If you’re new to van life and even if you’re not, it’s handy to have a camper van packing list to hand before you hit the road. In this post you’ll find our must-have camper van equipment that we’ve used for camping or outdoor holidays over the years.
Some of it has been recycled from our caravanning years. However, there were a few extras we needed to buy to ensure we were self sufficient for longer trips when we bought our VW day van.
For anyone else getting ready to hit the road, here’s our camper van checklist for weekends, festivals and longer trips.
Scroll to the bottom for a printable camper van packing list.
*This post contains affiliate links*
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.
I can also help if you are looking for camper van gifts to buy a new van owner.
Contents - jump to what you'd like to know
Essential camper van packing list
Here’s the camper van kit we always bring with us. Scroll to the botton to download a printable version of this packing list.
Camping accessories for your camper van checklist
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.
Camper van accessories 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 had the OLPRO Cocoon Breeze inflatable awning – a huge awning with plenty of room for sitting indoors, storage and extra sleeping space. More recently we have down-sized to the OLPRO Loopo Breeze camper van awning* which just gives us the living space we want.
- Fan heater and/or oil radiator*
- Camping chairs*
- Picnic blanket – always handy for extra seating
- Folding table
- Lantern or light strip*
- Hammock – bring a bit of luxury to your camping space
Here’s the OLPRO Cocoon Breeze 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 and kitchen 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:
- Barbecue or camping stove
- Gas bottle
- Cool box* and ice blocks
- Crockery – you may want to opt for a melamine set* which is robust but more attractive than plastic
- Cooking utensils – don’t forget barbecue tools
- Can opener
- Bottle opener
- Measuring jug
- Kitchen scissors
- Oven gloves
- Tea towels
- Glasswear – or you can get some attractive plastic glasses* which are always more practical with kids
- Pots and pans*
- Cutting board and knives
- Gas kettle* – this is essential if you plan to go off electric hook-up (EHU)
- Bin and bin bags
- Washing up bowl
- Washing up sponge
- Washing up liquid
- Antibacterial wipes or spray and cloth
- Toilet rolls.
We have a camping chest which is always packed with cutlery, crockery, etc.
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 in both our VW vans.
In the first our girls had a Cabunk twin bunk bed system in the front of the van. Meanwhile Mr Tin Box and I had the Forty Winks Kombi Bed in the back of the van. This set up made us feel much less on top of each other than I thought we might.
Read more about how we slept a family of four in our first VW Transporter beds.
In our second camper van we have a pop top. This is where the girls sleep while Mr Tin Box and I have a rock and roll bed system in the back.
We really like having the pop top as the girls were starting to out grow the Cabunk. Pushing the bed up also gives us a lot more head room when we are using the van during the day.
As well as the bed systems I’d suggest packing the following:
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 bed 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:
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
First aid kit
We always have a first aid kit with us whatever holidays we are going on. Here’s my list of essential first aid items.
Printable camper van packing list
I do love making life easier for my fellow camper-vanners, so I’ve created a printable packing list for you to download.
Click on the link to view it or hit the download button.
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
- Gifts for campers
- Gifts for campervan owners
Do you have any van life tips for us? What’s on your essential camper van equipment checklist?