Getting ready for your campervan adventure around the USA and not sure what you should add to your road trip packing list? If you’re not an experienced camper – or even if you are – it’s easy to forget to pack the little things that will make a big difference when out on the open road.
Of course, you will need all the camping essentials; such as your pillows, sleeping bags, towels, camping chairs, pots, pans, cutlery, and other kitchen equipment. For the sake of not stating the obvious, we have left those items off our packing list, and focused on other items that are practical, fun, and often forgotten!
Note that with Travellers Autobarn campervan rentals, you can rent a pack including all the items listed above and more. This pack includes items for up to 3 people and costs just $45 per rental.
From our road-tripping experience, we have compiled this list of 12 essential items that we can’t live without on a campervan road trip:
1. Rucksack/backpack for luggage
Although campervans are designed with space-efficiency in mind, they are compact vehicles meaning storage space is often limited. You won’t want to have a bulky or hard luggage case to get in the way in your campervan, so we always suggest taking a soft bag or rucksack.
2. Packing cubes
More on the packing-front, we can’t go past packing cubes to help us find our things easily and stay organized. These soft-fabric, zip-up cubes come in several different sizes so you can categorize all your belongings; one for t-shirts, one for underwear, toiletries and so on. Campervans generally have a lot of different storage compartments, so you can individually place your storage cubes into them and keep things tidy.
3. Insect repellent
With the joy that comes with being outdoors, often comes the unfortunate bother of insects. There’s nothing worse than wanting to be outside in the evening but being bothered by mosquitoes, so don’t forget to pack some insect repellent.
4. Body wipes
Living the #VanLife gives you the opportunity to travel off-grid and sleep under the stars. If you really want to get out in the great outdoors and away from RV parks, it might mean sacrificing a hot shower every now and then. For those nights you can’t shower, you will appreciate having wet wipes to get rid of sweat and dirt from your day’s adventures.
5. Toilet paper
Again, when exploring in remote locations, you won’t always have access to the same luxuries you can expect in built-up areas. Although there are thousands of campgrounds in the USA that have well-stocked restrooms, toilet paper is something you definitely don’t want to get caught short without. It can’t hurt to pack a roll just in case, right?!
6. Garbage bags
Make sure you have something in your campervan to sort out your garbage – whether it’s bags (bio-degradable preferably), or boxes you can pick up at a local grocery store. Most campgrounds have bins that you can sort and place your garbage and recycling in. If you don’t find these amenities, please make sure you’re holding onto your trash and never leave a trace of litter in US national parks.
7. First aid kit
A first aid kit is something you hopefully will not need to use, but you will be ever-grateful for having it if you do. A few basic first aid items will make a big difference for cuts, scratches, headaches, or car sickness. So as a start, we suggest plasters, paracetamol, antiseptic cream, and travel calm tablets, and if you are going to be traveling in warmer climates, make sure to pack your sunscreen!
8. Head Lamp
Headlamps are a lifesaver when you’re making a trip to the restroom at night in a campground. Campsites often have no lighting, which is great for star-gazing, but not so great if you forget your own lamp! We recommend a headlamp as it means your hands are free for carrying items to the showers. It will also come in useful when you venture out on sunrise hikes!
9. Bluetooth speaker
There’s nothing better than setting up your camping table and chairs, opening a cold drink, and enjoying your favorite playlist with your travel buddy. We can’t go on a campervan trip without having a portable Bluetooth speaker to enjoy these moments. Just make sure you have your playlist downloaded, as typically you won’t find WiFi in the wilderness, and don’t forget your charger!
10. Card games or board games
Another item that’s less on the ‘practical’ side and more on the fun side (but a must-have nonetheless) is a deck of cards or a game to keep you entertained while winding down for the evening. Now, we’re not talking a 5-hour round of Monopoly, but no technology means the perfect opportunity to get competitive in a classic game of Uno or Jenga.
11. Water and a refillable water bottle
Yes, this one might seem obvious, but it’s something that’s easily forgotten when we are lucky enough to be used to having running water in our houses. It’s rare, but some campgrounds do not have fresh water, so make sure you stock up on some when you’re at home or in town, and always carry a refillable bottle for when you can fill up.
Now, of course, you will need money to spend on your campervan road trip, but how many of us carry cash nowadays? Well, you should definitely ensure you take out some cash before you hit the road, as you’ll find that a lot of national parks and campground fees are cash only, in which you will need to leave your money in an envelope at the entry. Also, make sure to have the correct amount of money, as there won’t be a way of getting any change.
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.