We’ve been on the road for a year now, and we understand more than most that living in a tiny van isn’t always easy. We had to give up a lot of everyday luxuries that living in a home allows you to have – toilet anyone? No room for that!
But we’ve found some really great items that, although they’re small (meaning we can fit them in our van) give us a much better quality of life! Most of them are relatively cheap, easy to use and compact. They’ll make your van life luxurious:
Having a solar panel allows us to charge all our gadgets no matter where we are (it even works in cloudy weather). In the entire year we’ve been travelling we’ve never had to plug in to get electricity and this is a massive reassurance, giving us a greater sense of freedom too.
Our panel is 125 Watts, the perfect amount to charge our fridge, lighting, laptops and cameras. We bought it online for US $120 three years ago but you can get this similar 100 watt solar panel on Amazon for US $140. Remember you’ll also need a smart charger/solar regulator to finish your solar set-up. This one on Amazon goes for around US $240.
12 volt slow cooker
Chuck anything from cheap cuts of meat to vegetables, bread and desserts in this slow cooker in the morning and you’ll get tender, fall-off-the-bone meats and delicious meals in 3-6 hours. You just have to resist the smell as you drive.
This little beauty costs just US $33 on Amazon and can be plugged into your cigarette lighter. It does use up a lot of energy though so only use when you’re driving. This was a life changer for us. Click here for more information on the slow cooker.
Blender and bottle combo
Our compact blender base comes with two bottles and interchanging blade lids to convert them into blender jars. We use it for smoothies, juices, to blend soup and even chop herbs and coffee beans! The bottles we use as our everyday water bottles and the blender base is so compact you’ll hardly notice it.
You can get a similar one on Amazon for just US $15!
We carry 70 litres of water with us at all times for drinking, cooking and washing. We bought a regular house tap filter and attached it to our water outlet, providing us with clean and drinkable water.
Being able to have an ice cold glass of water on a hot day or to store leftovers for lunch days after it was cooked is priceless! We’re also able to store delicate foods like herbs, avocados and dairy without having to worry.
We have an Engel 40 litre fridge, but there are dozens of brands and sizes of 4×4, caravan and RV fridges on the market. Ours can be used as either a fridge or a freezer, but you can get ones that’ll be both at the same time!
Our exact fridge costs around US $850 on Amazon and you can find them in all outdoor and adventure stores too!
12 volt fan
We’ve spent sticky humid nights in tropical North Australia and a dust dry night in Death Valley, USA – and without our 12 volt fan we probably would have woken up in pools of sweat (that’s if we’d been able to sleep at all).
We were given ours by a friend, but you can buy this similar 12 volt fan for around US $25 on Amazon. Ours is wired and installed on a cupboard above our heads and covers our entire bodies as we sleep.
We suffered pretty badly in -25C degree weather in Canada – that’s why as soon as it got cold again when we hit the Colorado mountains we bought a gas heater on sale at Walmart.
Being able to heat the van up without the engine being on really felt like a luxury to us, and we are now able to relax and enjoy cold nights without any worries. The Gas Buddy brand is the safest gas heater on the market (it switches off in low-oxygen environments or when the heater moves/tilts) and comes in two different sizes.
Heat exchange outdoor shower
Finding a way to shower when you’re on the road is one of the trickiest issues of vanlife. That’s why we installed a shower that heats water by running it through the van’s hot engine.