Our van tips and must-haves

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It’s surprising how much stuff we’ve managed to cram in here!

As we’ve been going for just over a month now (where does the time go!?) we’re on our way to working out what bits we should have packed and those we should have left behind, plus anything that has made life easier.
So if you’re planning any sort of escape in a van, read on – and if any of you guys have any tips of your own please share, we’re making this up as we go along after all!

  1. HOOKS! If there’s anything we can’t seem to have enough of it’s hooks. Hooks for tea towels, damp towels, jackets when you get in from the rain, hanging a washing line from and dog leads. They come in so handy and we’re glad that we brought a few spare (especially when we’d just done a full load of washing in Norway and the rain appeared and had to hastily cobble together some form of indoor drying rack/obstacle course).
  2. Sewing kit – speaks for itself really and I’ve already had to use mine.
  3. Good audiobooks/podcasts – let’s be honest, if your travelling in a couple like we are you’ll be spending a LOT of time together, more than you probably have ever before. Sometimes you just want to switch off when you’re driving from place to place and audiobooks are perfect for this. Plus on a rainy day it’s so relaxing to sit with a cup of tea and just chill out and listen. Obviously perfect if you want some company and are exploring solo too.
  4. A tip. If your boiler takes a bit to warm up like ours does sometimes get things handy before you run the tap – kettle, water bottles, dog bowls. Every bit of water is precious and even the odd tiny bit wasted can make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. Plus in many cases you don’t know when you might be able to fill up again! Common sense I suppose but if you’re like me and sometimes don’t think and need an Alec to point you in the right direction you might appreciate the reminder!
  5. A place to hang wet jackets – we’re lucky enough to have been able to cram a shower into our van which is where all our kit goes to dry off but if you don’t definitely get a spot sorted. Nothing worse than damp jackets and nowhere to let them drip dry in such a small space.
  6. Some form of door mat – we don’t have one and we think that it would be helpful in stopping some of the many bits that appear on the floor constantly.
  7. A handheld Hoover – honestly the best buy we made before our trip. I use it so many times a day! Sounds super boring and housewifely but a lot of the time our sweeping brush just doesn’t cut it and this gets into all the corners and removes most of the dog hair (the rest ends up on every piece of clothing or in every meal/cup of tea of course!). Vanlife is obviously and brilliantly all about exploring the outdoors and dirt comes with that but if you’re anything like me who can’t stand ‘bits’ in your bed you will love having one (I’m a useless ‘vanlifer’ I know). If you couldn’t care less and can’t believe somebody could be so excited about a Hoover I’ll shut up now (honestly buy one, less than 20 quid from ALDI!!).
  8. Portable speaker, most people have one but nothing beats relaxing while the sun sets, beer in hand listening to some good music. Perfect.
  9. If you have a dog it’s quite useful to have some way of attaching them to the van when you’re parked up. When it’s possible and most of the time Syl just wanders about but Alec stuck one of the cargo tie down metal loops from the vans past life to just above the step and with a carabiner attached to the end of some rope Syl is attached and in view. Not at all necessary but useful to not have to faff tying her to something each time.
  10. Have your vans length/width/height written down and stuck somewhere – ours is in the sun visor. Sometimes you need to know and the queue of traffic behind you might not fancy waiting, though obviously only an issue for big lumps of metal like ours, not all the nice petite vans.
  11. Tools, we’ve already had to do a few on the road fixes and I imagine there’ll be a fair few more in the future.
  12. Wellies – I don’t know about you but I live in wellies at home, there’s months of the year where they’re pretty much my only footwear and despite Alec’s protestations on space saving I knew they were coming. Suffice to say I’ve used them a lot so far (thanks Norway!) and Alec wishes he’d brought his. They’re easy to slip on, keep your socks and lower legs dry and a lot of the time there’s no need to go full walking boot on a quick trip out with the dog.
  13. We probably brought too many clothes – always happens and generally impossible to avoid whether it’s a weekend or six months away. But as always you need less than you think.
  14. A secret stash of emergency chocolate/alcohol…. Nah we don’t have one either. Norways prices have hit us hard but a bit of chocolate right about now would be excellent! Eastern Europe here we come!

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