When starting out with a camper van, van, or converted vehicle, it’s not always clear what to bring, and often we end up packing way too many unnecessary items.

This was the case for us during our first trip. We overpacked, but some items have become essential for our comfort and practical needs!

Essentials for starting out smoothly

Outdoor furniture for camper vans

Traveling in a converted vehicle is all about enjoying the outdoors and changing your “garden” as you wish during your travels. Therefore, it’s crucial to have practical, space-saving furniture. Opt for foldable camping chairs and tables.

Also, consider bringing a large tarp so you can enjoy the outdoors without dirtying your camper every time you go in and out, regardless of the ground’s nature. We chose a micro-perforated tarp, which is very practical in case of rain as it allows water to drain away.

Unbreakable dishware and practical accessories for your comfort

In a converted vehicle, everything moves, so forget about the pretty, heavy porcelain dishes and opt for melamine, bamboo, or plastic according to your preference. Think practical with stackable pans and pots with removable handles, or collapsible colanders and dishes.

Camping also means limited electricity, so go for an Italian coffee maker and a gas foldable toaster.

Boxes, baskets, and other storage solutions

In a converted vehicle, the key word is space optimization! Every square centimeter counts, so don’t waste any space. Use boxes, baskets, and other types of storage to fill every empty spot and turn it into storage.

Storage nets are also an ideal solution for storing items, as they are flat and take up little space. They can be hung anywhere in the motorhome. They can be very practical for storing books, magazines, vegetables and shoes, for example.
For our part, we’ve installed some for storing shoes. We recommend Filt1860’s 100% made-in-France nets, which are inexpensive and of excellent quality.

Water hose adapters and electrical extension cord

Regarding basic equipment, you’ll also need a long electrical extension cord to connect whether you’re at a rest area or camping site. Make sure it’s long enough, at least 25 meters, as some spots will require sufficient length to reach the electrical terminal. Keep this in mind!

Equip yourself with various adapters for connecting to water sources to fill your motorhome’s tanks. You can find sets in stores that include everything needed for connection. When using them, don’t forget to retrieve your adapter after connecting to the water source. It happens so often and avoiding this will save you from embarrassment during your next water refill!

A pair of chocks to stabilize your vehicle

Investing in a pair of chocks is essential for your motorhome. It’s rare to find a perfectly flat spot to park or sleep on. It’s important for your fridge, shower drainage, and overall comfort to be level.

There are many smartphone apps that can help you stabilize your vehicle. For example, we use the Level app by Yescapa. However, you can also opt for the classic adhesive level to stick on your dashboard.

A toolbox

It might seem unnecessary at first, but you’ll soon start using it frequently! There will always be something to repair, glue back together, or patch up… Everything moves and shifts in a converted vehicle!

There’s no need to invest in premium tools; an entry-level set will be more than sufficient given the light use these tools will get. You can find them at various discount stores at very affordable prices.

Other essentials for going further

Dry toilets

We switched to dry toilets, and since then, they have become an absolute essential!

Water isn’t unlimited, so you need to save as much as possible. Flushing the toilet every time was a real waste, especially when traveling with a family. Since switching to dry toilets, we have significantly increased our water autonomy. You can find excellent pre-made kits from brands like Trobolo or Trelino.

Water disinfection products

Whether you decide to drink the water from your motorhome’s tanks or not, you will always need to use it for brushing your teeth or cooking food. Since water can remain in a plastic tank for several days, it is very important to disinfect and thoroughly clean your tanks at least once a year.

For this, we use the brand WM Aquatec, particularly their silver ion tablets, which protect your water tank from bacteria. This is an example of the product we use.

Gas detector

In some converted vehicles, gas remains the primary energy source for many appliances: oven, fridge, heater, stove…

For safety reasons, installing a gas detector is very important in a small enclosed space. The device is connected to the 12V system and will activate if it detects any anomalies in the air.

Exterior insulating shutter

If you decide to travel with your RV in winter or to a cold country, you will quickly notice that despite using the heater, it can get quite cold in your motorhome, especially at night.

Investing in an exterior insulating shutter is highly recommended to protect you from the cold and condensation in winter, as well as from extreme heat in summer!

Insulating your windshield both in summer and winter will thus provide you with more comfort in your motorhome.

Our 2 bonus items to complete this list of essentials

The Italian coffee maker!

If you are a coffee lover and don’t have a top-notch electrical setup, the Italian coffee maker will quickly become your best friend! They come in various sizes and allow you to prepare coffee simply by heating it on the gas stove.

A spare tire and a jack

When you purchase your motorhome, you will almost always find that it comes without a spare tire. For safety reasons, it’s better to invest in a spare tire, especially if you plan to venture into remote areas where assistance might be difficult to obtain. Most motorhomes or vans are built on widely used chassis (Ford, Mercedes, etc.), making it easy to find these parts second-hand. Often, these parts have never even been used!

About Author

We are Sophie, Adrien, and our two adorable little ones. Passionate about travel, discovery, and gastronomy, we bought a 2007 Rapido camper van to travel differently, travel more, and introduce our children to the world. Here, we share our wonderful discoveries and tips for activities to do with children in France and beyond ! Welcome !

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