Living the van life is a little unconventional, and it does come with some unique obstacles, related to living in a small space without many of the day to day amenities that are often taken for granted.
However, there are some great accessories for vanlifers that can make life a bit easier for those on the road.
I have lived and travelled in my van for almost three years now, and many items that I thought I would need have found their way to the recycling pile.
This list is of 15 accessories are van life essentials that have stuck around and that I use almost every day. The items on this list would also make great campervan gifts if you’re looking for a present for the vandwellers in your life, that they might actually use.
1. Omnia Sweden
First up on on our list of useful accessories for vanlifers we have the Omnia Sweden. This miniature oven is a reasonably new acquisition in my life, and it has totally transformed the way I cook in a van.
Having an Omnia Sweden allows me to bake where I previously couldn’t, meaning cake is back on the menu! This clever doughnut-shaped mini-oven works on top of a regular hob, drawing heat through the central hole, circulating the pan.
This creates an even bake for bread, cakes, pies or anything you would typically put in a regular oven, opening up a whole new cooking world for anyone living in a van.
2. Drying Rack
We lived in our van for a whole year before thinking about getting a portable drying rack, and it is now one of the accessories for vanlifers that I wouldn’t live without.
Most campers do not have a drying rack built into their layout as they take up a lot of countertop space that could otherwise be used for food preparation, making washing up a two-person job and creating a lot of soggy tea towels to wash.
Having a drying rack that can pack down and store in a small space allows you to have a draining board only when you need it.
It’s nice to have a bit of luxury in your life, and there is no better feeling than stretching out in a hammock at a beautiful location.
Hammocks make great accessories for vanlifers as they create an extra space to chill outside and pack up super small, meaning they don’t take up much storage space when not in use.
To use outside then you’ll need a hammock with durable straps that can wrap around any tree, quickly creating an outdoor lounge zone that you won’t want to leave. Maybe you could try a night under the stars too.
4. Fly Nets
There is nothing more annoying that a beautiful park up spot being ruined by a tonne of mosquitoes or flies. While there is nothing you can do about them outside (aside from applying lots of insect repellent!), you can at least stop them from entering your home on wheels.
Finding a fly net that works for you depends on the type of van you have, some campers will have fly screens that can be permanently installed to the doors. These are great if you can find one, but for many self converted van then this may not be an option.
We’ve found that fly netting on a removable railing works just as well and is a cheaper, easier option to keep those pests out.
What is life without music? While most vans don’t have the capacity for a full surround sound music system, a good Bluetooth speaker can be just as good and are, for me, one of the essential accessories for vanlifers — we use the Sony SRS-XB12.
Combine a compact speaker that doesn’t take up too much room and has a great sound with the ability to be waterproof, and you have the perfect item to pimp up your beach or lake days.
Music, no matter the weather or location, can only be a good thing.
6. Power Pack
A lot of vans are built for off grid living which is fantastic when the sun is shining and charging up those batteries.
However, sometimes a few cloudy days can leave you in a bit of a pickle on the electricity front, especially if you’re not doing much driving. This is where a good battery pack comes in as it can be charged, using a solar panel, when it’s sunny and then put aside for use on grey days, meaning you’ll never be out of power to charge more substantial items like laptops and cameras.
A power pack is one of the most useful accessories for vanlifers, as it’s great to have some backup electricity.
Clothes washing on the road can be a bit of a hassle; a day trip to the launderette isn’t exactly the most fun activity to do while travelling. Hand washing can help prolong the need to find a laundromat and a scrubba wash bag is an excellent tool for making this task a bit easier.
Scrubba is a waterproof bag with a ridged washboard inside, giving you a textured area to scrub away the dirt.
If you go for the stealth pack, the wash bag can also be used as a waterproof rucksack, great for days on the water, and a shower, making these three great accessories for vanlifers in one.
8. Water Bottle
In my opinion, everyone should have a reusable water-bottle as it’s one of the easiest ways to cut down your plastic usage and a great way to stay hydrated on the go.
As vanlifers are always on the go then a water bottle is a great accessory. They are also perfect for vanlife as it’s so easy to leave a cup of water on the side before setting off, only to find a huge water spillage when you park up again. As you can put a lid on a bottle, this annoying problem is easily eliminated.
Go for an insulated bottle if you want to keep your water cool in the summer months.
9. Fairy Lights
While fairy lights may not be essential to life, they do brighten up a small space and are one of the more fun accessories for vanlifers. It’s little touches like fairy lights that transform a camper van into a home.
If you’re working with an off-grid set up in your camper van, fairy lights are a great way to save on electricity, as they are usually powered by batteries meaning you don’t need to drain your leisure batteries.
Try using rechargeable batteries for a more eco-friendly system.
Sometimes when you’re on the road, you are filling up your water tanks from questionable water sources, be it a natural spring or an unmarked tap. An excellent way to ensure that the water is good to drink is by having a water filter in your camper for drinking water to remove any impurities.
You can install a filter directly into your plumbing system, but if you don’t feel like doing a bit of DIY, then a tabletop on is just as good.
A tabletop filter also has the benefit of being portable, meaning you can take it outside when you set up camp.
11. Magnetic Torch
A super bright torch is a must-have when you’re in a van and is one of the more critical safety accessories for vanlifers. Owning a torch means you’ll never be without light, even if something goes wrong with your electrical system, and it is important to have one in reach if you break down at night.
A magnetic torch is handy as it attaches securely to many surfaces inside, as well as on the exterior of the van. A rechargeable torch is brilliant as it means you are not relying on batteries.
12. Dustpan and Brush
A dustpan and brush might sound like one of the more boring accessories for vanlifers, but it is so useful! A small space can get dirty quickly, especially when kitchen merges into the living room and you’re constantly climbing in and out of the door. A dustpan and brush is a quick and easy way to clean up after yourself and is compact to store away when not in use. While any will do, I work on the ethos that everything should be beautiful in a small space so maybe go for one that you like the look of.
13. Fruit Hammock
When you are always on the go, it’s easy for fruit to get bruised quickly in a drawer or cupboard. This might sound inconsequential but if you can avoid it then why not?
A fruit hammock is a great way to store your fresh produce when on the road, it hangs out of the way and doesn’t take up any countertop space that could be used for other things and looks good too.
If your hammock sways while moving, unhook it and put it on the bed when in transit.
14. Handleless Pans
Pans are an essential item to bring on the road; if you want to cook fresh meals, then there is no way around this. However, they can be annoyingly bulky to store in such a small space. Why not try some handle-less pans?
The smart design of these pans, with a clip-on handle, allow you to easily stack a range of sizes, compactly and neatly, saving some precious storage space. These pans are great accessories or vanlifers, or anyone living in a small area.
Lastly on our list of 15 useful accessories for vanlifers we have an item that is slightly bigger than the rest: an awning.
While you may need to get your tools out for the installation of this one, it’ll be worth it as an awning provides some much-needed shade in the summer months or cover from the rain if you get unlucky on your next camping trip.
Having an awning allows you that outdoor space, no matter the weather, making it easier to get outside, which is what van life is really all about.
Although being a minimalist is a good thing when living in a van, these accessories for vanlifers are all compact and would enhance life on the road, making it easier and more fun.
This list also proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to kit out your campervan, some of the best accessories are small and cheap to buy.