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How-to-guide

How to plan a vanlife road trip – A Checklist

Getting ready for a long vacation in your van is made easy with our list of essentials!

There’s nothing like exploring the great outdoors in your van. You can have all the comforts of home but with the added excitement of beautiful, new scenery.

Before you set off, though, you might be racking your brain trying to make sure you bring everything you need. Don’t worry, our checklists will give you a better idea of what to prepare for your road trip:

In this article:

 

What to pack for a vanlife road trip?

  • Toothbrushes
  • Sunscreen and after-sun lotion
  • Wipes and/or tissues
  • Hairbrush
  • Bug spray
  • Toiletry bag with separate compartments so that everything can be found easily
  • First aid kit
  • Pain-relief and over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol
  • Specific medication, remember your medication if you take any
  • Antibacterial gel to stop cuts from getting infected
  • Clothes 
  • Towels
  • Shoes (use a shoe organizer to keep track of all your pairs)
  • Laundry basket to keep dirty clothes
  • Chargers for all your gadgets
  • Flashlight
  • Tool kit for the car
  • Tool kit for bikes if you are bringing any
  • GPS
  • Adapter: Locating an RV park or campsite is a solid option since often there are 30-amp outlets, but if you have a 50-amp cord, you’ll need an adapter (and vice versa)
  • Packing cubes, duffels, storage containers and organizers. All experienced road trippers know how quickly an unorganized motorhome can start to clutter. Also, secure storage means your stuff won’t go flying around while you’re out driving
 

Preparing your rig for the trip:

  1. Check that all cabinet and fridge doors are securely closed shut
  2. Check all other furniture is secure
  3. Make sure all vents are closed
  4. Fill up the potable water tank
  5. If you have plumbing, turn on the water pump and check that it works
  6. Make sure the battery is fully charged
  7. Check the tires
  8. Check for leaks
  9. Check if appliances work

Van accessories checklist:

  • Awning: Van awnings extend your living space outside of the vehicle. Here you can sit back to appreciate the beautiful scenery and still be protected from the sun or rain. Awnings can be attached either to your roof rack, the wall, or the roof of the vehicle itself. For a perfect fit, find an awning that catered to your specific vehicle model.
  • Awning strap kit: These straps hold the awning down and make sure it stays secure no matter how windy it gets.
  • Panels: One or more panels can be easily attached to their corresponding awning. Side or front panels can give you protection either from the beating sun, or the wind and rain. They can be combined in many ways for optimal protection. You can also choose a complete awning tent that gives full coverage while still allowing panoramic views.
  • Bike carriers: If you want to load bicycles on the back of your RV, choose a bike rack that is designed to work perfectly with your motorhome. Whether your van has garage space for a bike rack, or whether you want to attach it to the back of your vehicle.
  • Levelers: These overlooked but nifty tools let you adjust the vehicle so that it is standing level. It might not sound like a big deal, but if your van is slanted on uneven ground, it can be hard to sleep, cook and your fridge might even stop working!
  • Lock: You’ve likely packed a lot of valuable belongings in your van, so it’s important to keep it all safe and secure. A lock for your van ensures that extra level of security.

To get the perfect fit, make sure that the accessories you choose are suited to your vehicle brand.

 

What food to bring?

Depending on where you are traveling, grocery stores can be few and far between. For this reason, come prepared with some food staples that will last.

  • Non-perishable staple foods: pasta, couscous, and lentils are good examples.
  • Canned goods: beans, soups, corn and peas can go with different meals.
  • Deep frozen food: frozen vegetables, meat or ready-made frozen meals for lazy days.

Tip: Make your own bread. Store-bought bread can mold quickly. But the basic ingredients for home-made bread (oil, water, dry yeast, flour and salt) can last for ages! Bread recipes to make over an open fire like campfire bread are simple and fun to make. Have a look online to find some easy recipes.

Containers for your fridge and freezer: Pack your food in plastic containers. That way all the loose food won’t be tossed back and forth in the fridge as you hurtle down the highway.

Planning a route for your road trip

  • Plan the general route. Where is your final destination? What places do you want to check out on the way?
  • Book stays at campgrounds or RV parks. Check reviews on their website, make sure that they allow for a vehicle of your size. Make reservations, it is better to plan ahead than rush around at night frantically searching for a place to sleep. Popular places might also be fully booked in the high season.
  • Locate some potential stops as a last resort along the way. Some chain stores or gas stations allow overnight RV or oversized vehicle parking. Locate a couple on your planned route just in case you do not reach your planned destination in time.
  • Plan your route according to your battery. Electricity isn’t unlimited in your van. You need to plan your route strategically, making sure you have enough power before you reach the next electrical outlet and can charge your battery. If you are boondocking (staying in a location without electricity) be conversative with your energy consumption.
  • Plan your route according to water intake: Similar to electricity, you will need to find RV campsites that allow you to dump waste and refill your clean water tank. Plan your route so that you have enough water in between the campsites that offer these services. Take it easy on the showers, too.
  • Use an app. There are lots of RV trip planners online that can help you scope out a good route.
 

Road trip planning apps:

  • iOverlander: Lets you find camping destinations and read reviews from other fellow travelers. Available globally.
  • Allstays:Their range of apps helps you find everything from a place to dump your waste, to Walmart parking lots that let you park your van. Available in the US and Canada.
  • Roadtrippers: Input your start and end points, as well as other preferences (do you want to drive on scenic roads? Or visit a museum on the way?). Then they suggest the perfect route. Available globally.
 
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Van accessories

Thule van accessories give you freedom and space on the road – not to mention comfort and security too.

Discover what the great outdoors has to offer!

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