We had to live a minimalist lifestyle for six months whilst in our van. I like to live like this. It was a challenge as we had to pack clothing that would be suitable to span several countries over several seasons (I am not sure that I was very successful at this!). This post contains some of the other items that we found essential whilst we were travelling in the van. (I am legally obliged to advise you that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links, this means we get a small fee at no extra cost to the purchaser – I would not advertise products that we do not genuinely use. We only get the money if you actually purchase via the links below and not if you navigate off our page to Amazon directly).
So, what items could we just not live without? We didn’t leave home with all these items – so we purchased on the road as the need arose. These made our trip easier and more pleasant (of course, you can manage with fewer items if you really want to pare back on your possessions). In no particular order they are;
- Kindle Fires – these have been great for games, films, reading and educational apps. Particularly useful to help pass the time when it was raining and we couldn’t escape! The adults also have Amazon Paperwhites to read on – these are fabulous as they hold their charge for so long and can hold a limitless supply of books.
- Travel towels – I don’t know why it took us so long to purchase travel towels. We have been campers for years! I think I have always had in the back of my mind that travel towels are not very efficient but these are great. So compact, so quick to dry and they actually dry you too!!
- Food bag clips – these helped us save food and money. We were able to buy large packets of crisps/nuts and reduce the cost and the packaging used. These were invaluable for rice and pasta packets. We found them so useful that I always take some on holiday now!
- Campercontact app – so helpful to find places to stay overnight. We did use the All the Aires book in France and Spain but this app covered all the places we visited in Europe (and included many of the aires listed in the books too). You can use the website free of charge but we thought £6 for the app was well worth the investment.
- EU passport – absolutely vital! Freedom to travel through all the countries in the EU with no visa restrictions. It came as a shock when we had to pass through border control in Bulgaria!
- Toolkit inc mini compressor – we brought along a small set of tools which were vital during the trip (and were all used). The kit included screws, screwdrivers, spare fuses (for the electrics box), bulbs, fuses for the car. The mini compressor was particularly handy – we used it when we got a nail in our tyre in Italy, it helped us to reflate the tyre and limp to the garage. We also used it when we deflated all the tyres in France to get out of a particularly muddy patch on a campsite – it was so embarrassing as we left HUGE tyre marks on the beautiful campsite grass.
- Wireless speaker essential when watching movies or listening to music via phones. We didn’t start the trip with one, but now we have it I find I use it all the time. The charge lasts for ages, easy Bluetooth to set up and great sound quality for something so small. Again, this is something that now comes with us on all holidays – I love listening to my music or the kids’ audio-books via this speaker.
- Adaptor with USB port – we had USB ports fitted directly into the van’s power supply so we had no problem charging our various devices whilst travelling however, when we stopped this adaptor plug with several USB sockets was indispensable. We are such a power hungry family and this socket means we don’t need to travel with lots of plugs.
- Power bank – wow – how handy were these? I always run my phone battery down – taking photos or using the GPS really drains the battery. These slimline battery packs were so handy to travel with, easy to charge, easy to chuck into my day bag and they hold enough power for a full phone charge.
The best thing about these items is that we are still using them now. Although we are back home and no longer in the van we use the items above both at home and when we travel (I am currently in France with the children). We no longer have a van – due to it failing its MOT because of excessive corrosion to the chassis – but I use travel towels for swimming, I use the Bluetooth speaker if we go for a picnic, I use the power bank on days out…
There’s a list of what we didn’t use too – we didn’t use the little propane heater someone lent to us. We used it a couple of times but found that it used gas very quickly and didn’t make enough difference to the ambient temperature. Someone also lent us some thermal blinds – they were not fitted to our van and ended up falling off in the middle of the night so we stopped using them too. We brought hot water bottles but, due to our water tank being limited and our kettle being small, we didn’t use them much. Hubby thinks he took too many clothes and there was a least a pair of jeans he never wore (but our standards of what classed as being dirty was definitely low!). We took several paper maps covering some of the countries we visited. We NEVER looked at these – instead we relied on Google or Apple maps to get us where we wanted to go (what did we do before phones?!). Overall I think we did pretty well – there was nothing major that we missed and, once we got home, we even got rid of more of our belongs that had been stored in the attic.