Van life: it’s one of the past decade’s most free-spirited and interesting trends, drawing young people from all backgrounds and getting them involved with the community. Living the van life can seem glamorous at times and like a massive struggle at others. It might not be for everyone, but there are plenty who, after some initial skepticism, come to love it.
Today, we’re covering 5 essential items you need to truly succeed at living the van life. One of the biggest mistakes some people make when starting out on their van life journey is simply not preparing sufficiently for the lifestyle change. The 5 essentials on this list will make that transition smoother. Let’s take a look.
Cooking & cleaning
When you’re out on the open road for days and days, seeing where the next left turn takes you and what adventures might await, it can be easy to forget about boring things like cooking and cleaning. However, your van is your home, and it’s where you’ll both spend most of your time and have most of your meals. That means you’ll want it to be a clean and comfortable space where you can relax and enjoy a meal.
Before you set off on your maiden voyage, be sure to pack along these essentials:
- Single-burner camp stove or hot plate
- Micro refrigerator with battery backup
- Unperishable foods
- Camp cookware
- Water bottles and backpacking water filter
- A hand-vacuum along with rechargeable battery
- Plenty of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer
- A small broom and dustpan
- Mini trash bags
- Window cleaner
- Toilet paper and paper towels
Next, you’ll want to make your van as cozy and comfy as possible. It’s your home, after all! That means packing in plenty of comfortable bedding, pillows, and cushions. Here are our top picks:
- Folding chairs to enjoy the view when you park
- A small mattress that fits inside of the van
- Comfortable bedding, supportive foam pillows, and extra sheets
- A hammock, for lazing under the trees
- A tent, just in case
The right comfort essentials are what truly make a van life van stand out, so be sure to invest wisely!
When you’re out on the open roads, it can be easy to get lost. Sometimes, when you’re far from a city or town, cell service can be spotty. That means you might be out on the roads without knowing where to go and nowhere to turn for directions – yikes!
Don’t get lost in the backcountry without the right navigation tools. Every van life adventurer should bring along these necessities:
- Local maps – you can pick these up at most gas stations, rest stops, or tourist information buildings
- A working compass
- Satellite-powered GPS
- A guide to local edible plants
- Enough food and water to last a couple of days
Chances are you won’t get seriously lost, but it’s always smart to be prepared for the worst even if you’re hoping for the best!
Safety & security
Safety and security are of serious importance when you’re living the van life. There are tons of potential sources of danger: bad drivers, inclement weather, highwaymen coming to rob you in the night, serial killers roaming rural areas, rabid cannibal moose in the middle of the road; the list could go on and on.
That means your safety should be a top priority. Here are a few of the items you should bring along for safety:
- A working car alarm system
- Pepper spray, just in case
- Bear spray, also just in case
- Come along winch
- Snow chains for your tires
- An ice scraper
- Spare tires
- Jumper cables
- Insurance that provides complimentary tow service
- Functioning locks
- A satellite cell phone
- Plenty of spare food and water
- Regular vehicle maintenance
Chances are, however, that everything will be okay – or, actually, better than okay! But, just the same as with navigation necessities, you should always be prepared.
Lastly, your van life home is your home! You should spare no expense in making it the fun, beautiful, bohemian interior space you’ve always dreamed of. Your van life adventure will be something you always look back on fondly later in life, and it’s all about seizing the moment and being spontaneous – so go all out and make your van life home as comfortable, fun, and inviting as can be!