Road Trip Essentials

With most campsites in the UK open once again – or if you’re wanting to do some wild camping – it’s time to ensure your van is ready to hit the road. Freedom is returning!

It’s been a long few months, and us Hobos were wondering if there’d be any travelling at all in 2020. Luckily, it seems as if the worst is over and we can all look forward to some touring…at last.

On this page we will list some road trip essentials and although it’s always best to travel as lightly as possible, there are some things you just must have!

VW motorhome on a road trip
On the road in Dent, heading north to Scotland

Just to note: All these items are things we’ve used ourselves or have thoroughly researched. And because we like to be honest, each link is affiliated, which means we’ll earn a few pence if you buy via the link – at no extra cost to you. It’s not much, but it helps keep our old van going a wee bit longer!

Our full Affiliate Products Disclosure Document can be read here.

We’ve added a list here so you can scroll straight to what you’re looking for…

So, let’s look at these road trip essentials in more detail and start off with some safety items that we wouldn’t go anywhere without…

Road Trip Essential #1

7-piece travel kit

This is a fantastic 7-piece kit that has great reviews wherever you read. It comes with key European and UK motoring and safety essentials and contains a reflective emergency vest, hazard warning triangle, universal bulb kit, headlight beam converters, a self-adhesive GB sticker, a standard first-aid kit and zipped carry bag.

One vest won’t be enough (driver and each passenger might need one if you’re all stood by the roadside waiting assistance) so you can always order more spares. These ones seem reasonably priced and have good reviews (and are the ones we have). Thankfully, we’ve not had to use them yet…

Road Trip Essential #2

Fire extinguisher and blanket

Most, if not all new motorhomes should come with a fire extinguisher. Older vans may not.

Ours already had an extinguisher in it but we had no idea how old it was so bought this new one with a fire blanket as well. You just never know when you might need such things.

Road Trip Essential #3

Carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm

The other safety essentials are a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm. You’ll sleep better in your van knowing that if there is a gas leak or smoke coming from somewhere you’ll be awoken immediately by these alarms.

We use this carbon monoxide detector. It’s mid-priced and the little green light flashes every minute to let you know it’s working and keeping you safe.

Smoke detector

And when it comes to smoke detectors, like everything else, there are so many to choose from. Ours is a spare we had in our house which works perfectly fine. This one here has mostly very positive reviews and is reasonably priced…

Okay, that’s the essential safety equipment out of the way. You might see this as a bit boring but it’s life-saving stuff!

Let us move onto more practical things for your road trips…

Road Trip Essential #4

Levelling chocks

Most campsites have hard-standing pitches for motorhomes these days but many do not. You’ll want your van to be as level as possible otherwise you might be rolling out of bed at night or the frying pan might slide off the hob!

We always use these ones (made by Fiamma, a well-known brand) when on grass pitches and it makes such a difference. Of course, when we wild camp we don’t use them in case we need to make a quick getaway!

We’ve also got one of these mini spirit levels if we’re being uber fussy (which is never)…

Though if you are of the uber fussy variety, you’ll probably want one of these…

Road Trip Essential #5

Fresh water bottle

We use two bottles in our van: a strong plastic 6-litre jerry-type can we picked up from an auto-jumble for a couple of quid and another one very similar to this collapsible container. This one has a handy tap on it and we stand it by our sink.

We’d previously bought cheaper versions from QD that leaked all over the place. This one has generally very positive reviews.

Road Trip Essential #6

Never go anywhere without a kettle!

We use a standard tin whistling kettle for the gas hob (if we’re not on electic hook-up) but when we stay at campsites and have the luxury of electric we use something very similar to this.

We find it’s better than the smaller 0.5 or 0.6 litre travel kettles that give you only enough water for a small cuppa each. Thats ok if you’re a lone traveller, maybe, but if there are two of you, or more, this larger 1 litre kettle means you won’t have to boil a second lot of water.

Road Trip Essential #7

Electric hook-up cable

So, talking of electric hook-ups (usually shorted to EHU) if you’re staying on a campsite you’ll need one of these cables that connects your van up to the electric supply on the site.

The one shown here is 20 metres long. You can get shorter and cheaper ones but you don’t want to park up and then suffer the embarrassment of your cable not being long enough to reach the power point.

We have an extension cable but you’re better off buying a longer one to start with.

Road Trip Essential #8

A good quality lamp and torch

This is more for safety purposes really or for having to get up in the night. We always sleep with a lantern like the one here beside the bed to save us putting the van lights on during the night if either of us need to get up.

This one has really good reviews and is sensibly priced. And you just never know when you might need it, such as during a power cut on the campsite or if you’re wild camping.

We also do a lot of walking and sometimes arrive back at the van in the dark after trekking several miles. This happened once coming back to the campsite along a pitch black road after our pilgrimage to Canterbury. After this, we thought we’d better take a torch with us.

We like this one partly because of the make (Cree!) but it is excellent, as mentioned by many in the reviews.

Road Trip Essential #9

Power bank/inverter

So, if you’re carrying lamps, torches, and other things that need charging – such as mobile phones and laptops – you’ll proabably want one of these power inverters.

Of course, if you’re on a campsite you can charge up everything there but we find charging whilst on the go is a more ecological option, using the power generated by the van’s engine.

This model turns the 12-Volt cigarette lighter into 2 three-pin plugs and 4 USBs and on some road trips we’ve had all sockets being used at the same time! We also use it as an inverter for our solar panel.

Road Trip Essential #10

Insect repellent

Ok, so this final essential might not be needed everywhere, but if you’re heading to Bonnie Scotland it’s a vital piece of kit. Midges will ruin the most spectacular of lochside scenery and the best thing we found was Avon’s ‘Skin So Soft’.

Gav had tried Neem Oil – which we’d also heard good things about – but it made his skin smell like a farmer’s field after being fertilised! Stick to the Avon product we say!

During our two weeks’ honeymoon travelling around the Highlands neither of us got bitten once. We bought a three-pack, which was plenty for the two of us over the whole fortnight.

More van life accessories in our main shop

We hope you’ve found our list of road trip essentials helpful. Every van should have this stuff on board permanently before you go anywhere. If you’ve got any questions about any of the products we’ve listed, please get in touch.

If you’d like to see more van life accessories head over to our main shop where you’ll find loads more stuff to make your adventures even better, from satnavs to solar panels and LED lighting to tour guides.

And we’ve listed other items we’ve found useful on the road in our free ebook. You don’t want to go forgetting anything, after all!

Free ebook Getting Started on the Freedom Trail

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