When it comes to camping, traveling the vast US highways, and visiting the most iconic cities and places across states, there’s nothing quite like the freedom and flexibility that a camper van provides. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or new to vanlife, there are some important things you need to know to make the most of your experience. From planning your meals to installing a sprinter van rack for extra space and storage, preparing and being ready is key to enjoying the outdoors and traveling to the fullest.
Invest in quality camper van accessories
One of the most important things you can do to improve your camp life experience is to invest in quality camper van accessories. This includes everything from cooking equipment and bedding to lighting and storage solutions. When choosing accessories, look for products that are durable, lightweight, and designed specifically for vanlife. This is a crucial step! Do not cheap out on your van accessories because this can make or break your trip. Invest in the right lighting, this includes lights and ways to power your devices. Solar panels are usually the best way to go when adding electricity to any camper van. When it comes to cooking, it’s usually best to pack light but durable. Don’t pack your entire kitchen because it won’t be needed, and it will take up too much space. Depending on how many are traveling, a single pan, pot, a few spoons, forks, and a knife will do. All great, shady, fresh campsites are the first ones to go so adding a van awning will be a lifesaver during the hot summer months. An awning is perfect for enjoying a game of cornhole, relaxing on a comfy chair, or cooking without having the sun ruining your fun. Don’t leave without having arranged a comfortable place to sleep. There are those that prefer a mattress, the old-school sleeping bag type, and even those that recline their seats and fall asleep. Whatever category you fall under, if you don’t get a good night's sleep, odds are that you will not be enjoying your trip.
Plan your meals and bring the right gear
Cooking on the road can be challenging, but with the right gear and a little planning, you can create delicious meals no matter where you are. Make sure to bring a good camp stove, a set of pots and pans, and enough utensils. Plan your meals in advance to avoid last-minute trips to the grocery store. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple while on the go, you can’t go wrong with cans of tuna, crackers, toast, peanuts, trail mix, fruits, and cereals. The key is to avoid food that will perish easily and to pack food with a long shelf life unless you have a fridge.
Stay organized with smart storage solutions
When you're living in a small space, staying organized is key. Invest in smart storage solutions like hanging organizers, under-bed storage containers, and foldable crates. This will help you keep your space tidy and make it easier to find what you need. Reduce the number of supplies needed for any trip but always be ready with the right type of clothing and always be prepared for all types of weather. Packing light is essential to staying organized. If you can’t find a place for a certain item, don’t take it!
Keep your van clean and tidy
A clean and tidy van is essential for a comfortable camp life experience. Make sure to clean up after yourself, wipe down surfaces, and sweep the floor regularly. This will help prevent clutter and keep your space feeling fresh. The cleaner it is, the more at home it will start to feel. A dirty and unorganized van makes it harder to find things and enjoy the outdoors. Some campers even log all their items and equipment and create labels for quick access. Fortunately, it is a small space!
Choose the right sleeping setup
Choosing the right sleeping setup is crucial for a good night's sleep. Whether you prefer a traditional mattress or a camping cot, make sure to choose a setup that is comfortable and suits your needs. If traveling with a partner, consider a larger bed or two separate sleeping areas. A sleepless night will hamper the 3-mile hike the next morning. Don’t miss out on the beauty of the outdoors because your sleeping setup wasn’t adequate.
Install a sprinter van rack for extra storage
If you need more storage or sleeping space, consider installing a sprinter van rack. This will allow you to transport bikes, kayaks, or other large items on the roof of your van, freeing up valuable space inside. Luggage, bulky items, and other recreational items can be strapped to the roof rack to create additional space. If you want to bike the Hiline Trail, surf The Wedge, or kayak near the California Channel Islands, a van rack is a must. You can also mount a rooftop tent to a rack which adds additional sleep space.
Stay connected with a mobile hotspot
The main goal of camping is to escape the digital world and enjoy the outdoors. Disconnect from the constant buzz and enjoy nature in full. The USA is filled with amazing beaches, vast national forests, hiking trails, and highways just waiting to be explored. For those that can’t resist checking their Instagram, Facebook, or Tiktok account, having internet will be essential. Staying connected while on the road is easier than ever with a mobile hotspot. This will allow you to access the internet and stay in touch with loved ones no matter where you are. If you’re planning a long trip, a solar panel for your van will also be necessary. This will allow you to charge any device you might need.
Embrace the outdoors
One of the best things about camp life is the opportunity to spend time in nature. Embrace the outdoors by going for a hike, exploring a new area, or simply relaxing outside with a good book. Here are 5 camping destinations with great scenic views that will not disappoint.
- Yosemite National Park
- Mark Twain National Forest
- Olympic National Forest
- Sequoia National Forest
- Channel Islands National Park
Be mindful of your impact on the environment
When you're camping, it's important to be mindful of your impact on the environment. This means following Leave No Trace principles, minimizing your use of resources like water and electricity, and respecting wildlife and other campers. If we don’t take care of our planet, who will? Please don’t leave trash behind and pick up any trash left by others that might hurt the wildlife and ecosystem.
Expect the unexpected
Finally, it's important to be prepared for the unexpected when living on the road, camping deep in the remote woods, or interacting with wildlife. Make sure to have a first aid kit, a good set of tools, and a backup plan in case of emergencies. One important aspect that many campers fail to do is to prepare for the weather at their destination. Always be aware of the conditions where you will be camping or traveling and don’t leave home without the proper clothing to face the weather and the elements.
Vanlife can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it's important to be prepared and informed. By investing in quality camper van accessories, staying organized, and embracing the outdoors, you can make the most of your time on the road. And with a little planning and preparation, you'll be able to enjoy all the adventures and experience vanlife to the fullest. Don't forget to install that Sprinter van rack for extra storage, too! You won’t regret it!