Camper van equipment you need for your travels
We’re newbies to camper vans but not totally clueless when it comes to packing for camping or outdoor holidays. So, it wasn’t a massive chore to gather the must-have camper van equipment before we set off for our first trip.
However, there were a few extras we needed to buy. For anyone else getting ready to hit the road, here’s our camper van packing list for weekends, festivals and longer trips.
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If you haven’t yet bought your camper or are in the market for a new one, why not also take a look at my post about buying a camper van or day van.
Essential camper van accessories
Here’s some of the basic camping equipment we always have in the van for our trips away:
- Electric hook up cable*
- Water container
Also check out my essential caravan equipment list which has a lot of interchangeable kit.
For your living space
Whether we are caravanning or camping we like having some outdoor space that’s undercover where we can all relax in the day and the adults can sit after the kids have gone to bed.
For this space outside the camper van we’d recommend the following:
- Awning – we have the OLPRO Cocoon Breeze inflatable awning
- Fan heater and/or oil radiator*
- Camping chairs*
- Folding table
- Lantern or light strip*
Here’s our awning in action:
When you are on electric hook up it’s also useful to have an outdoor power cable you can use to power lights, heaters and other ‘nice to have’ electrics like chargers.
Camping cooking equipment
Our VW T5 is technically a day van as it doesn’t come with a fitted kitchen, so we need to bring extra cooking equipment.
Even if you have got a fully kitted out kitchen you may want to bring these extras for alfresco cooking:
We have a camping chest which is always packed with cutlery, crockery, a kettle, plastic glasses, mugs, a cutting board and cooking utensils.
We resupply it with anti-bacterial wipes, washing up liquid and cloth, toilet rolls and bin bags in between trips.
Sleeping in the van
Moving from a caravan to a camper has meant a whole new approach to our sleeping arrangements.
But we’ve been really happy with how it’s worked out. The girls have a Cabunk twin bunk bed system in the front of the van and Mr Tin Box and I have the Forty Winks Kombi Bed in the back of the van. We feel much less on top of each other than I thought we might.
As well as the bed systems we have had added to our van I’d suggest packing the following:
- Mattress or airbed
- Sleeping bags or a duvet set
We have added a mattress to our Kombi bed and bought a new sleeping bag. I’m also after a mattress topper to add a bit of comfort. We will also be packing pillows for everyone. The girls already had their sleeping bags.
Read more about how we sleep a family of four in our VW Transporter beds.
One of the newest additions to our camping gear for the van includes window blinds and a thermal windscreen cover.
Another new addition to our camping gear is a porta potti*. This will be our night time toilet solution. Don’t forget toilet chemicals if you also pack your own potty!
Van life with kids
Our girls think van life is awesome. They love their cool bunks and having lots of opportunity to dash around outdoors. They are also massive fans of the fact we can fit in their scooters and bikes if they want. No tough choices when it comes to packing!
Now they are beyond the baby and toddler years we don’t pack an awful lot of stuff for them apart from their ‘rides’ and clothes. If you are going out in a camper with babies or toddlers you might like to check out these baby camping essentials that we also used when we had a caravan.
Van life with a pet
The brilliant thing about camper van holidays, just like caravan and camping breaks, is that Tin Box Dog can come with us. Here’s her holiday essentials:
- Dog bowls
- Dog bed
- Long lead and stake
What to wear when on a camper van holiday
Outdoor holidays and camping trips call for layers and waterproofs. However, you also need to be conscious of the space limitations.
We love using packing cubes* to maximise space and keep things ordered. In the van we can easily fit everyone’s basic clothes for a week away into a medium sized suitcase when using packing cubes.
Take a look at this packing list for some ideas of the type of clothes to pack for holidays in the UK and Europe.
Outside of the case we’d also bring:
- Walking shoes
- Wellington boots
- Rain coats
What to bring for using the toilet block
We take our van to campsites with toilet blocks as we are not totally self sufficient. With that in mind, here’s what we pack for using the onsite bathrooms:
- A wash bag you can hang up*
- Dressing gown
- Flip flops
More camping tips
Read more of our camping and caravan posts:
- A no nonsense caravan packing list
- Family camping checklist for tent holidays
- How to organise your caravan
- A guide to caravan insurance
- Camping games for the whole family
- Coleman Event Dome XL review
- PRIMA Classic Canopy Air Awning 390 review
- Bailey Phoenix 650 family caravan review
- What to pack when glamping with kids
- Things you need when caravanning with a baby
- What to pack when caravanning with a toddler
Do you have any van life tips for us? What’s on your essential camper van equipment checklist?