First of all, let me say that nobody needs to get a bunch of fancy stuff before starting life on the road whether in a van, car, motorhome, truck camper, travel trailer, or fifth wheel. There’s nothing wrong with being a minimalist because you’re more comfortable that way or because you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on gear. This list is not meant as a shopping list or list of must-have items. I put this list together to help nomads plan ahead, to help folks think about what equipment might increase comfort for a weekend or a lifetime on the road. Feel free to cross out the items you’ll never use and add in the items I forgot. Make this list your own and use it any way you want or ignore it completely. Think of it as helpful advice, suggestions from a long-time van dweller, not as commandments you are compelled to follow.
*stove *fuel for stove *lighter or matches for lighting stove *water for drinking and washing *jugs for water *cooler for perishables *ice for cooler *perishable food *canned goods and other non-perishable food *herbs and spices *salt *pepper *at least one pan for cooking (I use cast iron skillets) *at least one pan with lid for cooking grains/boiling potatoes/etc. *measuring cups *storage containers for leftovers *clips to seal bags *bowl *plate (although you can typically get away with using just a bowl) *fork/spoon/spork/knife *stainless steel cup *knife for food prep *cutting board *water bottle *can opener *spatula/turner *soap for cleanup *dishtowels *rags *paper towels
*toilet paper *wet wipes *pee jug/bucket *container for defecation
*plastic garbage bags to line defecation container *cat litter/peat moss/puppy training pads for defecation system *hand and body soap (I like Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap for most any washing need) *washcloths *towel *shower shoes *shampoo *conditioner *dry shampoo *feminine hygiene products *toothbrush *toothpaste *dental floss *mouthwash *razors *shaving cream *witch Hazel *cotton pads or cotton balls *supplies for contact lenses *small shovel (if you’re going to dig a cat hole while camping on public land)
*prescription medications *med history sheet *copies of written prescriptions *copy of eyeglass/contact lens prescription *spare eyeglasses or contact lenses *self-adhesive bandages *ace bandage *large gauze pads *medical tape *rubbing alcohol *hydrogen peroxide *antibiotic ointment *cough drops *decongestant *cough syrup *vitamin C supplement *over-the-counter pain relievers *tweezers *instructions for removing a tick *cotton swabs *mole skin *aloe vera gel for burn/sunburn relief
*quarters *laundry bag *laundry detergent *stain remover *bleach *fabric softener/dryer sheets
*socks *underwear *bras *sunhat *sturdy shoes *comfortable shoes to wear at camp *jeans or other sturdy pants *long and short sleeve shirts *nice outfit *shorts or cool-weather skirt *swimsuit *water shoes *handkerchiefs *jacket and/or coat *warm hat *warm gloves or mittens *long winter underwear *scarf *pajamas *special clothes for any sports you participate in
For the Rig
*tire gauge *jack *tire iron *jumper cables *can of Fix-a-Flat *portable
air compressor *oil *gas jug *emergency flairs *coolant/antifreeze *brake fluid *transmission fluid *roadside assistance coverage *owner’s manual *Chilton or Haynes manual *log book
*hammer *Phillips-head screwdriver *flat-head screwdriver *adjustable wrench *Allen wrenches *pliers *open end wrenches *socket set *Drimel *wire stripper *box cutter *portable drill with screwdriver and drill bits *work gloves
For Your Comfort
*sunglasses *lip balm *lotion *sunscreen *walking stick *insect repellent *sleep aid *ear plugs *sleep mask *12 volt fan *brush *comb *hand mirror *flashlight or headlamp *batteries for flashlight or headlamp *solar lights *mattress/camping pad/foam pad/hammock *sheets *blankets and/or sleeping bag *pillow *curtains *portable heater *fuel for portable heater *flyswatter *reading material *music (radio/phone/MP3 player) *deck of cards
*bowls for food and water *leash *collar *food and treats *toys *grooming supplies * prescription medications *vaccination and other medical records
*invertor *phone charger *phone *GPS system *paper maps *driver’s license *passport *emergency contact information (displayed prominently) *proof of insurance *insurance company’s phone number *vehicle registration *AAA or Good Sam’s membership card *roadside assistance phone number *spare key(s) *12 volt extension cord *camera *travel journal
What important things do you take on the road that I’ve forgotten to include here? Let me know by leaving a comment below. If I think your suggestions have broad appeal, I might just add them to this list!
Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-rv-on-road-2580312/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/blur-bristle-brush-clean-298611/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-white-hand-wrap-1571170/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-spoke-car-wheel-in-brown-sand-during-daytime-53161/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunglasses-sunset-summer-sand-46710/.