Whether you’re new to van/bus life or still in the research stage, you’re likely researching what essential things you will need to live comfortably in your bus or van. We’ve come up with a handy list of van-life conveniences to get you thinking about life on the road. Everyone has a different idea of what things they’ll need to get by, but there’s definitely a lot to think about when trying to optimize your tiny mobile home.
When you live tiny, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what you’ll be bringing on the road. The first is functionality. How functional is this item? Will you use it every day or just sometimes? Can it be multifunctional? Multifunctional is key when living tiny.
The second van packing criterion is size. This all depends on how much storage space you have in your rig. The on-the-road lifestyle is much tinier than most are used to, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping. Plus, you definitely want everything to have its place so your space doesn’t feel cluttered and things aren’t flying around when you’re driving.
The third thing to think about when deciding what to load into your van-home is quality. The items you bring will most likely get a ton of use, so choosing things that will last a while is helpful that way you don’t need to constantly replace them.
Okay, let’s get to it…
1. A Squeegee
May seem like an odd thing to start off with but I think everyone who lives this lifestyle can agree that there will be copious amounts of times you will be parked on uneven ground. If you have a shower and sink in your rig, this applies to you. No matter how hard you try to park on flat ground when you camp, it’s not always as easy as you’d think finding these “perfect” spots. Having a squeegee that you can use to get the water out of your shower and sink is super helpful. You won’t want it to sit in there and using your feet at the end of the shower will get old real fast. It’s an added bonus that you can use it to get condensation off your windshield on those dewy mornings.
2. Puck Lights
Most rigs are wired with regular house lights, so the reason for this recommendation is because there will be times that you need a little light and don’t want to turn your overhead lights on (for ex. when you’re stealth camping/ need to save power or just don’t need all of your lights). They also work great as a little nightlight, so you don’t have to drain your batteries with a plug-in one.
3. Hooks and Shelves
Being able to hang things and get them up off the ground/ out of cabinets is an efficient way to maximize space. Things that you can consider hanging are hats, wall organizers, coats, kitchen and bath towels, etc. A suction cup hook for your squeegee in the shower is a total win. Utilizing vertical space is key to maximizing functionality and efficiency.
4. A Portable Charging Box
There are lots of options on the market for portable battery charging stations. Having ones with USB, AC, D-Tap + USBC ports is a great tool to have on the road and for camping. You can use it to charge your phone, computer, camera or whatever other gear you may have. It’s nice because you can sit outside and do work or take it along with you on a hike if you need.
5. Cabinet / Drawer Locks and Organizers
Getting quality sleep is a big deal when you’re living life on the road. Getting good sleep is always important, but when you’re adventuring or driving 8 hours on any given day, it’s key to get a good night’s rest. Don’t live life on that sad camping pad that came with your RV bed, or a pile of pillows and blankets stuffed in a corner as a makeshift bed for your van. Seek out a custom mattress maker and get a mattress made for your van or RV that’s the exact size, shape and construction you want. Then also have the company create bespoke bedding for your new mattress so everything fits the way it should. A custom made road-home mattress can be a game changer.
6. A Custom Mattress for Your Van or RV Bed
Getting quality sleep is a big deal when you’re living life on the road. Getting good sleep is always important, but when you’re adventuring or driving 8 hours on any given day, it’s key to get a good night’s rest. Don’t live life on that sad camping pad that came with your RV bed, or a pile of pillows and blankets stuffed in a corner as a makeshift bed for your van. Seek out a custom mattress-maker – there’s a bunch of them – and get a mattress made for your vehicle’s bed that’s the exact size, shape and construction you want. And then also have the company create bespoke bedding for your new mattress so everything fits the way it should. Trust us; it’ll be worth it.
7. Thermal Black-Out Shades
Depending on how many windows and doors you have; you should really consider a black- out shade for privacy at night. You can step it up a notch by ensuring it’s thermal as well so they can help stabilize the inside temperature of your rig so your heat/ac isn’t lost through your windows.
8. Heavy-Duty Double-Sided Tape
If you are planning on displaying things on your counter or on shelves such as a soap dispenser, décor or a fruit basket you should consider getting some heavy-duty (removable) tape. You can find them on Amazon, and they are great for keeping things in place when you drive so you don’t have to stow things away before you hit the road. Makes moving your rig much less stressful.
9. Magnetic Bug Screen for Door
One of the best things about life on the road is being able to have an ever-changing backyard. Keeping your doors open when you’re parked so you can go in and out easily and get fresh air inside will be one of your favorite things so make sure you have a magnetic bug screen for your door so you’re able to keep your doors open and not worry about pesky little bugs making their way in.
10. Portable Shower
Having a portable shower is important, not necessarily to shower with, but to be able to rinse off your feet and gear after adventuring. It’s a great way to help keep the inside as clean as possible, though dirt is inevitable.
A bonus must-have we would like to add is a roll up outside mat you can leave outside your door to keep your dirty shoes on. If you get a washable one, you can rinse your feet and shoes off with your portable shower and let them dry right outside of your door. Having a little outside rug also makes your camp feel a bit homier.
Happy and Safe Travels Friends!