Camper Van Essentials: Complete Packing List

In this post, you will find everything you need to take to travel in a camper van, RV or motor-home. It all depends on the type of van you have and its space and organization.

What to Take For a Van Ride

The basic things you have to take to travel by van or RV are as follows. In the comments, let me know what your must-haves for van travel are.

Camper Van Essentials

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Food and Cooking on Your Camper Van Journey

Plastic containers for storing food

Let’s start the list of things you have to take to travel by van to keep your kitchen clean and tidy.

In the van, you will have the space reduced, so it is best to carry everything tidy to take advantage of the space. Especially with food, it can attract bugs.

Check out these from Amazon

Other containers, boxes to keep everything tidy

To keep things in your van clean and tidy, keep them in boxes. Especially the small things, which can be easily lost.

12V Portable Refrigerator

There are several types of refrigerators for your camper van; you have the 12V compressor, the 3-way (it works with propane, electricity, and 12 V), the 220V (or 110V) ones with an inverter, the ones that are filled with ice…

Our recommendation is based on our previous experience of having had a 220V inverter and now a 3-way; the latter deserves the cash effort. It is more efficient and consumes fewer resources; the only thing is that when connected to the battery of the campervan, it does not cool much, but to propane or electricity, it is impressive.

Portable compressor fridges are awesome too. In this post, I tell you about the different types of portable refrigerators for travel and the best options, depending on your type of trip and vehicle.

Cooking rags

Dishcloths, cloths, scouring pads… Take a look here.

Campingaz, cooking stove, dutch oven

You can cook in the RV, or you can cook outside if you are camping. We have had the Campingaz flat that goes with cartridges, the stove connected to a cartridge that is like a small cylinder, and now, the kitchen stove installed in the van works with propane. Pretty cool improvement.

The flat one is more stable, but the stove with the big cylinder has more power. If the latter seems unstable, you can buy it a base (super cheap).

With these types of stoves, you have no trouble cooking almost anywhere.

camping cook

Coffeemaker

If coffee cannot be missing in your life, don’t forget to bring a coffee maker in your van or motorhome. They come in all sizes, models, and for different types of coffee.

You have portable pour-over coffee makers that only need hot water, Italian-type coffee makers, 12V and 110V/220V coffee makers. Choose the one that best suits your type of trip.

coffee makers for camper van

Portable barbecue

A must-have on any camper van or camping trip is a portable barbecue. We started with coal, but very little ago, we moved on to propane gas.

The reason for switching the barbecue from coal to gas is because coal barbecue is increasingly banned in more places in Europe. There are even campsites that forbid it!

I have to say, the gas barbecue is much cleaner and needs less space in the van since you’re not going to carry coal or firewood. The gas can work with cartridges or the propane of your van.

We have this fantastic Weber BBQ. We opt for this one because it weighs very little, has plenty of power, and allows us to work with cartridge and cylinder, while others do not.

In addition, it comes with two wings that are folding and help a lot, collected inside the lid, which makes them occupy very little space.

The grille is cast iron, so it’s a very durable and powerful investment; I must tell you that it’s going super well. For four people, it’s perfect.

If you are looking for a cheap, portable gas barbecue, take a look at this one.

portable weber barbecue for camping

Disinfectant/water treatment

If you’re going to drink water from your van, which is normal, you have to clean – disinfect the water tank. There are pills to put in the tank for this purpose, and that’s it. You have fresh water to drink and cook.

You can buy them online, in camping shops, or specializing in camper vans and motorhomes shops.

Trash basket and bags

A folding trash can is ideal so that it doesn’t take up much space and doesn’t have the trash bag in between.

Please, we ask you to try to recycle.

Kitchen utensils for the van

Until we got into the camper world, I didn’t know there were so many things for vans, RVs, and motor-homes. There are super cool glasses, crockery of all styles, glasses of wine or champagne that are not glass but look like it, and many more things.

Here’s a whole world for all budgets. But to begin with, take the utensils from home. However, if you can buy crockery and sturdy hard plastic cups, they are lighter and do not break.

Do not forget the utensils to cook: 1 pot, a frying pan and/or iron pan, drainer, cutting board, knives, etc.

In summary, the basics of a camper van or motorhome kitchen are:

Staple Foods

  • To season: Spices, salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, etc.
  • Butter
  • Cereals
  • Sauces: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
  • Eggs
  • Bread, pasta
  • Sugar or a sweetener that you like
  • Jam, honey
  • Cans of tuna and other preserves
  • Water, beer, wine, juices, soft drinks.

Get an idea of what you will eat, so you know what you have to bring to prepare it.

Hygiene, Bathroom and Health

A potty + air freshener + blue liquid

I prefer carrying a portable toilet in the camper van. When we had the Trafic, we had the potty in the middle, but now in the Jumper, we have a closed bathroom, which gives you more privacy.

With the potty, you have to carry the blue liquid or this Domestic Powercare Tabs. The usually taken measures are 150 ml of blue liquid and a liter and a half of water.

You have to empty it every 2-3 days, so it doesn’t smell, and so it doesn’t weigh much… Potties have an indicator that alerts you if it’s full, but it’s best to empty them first.

Don’t forget to bring your favorite air freshener 😉

* If you want a portable toilet, this is the one we had. In addition, it is the best seller on Amazon and has excellent reviews.

go to the bathroom in camper van

First Aid Kit

Carrying a first aid kit is a must. You can buy them or prepare them yourself. You need Band-Aids, Gauze, Sells, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, scissors…

Read these tips for travel by van for the first time

Toilet paper

There is special toilet paper for chemical baths; they ensure that it dissolves in blue liquid, although they are more expensive. My recommendation is that you buy normal toilet paper and put it in the trash.

Small and large towel

The thing about the shower in the van is a world. You can have a portable shower to shower outside the van, or you can have a shower inside your van. In either case, you’re going to need a big towel and a small towel.

The little one has it handy for when you wash your face and hands. And better if it is made of quick-drying microfiber.

Tip para lavarte el pelo si lo tienes largo y no gastar mucho agua

Use a shampoo for your hair type and a “Leave-in” conditioner, the kind that does not rinse, so you only have to rinse your hair once. It saves a lot of water.

Cleaning

Small broom and dustpan

To keep the van clean, you need a small broom and a dustpan. Or you can buy a small portable vacuum cleaner. My recommendation is that you pass the broom after each meal so as not to tempt unwanted visitors.

Carpet for the entrance of your van

To clean your shoes, it is best to put a rug in the driveway of your van. You can put it in the van or outside if the weather’s nice.

I have also seen, especially those traveling in motor-home, who carry a large carpet that they put in the place where the tables and chairs go.

Removes fats and disinfectant (for kitchen and bathroom)

If you cook inside your van or motor-home, you will need products to clean. Carry a fat remover and a disinfectant in your van to clean the bath or potty.

To sleep in the van

Sleeping bags or sheets and blankets

Before we traveled by van, we did a lot of camping, so we had sleeping bags and a tent.

When we were traveling in the Traffic, we wore sleeping bags and a duvet in winter.

And in the Jumper, which has a fixed bed, we carry sheets and a duvet. It is much more comfortable not to have to set up and remove the bed every day.

A good mattress is essential

Being able to rest well is essential in your van journey. It does not matter if you travel in a small or large van; invest in a good folding or fixed mattress, but a comfortable one according to your weight.

We have bought a viscoelastic topper that is put on top of the mattress that we already have in the van. It is a whim, but it is ideal for long trips. We bought it on Amazon, and it is a very comfortable one.

Don’t forget the pillows and a thin blanket.

Tools and others

Basic toolbox

Another thing you have to take to travel by van is a toolbox. A small kit with the basics: a star and another plane screwdriver, hammer, nails, wrench, cutter, pliers, and Allen keys.

*Note: in the big camper vans and RVs it is mandatory (at least in France) to carry a small fire extinguisher. I recommend carrying it in any Camper Van, RV, or Motorhome; it does not take up space and can save you from a bad unforeseen.

Cable to connect your van

When you go to a campsite or a special area for vans or motorhomes, you can connect to the mains. This way, you won’t use your van’s secondary battery, and you can have 110 or 220 V electricity to charge mobiles, laptops, batteries, etc. Try to make the cable length and have the necessary adapters.

If you forget, at the campsites they usually sell them, but not at the best prices. Better take a look at this one from Amazon to be prepared.

Flashlight

You have to carry at least one flashlight, better two, and batteries in your van, or it should be rechargeable. In addition, to the obvious things, the flashlight is handy to go to the bathroom at night if you don’t have it in your van. Also, for when you hear a noise at night or to scare off little animals.

Hose and different adapters for charging water

To load the water from the van, you’re going to need a hose. Some are long, but that takes up little space; those are the ones I recommend you buy.

And don’t forget to bring different adapters for the faucets. You’re going to be surprised how many different outputs they have. Minimum you have to buy an adapter for quick male-male connection and 3/4-male thread tap adapter.

You can buy them online or in any gardening and DIY store.

Rope and tweezers for clothing

If you’re going on a long trip, you’re going to have to do your laundry. Many service stations have washers and dryers or campsites. Don’t forget to bring rope and tweezers to hang your clothes, so they dry well.

You’ll also need to bring soap and a softener to wash your clothes.

RV Level Blocks

If you can’t find a flat-level place to sleep, you need to level your van with blocks. They are essential to have a good rest.

Make sure they come with covers or have a large bag ready to store them. Why? Because if you park on the ground, they will bury themselves, and if you are going to be in the same place for several days, it is most likely that they have a few bugs. So you have to clean them and store them in a suitable place.

Bicycle holder

For us, it is a must, in the Trafic traveling in Europe with my sister we put the bikes inside the van, but when we bought the Jumper we put the bike rack, and it is much more comfortable!!!

Taking your bike on your camper van trip is very convenient for both visiting cities and sightseeing. Keep in mind that vans often have to park away, and the bike is very comfortable to arrive or go to make the purchase, etc.

For camping

Camping table and folding chairs

You can’t miss the table and chairs. They are ideal for eating out, for a beer or to work with the computer…

Awning

We have started to travel with awning with our second van, and the truth is that has become a must.

If you don’t have an awning, you can bring an umbrella or a camping pergola to protect yourself from the sun, wind, or rain.

Electronic

In your van, you have to carry a 12V mobile charger to charge with the van lighter, so you can use the GPS and not run out of battery.

Carry chargers for mobile, tablet, laptop, Kindle, camera.

We also carry a portable charger each. Don’t forget the camera, the memory cards.

If you take many photos, my recommendation is that you carry a portable hard drive to download them.

  • WIFI signal amplifier
  • Your favorite electronic devices (laptop, Kindle, Tablet, phone, etc)
  • The chargers of the devices you carry.
  • Portable Charger
  • Camera

Clothing and footwear

What clothes to wear on a camper van trip? Pack comfortable clothes to travel in and then wear clothes for the activities you’re going to do.

If you go to the mountain do not forget the trekking boots, if you go to the beach do not forget the swimsuit and flip-flops, if you are going to walk a lot wear appropriate footwear.

If you are looking for an off-road shoe, I recommend that you look at the Tropicfeel shoes, we have a pair each, and we love them; they are comfortable, amphibious, you can get them wet, and they dry quickly.

travel shoes, tropic feel shoes

Before you travel, look at the weather forecast to see if you’re going to need a coat, raincoat, umbrella, etc.

Take a change of clothes for a special occasion.

Basic tips to get started

  • Keep it simple with solid colors or simple patterns that can match with all your clothes.
  • Pack only clothing that is wrinkle-free and machine washable
  • If you have a piece that you like a lot, bring two or an extra of another color. It will make dressing up a breeze.
  • If you don’t use it often at home, leave it at home.
  • White clothes are not your friend on a camper trip.
  • Choose pieces that are not too bulky to avoid wasting space
  • Pay attention to the materials. Quick-drying sportswear will last longer between washes than cotton.
  • It’s okay to use the same things multiple times
  • Make sure to plan for the change of seasons.

Check before traveling by van

If you haven’t moved your van in a long time, check it: wheels, water, oil, battery, air conditioning, extinguisher, etc. On the back: check that everything works, that you have gas in the cylinder, and that it is clean to start the journey.

Check that you have all the papers of the van up to date: green letter, insurance, technical inspection of vehicles (if they exist in your country)…

From the van we pass to you: bring your ID or passport, your health care, travel insurance, cash, debit, and credit cards.

Don’t forget to:

  • Reservations (camping or RV areas, activities, restaurants, etc.)
  • APP to find places to sleep like Park4night
  • Cash, coins, and debit and credit cards

Others

A notebook and pen

A notebook and pens you have to carry in your van. I like to take notes about the places we are visiting, a kind of logbook, but that also serves to write down things that we need, things that have been forgotten or that have been finished to us.

What you don’t need in a Camper Van

  • Expensive things like jewelry, or electronics (unless you go to work during the trip)
  • Fire-making equipment, except that you go to campsites where it is allowed. If you want to have barbecues, take a gas one that you can use anywhere.
  • Formal clothes, if you want, take a change of clothes for a special occasion that you want to celebrate on your trip. But the best thing is to be comfortable.
  • Uncomfortable shoes, nothing worse than sore feet. Bring comfortable and appropriate footwear for the activities you are going to do
  • Many books on paper, it is best to travel light. If you are an inveterate reader, take a Kindle, it will be much more comfortable and less heavy.

Are you packing anything else? Tell us in the comments.

Prepare your trip in Camper Van

What to pack for traveling by van

Last Updated on 14 September, 2021 by Veronica

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