a sailboat and in a van, and it’s nice to be able to log onto my computer and do some work when we’re lounging around at anchor. I’ve also taken it on road trips and have been surprised at how good the coverage is. This is especially good if you’re living in a van full-time and need to do some work while traveling. Another good hot spot can be generated using Project Fi, which is also a super cheap phone service.
13. An outdoor shower for van life
You may not have a bathroom in your van, and like many, rely on a gym or a rec center for your shower. Personally, if it’s warm enough outside, I love showering out in nature. I recently purchased a solar shower that provided enough water for both my boyfriend and me to take showers recently when camping with my Astro van. The solar shower heated up really fast.
What items can you not live without during your van life or car living explorations? I’d love to know!
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