There are many kit and packing lists to be found already published by other travellers and bloggers. One in particular that we resort to as a reference is Julie and Jason's of Our Tour and there’s little point replicating any of these lists here because packing lists and what you need to take with you in your van is a very personal thing, depending on your lifestyle and type of travelling.
We like our kit to be useful, practical and economical - wasting money on things that we don’t need or use isn’t us at all! And now we've downsized the van we’re always thinking of storage!
So listed here are just some of the things that are essential TO US!! This is learned from our own experiences over the past five years and is stuff that makes us happier and more comfortable on the road. Maybe some of you will find some of our ‘must haves’ useful in your own travels??
Charging leads - So many of these we try to keep them all in a box in one place.
Cameras. I use a FujiFilm X-E3, interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with a Fujinon 18-55 zoom lens and a Fujinon 27mm pancake lens (which is tiny). Jo uses a FujiFilm X-A20 with a 15-45 zoom lens. Both cameras have the same lens mount so if one body failed we effectively have a spare.
Powerbank - Ravpower 22000 m/ah - Great if we are away from the van for a long periods of time for recharging cameras and phones etc.
Kindles loaded with the Amazon 99p daily kindle deals. Books and the library we save for home. Kindle for travel. Taking hardcopy books is heavy and space consuming!
Iomega 1TB portable HDD (essential for backing up our photos and videos).
Coffee pot - Totally essential. We Love our Bialetti Mocha stovetop coffee maker
Tea infusers - we have gone over to loose tea.
Collapsible washing up bowl and drainer - brilliant and space saving.
Washing line x2. (a simple line and a very light rotary line). We used to have an over the window rail but it required the window to be left open, so we couldn't leave the van when things were out to dry!
Detergents / body and hair soaps. We are investigating ways to be more economical and environmentally friendly with biodegradable detergents, both for washing up and personal hygiene. Issues here though include storage, spillage, and our impact on the environment. Where we can dispose of grey waste, and the effect on our grey waste tank, and our black (toilet) waste. With a new van we want to try to be as environmentally friendly as we can in this respect, and so are going to try to make this work, assessing convenience / availability / cost, and not forgetting health and hygiene when on the road. (This subject has provided us with some interesting conversations and research during lockdown and we look forward to giving this our best shot! Our experiences with this is something we will be discussing in future blog posts).
Battery operated toothbrushes . Good batteries so they last longer. Very good toothpaste. Anything that helps to ward off dental problems whilst on the road!
Hair clippers and portable mirror (Mark can’t stand it when his hair gets ‘fluffy’).
Walking shoes & day sack. Wet weather walking attire.
Good long lasting waterproof sun cream - we use Rieman P20 SPF50 as it goes on easily and isn’t greasy.
Bikes / handlebar bags / associated kit. Bike rack tools and spares. Decent lock. Bike cover for when on the van.
Paddleboard - looking to get a second one as we are hooked!
Collapsible beach shelter - Take anywhere shade and easier than an umbrella.
Waterproof phone / key packs (Belted ones + internal ones to double bag !). Both of us can then be in water at the same time.
Swimming hats, goggles and ‘proper’ trunks for pools on the continent.
Rash vests (more environmentally friendly than lathering with suncream when out on the water).
Beach shoes / sea shoes. Cheap Decathlon ones but great for pebbly beaches, esp. in rivers and lakes. Good when using the paddleboard.
Resistance bands (we used to take hand weights and kettlebells but they were very heavy!)
Sliders (cheap Decathlon ones) great for getting in and out of the van. We find them easier than normal flip flops to slip on and off. Doesn’t matter if they get wet.
Tonchos - new this year but brilliant for changing / showering. Also like a dressing gown when jumping in and out of the van when starkers. We hope an alternative to bulky dressing gowns. Microfibre towelling material. Jo is a tall lady and feels covered and comfortable in hers.
Mozzie net for over the bed - We need to investigate how to fit in the new van - means we can leave roof vents open at night if safe.
Chairs. Comfy multi-purpose, robust and lightweight. We are still on the hunt for the perfect pair!
Games. No TV in the van. We save playing card games for travelling and TV for home so we have variation. We do download a couple of series from Netflix just in case - on the Santander Ferry crossing for example, or a stretch of van bound rainy days!
Chilly bottles (Jack bought us a pair of his and hers for Christmas and they’re brilliant). Cold fresh water up front in the van - and recyclable coffee cups.
Our pillows from home - It’s taken us years to settle on pillows that we like, so they come with us!
Tea tree oil. A good all rounder that in our opinion smells fresh and lovely. Antiseptic. Soothes stings .
Hand sanitiser, Face masks & Gloves - a sign of the times.
Hanging Toiletry Bag. Saves the awkward clumsy walk to shower blocks.
Karcher window vac - a tip from another blogger - can’t remember which!, Brilliant for getting rid of the condensation.
Microfiber towels. Much lighter and quicker drying than conventional towels.
4 D cell Maglite. Brilliant torch. Big, heavy and loads of uses besides lighting the way.
Spare dometic CT4050 (4000 series) cassette - Extends our ‘off grid’ time by 2-3 days.
Pacsafe security ruck sack.
Breathable Ground Sheet.
European LPG Adaptors.
Water hose / Tap connectors (A multitude of different tap threads across Europe).
Spirit Level (but we also found an App for the phone which was brilliant!).
Comprehensive Tool Kit, cable ties, gaffer tape, double sided tape, micro screwdriver set, air compressor +++.
Levelling ramps and wheel chocks.