We've been living on the road for over a month and a half now and consider ourselves vanlife experts. Ok, so maybe not experts, but we have learned a lot about what items are vanlife essentials for this practical and tiny-living lifestyle. That's why we've put together this top 10 list!
These are items we use almost every day. Note: as we put together this list we already assumed that you figured out things like using baby wipes when showers are nowhere in sight. Or that Pepto is a lifesaver after eating that spicy tuna roll in that small landlocked town. Sigh.
Without further ado, here are our Top 10 Vanlife Essentials:
Table of Contents
AC/DC Power Inverter
Since we are keeping up with a blog, it's important for us to keep our tech charged at all times. We opted to purchase Chromebooks for their long battery life. Also, this power inverter plugs into our cigarette outlet. This is great because we can plug both computers and an additional two USB devices into the inverter at the same time.
I don’t know how we would keep our clothes organized — or keep everything from falling out of our cupboards — without these packing cubes. They are also CRUCIAL for backpacking. Here are the two types we use:
Pour Over Coffee Kit
We love coffee, and while we like to check out coffee shops in new towns, we are often somewhere remote or just want to save a few bucks. This pour over kettle and these single cup filters are tried and tested by us and are the clear winners after comparing other coffee-making options. BONUS: We use the kettle for tea in the evening as well!
We first opted for a french press, which broke within a week. Then we purchased a second french press and as we continued using it, we decided we didn't like it. Cleaning out the grounds wasted too much water and was a messy pain.
A towel is one of the most useful things any interstellar hitchhiker can carry. The same can be said for vanlifers! We have been using quick-dry microfiber towels for years and they haven’t let us down yet. Whether you find yourself caught hiking in a deluge, going for a dip in a natural hot spring, or just wanting something to sit on at the beach, a GREAT towel is a must and high up on our Vanlife Essentials list.
Our main cookware is this 10 inch frying pan from GSI. When not in use, the handle folds into the pan for better storage in our tiny space. We use this a couple times a day minimum and it works great!
For the rest of our kitchenware, we prefer to utilize what we had at home — regular silverware, plates, bowls, ceramic coffee cups, and yes, real stemless wine glasses. Don’t reinvent the wheel. You’ll appreciate having stuff that makes you feel like home. NOTE: To date, we have broken zero dishes.
A buddy gave us one of these and we use it more than I thought we would! It is a great backup charger when you are boon-docking it and have been taking videos of your adventures all day. Since it plugs directly into an outlet it works well with both USB devices like our Kindles and USB-C devices like our Samsung S8.
Solar LED Inflatable Lantern
This small blow-up lantern is super handy because it doesn't require any batteries. We throw it on the dash during the day and can get hours of light out of it that same evening. It’s perfect to light up an evening game of rummy — which as of writing this post, Sarah has yet to win.
This is what Sarah calls it even though it is not in fact used to scoop poop. It is a trowel. If you are living in a campervan, you should have already figured out this as one of your vanlife essentials. I couldn’t pass up letting everyone know that Sarah calls it a poop scoop.
Clothesline and Hand Wash/Washer Detergent Sheets
Having these easy-to-pack detergent sheets has saved us a lot of space and a bunch of money when it is — sigh — laundry day. You can use them for hand washing or washing machines and just tear off however much you need. We string this ultra light-weight and tiny-packing clothesline between our side doors or outside for super convenient drying.
This travel adapter is great for when we are blogging at a coffee shop, and it is even handier when we travel internationally! We can connect four USB devices and plug in a Chromebook at the same time. It also acts as an adapter for outlets in over 160 countries. We don’t use it in our van but it is extremely useful while living on the road.
PRO TIP: We've forgotten white adapters in about 3 countries before purchasing this bright green one. Get a crazy color that is easy to spot as you pack and leave.
I am sure our vanlife essentials will grow over time, but these products have made the past 45-ish days in the van more practical for vagabonds like us.
What are your road trip, camping, or vanlife essentials? Let us know in the comments below!
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