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Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Vanlife Essentials - Includes a BONUS European Essentials list!

Tires are the key!
Our 2008 Citroen Jumper Campervan "Betty" in Hungary

Our Turkish campervan, "Betty" limped her way through 18 European countries last summer. Breaking down more than she ran sometimes, but we got the kinks worked out and now she is a brand new girl. Throughout our trip, we learned (the hard way) what we needed and what we did not. So many things were left in the under-bed storage never to be taken out even once! But there are a bunch of things we are so glad we had along.

I have put together a list of "anywhere" van life essentials as well as a BONUS list of European items you are going to need. I am not going to add anything that we have purchased and used. Everything is ours! NO EXTRA SALES CRAP!



**Safety & Security**

Wyze Cams ;

I started using these back in 2018 at my house and eventually had 7 of them surrounding the property. I swear by them, and would never use anything else. They come fully ready to hook up and record with no subscription needed. They have a magnetic base mount or you can hard-mount them.

They can keep up to 2 weeks of past video in local storage but if you want more there is a cloud storage you can buy. I don't buy this so I can't comment on it.

We weren't sure about using them in the van but brought some with us anyways and are very happy with them! You do need internet to record so we have a portable we used to leave in the van and they don't take up many megabytes.

The best thing about these is you have an app you can use to check up on your van or pets in real time and they have a mic and speaker to communicate through!

Electronic Waterproof & Fireproof Safe;

We went with the larger 2.4 cubit foot safe due to all the equipment we have. Small enough to tuck away under the seating and bolt to the frame of the van. Simply set the passcode, and go live your life without worrying if your valuables are safe.

We are grateful we got the waterproof one. I know it seems strange but we did have a flood in Greece that came 2" above the floor line due to where we parked and how bad the storm was. It was a complete freak storm, but we were covered nonetheless.

Roadside Emergency Kit;

In the US everyone should have one of these. In Europe, you can be fined for NOT having one. I know someone who was fined 120 euros for not having the triangle in her kit!

We chose this kit for 3 reasons.

  1. It's got the entire list of required by-law essentials in it already.

  2. It has a portable air compressor which we used for so much more than you can imagine!

  3. it comes with a 10-foot set of jumper cables. (most only give you a six-foot set if you're lucky)

Not to mention, this has above-and-beyond tools you will need throughout your trip.

Fire Extinguisher;

A fire extinguisher is an obvious choice for the essentials list, but did you know that most campers, RVs, and Motorhomes only give you the one mandatory B; C-rated one?

Make sure you have an ABC-rated fire extinguisher at the ready in any part of the vehicle you can reach. I got this 4 pack and will only use First Alert.

There is no reason on earth that you should skimp on extinguishers.

I keep them located in the cockpit (Both sides!), the kitchen, the garage, and the bed areas. The rule of thumb is to have one at arm's length, no matter where you are in the van. Especially near electronic wiring.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors;

So, everyone knows that Carbon Monoxide should always be monitored in the vehicle you sleep in. But what about when you're gone?

We have two cats who stay in the van while we're gone so we need to monitor them as well.

This CO2 detection kit comes with an app. This app will quickly receive a warning that alerts you to any possible risk once the CO level reaches above 100 ppm without waiting for the response time, allowing you to act immediately.

We felt much better knowing they were safe.

**Vanlife Tech & Gadgets**

Solar Kit;

If you are in a campervan, you need solar, plain and simple. We opted to go big or go home with 1000 watts of solar to power our lives since we have tons of gadgets and appliances to power. I honestly would suggest getting twice your solar needs in advance so you never have to worry about it again. Having the power to spare is an absolute dream compared to the 2 100 watt panels it came with originally that had paint overspray all over them. ( That's a whole different bag of nuts!)

3000-watt inverter;

This is completely optional. You can get smaller ones that are less costly, but we wanted to make sure we could upgrade to more power and more solar later, as well as charge more batteries while driving from the engine.


This subject will get a million comments and a few arguments as well but, we all need batteries. I know folks who swear Battleborne brand is the end-all beat-all;s but that was out of our price range!

We are going with these Li-Time batteries in our Motorhome to add to the solar and inverter system. Make sure these can charge by just running the engine as well.

The reason is Lithium can last up to 5 times longer than any other battery and they store the energy better. These are 12volt 200amp hour each and two of them should be enough for a weekend, but if you are going to be full-timers like us, I suggest 4 to 6 of these as you won't always be in solar charging weather or open spaces.


If you are like my husband, you have 7000 flashlights laying around in every single nook and cranny!

When we moved to Turkey, I had to put my foot down and insist he only brings a few. (We could have filled a suitcase with his flashlight collection!)

The ones we ended up buying are so amazing, even I got excited about them. So bright we could see a tick on a hound dog at 100 yards in the dark! (just kidding, but they are 10000 lumens so maybe not kidding)

They are rechargeable and can be used as a power bank! They have a super strong magnet on the bottom for easy mounting, and a cord to hang them from anywhere. (he keeps one on his backpack- go figure)

Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker;

Everyone needs a Bluetooth speaker, but this one is made with 90% recycled plastics. The carry case is a bonus, and it sounds fantastic.

PartyBoost allows you to pair two JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers together for stereo sound or link multiple JBL PartyBoost-compatible speakers to pump up your party.

12 Volt Car Charger;

When you know, you Noco! We started with these in 2017. We got one from my husband's job as a bonus gift at Christmas. That one was unreal in keeping our motorcycle battery trickle charged and by the end of 2019 we had one in every car, as well as one for the campervan.

Tip- Get the Genius 10 for a camper or campervan.

**Vanlife Kitchen Essentials**

Duel Fuel Stove;

An extra stove for outside the campervan, when it's too hot to cook, is a must-have! This one worked great for us since we couldn't always get propane with the right fitting in Europe and we only had butane canisters.

One canister lasts about 4-6 meals cooked and they can run anywhere from 3 euros to 20 euros in Europe depending on where you buy them. (Hint- do not buy at Camper World)

Insulated Water Bottle;

When we initially downsized our life, I filled 3 extra large storage totes with different mugs, cups, flasks, and water bottles. I am repentant y'all. Don't judge me.

Once we decided to only keep one water bottle each, this is the one we BOTH chose.

I have the blue Widemouth bottle since it's easy to fill with ice before adding my drink. I can tell you from experience, this bottle keeps ice for 3 days before it starts to melt! It's insane and I have no idea how they did it. Just grab one. You'll thank me later.

Cutting Boards;

If you are going to cook, you will need these! I love the set for different-sized cooking jobs, but the best thing about them is they don't drip everywhere since they have the "juice grooves". (that name just kills me)

The last time I looked this set was 27% off and also had a coupon for another 5% off!

Did I mention they are BPA-free!?


You will only need one set of dishes. While most people will tell you to get a full set, we only brought two of each piece. (If the neighbors want food, they can bring their plate lol)

These are my pick for several reasons. They are microwave and dishwasher safe which means they can handle a hot steak being cut with a knife. They are made of natural organic biodegradable wheat straw fiber, 100% BPA free, non-toxic, odorless, safe, environmentally friendly, and sanitary.

At $29.00 they were priced right, and when I bought mine, there was a $2.00 off coupon as well.

**Outdoor Camp Gear**

A Good Camp Table and Chairs;

This table is 48" tall (when adjusted out), so I don't have to bend down all the time if I want to use it. The chairs are very sturdy but we left them at home since we had better ones for us two.

The table is also very lightweight for easy set-up.

Camp Chairs;

I remember when these chairs were over $500. each! Luckily they have come way down in price and we can buy a couple more. We again got these as a Christmas bonus gift from my husband's work (they know how to gift giving!).

I have used and abused these chairs to death, and they are sturdy as heck! they even turn into a backpack so you don't have to carry them at all!

There's no better chair for a hike up to the cliffs with coffee!

Easy pop-up Screened Porch;

I have to admit, we did not bring this to Europe. It was just too big to bring. We did however buy a similar one in Germany and it was a lifesaver for parking in areas that were ripe with mosquitos.

You can even take off one side panel of the screen and push it flush with your van for easy access.

There are a ton of these out there that are cheaply made and flimsy so buyer beware. You will love this one. It's not only sturdy, but I can put this up all by myself in 3 minutes! Comes with sandbags (no sand)

**Extra Essentials**

(Things you will never live without again!)

Portable Clothes Washer;

My absolute favorite thing on the road!

I tried those mini vibrating washing pods, I've tried the sink method (what a mess) and I've taken my laundry to a laundry woman who decided since I was an American, she was allowed to charge me five times the normal cost per kilo. (3 kilos came to almost USD 48.00).

Never again. This is the absolute best way I have ever found to get your clothes super clean and it costs NOTHING! Nothing but water and a few drops of your favorite laundry liquid. Just pump away, rinse in the shower, or even right on the line if you have one, and you are done! My clothes have never been so clean and soft!

Tool Set;

If you are like my husband, he will disagree that this is every tool you need for van life. However, if I left it up to him we would be buying a trailer to tow around with a ton more tools than are necessary in my opinion. That being said, He uses this tool set more than anything else even when we are home and he has access to all the tools he's bought over the years. (The man worked for Ford for 15 years, he has tools.)

He likes that it rolls but can still get to the drawers without taking the whole thing out. I like that it's all in one tidy spot and doesn't take up too much room.

A First Aid Kit;

When we grabbed our old first aid kit out of the hall closet, we were a little surprised that most everything was rotted or expired. Not to mention a bunch of stuff we would never use. (seriously, I am not performing brain surgery no matter where we are, so why do I need all that stuff?).

This new one is amazing and we have used it several times... See the video where Tim broke his hand on our YouTube channel

Everything you will need and more in this gem.

**Europe Stuff**

As promised, here are a few things you will need if you are vanlif-ing in Europe.

We decided to BUILD here in Turkey, so we knew we would need many things we could not just "buy again" once we were over there, such as curling irons, computers, and a variety of (too-expensive) things to replace. Some things you can bring with you, others you can find here, but either way, you will need these essentials to full-time travel in Europe and Asia if you are coming from the United States.

Travel Adapter;

Having extras will be best
Get 4-6 of these if you are building a campervan in Europe.

We only brought 2 of these when we came to visit Turkey in 2018. We knew without a doubt we wanted 4 more if we were going to live in a campervan here. These are nice to have and have plenty of outlets for your gear in different places of your home on wheels or even to AirBnb with.

Clorox Wipes!;

If you are like me, you cannot live without these. I am one of those germ-crazy people who need to know that I have done my best to rid the world of the cooties!

That being said, you will need about a pack of these every 2 weeks so buy as many as you need.

We opted for these packs as they pack up in the suitcase easier and they work just as well.

A Good Shower Bag;

I am including this because I haven't found one better than this in 15 years of travel!

I actually can't believe they still sell them, but that just shows you how popular they are. Incredibly sturdy, Machine washable, Super expansive, and they have a TON of room! I have 4. 2 black and white and 2 pink and white. I swear I may just grab a couple more in case they stop making these! OOH, great gift idea! I also use one of these for all my pens, pencils, and journaling papers! Check it out here

Portable Hard Drive;

We will only use WD Black anymore. Trust me when I say, when you lose a full 2 terabytes of video taken in countries you will never be in again, your heart breaks in ways I can not put into words.

Back up EVERYTHING! and back it up on 2 separate hard drives if it's important.

We live without paper so these are our lifeline to everything we could ever fit into a file box.

Even if you don't travel, this is the most important thing you will ever need for the future. Don't trust the tech. You need 2 copies!

Thank you for coming this far! I love writing these articles for you. If you want to see our videos please go to our Youtube channel and SUBSCRIBE! (it's FREE!)

Please remember that we may receive a commission when you click on our links to make a purchase. This, however, has no bearing on our reviews and comparisons. We will do our best to keep things fair and balanced to assist you in making the best decision for you.


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Tammy Case
Tammy Case
28 may 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Fantastic info for the budget!😍

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