I've put together a list of items that I could not live withoutwhilst living on the road in our VW Campervan. I had previously backpacked for a number of years before deciding to live life on the road and full-time in the van. The only worry I had back then was packing minimal clothes, toiletries, passports/documents and deciding on which hostels or beach house I was rocking up to next.Vanlife is completely different in so many ways and has so many positives aspects. Having the freedom to move and travel to pretty almost anywhere is a great feeling. Not having to worry about costly accommodation fees, or being forced out for a 9 am checkout by hotel staff, its like a dream come true. But it helps to be well prepared for the journey ahead in a campervan, especially when you are going off the beaten track and you may not be in reach of key items you need, in the new country your exploring. It can also be very easy to get carried away by buying unwanted items and you will then soon notice that the storage space starts to fills up pretty quickly. We already have a few items that we don't use at all but it's all about trial and error and finding out what works and what doesn't work for you while on the road
This is why I have put together my Top 15 items which I have found to have made our vanlife journey a whole lot better and hopefully it can help you too.
1 )- This was one of our first purchases we made and I'm so glad we did as we have such a good night sleep with this materess topper. Its made from Hydro Foam and cooling gel and is naturally hypoallergenic so perfect for people with allergies. The cover is also removable and easy to wash and drys very quickly. Having a comfortable sleeping surface is really important to being happy and healthy while living in a van
2 ) Bottle Jack - We had to change our tyres during our first month of travelling as they were quite old and had not been changed by the previous owner. We noticed a crack and Josh immediately change it, as this could have exploded on the motorway. With this car jack at hand, Josh was able to easily change this and it meant it didn't disrupt our journey. (Make sure to check your weight capacity and load before purchasing this.)
3 ) Portable Universal Powerbank- Ensuring you have enough charge for your phones and devices is important, especially when we use them to navigate our way using offline maps whilst hiking or to google search for that perfect camping spot. There's nothing worse than running out of power on the road, but this power bank ables us to charge our phones 7 times over and has x 2 ports so we can both charge simultaneously. It even has a flashlight built-in. Bonus!
4) Download Apps like Campercontact & Park 4 Night they are great for finding paid and un-paid campsites and you can customize your preferences to suit your needs. Whether it be showers, Wifi, laundry service etc. We haven't paid for a single campsite since we've been on the road and we have even found ones with free electricity on park 4 night.
5 ) 250W Solar Panels - This has been a godsend and not sure what we would have done without it. We have a the Photonic Universe 250W Semi-flexible solar panel which charges to 100% in 5 Hours. We were lucky in the fact that our campervan had x6 electric points and by adding a inverter, this made it possible for us convert our power to correct wattage and utilize all of the sockets points. If you're going on a mini break or short getaway in your campervan, then you can probably could do without it. If you are or are planning on living in the van full-time, its great idea to invest in solar panels to be able to drive off-grid, have electricity supply and be totally self-sufficient.
6 ) Reusable Bees wax wraps - This is the perfect way to store our fruit and baguettes when we go hiking and cover over leftover melon or curries in our fridge. They are made out of harvested beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin and they totally biodegrade and compostable. They are much better than using cling film or foil and your also doing your bit for the planet as you will be reducing your carbon footprint. To clean them you simply wash with cool water and soap and that its. There ready to be used again. They last over 1 year.
7 ) 8 Piece Thermo Mat Set - We were actually recommended these by a garage in the U.K to keep insulated in the cold months and keep out the heat in summer. We store these under a throw while driving and as soon we arrive at our campspot, we pop these up in less than 5 minutes. It also doubles up as a privacy screen and extra security for the van. These ones are designed to perfectly fit a VW T25, but you can choose ones to fit the exact the model of your vehicle.
8 ) Storage baskets - Great way to organise and keep everything neat and tidy. We store our tinned food, spices, nuts/seeds and we use another to store all of our toileteres such as naturals oils, rosehip oil, rose water and coconut oil. We even have a bohemian style basket which we store our fruit and vegtables in and can be easily stored out the way.
9 ) Keep it cool with a Gimble Fan. We have tried different fans to keep us cool in our non air-conditioned vehicle, but nothing seemed to be strong enough to keep the air circulating. Through word of mouth and reading the postivite reviews online, we new we had to invest in this 12V gimble fan. Its has a 350 Degree Swival and has 3 speed settings to suit your preference during a hot summer days. We absoulutley love it and have no regrets.
10 ) Solar Shower - Sometimes it can be tricky finding places to shower, so having this solar shower on hand is great. It has a built-in electric pump which gives more pressure than those regular solar showers, which entirely rely on gravity. You simply charge the device via the USB and your ready to go. Your need a foldable bucket for the pump to sit in to draw the water from. We brought this foldable bucket from amazon. Click here for details.
Tip for the ladies - It also doubles up as a pedicure bowl. All you need to do is warm up some water on the gas burner, transfer safely into the bowl and add you favorite essential oils. You can thank me later.
11 ) WIFI 4G BOX - Staying connected on the road is very important for us as we both work on diferent projects and create content for different social media platforms. We decided to invest in the Huawei black with 4G and 3000mAh as the device is fully unlocked to all networks, so its perfect for travellers who are constantly on the move into different countries. We've used this product for 4 months now and we have had no issues with connection or startup. Would definetly recommend.
12 ) Pocket Tool Roll - Josh loves keeping his tools organised inthis pocket roll. It's great as it fits in a back drawer just above our engine bay and vertically take up no space. Its great for limited storage in any sort of scenerio.
13 ) Tefal Non stick 5 piece set. We purchased these durable and non-sticking coating pans to make life easier when cooking. They also have a removable handle which fits onto each pan and pot, making it easier to stack the items in the storage cupboard and thus saving more space.
14 ) Laundry Bags - Joshua and I have x2 100% cotton laundry bags which we use to separate our white and dark washing. It makes it so much easier to transport to and from the launderette and they can be easily stored away when we are not using them.
15 ) Dr Bronners - is Castile liquid soap made from organic ingredients and is a multi-use product. It's so perfect for vanlife as it has many uses such as washing your face & body, washing dishes, brushing teeth, Laundry Soap, washing windows and mopping floors. Thats just to name a few, as the possibilities are endless. This also means you can cut down on buying single-use products and save money and space in the long run.
So that is all of our personal essentials for vanlife.
Although these will vary depending on your specific needs hopefully they can give you some sort of a guideline of what items to expect to add to your campervan or wishlist. Let me know if you have any questions or comments down below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Will update you all soon in the next post.
Bye for now. Love K x
Good Morning Guys. Here some photos from our time in Obidos, which is a small fortified village based just north of Lisbon. (1 hour drive away)The village is famous for its narrow cobbled streets, small picturesque houses and the medieval castle. Its classed as the 45th most romantic place in the world so its perfect couple getaway. You can mainly find many small cafes, restaurants, bakeries, gourmet chocolate shops and many hotels hidden amongst the village. The area is surrounded by medieval walls and a castle from the 15 century. You can even walk the guard walls as we did, but there is a sheer drop so if you are scared of heights I would recommend avoiding it.Whilst exploring the cobbled streets, we found many stalls selling the famous Ginja, which is sweet cherry alcohol shot taken within a milk/white chocolate cup. You can even purchase this in various sizes to bring home with you or as a present to a loved one. It was delicious and definitely A must try.
Joshua and I wandered around for 3-4 hours admiring the beauty of the place. We brought some gourmet chocolate and tried a variety of different flavours. They even had one named after me which was a white chocolate ganache with strawberry and nuts.We planned on eating at a tapas we had our hearts set on, but unfortunately, we decided against it was we didnt have the warmest welcome by one of the hosts. In the end, we went back and cooked a lovely dish and watched a series on Netflix all cosied up in the VW. Thats the beauty of having the freedom in the van.
Tip:- There is parking just before the entrance of Obidos which is chargeable however if you take the slip road just before the beer and chocolate pub and Bank. There is free parking which many of the staff and some visitors use. It is actually even closer to the entrance so definitely check it out if you are driving there.
Talk Soon. Love K xx
It has now been exactly three months since we left the U.K and we have travelled over 5000KM through the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. The journey so far has had some minor downs due to adjusting to vanlife, but we got over this pretty quickly as we had both backpacked previously before and learned how to embrace similar issues. It was more being aware of our food/water consumption and making sure we are not overconsuming on our gas, to be able to cook and run our fridge. There have been few times when we run out of gas, but we adapted and made a campfire instead.On top of this, we need to keep a good eye on the VW as these tend to need more love and care than "normal campervans". For example, checking the temperature gauge so the car doesnt overheat and manually turning on the ventilation is a list of things. We dont have aircon either, so journey in the sweltering heat can be funny and exhausting at the same time. But where is the fun, if everything is too easy?What we have learned is, keeping an eye on our water consumption in the van. We have a 52 Litre water tank and your be surprised how quickly we can go through it. It has really opened our eyes to the amount we were previously wasting in our old home. We all need to be more water-conscious and can all make a small adjustments which do not have a massive impact to our day to day lives. We consume 50% less, which is a massive improvement.
For now, we are taking it slow and will be staying in Portugal for maybe 3 to 4 months as we having fallen in love with the beauty of the place. We are looking to get involved with the work away scheme and volunteer with some local businesses, surf camps and eco-projects, whilist learning new skills and meeting new people. For us, we don't follow time and some days roll into weeks. The most important aspect is how we feel in a place and whether we enjoy the vibe. All I know is that we are both happy and couldn't imagine our lives in any other way
Talk Soon. K xx
Shout out - We met a beautiful couple called Lou and Lee from the U.K. We had a great connection with them both. Lou cooked a lovely Vegan Ristto around our camp whilst we watched the stars over good conversation and wine. They gave us some great life lessons and travel tips around Portugal. It's a shame we were going in different directions as we really vibed with them. <3
Good Morning All. This was our final day here in the Mountains of Serra Da Estrella. We continued further through and started to make our way down the winding and twisting roads. We took a break and wandered over a new mountain we discovered. Joshua and I came across these beautiful clear quartz that were embedded into the mountains. I was lucky enough to find this big piece, which was lying between the rocks and I have taken this back with us to the van, as a memory of this wonderful place.I could have never imagined the beauty of Portugal until we saw it for our own eyes. We have heard from many people we have met along the way that Portugal is their favourite destination for van life and we can understand why. There is such beauty in the untouched landscape. Its given us both a kick of excitement and we can't wait to see what we discover around the next corner.
For now, we are looking for a place to sleep using the park for night app and will head further east towards Lisbon
Will catch up soon
Love K XX
Good Afternoon All. Josh and I enjoyed our evening catching up on some on a film, as the temperature dropped to -2 Degrees during the night. We were the only ones left time the workers had closed up at the cheese and meat market and we questioned whether or not we had made the right decision, as the campervan started to sway by the wind. We had nothing to worry as the wind came to a standstill and we kept warm by wearing our thermals and huddling up together.Once the morning hit at Serra Da Estrella, we took a stroll around beautiful landscape during sunrise. Later on, we jumped back in the campervan and travelled through mountain drops and followed the steep and narrow roads until we came across the monument of the Lady good Star. This was a beautiful sculpture carved back in 1946 and was dedicated the patron saint of the shepherds. It was incredible to see. Nearby was a natural stream of water which flowed past the monument and through the mountains. Josh collected 8 Litres of Freshwater from the stream and filled up our campervan. Portugal is full of many natural streams, so we were enjoying making the most of it whilst we are here.
We will spend one final day here and will continue further east tomorrow.
Talk Soon K xx
Good Morning All. We have crossed the border of France and are driving through Spain as we speak. We will be passing through pretty quickly as we want to drive to Portugal for the winter months so the weather is more bearable in the van and we can still enjoy a little bit of sun. Its pretty common for van lifers migrate further south, so we feel this is the best option for us. For now, Josh and I are taking it in turns to drive through Spain, driving 2-3 hours stints each. We have mainly been using the Autovia and Autopitas to drive through. They are equivalent to our motorways in the UK. The only difference is the Autovia is a Toll Road and is slightly quicker but the downside is that you miss the beautiful scenery and the local towns along the route.
We are stopping at free campsites along our route and catching up on editing and rest in the evenings.
Talk Soon K.xx
The following day we went and fed some horses nearby and enjoyed the peace and quiet up on the hill. We did some cardio and that evening made a campfire to cook dinner. We loved it here so much, that we stayed for 3 days.
Tip:- Make sure to arrive before darkness. A lot of the roads are only one way and can be tricky to reverse/go past on going traffic.