Road Trip Essentials: what your van needs before you hit the road

Home » Road Trips in a Campervan or Motorhome: how to get the most from your adventures » Road Trip Essentials: what your van needs before you hit the road

Before you hit the road for any serious travelling in your campervan or motorhome, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all the right equipment. On this page we’ve listed some of the road trip essentials we never leave home without.

From must-have safety equipment to handy gadgets, the 20 road trip essentials we’ve listed here could make all the difference to your journeys, saving you time and hassle.

Scroll down to see our comments about each product or use the menu below to go straight to what you’re looking for…

road trip essentials - what you need in your RV
Original Image: Jairph

Just to note: All these items listed here are things we or our vanlife friends have used or they have been 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. Our full Affiliate Products Disclosure Document can be read here.

Road Trip Essential #1 – a 7-piece travel kit

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

7 in 1 euro travel kit for motorhomes

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. Check out this range of hi-viz reflective vests. Thankfully, we’ve not had to use ours 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. Hopefully you never will, but it’ll give you peace of mind just in case.

road trip essentials: fire extinguisher and fire blanket for campervans and motorhomes

Road Trip Essentials #3 and #4 – 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 Fire Angel 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.

carbon monoxide detectors for motorhomes and caravans

And when it comes to smoke detectors, like everything else, there are so many to choose from. See the range of smoke detectors here.

Ours is a spare we had in our house which works perfectly fine in our motorhome.

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 #5 – 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 bought these Fiamma Levelling Chocks (a well-known brand) and on a sloping pitch they make such a difference. Of course, when we wild camp we don’t use them in case we need to make a quick getaway.

RELATED CONTENT: How to wild camp safely in your motorhome

road trip essentials: levelling chocks for motorhomes

We’ve also use one of these mini spirit levels if we’re being uber fussy. And if you like your gadgets how about this nifty little electronic leveller which has a bright LED display.

Road Trip Essential #6 – 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 the collapsible container shown below. It 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 4.4 stars from over 400 reviews.

collapsible water bottle for motorhomes

Road Trip Essential #7 – A good kettle

Here’s one of the most important road trip essentials…a good kettle!

We use a standard stainless steel whistling kettle for the gas hob (if we’re not on electric hook-up).

But when we stay at campsites and have the luxury of electric we use this 1 litre kettle.

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. A smaller kettle is ok if you’re a lone traveller but if there are two of you – or more – and you like your teas and coffees this larger kettle means you won’t have to boil a second lot of water, saving electricity and time.

compact kettle for motorhomes and campervans

Road Trip Essential #8 – Electric hook-up cable

So, talking of electric, if you’re staying on a campsite you’ll need an Electric Hook Up Cable that connects your van up to the electric supply on the site.

The one shown here is 25 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 campsite’s power supply point. We have an extension cable but some campsites, especially in Europe, don’t like you using extension cables (for safety reasons) so it’s best to get a longer one in the first place.

electric hook up cables for motorhomes and campervans

And don’t forget a converter cable if you want to charge your van’s leisure battery from your electricity supply at home before you travel. Always handy to have.

Road Trip Essential #9 – A parking reserved sign

If you’ve got a nice pitch on a campsite but want to go out exploring for the day use one of these Parking Reserved Signs. It will help ensure that no one else has taken your spot when you return.

The thing is, when you arrive at some campsites you’re told to ‘just drive around until you find a space’. It’s so easy for your own pitch to be taken by a new arrival if you haven’t marked it in some way when you’re out.

road trip essentials: motorhome reserved pitch sign

RELATED CONTENT: Find out more about the ‘rules’ on UK campsites and what you need to know

Road Trip Essential #10 – Steering wheel lock

We’re pretty security conscious and would hate it if anything happened to our old van. It’s unlikely that anyone would target a 30 year old vehicle but you just never know, so we always lock the steering with a ‘Stop Lock’ Steering Lock whenever we go off for the day on a long trek, especially if we’re in unfamiliar territory.

We’ve got the original version of this, but the reviews say that this one is even better…

stoplock: steering lock for cars and motorhomes

RELATED CONTENT: See more motorhome security devices on our RV extras page

Road Trip Essentials #11 and #12 – A good quality lantern and torch

We always sleep with a battery-powered lantern beside the bed to save us putting the main electric lights on during the night if either of us need to get up.

This one scores top marks from over 40,000 reviews and is sensibly priced. You just never know when you might need it, such as during a power cut on the campsite or if you’re wild camping.

road trip essentials: a good torch and lantern

We also do a lot of walking and sometimes arrive back at the van in the dark. This happened once after our pilgrimage to Canterbury which included a half mile walk along a narrow country road in the pitch black. We couldn’t see a thing! After this, we thought we’d always carry a torch with us.

We now use a Lumitact G700 LED Torch. It’s super bright and rechargeable. It has excellent reviews and we’d back everything that’s said about it.

Road Trip Essential #13 – Power inverter

So, if you’re carrying lamps, torches, and other things that need charging – such as mobile phones and laptops – you’ll probably want a Power Inverter.

Of course, if you’re on a campsite and have an EHU cable you can charge up everything from the main power supply. 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 German solar panel so we can charge things from the sun’s rays.

power inverters for motorhomes and campervans

Road Trip Essential #14 – Fresh Water Tank Cleaner

Legionnaire’s Disease is a killer! You’ll want to make sure that your fresh water tank is free of bacteria, algae and other nasties that can get into the motorhome’s water system and make you feel really ill – or worse!

We’ve often used ‘Puriclean‘ to clean the fresh water system before we go on a long road trip…

puriclean - water tank cleaners for motorhomes

RELATED CONTENT: Find out more about cleaning your water tanks and prepping your van for road trips

Road Trip Essential #15 – Spare fuses kit

If you’re broken down why wait hours for the AA when a simple fuse change might do the trick?

If you’re miles from anywhere it’s always best to have plenty of spare fuses on board.

This 165 piece fuse set contains standard and mini fuses from 2amps up to 35amps, covering just about everything your van will ever need. We’d never travel without it now.

road trip essentials: spare fuses for motorhomes and campervans

Road Trip Essential #16 – A basic tool kit

Ok, let’s be honest here – if there’s any major problem with our van whilst on the road we call our breakdown service. It’s happened more than once! But every vehicle should have a basic tool kit for smaller jobs you can do yourself.

RELATED CONTENT: Read about our road trip breakdowns

We have this Black and Decker Roll-Up Tool Kit Bag which includes a full set of allen keys, spanners, plyers, screwdriver bits and loads of other handy tools for smaller jobs in and outside of the van.

roll up tool kit for cars, vans, and motorhomes

Road Trip Essential #17 – Digital tyre pressure gauge

This might not be an essential if you’re just staying local and within easy reach of a service station. But on longer road trips and miles from the nearest garage it might be an idea to keep an eye of those tyre pressures with this Digital Tyre Pressure Gauge.

The right tyre pressure improves fuel economy, driving, and tyre wear – and might just help you avoid a blow out on the motorway!

You might also consider a good manual foot pump. (We’ve looked at the 12-V battery-operated pumps which work off the cigarette lighter but these usually have only 3 to 4 metres of cable – no good for big motorhomes whose back tyres are probably out of reach).

road trip essentials: tyre pressure gauge

Road Trip Essential #18 – A VW campervan cooler bag

We often go on day trips and a good cooler bag makes an ideal alternative to using the fridge, keeping everything cool and fresh, especially if you chuck a couple of ice-blocks in there.

If you drive a VW like we do, you’ll love this campervan cooler bag, given to us by Hobo Trudi’s daughter for Christmas. It’s big enough for a family picnic and looks really cool. Pun intended!

campervan cooler bag for picnics

Road Trip Essential #19 – A well-stocked first-aid kit

It’s not just the van you need to look after on a road trip! A first aid kit is one of the first things we ever bought and is an essential item, especially if you trek for miles like us.

This First Aid Kit scores top marks from over 8000 reviews and includes all you’ll ever need from plasters and bandages to anti-sceptic wipes and sterile eye washes and loads more essential first aid items – just in case!

road trip essentials: a good first aid kit

Road Trip Essential #20 – 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 loch side 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.

insect repellent: Avon Skin So Soft

See more van life accessories and gifts 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.

Head over to our main motorhome gifts and accessories shop where you’ll find over 100 items from satnavs to solar panels, cosy cushions to kitchenware, and cleaning products to make your van look amazing inside and out!

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