Van Life Essentials: 15 Items Experienced Van Lifers Swear By!

If you’re new to van life and wonder what you should and shouldn’t take on your journey, you’ve come to the perfect place.  Van life…

If you’re new to van life and wonder what you should and shouldn’t take on your journey, you’ve come to the perfect place. 

Van life is an adventure packed with new experiences, fun, and lifelong memories. However, knowing what to pack can be tricky. A lot of it comes down to trial and error.

However, there are some things you simply can’t go without. I’ve compiled a list of campervan essentials van lifers swear by to help you get started.

Let’s take a look!

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1. A Camp Stove

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

If your van doesn’t have a small kitchen with a stovetop, packing a camp stove is crucial. Without one, you won’t be able to cook healthy meals on the road.

Instead, you’ll likely turn to takeout food and unhealthy snacks, which aren’t good habits to fall into. 

You can make fresh meals on the go with a camp stove, preferably one with two burners. Whether at a campground, in a forest, or by the side of the road, you’ll be able to cook your dinner.

2. Cutting Board

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Sometimes, the small things we can easily forget make all the difference. A cutting board is a fine example. 

If you don’t have a cutting board, preparing ingredients is almost impossible without making a huge mess or damaging your countertops. Therefore, you should always keep one in your van.

We like to keep a large Epicurean Cutting Board in our RV. This type of cutting board is expensive, but it covers most of our countertop when I’m preparing food. It’s also very durable and easy to clean, and the grooves stop any liquids from veggies spilling on the floor.

3. Cast-Iron Skillet

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Another must-have kitchen utensil is a cast-iron skillet. Cast-iron skillets can cook a wide range of dishes, and they’re designed to last.

Their sturdy and non-stick design makes cast-iron skillets incredibly durable and easy to clean. Better still, they cook food wonderfully. 

We keep this Staub Cast Iron Skillet in our cupboards and use it almost daily.

4. Kitchen Organizer

Photo Credit: Radius Outfitters

A kitchen organizer is the perfect addition to any small RV kitchen. It can help you keep your kitchen clean, spacious, and organized. 

We have a hanging kitchen organizer that we hang from the back of the driver’s seat, and it works brilliantly. We use it to store our cooking utensils, plates, and silverware. 

The best bit? When we’re not using our kitchen utensils, the organizer folds up small so we can store it in a cupboard. If you have a bigger campervan, you could always purchase some cupboard or shelf organizers instead, so you don’t have to keep putting your bag away.

5. Manual Coffee Bean Grinder

Photo Credit: Hey Voyager

Coffee-loving van lifers swear by manual coffee bean grinders if you want to enjoy the best coffee on the road. I started grinding my coffee beans using a manual coffee grinder in 2022, and I agree it’s the way to go. 

A small portable manual coffee grinder is all you need to make two cups of delicious coffee. If you’re a serious coffee drinker like me, you might also want to buy a Nanopresso to make espresso in a flash!

6. Cooling Sheets

Image Credit: Daimler Truck

In summer, using cooling sheets on your bed is a surefire way to guarantee a comfortable night’s sleep. Most van lifers prefer to use ultra-soft, silky cooling sheets made from a blend of temperature-regulating fibers and cotton.

They’re designed to be breathable and moisture-wicking, so you can stay cool at night and avoid waking up sweaty.

Cooling sheets keep you cool and have a luxurious feel, so you’ll likely feel more comfortable at night!

7. Sleeping Mask

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Sleeping in a campervan in the summer can be challenging when the sun cracks early in the morning and sets late at night. A sleeping mask solves that problem.

If you wear a sleeping mask to bed, the sun won’t wake you too early–rude! I recommend choosing a silk sleeping mask because silk feels good on the skin and perfectly blocks out sunlight. 

8. Earplugs

Image Credits: Deposit Photos

While you’re at it, you’ll want to buy a reliable pair of earplugs to go with your sleeping mask. Earplugs aren’t always necessary, but they’re a lifesaver when you need them.

A noisy campsite can be a real drag when you’re trying to get to sleep. Or maybe you’ve got a partner who snores loudly.  And while sometimes nice, even the birds chirping too early in the morning can be annoying. 

Keeping a foam pair of earplugs in your RV is a simple way to solve these problems and get the sleep you need.

9. Starlink Satellite Internet

kristin and starlink working remotely on the road
Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Having an internet connection on the road is essential if you want access to Google Maps, friends and family, and local information. However, it becomes even more important if you’re a nomad working remotely.

You won’t be able to work in certain locations without a good internet connection. Therefore, you need a reliable internet connection from a trustworthy provider like Starlink.

Starlink offers a Regional and Global “Roam” plan so travelers can use the internet wherever they travel. We’ve been using Starlink for nearly two years now, and we love the fast, high-speed internet it provides.

10. Shower Bag

woman taking a shower outside a campervan
Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

Staying clean is a huge part of living in a van, especially if you share your tiny home with someone else. When you don’t have access to a shower, use a solar shower bag instead.

A shower bag is a large nylon bag with a nozzle that releases water. To use the bag, fill it with water, hang it up, and open the nozzle. You can then clean yourself, fold the bag, and store it in a cupboard.

Admittedly, most shower bags we’ve used don’t have a great water flow, but that does make your shower last longer.

11. Body Wipes

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Biodegradable body wipes are an absolute must for anyone living in a van. They’re excellent for helping campers feel clean and refreshed and can also be used to wipe down surfaces!

Ideally, you’ll be able to shower instead of using body wipes, but if you don’t have access to a shower, body wipes are a fantastic quick fix. You won’t feel as clean or refreshed as you would after showering, but they’ll do the job until you find somewhere to have a better scrub.

Our favorite body wipes are the Wilderness Wipes. They’re pH-balanced for human skin and compostable after use.

12. Retractable Portable Clothesline

Photo Credit: The Wayward Home

We didn’t think about packing a retractable portable clothesline into our van, but now we don’t know how we ever traveled without one. As you can probably tell by the name, this camping item is used to hang clothes to dry.

They can be used indoors and outdoors, and most models come with their own clips and two bungee cord hooks that are easy to hang up. Once your clothes are dry, you can easily stuff the clothesline down and store it away in a small bag. 

13. Turkish Towels

A stainless steel shower head in a gray tiled shower.
Photo Credit: Unsplash.

On the topic of drying, Turkish Towels are arguably the best type of towel you can buy for your RV. These super-soft towels fold up really small, so they don’t take up much space and dry much quicker than standard towels.

In our experience, these towels are far better than the microfiber towels you can buy because they soak up a lot more water.

14. Bluetooth Speaker

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

A Bluetooth portable speaker is a must-have if you want to listen to music in your RV. Some van lifers use their smartphone speakers, but we’ve never found a phone that can hack it. 

We prefer our music to pack a punch; a Bluetooth speaker gives us that. Aside from offering better music quality, Bluetooth speakers are also small enough to store out of sight.

Better still, you can use a Bluetooth speaker anywhere. It doesn’t just have to be kept in your van.

15. Camping Chairs

Family enjoying camping in the countryside MSN
Image Credit: monkeybusiness/DepositPhotos.

With a camping chair, simple things like sitting at the beach, lounging around the campfire, and sitting out in the sun become a lot more enjoyable.

Most camping chairs will do the job, but we like the Moon Lence Camping Chairs best. This camping chair folds down to about one foot long and six inches wide, which is perfect for someone who doesn’t have much space.

More importantly, it’s comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. 

There you have it—15 van life essentials campers swear by. Now that you have this list at your disposal, you should be able to kit out your RV with everything you need to live a happy and successful van life.

Want to Live the Van Life? Here are the 16 Best Vans to Live In

white 2018 mercedes sprinter parked on a ranch during sunset
Photo Credit: VanCamper

If you’re considering living the van life, a lot goes into choosing the right type of van for your needs. If you want a campervan but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered! 

I’ve lived in a Toyota Prius, a Chevy Astro Van and now a self-converted Sprinter van. In this post, we’ll outline the best vans for van life so you can travel as a weekend warrior or full-time van lifer.

12 Ridiculously Overpriced Camper Vans And Trucks

Photo Credit: Hymer

With over 16 million posts tagged #vanlife on Instagram, it’s no wonder the van life trend has now become mainstream. But it’s not just Millennials and Zoomers self-converting old vans posting on the platform. 

More and more people are hoping to hit the road and go on a long off-grid adventure, but they don’t want to give up the luxuries they have at home. So manufacturers are responding by producing rigs that can travel anywhere while resembling a 5-star hotel room inside.

Here are the most expensive camper vans and trucks we could find on the market.

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