Tiny living is more appealing than ever as Americans start to value time and experiences over anything. One of the most popular ways to downsize is to adopt the way of living known as ‘van life’. Van life comes in all shapes and sizes, literally. The best part is it enables you to live the simple lifestyle you’ve dreamed of…on the go. Whether you’re in a soccer mom van, hippie wagon, or ballin’ out in a custom sprinter van, there are some essential accessories that make van life much easier.
From morning to night, there are so many things you will need to make your van home feel like a real home. Think about everything you do in your daily routine. Sleeping, cooking, going to the bathroom, showering, and getting dressed can be challenging when you go from 1,000-square-feet to 15. But they don’t have to be with these must-have van life accessories.
The beauty of van life is being able to sleep in the mountains or alongside a stream, which means you’ll likely come across uneven ground. These handy-dandy blocks will feel like a life saver when you don’t have a level surface for camping.
Memory Foam Mattress
If you’re laying on top of folded-down seats, or you’ve built your own slat bench/bed setup, a memory foam mattress or mattress topper, is essential! The beauty of this material is it can easily be cut to fit your customized van bed. Also, unless you don’t have windows in your van, make sure you invest in some window blockers or blackout curtains to keep your sleeping space dark and private. For a mellow afternoon nap, consider packing a hammock that can easily tie off between your van and a tree.
There’s nothing more important than organization when it comes to van life. Not only is it necessary for maximizing space, but tactical organization can help you discover multi-use storage opportunities. Pick up some storage bins, baskets or cubes, and labels for everything from kitchenware and clothing, to garbage and tools.
Toilet (Eco-Friendly Products)
Some van-lifers will opt for camp sites or 24-hour stores like Walmart for overnight accommodations. While these places typically come equipped with public toilets, it’s not always ideal when it’s the middle of the night or if you’re feeling sick. Thankfully, there are a variety of portable toilets that you can keep inside your van or a pop-up shower tent. Be sure to use eco-friendly paper products and gels for absorbing waste. For showering on the go, pack a pressurized shower sac.
All Weather Mat
You wouldn’t want dust or water trekked through your home and your van is no different. Since van life is synonymous with adventure, you’re likely to be hiking trails or hanging out at the beach, which means dirt and sand. Get yourself an all weather mat to help keep your tiny home tidy. Some other must-have accessories to keep your home clean include a dust pan and cordless vacuum.
Depending on your level of commitment to van life, a water tank is super beneficial. With a water tank, you’ll have water handy for drinking, cooking and cleaning. You can find five gallon portable water tanks with a spout for faucets and hoses for less than $30.
Portable Burner, Grill, or Hot Plate
One of the best parts about camping is sitting around a campfire. In addition to providing warmth, a small fire is an all natural way to cook meals. Find yourself a portable grill rack that you can place over your campfire; this works like a gas stove. If campfires aren’t always an option, a portable propane burner or electric hot plate will save the day. To complete your van life kitchen setup, make sure you include reusable plates and utensils, a foldable table, and chairs.
Mini Portable Projector
For off-grid entertainment, a mini projector could make you the MVP of the campground. A large white transit van works perfectly as a projector screen, and with movies or shows downloaded onto your phone, all you have to do is connect and watch. If, however, you’re really trying to embrace adventure, a telescope will bring you one step closer to the magic that is nature!
Sat Phone or Two-Way Radio
An emergency is the last thing we want when traveling, but it’s something we should all be prepared for. If you’re planning to take your van home to remote destinations where there’s no cell or internet service, you’ll be glad you own a sat phone if something unexpected happens. When faced with a scary situation and no way to call for help, this device could save your life.
Another thing that every van home should have is a first aid kit; we’re not talking about a basic kit for scrapes and bruises, but rather an all-purpose kit that includes tools for stopping bleeding, and stabilizing possible bone fractures.
This list could go on forever to include accessories like an electric bike for exploring without the van, a roof rack for added storage, utility knives and tie-downs, or solar panels for collecting power from the sun. There’s really no limit to what you can do with van life, but the best first step is to get out there and figure out what your own tiny needs are.