Campervan Essentials for First Timers
Whether you're hitting the road for a long trip or getting ready for lots of weekend breaks, there's a never-ending list of items you'll need for your new campervan. To help you narrow it down, we've compiled a list of campervan essentials for first timers, so you can make your first getaway as smooth as possible.
We've made it super easy to plan, pack and make your trip as efficient as possible with a guide to storage, amenities, comfort and power when it comes to campervan essentials for first timers. We'll give you tips and tricks along the way including info on wild camping, recipes for the road and camping hacks for beginners. You'll learn how to:
- Utilise your space
- Stick to functionality
- Embrace nature
- Power your trip
- Fuel your appetite
- Get the best rest
Utilise your space
When it comes to campervans, there's no one-size-fits-all list for what you'll need. However, one of the most essential aspects to travelling by campervan is packing and storing all of your equipment in an ergonomic way.
You'll find yourself searching for innovative ways to store all the kit you need for the road. From washing utensils, to kitchen equipment. Everything will need a place and how you store these loose items will probably change over time as you get to know what you need, how often you use them and at what times of the day.
One of the easiest ways of creating space is by using collapsible equipment. Being able to fold up and down typically clunky items means you can save on space. Although most camping equipment tends to be collapsible, such as tables and chairs, there are numerous pieces that you may not realise come in compact form too.
There's portable washing machines, porta potties, folding washing up bowls and even smaller items, like tupperware and camping kettles that are available in collapsible designs. All of which can make packing and carrying a lot of items on your journeys so much easier. Witter has a wide range of bike racks available which means you can make the most of the space you have.
You'll soon find that these collapsible items are essential when it comes to managing the space in your new campervan and the more frequent you make trips, the more you'll learn to adjust the space you use and how you use it. Finding nifty items that function perfectly, but can easily be packed down and stored on a shelf, is part of your campervan journey.
Stick to functionality
In the same vein, another massive help for campervan rookies is everything sticky! Velcro, magnets, gel pads. Anytime you're buying something essential for your campervan trips, it's always a good idea to see how they'll be stored within the campervan.
Double-sided gel pads are a great way to keep decorations, like potted plants or essentials, like coffee jars safely on surfaces. Gel pads can keep the contents of your travelling home neat and safe from falling during transit, without packing away frequently used items or decorations.
Magnets can also add value to your staycations when attaching items to the walls of your campervan. Whether it's lighting, washing lines, mesh bags or even bin bags, having heavy-duty magnets ready to go means you can create flexible storage and hanging options both inside and outside your campervan.
Similarly, lining the inside of your campervan with sheets of velcro can also be a super nifty way to utilise storage space and increase the versatility of your travelling home from season to season. You'll really get to know what items you need during the summer, compared to the winter, and having the ability to move around your stored items means you can live with a lot more flexibility.
Hygiene and sanitation is going to be a top priority when you're on the road. Depending on the places you visit, campsites you stay at, and the functionality of your new campervan, you'll often be challenged with the varying levels of access to toilets and cleaning facilities.
If you're thinking about going off the beaten track, you may want to take a porta potty, unless you're ready to go the traditional way. But either way, you must be mindful of the way you dispose of your waste. Always try to bury it under soil, and never near fresh running water. If you are looking for a wilder adventure we've got lots of tips for wild camping.
Alongside toilet duties, you'll also want to carry lots of extra water. If you're a first timer, you'll soon realise how much water you go through and with campsites or pit-stops being far apart at times, it's best to stock up. Jerry cans will become an essential for your campervan trips, fill them up with fresh water everywhere you go. You can even get collapsible water storage to save on space when they're empty. Not only is staying hydrated a top priority, but you'll need water for washing equipment, cleaning clothes and of course, cleaning yourself!
If you're staying exclusively at campsites, you'll get used to the varying amenities available. It's important to note that not all campsites have showering facilities, whereas others will kindly supply hairdryers and charging points. It all changes from site to site, so make sure you plan ahead and have a stash of water regardless of where you're staying.
Power your trip
Whether you're embracing the van life or using your new campervan to escape to the countryside each weekend, one essential you'll need if you're a first timer is power! Power banks are a massive help when it comes to charging phones (and their all-important GPS apps), running fans or heaters, and especially if you're working on the road, charging all the important devices you need like laptops and iPads.
Regardless of your tech needs, there will always be a need for power on the road. Some other gadgets you might not realise you need are portable fans, for warm summer nights, battery-powered lights and torches, inverter plugs you can use with your campervan's outlet or the less-essential Bluetooth speakers and portable projectors for entertainment. However big or small you go when it comes to tech devices, having a power bank or leisure battery is sure to keep you going all trip long.
Fuel your appetite
One of the most essential parts of your new campervan experience is food. Whether you have a built-in stove, use a portable gas stovetop or favour a BBQ, one item you'll always need is a cooler box. You'll want to keep your food and drinks as fresh as possible, so investing in a good-sized cooler box or bag is a campervan essential for first timers.
There is tons of stovetop and cooking equipment out there, so choosing the right technique for you will be important when it comes to packing your campervan. There's electric griddles, gas stovetops, disposable or reusable BBQs and openfire racks to suit your specific needs. A lot can be packed down and easily stored in campervans for extra functionality.
Whatever your technique, be sure to always carry the power or fuel you need to keep the culinary creations going throughout your campervan trip. If you're looking for quick and easy ways to cook on your campervan travels, check out our ultimate camping recipes for ideas.
Get the best rest
Getting a good night's sleep is super essential and if you're new to campervan life, you'll likely need some tips on getting a comfortable and safe night's rest. One great way to ensure safety and a comfortable sleep is using a wheel ramp. Not only does it level out your campervan, it also adds an extra level of security to help you sleep sound at night.
There's nothing worse than getting a terrible night's sleep, so it's important you put in the investment from the beginning so that you don't end up buying more and more items. In that sense it's best not to go for the cheapest option when it comes to sleeping arrangements. Spend some time thinking about how you sleep at home, what's comfortable and what fabrics are best for which seasons.
Sleeping with a duvet or sleeping bag is almost a fifty-fifty split amongst van lifers and campervan travellers. But one thing is for certain, making sure you have a good base - like a memory foam layer or firmer mattress topper - is key to getting the rest you'll need for your travels. Put in the investment at the start and you won't regret it.
If you are opting for a sleeping bag, having zips on either side is great for ease of access, so you can throw a leg out on a hot summer's night or zip it up tight and snuggle in while you're sitting outside on chillier evenings.
There's nothing more wholesome and grounding than taking in mother nature. If you're new to the great outdoors, we have a comprehensive list of all the things you'll need when you go camping and even some camping hacks for beginners.
So, whatever you're feeling, a quick trip to the countryside or a long stint on the road, we hope you've found these tips helpful for planning and packing the essentials for your campervan trip!