Van Life Must Haves
We've almost lived in our van for an entire year! During that time, we've learned a lot.
You can plan all you want, but sometimes, you just have to live in it a while before it’s clear what you really need (and what you don’t need).
For example, we've discovered we didn't need as much closet space, so we took out our closet and extended our bed!
We discovered that we needed many different things we didn't initially think of -- and didn't need a bunch of stuff we thought we did. So I wanted to go over some of our favorite items and why we feel that they are so important!
This is the number one thing we really felt we needed. When it's hot in the summer, it's great to be able to open the door. Even with the Fantastic Fan, we still needed to open a door to let the air flow circulate. The problem? Every time we open the door, especially in the evening, we were invaded by creepy crawlies. We actually spent a good 20-30 minutes most nights swatting the mosquitoes and flying beetles! GROSS
The bug net was a great investment. This one is really cheap and pretty easy to install. We got the recommendation from @gratefulpursuit and they even explained exactly how they put it on. We recommend clicking the image below to head to their Instagram page for their instructions.
We don't have a heater in our van. We are planning on getting one, though! In the meantime, we just stick to our blankets. It's important to have warm blankets because even with the insulation in your van, it's going to get cold at night. Down comforters are the most efficient at keeping warm… but we also love our Pendleton wool blanket and our Rumpl, which is an outdoor blanket that keeps you super warm. Great for by the campfire or on the beach.
The first bed we bought was a 3” memory foam mattress topper from Bed Bath and Beyond. Boy, was that a mistake! So uncomfortable! We decided to buy this bed, which has 2 inches of squishy memory foam on the top, and 3 inches of dense memory foam on the bottom. It's so comfortable and easy to cut to size for your bed. It also works so well for our layout because we were able to cut it into four pieces that can easily turn into benches.
As you can see from the gif, we really regretted not having these hinges installed. They were so cheap and made our lives a lot easier. Surprisingly, we installed these a few weeks ago, which means we went almost a whole entire year without them!
Fairy lights are NECESSARY. They make living in a van feel a lot more cozy. Plus the lights run off batteries so you don't have to rely on your solar power to light up the place at night. We love them! We have them all over our van and it really makes it feel homier.
These are amazing! We have three curtains that cover our side door and front cab. They block out sunlight, noise, and heat. The curtains make your van feel a lot more private, even in a Walmart parking lot. We made a super simple system for hanging them: copper piping, elbow copper pieces, and two eye hooks. This was a budget-friendly option for curtains, but we love it!
We used to have a French press for our daily coffee, but we recently decided to buy this because French presses can be very finicky. The water has to be just the right temperature and sometimes you'll get some grounds in your cup. The pour-over coffee pot is better and much easier for our coffee consumption.
If you're a coffee aficionado like we are, you'll need to get one of these hand crank grinders for your coffee beans. An electric grinder uses power and eliminating things that use power will help with energy consumption.
Again, this is for coffee and oatmeal mostly. The Jetboil can boil water in 2 minutes, which means you can have hot coffee and oatmeal very quickly. Keeping cooking times to a minimum in the van is definitely something we've learned to do over time.
We love having music in the van and we really loved the Bose speaker, but we found out that a waterproof, sand proof, dirt proof speaker is better. We are constantly bringing it with us outside and knowing that it won't get ruined in the elements provides great peace of mind. Plus, we can bring it out on the beach and on the lake!
Cooking in the van is a task. The space is small, and the counter space is also limited. Having tools to make cooking faster and easier is definitely something you'll need. We love this rice cooker and steamer! It's only 700w and it can cook rice and steam veggies at the same time! Talk about efficient.
I'm sure we will discover more things we find ourselves needing in the next year, but these are our initial recommendations from the first year living in our sprinter van.