My top ten best camper van accessories, that you haven’t heard already a million times in sponsored posts featuring fancy solar set ups, carbon monoxide alarms (obviously you need one), and Jackery units (which look great by the way. Jackery, feel free to DM me and we can work something out).
This post will be different from the others. I am NOT going to cover things such as solar set up, battery packs etc because there are already so many places you can go to find lists of these rather obvious “well duh” camper van essentials.
I’m going to focus instead on the overlooked.
The camper van essentials that – until you need them – you truly don’t realize you needed them.
And finally, because absolutely nothing on this page is sponsored, affiliated, or otherwise moneygrabbing in any way, shape or form, you know you’re getting entirely honest van lifer information. Yes, that’s right; I’m doing this entirely for the fun of it (/because it’s raining and I can’t leave the van right now :)).
Van Life Accessory 1: Hot Water Bottle
The humble and frequently overlooked hot water bottle has seen me through many a cold UK night in little more than a pair of socks.
Whilst those in warmer climes may turn their noses up, I would counsel you not to be so quick to discount this iconic little van life item. Even in Morocco, France and the Italian Alps I’ve had nights where I’m excessively grateful for the presence of my trusty HWB.
In fact, especially in the Alps and other mountainous regions, bedtime cold snaps can come as if out of nowhere, even following closely on from a blisteringly hot day.
So do yourself a favor, and tuck a hottie away somewhere in a corner of your camper. Future you will thank you for it.
Van Life Accessory 2: Baby Wipes And Dry Shampoo
Even now that I have the (arguable) luxury of being able to shower inside my current van, I am never without a pack of biodegradable baby wipes, and a tub of dry shampoo powder. These days, there are plenty of options for the trying-to-be-more-eco-conscious consumer. I particularly like this one, from Battle Green; not only does it make your hair smell amazing, it also won’t harm you or the environment.
The simple truth is that I have a lot of hair (on my head, minds out the gutter please), and life’s just too short for me to be washing it more than once or MAX twice a week if I’ve been getting really filthy.
And to be completely honest, even with the option to shower inside the van, some days I really just can’t be arsed getting that wet.
Van Life Accessory 3: The Trowel
Do you really need me to explain what the trowel is for?
I’ll provide a few clues: I’m not building a sandcastle.
Nor do I work in the landscaping business.
I enjoy long walks in the woods.
And I eat a largely vegetarian diet.
Van Life Accessory 4: Mobile Wifi Hotspot Device
It’s not uncommon for me to find beautiful parkups in the middle of nowhere featuring stunning views, complete isolation and a woeful, woeful lack of internet on my phone and Macbook. Thus rendering it impossible to write, work or netflix and chill.
As much as I am a fan of switching off completely from society from time to time, for the most part I need to stay connected. So having a reliable means of getting online in remote locations is super important for me.
Personally, I have been using the Huawei E5785-330, which cost me under £100, and has honestly not failed me yet.
I use the ‘SMARTY’ Sim card which came in the box with the device, and have a plan that gives me unlimited data for my connected phone and laptop at £20/month.
It’s honestly so cheap and effective that if/when I ever do move back into a house or apartment, I would consider just continuing to use the Huawei rather than signing up to traditional internet services, which cost so much more. And you can cancel at any time, or even just purchase one month at a time.
I find the battery capabilities to be adequate for a day’s work OR an evening of chilling. If you plan to use it for both, factor in a charge in-between…or just leave it plugged in to a USB outlet in your van.
Van Life Accessory 5: The Pee Bottle
Yes, you heard me. I’ll say it once more for those at the back.
I have a pee bottle.
And I ain’t afraid to admit it!
My last van actually had a composting toilet with a separate compartment for number ones, and it was a massive lifesaver. I adored that composting toilet (except when it briefly had fruit flies and I had to evacuate for two nights).
Yup. The Nature’s Head compost loo is definitely that thing I miss most about my previous van.
Solids compartment only needed emptying and refreshing every couple months (and nope, it didn’t smell), and whilst the inbuilt wee bottle had to be changed every 2-3 days this was never particularly onerous.
On the flip side, my new van has a Thetford chemical toilet. I don’t like it. I don’t like the smell. I don’t like how bad it is for the environment. I deteste emptying it. And I don’t like having to be around hazardous chemicals when I do.
So, my solution? Use the Thetford as little as humanly possible.
Now, being a uh, fairly regular human being, I only really need to find a proper restroom (or quiet corner of the forest) once, max twice a day (even with the mostly vegetarian diet).
So number twos are not a big issue.
But I was cursed with a bladder the size of an unripe satsuma. And, I love to stay well hydrated.
So, as you can imagine, I constantly need to wee.
Some van lifers out there are not above peeing in the sink.
But I am.
I refuse to pee where I wash my dishes.
Portable, leakproof urine bottle. With a funnelly-thing at the top, because I’m a girl.
My chosen pee bottle is leakproof (obviously), and I specifically chose one that was not see-through. I don’t exactly want to advertise that it’s my own pee I’m carrying about.
To the untrained eye, my pee bottle is mistaken for a water bottle, enabling me to sneak it into the public restrooms to empty it without anybody batting a judgemental eye.
Van Life Accessory 6: Ear Plugs
We’ve all been there, OK? Nobody planned it. We thought we’d get further along the drive before needing to stop, but fatigue set in.
So here we are. In a supermarket car park. Or a truck stop. Or – the worst of the worst, reserved exclusively for moments of extreme desperation – a motorway lay-by.
It’s noisy. It’s dirty. I can do nothing about the fact that my entire van (and bed) shudders every time a lorry thunders past.
But with a good quality pair of earplugs, I can at least mute the sound down to a gentle, unobtrusive rumbling. Almost like white noise.
I prefer wax earplugs because I find they offer the greatest capability to block out sounds. I’ve been using these ones made by Quies for absolutely years, having originally tried a plethora of different brands and types and finding Quies to be the best of the best.
I order mine off Amazon by the three pack. Cheaper that way.
Fresh from a great night’s sleep, thanks Quies!
Van Life Accessory 7: Wall Mounted Low-Voltage Fan
Full disclosure: this is the one item on this list, that I haven’t actually personally tried out yet.
But that is only because I haven’t yet had a chance to get one fitted.
I am desperate for a wall mounted low-voltage fan to help keep me cool at night. And I know exactly which one I’m getting.
Whilst I may not have personally tested it, I have it on very good authority from another full-time van lifer that Sirocco is the King of the Van Fans.
Personally, I’m leaning towards the SEEKR Sirocco II, 7010CABBX. If anybody has any experience with this fan (or other models) please do let me know in comments!
I’d really appreciate it :))
Here’s why I like the look of the Sirocco:
- It folds away flat to the wall when not in use.
- It has very low power drain, so you can keep that precious battery power for other uses.
- It offers 360-degree directional airflow options (that’s actually a direct quote from amazon yes, simply because I couldn’t write it better myself!)
- Has a variety of speed settings and – importantly – timers. So if you are concerned about limiting battery use, you can set it to shut off once you’ve fallen comfortably asleep.
Van Life Accessory 8: The Bog Roll Bin
Just when I thought I was done embarrassing myself. But I can’t not mention the bog roll bin.
Obviously, I shamelessly admitted earlier to being the proud owner of a pee bottle. But, dear reader, you surely must have been wondering by now: where does the bog roll go?
(Since I’m not 100% my friends across the water will be familiar with the term ‘bog roll’…it’s Brit slang for toilet paper).
Well, obviously since I want to be messing around with emptying my chemical toilet as little as possible, I am not going to be throwing the bog roll in there, am I?
Nor am I prepared to slum it, in this instance. A Sainsbury’s bag hung up near the back door won’t do.
I have my very own little bin, exclusively for bog roll, that lives in my van bathroom.
It’s actually rather cute. And you can attach it to the wall, so it doesn’t move about when driving! No risk of spilling used bog roll all over the van – genius!
Here’s what she looks like:
Such a lovely pastel green shade. Complete with my favourite brand of loo roll by Who Gives A Crap (link below).
I line my beloved bog roll bin with compostable liners, and I use biodegradable toilet paper. And when the bag is full, I get to head off into the woods and make use of the previously mentioned trowel. Win!
Van Life Accessory 9: The Journal
Van life forces introspection. You’ll encounter situations where you have literally no choice but to push yourself out of your comfort zone. And you’ll learn an absolutely massive amount about yourself, that you never knew before.
I’ve never been so familiar with me.
Since van life forces introspection (whether you’re somebody who invites that or not), you might as well embrace it and get into the habit of journaling.
Journaling helps solidify positive changes that you may be welcoming in regard to your own mental state, as well as being a highly cathartic process when you’re having a down day, or a lonely moment.
In fact, journaling reminds me that I am not alone. I have myself for company. And it reminds me of the people in my life who I feel close with even when they are far away.
I actually only started creating a journaling habit a couple of months ago, and – being new to it – I wasn’t really sure where to start or what I should be writing about.
For that reason, I investing in this journal, from Intelligent Change:
I chose this journal because the prompts really help me to dive a bit deeper, and assuage any moments of writer’s block.
For the sake of giving me a helping hand in terms of getting started, I would highly recommend it.
It is however on the pricey side, and so once I am fully in the swing of things/comfortable journaling, and have used this one up, I’ll probably select a cheaper, more basic journal next.
Van Life Accessory 10: Laundry Sheets And Designated Drying Area
‘Why laundry sheets?’, you may ask. What’s wrong with good ole’ fashioned powder?
Well my friend, in case you aren’t yet living in a van, let me share a heartfelt nugget of advice with y’all:
You want everything in your van/home to be as light as possible, as useful as possible, and to take up as little space as possible.
That’s why laundry sheets.
They work. They smell great. They weigh practically nothing. And they’re much better for the environment, not least because of the vastly reduced carbon footprint associated with shipping a drastically less heavy product around the country compared to normal laundry powders and liquid fabric softeners.
I am currently using these ones by Dr Beckmann:
But for a change, I am thinking of trying out these next, by The Lab Co.:
In combination with laundry sheets, I also advise that you factor in to your van design (or create, if your van is already finished) a designated area for hanging socks and pants (by the way – pants means knickers, in the UK. I don’t mean trousers).
Ideally an attachable-detachable clothes line, for when times are tough, knickers are in short supply, and it’s too rainy out to hang ‘em to dry in nature.
Unless of course, you’ve very sensibly already familiarized yourself with my Van Life Wardrobe Essentials guide:
…In which case, you probably won’t even need a clothes drying space ;))
Thanks for hanging out! Where do you feel like going next?: