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17 Top Campervan Packing List Items for 2022 + What To Wear & NOT to Bring

campervan packing list
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Campervan traveling has become such a popular vacation or even way of life in the past few years. What’s a better way to explore the country than by driving everywhere with no limits? With never-ending options on places to visit, or sights to see and with the freedom of going wherever you please, taking a trip in a campervan is such an amazing experience that everyone should try at least once in their lives.

Whether you bought a van and built it out to live in, or maybe you are renting a campervan for the weekend, whatever it is, being prepared and having all the essentials in your van is so important. Below is a complete guide for packing and preparing yourself to travel in a campervan.

What To Pack For Campervan Travel- 17 Essentials

  • 1. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Bringing a towel is a must when you are traveling in a campervan. Whether you are taking a dip in the creek, or visiting the beach, even stopping by a public pool or visiting family, it’s so handy to have your own towel. This towel is perfect for traveling and it dries up to 50% faster than a normal towel would, making it great for throwing in the van without having to worry about drying it for so long.

  • 2. Camp Stove

    One of the most important things to remember to pack on any van or camping trip is a camping stove. Having the ability to cook wherever and whenever is great when you are in a van. Some people prefer the single burner portable burners, but I prefer having the whole stove. It’s just easier to work with and why not bring the whole thing when you have the van space.

  • 3. Life Straw Water Bottle

    If you need water and you don’t trust any of the water you’re around, this water bottle is a life saver. The life straw built in purifies the water and kills 99.9% of bacteria without needing to boil the water first. Great for camping trips.

  • 4. Packing Cubes

    Vans have a good amount of space, but they still don’t have all the space in the world. These packing cubes make packing for small spaces so easy. They fit perfectly in a suitcase or a hiking pack and these even come with 2 laundry bags.

  • 5. Waterproof Phone Case

    Being a bit of a clumsy person myself, I am always afraid of dropping my phone in the water especially when I’m camping or hiking. Traveling in the van means lots of stops, and lots of water destinations, so this waterproof phone case is a must. It’s universal, so it fits any phone and you can still touch the screen without taking the phone out.

  • 6. Cooling Towel

    I absolutely love my cooling towel, especially for hot days riding around in a van, or even when I’m hiking or walking around. Simply dip this towel in water and it will provide 30-60 minutes of cooling sensations. It’s lightweight and super easy to travel with.

  • 7. Portable Charger

    If you have an adapter in the van, it will usually only charge your devices while the van is running. It is so nice to be able to charge your phone overnight while the van is off. It’s also nice being away from the van while you’re out on a walk and need a charge. This portable charger will charge your phone twice before needing a charge itself and it’s super easy to carry around and travel with.

  • 8. Universal Travel Adapter

    If you are stopping at a coffee shop or even a hotel or hostel, you may need this universal travel adapter for any extra outlets or adapters that you may need. You never know when you’ll need it.

  • 9. Headlamp

    Headlamps are arguably one of the most important components to camping or van travel. I mean, how else would you see in the dark!

  • 10. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    This hanging toiletry bag is a great way to carry all those important toiletry things that, if you’re me, usually just float around in the glovebox. With this bag, you can fit everything you need and easily store it, or hang it from the wall or ceiling in the van for easy access.

  • 11. Neck Wallet

    When I’m traveling anywhere, I like to have my important cards and ID somewhere close by and somewhere where it won’t get lost or stolen. This neck wallet is the best way to accomplish all of that.

  • 12. Day Bag

    It makes things so much easier to have a day bag to grab when you’re headed out of the van. If I’m going on a short walk, grocery shopping, visiting a little city or really leaving the van at any time, I like being able to grab my day bag with everything I need inside.

  • 13. Travel Umbrella

    Maneuvering around a van in the rain can be challenging, with everything getting wet, wet clothes everywhere. Well, you can save yourself some hassle with this windproof travel umbrella! It’s compact and weighs only a pound so it is the perfect size to fit anywhere in your van, or you can pack it in your day bag while you’re out walking or hiking.

  • 14. Travel Insurance

    Whether you get injured, or you missed your hotel reservation, travel insurance will protect you and your assets to make sure you get the care you need or your money back! We use TravelInsurance.com to compare plans from top companies and choose the one that best fits our family and travel plans.

  • 15. Rechargeable Batteries

    There is nothing more frustrating than turning on your headlamp or lantern at night and then having the batteries go out right away. Having extra batteries stashed in the van is a necessity, and it is a bonus if you have rechargeable batteries so you don’t have to buy new ones all the time.

  • 16. Virtual Private Network

    Sometimes van life looks like spending the day in a coffee shop or a bakery to just get out of the woods for a little bit and enjoy some wifi. There can be a lot of sketchy things going on with public wifi services, so it’s best to protect your internet connection and your online privacy with this VPN.

  • 17. First Aid Kit

    As important as it is, so many people forget to toss a first aid kit in their van before taking off. It’s so important to have a first aid kit in case of emergencies, and it’s so easy to just toss this complete kit under the driver’s seat or in the glove box.

What To Wear for Campervan Traveling

Traveling around in a campervan can lead you to so many different spots, cities, and even states, and each place you land probably has something different going on with the weather. When you are packing for a campervan trip, it’s always best to be prepared for any kind of weather and any kind of temperature.

You wouldn’t want to bring your whole wardrobe, there probably isn’t room for that anyway, so pack lightly, but pack smart. Bring clothes that are comfortable, and sporty. Make sure you have clothing for any kind of weather including rain, snow and hot sun. Even if it hasn’t rained in weeks, you’ll thank yourself for bringing that rain jacket when it does start to rain! Unless you plan on traveling to a gala or a fancy wedding, you can leave your nicest dress clothes at home.



What should WOMEN wear for Campervan Traveling? – (Click to expand)

Women should bring comfortable hiking clothes with base layers in case it gets cold. Make sure the clothes you bring are casual, and that you don’t mind if they get a little wear on them. It really depends on the activities you like to do, but lots of hiking and walking always comes with van travel, so bring comfortable walking shoes and hiking boots.

Wherever you are, even if the days aren’t very cold, the nights are surely bound to get chilly at some point. It is best to be prepared and have clothes for the coldest of days/nights. Having a nice insulated jacket and a good hat, maybe even a scarf will keep you cozy and warm.

What should MEN wear for Campervan Traveling? – (Click to expand)

Men and womens style doesn’t change too much while traveling in a campervan. Men will want to stick to the same idea as we wrote above for women. Keep it comfortable, sporty and remember to pack lightly, but also pack for the unexpected. You can never go wrong having a good pair of wool socks with you at all times, or a reliable hoodie.

Even if it’s the middle of summer, play it safe and pack those base layers and a good quality jacket just in case you decide to travel somewhere a bit chillier. And as with any good outdoor expedition, a pair of high quality hiking boots will do you wonders for those hikes you take after being cooped up in the van for a while.

Dressing For the Seasons

Winter – December, January, February


In general, around the United States, the winter months include December, January, and February. However, every state is different and a December in California is going to look a lot different than a December in Maine!

Speaking in general terms, the weather does tend to get cooler around November and December for most states. It is good to always have an insulated snow jacket, and a warm hat packed inside the van. Bring warm boots with you as well, and a rain jacket for the rainy days.


Spring – March, April, May

Around the country, spring is pretty much the same in every state. Of course, New England has much more mild springs than say Arizona, but generally speaking, the weather is mostly moderate and windy or rainy. This is my favorite time of year, especially for traveling in a van or camping since it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold either!

Having a waterproof windbreaker is extremely helpful in the spring along with a sweatshirt or a hoodie. In the spring seasons, I like having my lightweight hiking shoes (rather than heavier boots), but I also like having moccasins to throw on to step out of the van quickly.

Summer – June, July, August


The range summer has across the country can be pretty drastic. Usually, when traveling in a van, most people tend to veer away from the places that are deathly hot during these months (Southern California, New Mexico, Texas, etc.). As the temperatures creep up to 100+, it can be hard on the van and hard on you.

Wherever you are in the summer, make sure you have good sunscreen and a great bug spray for when you’re camping in those thick woods! If you are on the east coast, bring along your rain jacket to hide from those amazing summer storms. Packing a pair of sandals to slip on to walk to the river or hop out of the van is helpful.


Fall – September, October, November

For some places, like the West Coast, September is pretty much still summer. However, September for the rest of the states marks the start of fall. Fall around the country is pretty much like spring, rainy and it starts to get much cooler.

Pack practically how you did for spring, but with a warmer jacket and you’ll probably want a warm hat for those chilly nights. You’ll definitely want your rain gear as well.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)

Hiking – After driving in the van for a while, it feels so good to find a nice trailhead and stretch your legs for a while. Part of the fun of traveling around in a van is being able to visit so many great hiking locations and a new one every day!

Wherever you are, you definitely want a good pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots if the weather is more wet and cold. Have a small hiking pack with you to pack extra snacks and water and never forget your bug spray and sunscreen!

Swimming – One of my favorite van trip activities is driving to so many fun creeks, rivers, lakes, hot springs, really any body of water I can find! Not only does it feel so refreshing to jump in the water, if you’ve been out camping for a while, but you can also make use of nature’s bath.

Sometimes the waters may seem a little murky, or the bottoms of the lakes don’t look so inviting to feet, so pack a good pair of water shoes or sandals that can get wet to wade into the water. Obviously, you’ll want your favorite swimsuit, and bring a sun hat so you can lounge out on the rocks by the water!

Sightseeing – Sightseeing may be something you’re constantly doing from the van while driving, otherwise, you could be driving to a sightseeing destination! There are so many places to see and to drive to all over the country.

If you are sightseeing from the van, or driving somewhere where you can hop out and walk around, you won’t need much gear. Make sure you have your day bag with some important things, and bring binoculars to see everything up close and far away!

Camping – You will probably be doing a lot of camping while you are traveling in your van. While you can stay at places like KOA’s or truck stops, it’s much more fun to find a nice campsite in the woods and settle down for a couple nights. You can even set up a tent to get out of the van for a couple nights!

Make sure you have a good lantern (I love solar lanterns for camping), and a nice sleeping bag! If you are going somewhere deep in the woods, bug spray is especially needed. The evenings are bound to get a little chilly, so make sure you have a good sweatshirt and long pants. If you plan on camping for a few nights, make sure you are stocked up on propane and that your cooking stove is in working order.

What NOT to Bring in a Campervan

  • 1.DON’T Bring Glass Bottles

    Traveling with glass bottles, even inside a van is always risky business. They also tend to get very heavy carrying around and packing out of campsites.

  • 2.DON’T Take Lots of Bedding

    Even though you probably have a bed set up in your van, save on space by just bringing your sleeping bag and a comfy pillow!

  • 3.DON’T Bring Valuable Jewelry or Electronics

    Oftentimes when we are hiking, or even just in town grocery shopping, I hate leaving the van behind full of important things. It is best to just leave the valuables at home, or get a very secure lock box to put under the bed.

  • 4.DON’T Pack Lots of Extra Perishable Food

    Pack as much food as you think you will need for however many days you will be camping or away from a grocery store. This rule especially applies to things like meat and cheese that go bad very quickly!

  • 5.DON’T Bring Heavy Suitcases

    I usually find suitcases take up too much space. Many prefer to pack their clothing inside their hiking pack and by using the packing cubes, it stores your clothes away very easily and saves a lot of space.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Lots of Shoes

    Shoes tend to take up a lot of space, and in a van, there isn’t a whole lot of storage space for many pairs of shoes. Bring only the shoes you will need for the trip you are taking.

What NOT to Wear on Campervan Travels – (Click to expand)

When you are traveling around in a campervan, there is usually no need to wear anything other than comfortable clothes. You can leave the stiff, work clothes at home. Unless you are planning on specifically going to a place requiring dress clothes, you can leave those at home as well. Traveling in a van is a bit dirtier, it’s camping, not showering, and dress clothes will just take up space! Stick to clothes that make you comfortable and that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

FAQs About Campervan Traveling

  • 1. What is the best time of year to travel in a campervan?

    The best time of year to travel in a campervan really depends on where you are in the country. For instance, someone traveling in a campervan year-round usually stays in the desert areas during the winter months to avoid the snow and rain. Then, during the summer they travel to places that aren’t as hot and dry. Get to know the weather in the area you are visiting and decide what time of year would work best for you!

  • 2. Where are the best places to travel to in a campervan?

    There are practically endless opportunities for places to travel to when you are driving around in a van. Here are just a few of the many many places to check out

    • Joshua Tree National Park (California)
    • Yosemite National Park (California)
    • The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
    • Zion National Park (Utah)
    • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee)
    • The East and West Coast (Santa Cruz California to Portland Maine)
    Where are the best places to travel to in a campervan?
  • 3. Can I bring my dog?

    Absolutely! I always bring my dogs on van trips and everyone I know that takes trips in their vans always brings their dogs. Dogs love camping and driving around in the van just as much as we do and it’s a great experience for your dog to get out of the house and explore something new.

    Can I bring my dog?
  • 4. How can I heat up the van?

    When you are parked and it’s chilly outside, there is no need to turn on the van again to blast the heat. The Mr. Buddy propane heater is the perfect companion for keeping the van warm. One of the small green propane tanks will last for three hours with the Mr. Buddy. They are safe, and perfect for van travel.

  • 5. Where can I park the van for the night?

    If you do not have a campsite for the night, there are plenty of other places you can park and spend the night! KOA’s are very accessible all over the country. They are inexpensive and practically like camping. For a quick night stop, you can always pull over and park at a truck stop, a rest stop, a Walmart, or a Cracker Barrel. All of which warmly invite campers to spend the night.

  • 6. What is the best company to rent a campervan through?

    If you are looking to rent a campervan, you have a lot of options! However, I have found that Outdoorsy is the best company to rent built-out vans from. They have a huge variety of vans and places to pick them up all over the country. You can rent by the night or get 10% off when you have the van for a week or more.

  • 7. What is the best van for building out into a campervan?

    There are SO many options when it comes to finding the perfect van to build into a campervan. Here are just a few styles of vans that are the most popular to build out into campervans.

    • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
    • Ford Transit
    • RAM Promaster
    • Ford Econoline
    What is the best van for building out into a campervan?
  • 8. How much does it cost to travel in a campervan for a month?

    To spend a month in a campervan, on the lowest end you can achieve it at around $600-700 dollars. Your biggest expense is obviously gas, with food close behind. Campsites and other small expenses are things to think about as well. At the highest-end, some may spend up to $2000.