Green Bay Window VW in 1980s

Vanlife Essentials: Packing List

By Tin Top

This is my attempt at an exhaustive list of items required for an extended trip in your van. Tip: Copy and paste the list into Google Keep and removed the items not relevant to you. Then as you pack tick off the remaining items one by one.

We will do another list for when you have kids with you!

General Advice

Clothes can be washed, clothes can be work dirty, clothes can be left at home.

A barbeque is a nuisance to pack but makes for much better meals.

A good cool-box (Yeti or similar) filled with ice will stay cold off-grid for up to 10 days.

Frozen bottled water can act as ice packs for your cooler and then as a drink when it starts to defrost.


  • Duvet
  • Pillows
  • Under Sheet
  • Blanket(s)
  • Mattress Topper


  • Food
  • Lead
  • Pet Bed / Cage
  • Glove or Bags for Cleanup
  • Pet Passport


  • Waterproof Coat
  • Warm Coat or Layers
  • Walking Shoes
  • Hiking Boots
  • Sandals
  • Wellies
  • Swimwear
  • Towels
  • Hats
  • Umbrellas
  • Sunglasses
  • T-Shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Trousers
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Dresses
  • Underwear

Toiletries and Medicine

  • Body Soap
  • Clothes Soap
  • Shampoo Bar or Shampoo
  • Baby Wipes
  • Moisturiser
  • Make-Up
  • Brush
  • Deodorant
  • Sun Cream
  • Prescription and Pain Medicine
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sanitary Wear
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Mirror

Cooking - Barbeque

  • Go Anywhere or Smokey Joe Weber BBQ
  • Charcoal
  • Lighters and Matches
  • Tongs
  • Gloves
  • Natural Lighters

Cooking - General

  • Pan
  • Pot
  • Chef Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Crockery
  • Cutlery
  • Chopping Board
  • Bin Bags
  • Tin Foil
  • Blue Roll or Towels
  • Washing Up Liquid
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opener
  • Corkscrew
  • Zip-Loc Bags
  • Coffee Maker
  • Kettle

Food Staples

  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Oil

Comfort & Equipment

  • Awning or Tent
  • Ground Mat
  • Sunshade
  • Windbreaker
  • Ropes and Pegs
  • Axe/Hammer/Mallet
  • Porta Potty and Chemicals
  • Travel Shower
  • Dust Pan and Brush
  • Lights or Torches
  • Batteries or Fuel for Lights
  • Camera and Charger
  • 12V Phone Chargers
  • Tech (Phone/Laptop/Tablet) and Chargers
  • Tote Bags for Shopping and Laundry
  • Clothesline / Washing Line and Pegs
  • Notepad and Pen
  • Bluetooth Speaker
  • Plugin or Power Lead
  • Chairs
  • Table
  • Camping Gas
  • Windscreen Covers

Safety and Emergency

  • Strong Disposable Gloves
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • CO2 and Smoke Alarm
  • Toolkit
  • Engine Oil
  • Gaffer Tape
  • Strong Cable Ties

The toolkit will depend on your vehicle and its age, but gaffer / duct tape and cable ties can get you out of many sticky situations. I reversed over a curb once and half pulled the front bumper off my van. In doing so I broke all the little clips holding it in place. Cable ties got me home. Gaffer tape can hold awnings together, stop things flapping about, and keep luggage from rolling around. In all my years driving vans the only service component I ever needed was oil, due to leaks or simply burning up more than I bargained for on long drives. I once burst an oil feeder pipe in an old van and needed 5L of oil to get to the nearest service station and another 10L to get to a repair centre.