Vanlife Packing Checklist: 12 Essential Items To Never Leave Behind

Women in van making a packing list

When it is your first time hitting the great outdoors in your van, it can be a bit daunting. Whether you are just in the buying phase of your van or building it, at some point in time, you would have to start packing and downsizing your belongings so that you can move into your van. Make sure that you take the essential item with you and follow this guide, so you don’t have to worry about over-packing your van.

1. Van Life Kitchen Essentials: The Things That You Need to Bring

Van Life Kitchen Essentials Wooden counter and iron pan

Whether you plan on eating out a lot in new restaurants or cooking in your campervan, it is important to get your kitchen essentials sorted. If you are pretty tight with your budget, it is best to spend most of your time cooking inside your van instead of eating out a lot. There are plenty of things that you would need to have a functioning kitchen, and here is the list of items:

  • Cooking Stove
  • Water Boiler
  • Refrigerator or Cooler
  • Skillet
  • Pot
  • Coffee Maker or French Press
  • Spices (Rack to place the spices on)
  • Can Opener
  • Bottle or Wine Opener
  • Cups
  • Plates and Bowls
  • Coffee Mugs
  • Thermos
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Eating Utensils
  • Lighter or Matches
  • Paper Towel
  • Dish Soap
  • Knives
  • Chopping Board

If you are creating your essential kitchen checklist, you would have to think about the cleanup as well. Trash bags, paper towels, and dish soaps have the same importance as the ones listed above. When you are using a fuel-based camping stove, it is best not to forget to bring a spare set of matches.

For you to preserve electricity, it is best for you to consider brewing your coffee using fuel rather than an induction burner. If you are looking for the best RV coffee makers to buy, here is an articleOpens in a new tab. that I have written for you.

2. Van Life Clothing: Some Tips That You Should Know

If you are the type of person who would prefer spending their time exploring nature than in cities and who prefer comfort and function over function, this is the perfect tip for you. When you don’t mind being a bit dirty, and you like to spend as little time doing laundry as much as possible, then make sure that you choose clothes with solid colors or simple patterns that can go with anything.

Make sure that you only pack wrinkle-free, machine washable clothes since you may not have the space or time to iron your clothes. When you have particular clothes that you really like, bring two or an extra one in another color. Also, it will make getting dressed very easy.

Now, when you wear clothes that you don’t usually wear in your residential home, don’t bring them along. Be sure to pay attention to materials like athletic clothes that are quick-drying and will last longer between washes than cotton. When you plan always to be outdoors, white will never be your friend.

Choose clothes that are not too bulky, so you don’t waste space, and it is okay to wear clothes multiple times. Lastly, make sure that you plan for the change in seasons. Bring clothes that can cover all four seasons!

3. Tips and Tricks in Organizing Your Clothing: What You Need to Bring

Plenty of RVers use packing cubes for traveling for quite some time. There are two purposes in using packing cubes, and the first time is you can keep your clothes organized by storing different types of clothing in different packing cubes. You can store any athletic or hiking shirts in one cube while pants in the same category in another.

You can pace your city or go out clothes in another cube. For your socks, sports bras, and underwear, you can pack them in two small packing cubes.

The second one is to put a hard limit on the packing cubes and how much you can bring. When your packing cube for shirts is full, then that is all the clothes that you will get. Remember that you have a small space in your van, so you can’t bring all your clothes along with you if you want to really use the space that you have.

You can opt to bring shirts that are made of synthetic materials that dry quickly, don’t stink, and don’t wrinkle. If you plan to be active while living on the road, it is important that you pack loose fabric clothes so that you can stay cool. Also, select colors that can hide dirt easily so that it would not be noticeable when you are out and about.

If you plan to hike a lot, you will want to focus on bringing functional shorts and pants that are comfortable to wear on the trail. Focus on bringing basic and dark-colored pants as you will get dirty once you get on the trail.

For outerwear, if you plan to go to locations that have cold weather and can get chilly, it is important that you bring warm jackets and waterproof layers in case of rain. You can keep bulkier and seasonal outerwear in a duffel bag that can be easily stored inside your van.

Shoes can make a big amount of room in your van, and it is important that you pair them down to what you really need. You can bring sandals or low-ankle hiking shoes for your outdoor adventures. If you plan on going on longer hikes and backpacking trips, you can also bring heartier hiking boots.

Bring a pair of closed-to-water shoes for any river activities, sandals for dressing up, and a pair of running shoes when you need to exercise in the gym.

4. Bedroom Packing List: To Get A Good Night’s Rest

When it comes to vanlife, it is important that you have a comfy bedroom area so that you can get a good night’s sleep after a long day full of adventures. Bring along some comfortable pillows, soft blankets, and ice sheets. Also, if you want to post some cute photos of your bedroom, bring along some cute bedding.

You can also place these things inside your packing cube or maybe a small container where you can store them effectively and properly in your van.

5. Laundry and Cleaning Packing List: Keep Things Clean At All Times

In a van, your laundry room will get a huge downgrade, so it is important that you only bring the essentials. Your laundry room in your van will contain your laundry bag and detergent that you would bring to the laundromat. Make sure that you don’t overcomplicate things when it comes to your laundry packing list.

When you are living in a small space, cleaning up can be a breeze. Even if you do need to reorganize a couple of things, it will take you about an hour or so maximum to get everything cleaned up. That time frame is when you are deep cleaning your van, it will take less time if you clean your van regularly.

You don’t need any vacuums or a ton of cleaners to get your van cleaned. Make sure to use eco-friendly cleaning spray, washcloth, and Lysol wipes if you feel it is necessary to kill some germs inside your van.

Plenty of vanlifers bring along small handheld vacuums with them, and they will be a great asset to your cleaning needs. However, others think that it doesn’t work well for them and a broom as well as hand washing the floor is much easier to do.

6. Vanlife Bathroom: What You Need for Personal Hygiene

Another thing that would take up most of your van is your personal hygiene. I’m sure you will have oils, face cleansers, and if you have pets with you, their toothpaste to keep their teeth clean at all times. Your bathroom packing list is something that you don’t want to skimp on. Staying clean in a van is tough enough since it is rare that a complete bathroom will be installed in a van.

If you don’t have the right tools with you, it can be very difficult to keep up with your personal hygiene. It is best that you create an area in your van just for your bathroom supplies with storage containers as well as built-in dividers to keep everything organized.

Here are some of the things that you might want to bring along for your bathroom needs:

  • Qtips
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Wipes
  • Toothbrush Holder
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Face Wipes
  • Washcloth

7. Safety Gadgets for Your RV: Keep Everything Safe

One of the most important things that you need to think about is security. You want to protect your investment as much as possible from theft, burglars, and yourself from any self-harm. There are some situations where it can help reduce the cost of campervan insurance policies, and this is making sure that you have the right safety gadgets with you.

Most of the time, vehicle thieves and burglars are opportunists. You should remove any temptation from view, and visible deterrents such as locks and other security features are often enough to do this. Remember that prevention is always better than cure.

Here are some of the things that you can bring along to your van are the following:

  • Tracker
  • Portable Alarm
  • Steering Lock
  • Security Locks
  • Fire Blanket
  • Safe
  • First Aid kit
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Fire Alarm

If you are looking to find the best carbon monoxide detector on the market, here is an articleOpens in a new tab. that I have written for you.

8. Outdoor Camping Essentials: Enjoying the Great Outdoors

When your campervan is small, your van life will most likely be spent outside as much as inside. Even if you have a larger van or an RV, spending time outdoors comes with the package of living on the road. There are a couple of things that you can bring along for your outdoor camping essentials to be fun.

  • Portable Standing Hammock
  • Drive Away Awning
  • Camping Table
  • Camping Chairs
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Torch
  • Ax
  • Firelighters
  • Charcoal

Now, you have to make sure that you find portable items for these as you may need to store them in your van. Remember that you have limited space when it comes to living in a van.

9. Vanlife Tech and Electronics Essentials: Things to Bring

There are a couple of tech essentials that can make all the difference in your van life and adventure travels. Also, you may be surprised as to how few electronics you truly own inside your van. These said electronics could help you stay in touch, capture great memories, navigate, and provide the means for a blog, book writing, or simply binge-watching shows on Netflix.

Always aim for the 12 volts options for all campervan battery charging devices as well as cables. For your electronics packing list, you would be surprised how few electronics you truly own inside your van. Since your van has limited space, you would only need one of everything, and since it is so small, it is harder to lose things such as phone chargers which usually disappear out of nowhere.

Here are some of the basic things that you can bring along with you for your tech and electronic essentials:

  • Portable Battery Bank
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Camera
  • Portable Speaker
  • Tablet
  • Kindle
  • Laptop

10. Tools and Maintenance Kit: Important to Keep This On the List

You can never avoid accidents that may happen on the road, and things will eventually wear out or break. It is a fact of life when you are living in a van that is not in an exempt form. You will need spare parts and tools for mechanical issues or for your interior van repair needs.

When you are doing a DIY build, make sure that you make a list of all the tools that you will use throughout your campervan conversion. This way, it will help you identify what you will need to include on this list. Here are just some of the tools and maintenance kits that you bring along:

  • Air Compressor
  • Selection of Spanners
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Screwdrivers
  • Gaffer Tape
  • Small Hammer
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Transmission Oil
  • Fan Belt With a Plan of How It Will Fit
  • Engine Oil
  • Fuel Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Wire Cutters
  • Selection of Rubber hoses
  • Screws
  • Spare Parts for Your Appliances
  • Appliance Instruction Manuals
  • Pot Rivets and Rivet Gun
  • Drill and Drill Bits

11. Campervan Apps: Will Make Your Live on the Road Breezy

Plenty of vanlifers today have smartphones, and having campervan apps installed will make life on the road easy. Van life assistance is never too far when you have a wealth of useful apps available for you to use. There are plenty of apps out there that are available for your wild camping and boondocking adventures, navigation, and sightseeing.

Also, there are apps that are available for fuel prices and translation services when you plan to travel abroad. Here is an articleOpens in a new tab. that I have written about all of the available apps that you can use during your life on the road.

12. Pet Essential List: Don’t Forget About Your Furry Friends!

If you have your furry best friend with you, it is important that you bring their needs as well. When you have a dog or a cat, make sure that you carry the basics with you, so they are well taken care of too. The great thing is there are some storable items that you can buy for your pets.

Be sure that you bring their water and food bowl with you. Also, bring along a pet first aid kit in case they get hurt during your outdoor adventures. Lastly, bring along their leash and poop bags during their daily walks. If you want to know more about living on the road with dogs, here is an articleOpens in a new tab. that I have written for you.

Final Thoughts

Making sure that you have all of the things on this list will make a living on the road more easy and more fun. All you have to do is make sure that you buy items that are easily portable so that you don’t need to worry about your belongings taking too much space in your van. Also, make sure that you create a checklist so that you don’t forget to bring anything.

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