We’ve had five weekends away now (one attempt away was aborted due to a poorly child!) so we’re getting a pretty good idea of what we need in the camper when we go away. I’m guessing that as we come into spring and summer our essentials will change again, especially on the food/cooking front, sitting outside with a bbq in our camping chairs!
Space is tight in the camper so light and careful packing is a must. However, the freedom the camper gives is soooo brilliant that even I have cut down on clothing and non-essentials. Now just to work on the husband and children.
I’ve compiled a checklist of what we find is essential on our trips away in the camper van, bearing in mind we’ve only been away for weekends too. I’m sure there’ll be other items we need for longer stays away.
Essentials always in the van
These are always stored in the camper van so they are not cluttering up our house and if we decided on a last-minute escape they are ready to go. It does mean that it’s worthwhile making sure they are clean etc from the last weekend away – you don’t want to have to clean them at the last-minute when you’re trying to get out the door.
Plates, bowls, mugs, glasses
Cutlery inc cork screw, potato peeler, sharp knife
Pots and pans
Cling film/tin foil and sandwich bags
Children’s games, playing cards
Bin (normally full before we’ve even got to destination!)
I get really cold so I wear as much as possible at night with as many covers on as possible. Even though the heater in the van is brilliant there is a slight chill upstairs on the colder evenings, though the children have only ever slept in their pyjamas with just duvets or throws over them.
Wish I had their thermostats!
We started off with sleeping bags but none of us have found them that comfortable so we’ve now got two double duvets. My husband found some great bags that they fit into and we put them in the wardrobe in the van when not in use.
We also bought the mattress protectors which came into their own when we attempted to stay away but my daughter threw up just after midnight (mostly onto the sheet but fortunately the mattress was protected!)
Pyjamas/onesies (suitable for going out to toilet in night/early morning)
Thermals and a hat (in really cold weather)
We’ve found it’s really handy to have lots of tea towels around. Not only to be used for drying crockery but for putting in the cupboards to make sure items don’t move around too much when driving.
A decent size washing up bowl has been really useful too for carrying everything to the washing up room – doubles up for wet play for the children when the weather is nice (Bodhi loves washing his cars).
Wet wipes are always handy to have around too, if they are put somewhere that’s easy to get to. I could have really done with them when my daughter was poorly. I knew I’d packed a full lot but we couldn’t find them anywhere (obviously they were in a wash bag at the bottom of another bag!) and there was no way my husband would stand a remote chance of finding them there! Next time I will definitely put them in an easy to find place.
Washing up liquid
Washing up bowl to carry dirty crockery to washing up room
Dustpan and brush
Apart from breakfast we’ve tended to eat out when we are away but hopefully when the evenings are lighter and warmer we’ll be more comfortable cooking outside and then we will look into buying a bbq etc.
One tip I have seen from a seasoned camper for children’s breakfast (or adults) is to get the small variety box of cereals, open up plastic bag inside box and pour the milk in! I’d never have thought of this but it saves on washing and I’m sure the children will love it. Of course, it will be a right mess……..hmmmm think they’ll have to eat them outside.
I’d love to get into the habit of taking homemade cake with me when we go away. Not managed it yet but think it would be a lovely way to have memories of mummy’s burnt offerings when we go away!
Tins of beans
Cake (not essential but very nice)
Other general necessities
It’s useful to have lots of various size bags and carriers. I pack our undies into little bags so they are easy to find in a bigger bag. When we’re away for a weekend we normally wear the same clothes over the weekend, so we have clean underwear just yesterdays other clothes! I put all our dirty laundry into a bag so I can just chuck it into the laundry basket when we get home.
This makes unpacking a lot quicker, and time is something we’re all short on.
I’ve got a wash bag just for use in the camper van so this also makes it easier to pack/unpack. I just check it’s got everything we (me and the children – hubby has to do his own!!) need shortly before I go away
Carrier bags to put dirty clothing in/wet towels
Make-up (a big necessity for me!)
Change of clothing but I try to limit how much
Easy to get on shoes for mid-night toilet runs
iPhone, iPod, iPad chargers and cables etc
iPhone, iPad, iPod, tablets
I want to keep packing and unpacking as simple as possible for the camper van so it doesn’t become a chore to go away. I want to spend the least amount of time as possible packing but be sure I’ve got all the essentials.
I’m sure this list will keep changing over the coming months as we get more used to the camper van.
Let me know your essentials in the comments below!