Van Life Essentials: 60+ Items I Swear By + Your Free Packing Checklist

Curious what you should bring on your campervan adventures? Check out our top van life essentials and download your very own packing list!

cooking outside a campervan

Are you new to van life and wondering what you should take on your journey? I’ve lived in TWO vans: first a Chevy Astro van I got in 2018, and now a 2021 Sprinter van.

Along the way, I’ve gathered a list of the best van life essentials for your campervan journey

From my favorite kitchenware, to outdoor gear, to photography and hiking, we have you covered in this post.

I’ve also created a multi-page list for you with my favorite campervan essentials that you can download and access any time you want.

Grab that list below:

Van Life Essentials for Your Kitchen and Cooking

cooking outside a campervan
Cooking outside the campervan using the GSI Outdoors Camp Stove

We are super into cooking and cook way more than eating out when traveling around in our Sprinter van. We use both an induction stove inside our van and a portable camping stove when cooking outdoors.

Here’s what you see in the above picture:

We typically cook inside our van during inclement weather or when we’re in cities and can’t set up our table and propane stove. But we love cooking outside whenever we’re at a campground or boondocking.

Here are some van life essentials we can’t live without when it comes to cooking good food when on the road.

GSI Outdoors Two Burner Stove

This is the two-burner camp stove we now use in our Sprinter van, a wonderful upgrade from using a one-burner stove. This stove from GSI has better simmer control than most camp stoves we've seen and is really easy to clean and use. Highly recommend for outdoor cooking.

Epicurean Cutting Board

We have one cutting board in our campervan and it's this one from Epicurian. Sure, it's expensive for a cutting board but it's AMAZING. We chose a huge size, which covers half of our table when I'm preparing dinner. It's made of a paper composite material that's durable and easy to clean. The groove captures liquid from veggies like tomatoes, preventing spills on my van's floor. I just love this and would highly recommend as a van life essential for the kitchen.

All-Clad Precision Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

My All-Clad pressure cooker is one of my very favorite things I use in my nomadic lifestyle. We only keep TWO POTS in our van, which is why I chose such a durable and high-quality pressure cooker. This one has different settings for whatever food you're trying to prepare, and a timer that ensures you're pressure cooking is on par. This goes above and beyond other pressure cookers I've tried for both van life and my sailboat adventures.

woman cooking inside her campervan
Me with my Epicurean cutting board

In the photo above, you’ll see me using my large Epicurean cutting board, along with my ONE good knife I keep in the van and on the sailboat. Yes, I carry the same one knife between my two tiny homes.

The knife is: Wusthof German Hollow Edge Santoku Knife

Zavor Portable Induction Cooktop

We LOVE our induction cooktop from Sur La Table. When we're not cooking outside, we set this up inside our campervan and cook away. It does use significant power, but not something our 4 lithium batteries from Battleborn can't handle. I love that it doesn't need propane and doesn't create harmful fumes like our gas cooktop. It's super easy to use and cools off quickly.

Staub Cast Iron Skillet

As I mentioned before, we only use TWO pots in our campervan, a pressure cooker and this cast iron skillet from Staub. Both our pots work with our induction cooktop, and we love how easy it is to clean a high-quality pre-seasoned cast iron skillet. This skillet cooks food wonderfully.

Radius Outfitters Kitchen Organizer

We just love this small kitchen organizer from campervan supply company Radius Outfitters. It holds all of our plates, silverware and cooking tools and is easy to hang from the van. We have ours hanging from the back of the driver's seat, and it's really easy to access all our kitchen items.

In our Sprinter campervan, we only keep enough utensils on hand for the two of us. This is actually hilarious as we’ve encountered situations where we’ve had friends over to hang out and had to ask them to bring their own plates and forks. But when you live in a tiny space, you can’t keep tons of items on hand just for guests.

Here are our favorite items to eat with after trying and testing several types of plates and cutlery.

humangear GoBites Uno Spork

These lightweight camping sporks are great for both backpacking and as one of many van life essentials for your van kitchen. We keep two of these on hand at all times. What's really cool is the edge of the spoon is sharp; you can use it to cut your food.

We used these while backpacking the John Muir Trail as well. They are hardy and well-made.

A pourover with a paper filter inside a campervan, a true campervan essential
I prefer to use a simple pourover for my campervan coffee

Coffee in a campervan is one of my top van life essentials. I can’t start the day without a good cup of morning joe. While some van lifers love the Aeropress, it exploded all over me one time and I sent it straight to Goodwill.

We make coffee by using an electric kettle and a Melitta pour over. It’s super simple and easy to clean up since the grounds are contained to a paper filter.

When I’m craving some espresso, I do have a Nanopresso portable espresso maker, which I LOVE. I bought the Nespresso adaptor, so all I have to do is pop a little Nespresso into the Nanopresso, and I have a tiny steaming shot of espresso.

Want to read more about the best campervan coffee makers? Check out this article: The Best Camper Van Coffee Makers for The Perfect Cup on the Road

Melitta Red Ready Joe Filter Cone

I've tried many ways to make coffee in a campervan, including the Aeropress and a French Press. But I keep coming back to the simplicity and ease of a Melitta pourover. Not only does it make a great cup of coffee, but is super easy to clean afterward.

The Wayward Home Pick
Manual Coffee Bean Grinder

I started grinding my own coffee beans back in 2022, and it sure made a world of a difference. I get such fresh-tasting coffee every morning, and this makes enough for about two pour-over cups of joe. If you're looking to get into manual coffee grinding, this is a great pick for van life!

Wacaco Nanopresso

If you're super into coffee like me, you won't want to miss this portable espresso maker. I bought the Nespresso pod adaptor, which makes a quick shot of coffee a breeze.

Our Pick
GoSunFusion
The solar oven really comes in handy both while living in a campervan and on my sailboat. I prefer the Fusion as it's large enough to make dinner for two, sometimes even with leftovers! Smaller versions are great for portability, or if you're traveling in a smaller van.

Van Life Essentials: Sleeping

Me inside my new Sprinter van. We have a Flarespace lightweight bed.

A lot of people with larger vans will choose a different sleeping setup than what we have. Since our Chevy Astro van’s back bench seat folds down, we used that as our campervan bed, resting our feet and lower legs on two stools.

Now that we have a Sprinter van, we installed Flarespace Flares and a Lightweight Bed Panel System. We used camping mats and sleeping bags at first, but we recently upgraded to Sailrite marine foam for our campervan mattress.

While we LOVE our Slumbercloud sheets and blankets, we both still have a warm REI down sleeping bag to stay warm on cold nights.

Here’s what we use in our van, and I’ll also add links to what some other van lifers like for their sleeping van life must-haves.

Slumbercloud Cooling Sheets

These are my very favorite sheets I've found for van life. They are ultra-soft and feel silky on the skin, and are crafted from a blend of cotton and temperature-regulating fibers. You'll love these during hot nights - we haven't found ourselves getting sweaty in these sheets yet. They feel luxurious, and luxury is one thing that lacks while living van life.

Warm Sleeping Bags

This super warm REI Joule sleeping bag is what I use to stay warm on chilly nights while living in a van. The Joule itself is no longer available, but there are plenty of warm backpacking sleeping bags to choose from at REI.

If you're planning on van camping in chilly temperatures, you'll want a bag that's at least rated to 21-degrees. I've slept comfortably at temperatures around freezing in my van using just this sleeping bag and wearing a wool hat. 

Alaska Bear Natural Silk Sleep Mask

We know it can be hard to sleep in a camper van, especially during those summer months when sun cracks the sky really early. We own two of these silk eye masks, and absolutely love them. The silk feels great on the skin, and the headband keeps the mask secure.

They come in a variety of colors and patterns - which makes it easy for two people who are living in a van!

Ear Plugs

A noisy campground is a real drag when you're sleeping in a van. Sometimes, even chirping birds have woken me up way too early! That's why earplugs are essential for my van life packing list. These foam ear plugs feel great and block out all sorts of noise, even a snoring partner!

Apple AirPods Pro

I have to admit I'm a little obsessed with my Apple AirPods Pro. Sometimes, ear plugs just won't cut it, especially if the outdoor sounds are especially loud when I'm trying to sleep. Plus, the Air Pods are great for listening to a meditation before bed. I use these Air Pods both for sleep and for work in my campervan.

Van Life Essentials: Connectivity

kristin and starlink working remotely on the road
The author and her Starlink satellite internet device

We all know how important it is to stay connected while living in a car. I’ve tested several devices that keep me connected when I’m on the road so I can check email and run this website!

I’d deem ways to access van life internet as my top van life must-haves as I need to run a business on the road.

After trying several phone plans, I’m pretty much sold on Visible for van life. You can read my entire Visible Wireless Review here.

And you can check out my Starlink review here.

My Phone Plan
Visible Wireless Unlimited Data, Talk and Text Visible Wireless Unlimited Data, Talk and Text

I've been using Visible for over a year and love it so far. It's affordable and I get unlimited data. I can also use this plan in Mexico which is where I spend winters on my sailboat. Visible's base plan is just $25 for unlimited data, talk and text in the United States, or you can upgrade to a $45 per month plan to use your phone in Mexico and Canada.


Van Life Essentials: Keeping Clean

Staying clean is a HUGE part of living in a van, especially when you’re living in close quarters with someone else. See our blog post about 11 ways to stay clean in your campervan for more ideas. 

We’ve been using the same Sea to Summit solar shower for years, and love how it folds up very small when not in use. It’s also easy to hang from our side mirror and use as a hand-washing station.

We typically heat up hot water on our camp stove, then dump it into the solar shower for a nice, hot shower at the end of the day.

Sea to Summit Solar Shower

We love this particular solar shower from Sea to Summit. It folds down tiny for easy storage, and holds enough water for one shower. Our only complaint is that the flow is pretty slow out of the nozzle, but that helps the shower last longer!

Portable Bidet

We usually take a full shower every other day, and when days we don't shower, we use a portable bidet. This is a GAME CHANGER and makes you feel so much cleaner than just using baby wipes.

We actually have two of these - one in the campervan and one on the sailboat.

The van lifer you know will appreciate this, trust me.

Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes

Biodegradable wipes are definitely a must-have for those living the van life. These Wilderness Wipes from REI are amazing for helping a camper feel clean and refreshed. Plus, these baby wipes are 100% compostable!

Wilderness Wipes are pH balanced for human skin, and are even compostable after use. The wipes contain aloe vera and Vitamin E. The perfect "shower" for those days when finding water isn't convenient.


Living Proof Day Dry Shampoo

Pair some good dry shampoo for a day when you aren't able to wash off using water when living in a van. In fact, I've found that dry shampoo is sometimes even better for my hair than regular shampoo.

This dry shampoo from Living Proof is my favorite so far. 


Our Pick!
Scrubba Laundry Bag

We just love this "Scrubba" laundry bag. A super easy way to wash a few articles of clothing when in our campervan or on our sailboat.

The Scrubba features a flexible inner washboard to give your clothes a wash as good as any machine can do. You just fill the bag with water, add your clothes, and roll the bag against a hard surface. The bag can also double as a dry bag or storage bag!

Retractable Portable Clothesline

We just started using this retractable clothesline and it's really handy both for van life and international travel. It comes with its own clips so you can easily hang clothes without carrying around clothes pins. It's easy to hang and stuffs down small to store.

Turkish Towels

There's no better towel for a van lifer to use than a Turkish towel! These towels fold up small and dry really quickly, but still feel like nice, soft cotton on your skin. We greatly prefer these to microfiber towels which don't really sop up water very well after you take a shower.


These are a top van life essential we are totally obsessed with!

Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Pure-Castile Soap offers organic and vegan ingredients for a rich, emollient lather and a moisturizing after-feel. It's also biodegradable which is perfect for van life!

We use it both for washing dishes and for ourselves! It can be used for pretty much anything. A great soap! (Just don't use it near a stream!)

Van Life Essentials: Electronics

There are a few electronic devices that make great campervan gear. Here are our top favorites!

  1. Portable Bluetooth Speaker

    I can't tell you how often we use our Bluetooth portable speaker. It's great for our sailboat and for our Chevy Astro campervan combined!

    A Bluetooth portable speaker is small enough to store but packs a big punch for music. Who wants to listen to music from a smartphone speaker?

    We use the Sony XB-20 with Extra Bass and it's been more than enough to play our favorite hits.


    Buy on Amazon.com
  2. Kindle Paperwhite

    I take my Kindle Paperwhite everywhere I go, from my van to my sailboat. This newest version of the Kindle is waterproof, making it great for living a life outdoors. I typically download books using my library, so all the books I read and store on my Kindle are free!

    Buy on Amazon.com
  3. Apple iPad

    My iPad is an absolute van life essential I can't live without. Since storage space is at a premium in a campervan, I've found teh iPad to be an all-purpose tool the size of one magazine.

    I use my iPad to download Netflix shows and documentaries we can watch in remote places when we have no internet. I also use my iPad to store all my cookbooks as I have no room in a van for any type of book.

    The iPad also comes in handy finding free campsites using sites like iOverlander, Free Roam and The Dyrt Pro Membership (click here for a FREE 90-Day Trial!)

    Plus, I download magazines from my library and read them on my iPad! This is really a multi-use device.

    Buy on Amazon.com

Outdoor Camping Gear for Van Life

Man sitting in a chair outside a campervan, one of many van life essentials
Pictured here are our Moonlence camping chairs

When living in a campervan, you’ll spend LOTS of time outside. It’s often said we are living out of our vans, not IN our vans. Here are some

MOON LENCE Camping Chairs

This camp chair by Moonlence folds down to just about one foot long and six inches wide, a great option for someone with little space. It's really comfortable and yet another way we expand our campervan's living room.

This compact camping chair can hold up to 242 pounds and only weighs two pounds.

We've used this for sitting around a campfire and on the beach. I won't go anywhere with this van life necessity.

Luci String Lights

These twinkling lights on an 18-foot string create a gentle ambiance and last up to 20 hours on a single charge. We use them both inside our campervan and outside. Some van lifers like to hang them from an awning to create a nice glow when sitting outside in the evening.

The lights fold down to about 2 inches, perfect for a tiny space.

nemo patio blanket is great for outside a campervan
Our Nemo Patio Blanket is definitely on of our van life essentials!
USB Powered Headlamp

I just love my USB-powered headlamp. It lasts for weeks on one charge, and it's SO NICE not having to deal with batteries. I can't imaging going back to a battery-powered headlamp now. Plus we love that it has a red setting for low light situations. Highly recommend!

Campervan Gear for Safety

Living the van life means you’ll often be heading down remote roads in search of that perfect boondocking spot. But what if your vehicle breaks down? What if you get a flat tire?

One time we were driving our Chevy Astro in the Mojave Desert and got TWO FLAT tires at the same time. We were thankful we had Fix-A-Flat and Tire Plugs on hand to fix the problem until we could drive to a tire store and get our All Terrain K02 Tires.

Here’s some of the top safety gear you should add to your van life packing list.

  1. Roadside Assistance Emergency Kit

    A Roadside Emergency Kit is a campervan essential if you're planning on doing a lot of off-roading, boondocking, and camping far from other people. This roadside emergency kit contains jumper cables, a safety hammer, seatbelt cutter, tow rope, LED flashlight, reflective warning triangle, elastic rope and tie rope, rain coat and snow shovel. 

    Buy on Amazon.com
  2. Portable Air Compressor

    We love going down bumpy dirt roads to find out-of-the-way boondocking spots, which means we've gotten several flat tires. Having a portable air compressor on hand has been a lifesaver for us! An air compressor also helps inflate and deflate tires before attempting rough dirt roads. This particular air compressor works well in SUVs, trucks, vans and RVs. It plugs right into your cigarette lighter, making filling tires a breeze.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  3. Fix-A-Flat Aerosol Tire Inflator

    Fix a Flat is another item you should add to your van life packing list. You never know when you're going to unexpectedly blow a tire or run over a nail. Fix A Flat fills the inside of your tire with a foam that plugs holes and rips until you're able to make it to a tire repair shop. We've also used this when blowing tires in our Chevy Astro. We have truck tires now, and you might know why.

    Buy on Amazon.com
  4. Wasp Spray

    If you're worried about personal safety when out and about in your campervan, you may want to carry around a can of wasp spray. This is used often among sailors worried about pirate attacks, as wasp spray has a powerful 20-foot jet spray. We don't recommend using this on a person unless you are feeling extremely threatened and can't drive away for any reason. But just having this on hand might give you some peace of mind. 

    Buy on Amazon.com
  5. Fire Extinguisher

    We'd definitely recommend having a fire extinguisher in your campervan so you quickly douse out flames should trouble emerge. One of our van life friends actually had an engine fire when she was driving down the highway. A fire extinguisher ensures engines fires or any other fires don't completely destroy your van. A definitely campervan essential for safety!

    Buy on Amazon.com
  6. 12-Volt Jump Starter Box

    You never know when you might accidentally leave your headlights on all day while you're out for an awesome hike. A drained battery is no fun, especially when all you want to do is head back to your campsite. We recommend having a 12-volt jump starter to give your dead battery a lift.

    Shop on Amazon.com
  7. Magnetic Spare Car Key Holder

    I'd be embarrasssed to admit how many times I've locked my keys inside my Chevy Astro van! This has resulted in way too many phone calls to AAA Roadside Assistance. Hence, a magnetic stash case for an extra pair of keys became a major campervan essential for me, which I've used tons of times already.

    All a van life has to do is place the magnetic key holder somewhere on the undercarriage of their vehicle so they're never locked out again!

    Buy on Amazon.com
  8. Tire Puncture Repair Kit

    Tire puncture plugs have saved us on more than one occasion when we've gotten a flat tire in our Chevy Astro van. One time we were on a remote road in the Mojave Desert and popped TWO TIRES at once. Tom had to use 4-5 tire plugs and our air compressor to get us back to our campsite, then on the road to a tire repair shop.

    Tire plugs are definitely a van life essential!

    Buy on Amazon.com
  9. Garmin inReach Mini

    When going off-roading or to remote boondocking locations, a satellite communicator is a must-have. The Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator allows an overlander to send texts and emergency SOS calls. The tracker allows friends and family to watch a route in real time as well.

    We've heard one too many tragedies from people who haven't had a Garmin InReach, including a couple who recently punctured two tires in Death Valley. The two tried to walk to safety, but one perished. A tragedy that could have been avoided with a Garmin or other type of satellite communicator.

    Buy on REI.com

Heating and Cooling Essentials for Van Life

woman sitting next to a swamp cooler in a campervan
Me and my Evapolar swamp cooler

Here are some of the items we love using INSIDE our campervan. These items simply make life more comfortable for us.

Portable Swamp Cooler
EvaPolar Swamp Cooler
This swamp cooler is easier to install than a rooftop AC unit, and works wonders when we're in a hot, dry climate. It's really only enough to cool down one person at a time, which is sometimes me working at my computer during the day, or when we're sleeping at night. Keep in mind that a swamp cooler won't do well in humid conditions
Tiny Electric Heater

We have camped in very cold temperatures before, and have used a tiny electric heater to warm up the van during chilly mornings. We can either plug into camping power or use our lithium batteries from Battleborn to run the heater. It can't run very long on our battery-system, though, as electric heaters have a huge power draw. However, it's just enough to take the edge off on cold evenings and mornings.

Heating Pad

Along with our tiny electric heater, we also keep a heating pad inside our campervan for very chilly mornings. The power draw is incredibly low, and it feels great on my lap as I'm sipping my cup of coffee. I've used this when it was 37 degrees inside the van!

There are plenty of other ways to heat and cool your campervan that I haven’t tried yet. You can check out those articles here:

Hiking and Outdoor Essentials for Van Life

woman wearing a backpack and hiking in the forest

If you’re anything like me, you’ll take advantage of living in a van by doing LOTS of outdoor activities. One of our favorite things to do is go hiking!

Here are my favorite hiking essentials that I keep in my campervan.

Osprey Hydration Pack

This is the newer version of the Osprey hydration pack that I own. This pack goes on EVERY hiking trip with me as it stores 75oz of water, and has enough room for essentials like warm clothes and food. I also love that the frame keeps my back from getting sweaty.

Columbia Collapsible Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles

I recently picked up these carbon fiber trekking poles from Columbia. I love how lightweight they are, and they really help me go up and down hills when I'm out hiking. If you don't have trekking poles yet, I highly recommend these!

Nocs Provisions Compact Binoculars

I'm totally in love with these lightweight, waterproof binoculars. They are small, rugged and easy to throw into a backpack for a day hike. The color and clarity are also outstanding - plus the image is way more stable than our other binoculars of a similar size. If you're looking for compact binoculars, these are the ones we use and recommend.

Capture Camera Clip by Peak Design

I just love this camera clip by Peak Design. It attaches to the strap of my backpack so I can attach my Sony A6400. This makes my camera really easy to grab while we're out hiking. Way better than storing it hidden away in my backpack.

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera

I use my Sony A6400 both for photos and videos. I love that it has an interchangeable lens feature, so I have a lens for every possible occasion. The photo quality is as good as a DSLR in a much lighter-weight package. I love the Sony Alpha cameras!

Sun Clothes

We definitely look dorky when out hiking when living out of our van, but we don't care! It's important to cover up to prevent UV exposure and overheating. We both wear sunshirts like these ones from REI. We both also own comfortable hiking pants and wear sun hats every day. 

Sunday Afternoons Sun Hat

This insanely un-stylish sunhat is what we ALWAYS wear on our sailboat and when we're hiking. The back of the hat is just a flap of fabric, which means it doesn't rub against your backpack. This hat works perfectly to keep the UV off your face!

Altra Runners

I've been wearing Altra Runners for years and love the wide toe box that doesn't cramp my feet when I'm walking, hiking or jogging. I buy one pair per year and totally run them into the ground. A great all-around van life shoe!

Platypus GravityWorks Group Camping Water Filter System, 4-Liter
$134.95

If you're out for a long hike or backpacking trip, you might want to bring a water filter!

This Platypus Gravity Water Filter is really easy to use, and filters water faster than any other filter we've seen. The flow rate is 1.5 liters per minute, or 2 liters in less than 90 seconds.

This water filter was built for backpacking, so folds down into a small size, one of those perfect van life essentials.

07/20/2024 06:34 pm GMT

Van Life Camping Apps and Guides

There are definitely some apps and books that are essential to our van life adventures. Check these out!

Our Favorite Camping App!
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We hope you find this detailed list of van life essentials helpful for your campervan journey.

Here are some other articles you might like:

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32 Comments

  1. I love this! My wife and I are trying to figure out how we can somehow achieve van life with 2 dogs and 4 cats haha.

  2. Sarah@tinyvanbigliving.com says:

    Great list! I am so happy I splurged for the Yeti, only have to change ice once a week.

    1. That’s amazing. I think everything Yeti does is quality.

    2. My 50 dollar Coleman 5 day holds ice for (at least) 6 days. We camped for Thanksgiving and still had ice 6 days later. Very similar performance in Oregon when I headed up for the eclipse out near John Day Fossil Beds and then drove through Oregon and the lava beds near 395 on the way home. I didn’t endurance test that trip since we were out in the middle of nowhere – once an ice restock was available, we took it.

      The most important cooler thing I’ve done is save a few of the big widemouth plastic jars that nuts come in from Costco. Once they’re empty, fill them with water (not all the way to the top!) and freeze them. Instant, non-pooling block ice. I have a half-dozen; they occupy the bottom of the cooler, giving me a level platform to put food on.

      On the road, once they’ve finished melting, the containers can be refilled with party ice – and you still won’t be fishing your food out of sludge.

      1. Mary Elizabeth Ferlisi says:

        Great idea, I’ve always used milk jugs but wide mouths and flat tops sounds way better. Now all I need us a Costco membership.

      2. We’ve been using Costco nuts containers for ice for years too. I love them!

  3. Troy @ Bull Markets says:

    You know, I’ve always wanted to get one of those Scooby Doo vans and drive it along the coast. I’ve actually seen a van with a paint job like that.

    1. hahah that would be HILARIOUS. I totally remember that van. Apparently, when my Dad first moved to Portland in 1980 he lived in a blue van. Original van life πŸ™‚

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  11. I would definitely want some kind of porta-potty; there are some fold-up varieties that take very little space.

    1. Interesting idea……I personally wouldn’t use a potty in my van but I know a lot of people like them!

      1. Vincent Risalvato says:

        Why wouldn’t u use a potty in a van? I been living in a van for years and always use one, I put plastic bags in it and just throw them away… Stop being a snob..

        1. LOL I didn’t know preferring to go to the bathroom outside was snobby! I’d take a bush over the inside of my van any day. Just personal preference.

        2. Some people don’t want to sleep with “an odor”. If you’re okay with that fine. Don’t be so judgmental.

  12. Gina Bebart says:

    I want to do this because I can not afford to rent anymore and hope to save a little money to move up to something a little better. I am 53 now and hope that I have a comfortable van life by the time I retire. Just the little things…
    I am considering starting with my ford freestyle.
    Happy Van life….

    1. Good luck!! A lot of people really enjoy van life πŸ™‚

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  14. Motion Windows says:

    Good article & an excellent way to articulate. Keep it up. Keep up the great work!

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  19. Lisa Jacobs says:

    Hi Kristin! I follow you on Insta and am stoked to see your rad and extensive vanlife blog! I love the BPA-free collapsable water jug suggestion– finding collapsable items has been essential in fitting everything into my van home– bowls, to-go containers, cups– if it collapses, I’m in! Thanks & I look forward to future articles!

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  27. Lucia Agudelo says:

    USA is a beautiful country, trust me, but paying mortgage and high rent, makes life miserable.
    Boonducking is the solution.
    The only problem is how and where to find safe spots for sleeping and using a decent toilet/disposable units. How is done this anyway?

    1. First, get your windows tinted as dark as is legal. You can sleep anywhere, shopping centers, residential neighborhoods, etc. No one will see in and it will look just like a parked car. The toilet is a very personal decision. Some need the porta potty. I don’t have the space for one. I will buy one of those units that has 3 legs that fold out, and a bag repository, but I don’t have one currently. They fold up small when not in use. Some use a 5 gallon bucket with a toilet seat. It all depends on your sensibilities. Personally, I would only use one inside the van if were raining cats and dogs in the middle of the night. Who wants to sleep with “an odor”? Being an older man, I have a pee jar for use during the night. Or sleep in a 24 hour Walmart/grocery store parking lot and run inside if you need to.

      1. Just to clarify, I prefer window tint to curtains. Just my preference.

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  32. Rob Works says:

    Great article, thanks for the gear tips!

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      You’re welcome!

  33. Wow! Thanks for all the great info, ideas, cautions, suggestions, and the best gear to have! Truly amazing and complete! We’re retired; me, a Veteran Army Engineer [Viet Nam Era], General Construction Contractor, a piping design engineer, and also have been a Computer Architect [a busy life, LOL]. My wife is a “semi-retired” Dr. of Psychology so she still treats patients via TeleHealth.
    I only mention my “experience” because you have enlightened me [us], in ways I never conceived! Your experience on the road in your Van Life is invaluable! I have made a list or links you have suggested for just about everything I can think of.
    I purchased a low-mileage 1998 Ford E-250 “High Top” Van that was designed for non-emergency medical use. A conversion was started by a previous owner who really had no idea how to build it so I’m basically starting fresh – correcting the problems with the build and adding a complete [if necessary] off-grid rig.
    Now that we’ve received the Covid vaccines and booster we’re ready to hit the road! We were quite concerned that we might unknowingly carry and infect our grand and great-grandkids. We feel good now to travel! Again Thank You! I will continue to follow your adventures! Ha, sometimes the old adage is true, “Too soon old – too late smart”. Thanks for the “smarts”!

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      You are so welcome! I’m really glad you found this list helpful and I hope you get to travel soon πŸ™‚

  34. Sreedevi Nair says:

    Did you actually live in a camper van for 2 years? It’s amazing to find someone who has turned the van into a home. Such a great list of van life essentials can only come from someone like you.

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      It’s been more than 2 years now – 4!

  35. Arturo Matos says:

    I loved the advice you provided. I am a 72 year old newbie to van conversion and travel.

  36. Thanks for the comprehensive list Kristen!

    I was concerned if I’m ready to go out yet but I realized I actually have 90% items on this list and a few more other items of my own.

    Happy camping!

    1. Kristin Hanes says:

      Thanks exciting! Yay!

  37. I would also recommend having a mini propane stove. It’s foldable and comes with a small propane tank. There are a couple of reasons.
    First – if you want just a cup of coffee, you can get it ready in a few seconds.
    Another reason – you can put it inside your backpack and take it with you on hiking. Let’s say, you will have a stop and you can have a hot tea there or even cook something.

  38. Headlamp is real gamechanger imo. Used to just travel with normal flashlight, which becomes pain as soon as you gotta fix something during the night πŸ˜€ Also doubles down as a great tool for camping/hiking outside of RVing – if you never tried to make a tent when it’s already dark without a good light source you wouldn’t understand how challenging it suddenly becomes. I’m using a slightly different one(Streamlight Enduro) that I’ve picked up from nearby outdoor sport store but I kinda like one you’ve listed more since it’s more compact! I’ve literally picked up a random one without thinking too much, but it’s a tad bit bulky for times you gotta crawl under the van sometimes… Might get a new one πŸ˜€

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