You might think that driving 4400 miles from New Jersey to Santa Monica might not be the best idea for your first crack at vanlife. You might think, “hey, maybe start with just a weekend trip?”
But we are nothing if not ambitious and optimistic—and I love to throw myself into an organizing challenge.
I went through a bunch of recommendations when making my list of campervan essentials and necessities for our cross-country adventure.
Apart from the more obvious items, like travel towels, wash tubs, and headlamps, I included some smaller things that were the unexpected heroes of our vanlife situation. Sure, we would have been fine without them, but it was so much nicer having them around.
Here are the best little accessories I brought on our Route 66 trip that made our life in the campervan even more organized and comfortable.
Top 3 Unexpected Campervan Essentials
When you’re temporarily customizing a rented campervan, you want to be sure you’re not going to do anything that accidentally becomes permanent.
And since I’m already obsessed with using the entire Command family of products to keep things hanging around my house, this was a no-brainer.
I maximized the little vertical space available in the van by sticking very small hooks along the upper perimeter. Look for the style with hooks that can swivel on the stick-on base, so they can be used on both ceilings and walls.
With the hooks installed, we could hang lights and lanterns (see below), our hats and gloves, and kitchen items like towels and mitts within easy reach.
Because if the sun sets around 4:30 pm in November and you have the whole night to spend in the van, one headlamp isn’t going to cut it.
The LED string was perfect for an ambient lighting situation in the van itself, while the hanging lantern could either dangle from a command hook I installed in the center of the ceiling, or move with us in and out of the van as needed.
At night, we snuggled the lantern up behind our camp pillows, so we’d know exactly where it was when we woke up.
Because command hooks are awesome, but they’re stationary. Clothespins can go anywhere and do almost anything, like:
- hang clothes and towels on your paracord clothesline
- clip the van curtains together to get a tighter seal against light and more privacy
- or clip the van curtains open so they don’t accidentally swing closed when you’re driving
- close chip and snack bags (who needs chip clips?)
- keep your pairs of slippers or gloves attached to one another
Clothespins! They’re the Swiss army knives of… well, I lost that metaphor, but you get it.
And now that we’re back at home, I still use clothespins for so many household and kitchen tasks. We even have a few magnetized clothespins that hang on our fridge to hold recipes, coupons, and whatnots.
Any questions about our van packing strategies? Let us know.