The 11 Vanlife Essentials: What to Pack When Living on the Road

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  • Post last modified:August 26, 2022
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If you’re considering van life, one of the most important things to think about is what to pack. There are so many things you need when living on the road, and it can be tough to decide what’s essential and what you can leave behind.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of the most important essentials for van life! These are items that will make your life easier and more comfortable while you’re on the road.

1. Sleeping bag and camping mattress – for a comfortable night’s sleep

A comfortable night’s sleep is crucial when you’re camping. Without a good night’s sleep, you’ll be grumpy and irritable the next day, and your camping trip won’t be as enjoyable. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep while camping.

First, invest in a good sleeping bag. A sleeping bag that’s too small will be uncomfortable, and one that’s too large will leave you cold.

Second, choose a camping mattress that’s right for you. There are a variety of options available, from air mattresses to self-inflating mats.

Third, make sure your tent is big enough for both your mattress and your sleeping bag. If your tent is too small, you’ll be cramped and uncomfortable all night. By following these tips, you can ensure a comfortable night’s sleep while camping.

2. Portable stove and cooking supplies – to cook your own meals

One of the great joys of vanlife is being able to cook your own meals. Portable stoves and cooking supplies are vanlife essentials that allow you to do just that.

With a portable stove, you can cook anything from a simple breakfast to a multi-course meal. And, with the right cooking supplies, you can even bake bread or make pizza.

Whether you’re cooking for yourself or for a group of friends, vanlife gives you the freedom to prepare any meal you want. So, if you’re looking to make the most of vanlife, be sure to pack a portable stove and some cooking supplies. Bon appetit!

3. Water filter – to reduce the number of plastic bottles you have to buy

For vanlifers, having a water filter is an essential piece of gear. Not only does it reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce, but it also ensures that you have a safe and reliable source of drinking water.

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There are a variety of water filters on the market, but one of the most popular is the Berkey filter. This filter uses a two-stage process to remove contaminants from water, and it can be used with both treated and untreated water sources.

The first stage of the filter removes sediment, dirt, and other particulates from the water, while the second stage removes bacteria, viruses, and other harmful contaminants. The Berkey filter is so effective that it can even remove fluoride from water, making it an ideal choice for vanlifers who want to reduce their reliance on plastic bottles.

4. Solar charger – for charging your devices on the go

Vanlife can be tough on your electronics. You’re constantly on the move, which means you often don’t have access to a reliable power source. That’s where a solar charger comes in handy.

Solar chargers are vanlife essentials that allow you to charge your devices on the go. Most solar chargers come with multiple USB ports, so you can charge multiple devices at once. And because they’re powered by the sun, they’re completely renewable and sustainable.

If you’re looking for a vanlife-friendly way to keep your devices charged, a solar charger is a way to go.

5. Maps and travel guides – for exploring new places

When you’re planning a trip, maps and travel guides are essential tools for finding your way around an unfamiliar destination. But once you’re on the road, these same resources can help you explore and discover new places that you never would have found otherwise.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect campsite or the best place to get a scenic view, maps and travel guides can help point you in the right direction. And with the vast amount of information now available online, it’s easier than ever to find the resources you need to plan your next adventure.

So if you’re looking to explore the world beyond the beaten path, don’t forget to pack a map and a good travel guide.

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6. First-aid kit – in case of emergencies

One vanlife essential that every van owner should have is a first-aid kit. You never know when you might need it, so it’s always better to be prepared.

A basic first-aid kit should include items like bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. For more serious injuries, you might also want to include things like an emergency blanket and a splint.

And of course, don’t forget to pack a copy of your insurance card! By keeping a first-aid kit in your van, you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way.

7. Binoculars and camera – to capture all the amazing sights along the way

Whether you’re vanlifing solo or with a partner, there are certain vanlife essentials that you’ll need to make the most of your experience. One of those essentials is a good pair of binoculars. With binoculars, you’ll be able to spot amazing sights along the way that you might otherwise miss.

From seeing wildlife in its natural habitat to getting a better view of the landscape, binoculars can help you make the most of your van life adventure.

Another vanlife essential is a camera. With a camera, you’ll be able to capture all the amazing sights and experiences you have along the way. Whether you’re taking photos or shooting video, a camera can help you remember your van life adventure for years to come.

So if you’re planning a van life adventure, make sure you pack your binoculars and camera to capture all the amazing sights along the way.

8. Personal hygiene items – such as shampoo, toothbrush, and toilet paper

For anyone living the van life, personal hygiene items are an essential part of keeping things clean and tidy. From shampoo and soap to toothbrushes and toilet paper, these items help us to keep ourselves clean and presentable.

While van life can be a great experience, it can also be quite challenging when it comes to personal hygiene. That’s why having the right items on hand is so important. By stocking up on essential personal hygiene items, we can make van life a bit easier – and a lot more enjoyable!

9. Entertainment – such as books, cards, or a laptop

One of the great things about van life is that it allows you to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. However, there are moments when even the most dedicated van lifer needs a little entertainment. That’s why books, cards, and laptops are essential van life entertainment.

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Books provide a welcome escape from every day, while cards and laptops offer opportunities for social interaction and connection with the outside world. Whether you’re looking to relax with a good book or catch up on your favorite TV show, van life entertainment is a must-have.

10. Clothing and shoes – enough to last for several days or weeks

Clothing and shoes are a vanlife essential. Most people pack enough to last for several days or weeks, but it’s always best to have a little extra just in case. After all, you never know when you’ll need to change into something dry or warmer.

Clothing and shoes take up very little space, so there’s no reason not to bring along a few extra items. Just be sure to pack them in a way that they won’t take up too much space or weigh down your van.

11. Water Storage Bags – to store your water supplies

For those who live on the road, water is an essential but often difficult to come by resource. Water storage bags are an easy way for vanlifers to store their water supplies. Made of durable material, water storage bags can be easily filled and refilled at a water source.

Vanlifers can also use them to collect rainwater. Additionally, they are great for transporting water from one location to another. Whether you need to fill up your tank or want to have a supply on hand in case of emergency, water storage bags are a vanlife essential.


If you’re just starting on your vanlife journey, take these essentials into account. By packing the right gear, you can make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. What are you waiting for? Hit the open road with everything you need! Are there any other must-haves that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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