Ahh, Covid-19, you’ve turned our lives upside down, shaken them around a bit, and left us hanging about when things might start to return to normal. All this time inside with little to do has had some of us turning to future travel plans, craft projects and DIY to get through the slog.
My partner and I have found ourselves happily burdened with a 2015 Peugeot Boxer and intend to spend this period in a state of sawdust-covered, camper-converting bliss. Travel plans thwarted and last-minute plans made to return back to the UK, a van conversion seemed a fun project to keep us busy. With a set of tools just sufficient enough to get by, and limited enough to make it an interesting challenge, our quarantine routine has apparently turned us into fully-fledged (albeit rather clueless) carpenters/builders/decorators.
Hey, they say we have at least 8 careers in a lifetime these days. When we’re not apologising to the neighbours about the drilling (again), endlessly scrolling #vanlife porn on Instagram, or taking excessively long tea breaks to contemplate what on earth we’ve taken on, I find myself daydreaming about our post-lockdown adventures in the UK.
Once all the sawing and sanding is done, I’ll be excited to start making those adventures come to life, by turning our house on wheels into a home. Below is your ultimate guide to the best campervan accessories. From the can’t-go-without, to the convenient, to the downright cool, here’s the list that will jazz up your van, cosy up the space and generally make it feel like somewhere you’d never want to leave.
Fancy renting a campervan to taste a bit of van life before you fork out a load of cash for one? Check out our partner Camptoo (Airbnb but for campers)
Nothing says a summer surf trip like endless waves, beach BBQ’s and sandy toes. But nothing says a subsequently clean-of-sand van and board like a portable outdoor shower. Stick it on the rear door, plonk yourself in front of a nice view and Bob’s your uncle, the most scenic shower you ever did have.
Check out this Portable 12V DC Powered Shower Unit.
One of those boring but crucial purchases that you’ll congratulate yourself for everytime. If you’re staying away from campsites with marked out pitches and want to get out into the wilderness, chances are you’ll struggle to find completely level ground to lay your head. Trust us, we’ve had enough nights rolling off beds to know that levelling makes a huge difference.
Check out the Fiamma Level Pro
This one’s for the freelancers, the remote workers, or the Netflix enthusiasts. Whilst some may want to escape the everyday tech-fuelled hustle and bustle of life, some choose it as a lifestyle that compliments their work. And what could be better than working remotely in front of the beach or in the middle of the forest? Perhaps you’re just keen for the odd film marathon on a rainy day, but either way you’ll want some connection to the Internet when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
Check out this TP-Link Archer Wifi Dongle
Not Really Essential But Pretty Cool
Two words. Proper. Coffee. Is there truly anything better than waking up in the middle of nowhere, in the comfort of your own transportable bed than a cup of steaming fresh coffee? I think not. Nothing will kick start your day of road-tripping or adventures like a decent espresso in your favourite mug.
Check out the Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker
Depending on the kind of trips you want to do, this one could technically fall into the ‘essentials’ list. Aside from being environmentally-friendly, a solar panel will mean you can travel off-grid away from campsites and caravan parks. Where you would otherwise have to charge your leisure battery by plugging into the mains at a campsite, a solar panel will allow you to stray far into the wilderness for days without having to see another soul. That is, as long as there’s sun...
Check out the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Generator
Wonderbag Slow Cooker
Once you’ve tried the Wonderbag, you won’t look back. Saving hours of time and fuel, Wonderbag contributes to a saving of up to two tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere every year. The wonderbag uses heat retention to slow cook food for upto 12 hours, without any gas needed. Cook your food and bring it to the boil, then simply transfer it into the wonderbag whilst you’re out adventuring or driving and you’ll come home to a perfectly slow cooked stew. What could be better?
Check out The Wonderbag
A versatile campervan accessory if ever we saw one. Not only will a roof rack hold all your essential adventuring gear (surfboards work great here), but with a bit of DIY nous, these roof racks have been transformed into sunset watching decks, stargazing spots and sunbathing platforms. Plus, they’re pretty good for all that other crap you can never quite squeeze into the cupboards.
Check out Van Guard Ulti Roof Racks
Not At All Necessary But Entirely Epic
Does this one really need its merits explaining? Making and sharing a fire has got to be up there as one of life’s most simple pleasures. Everything is better in front of a fire; a glass of red, a good book, a game of scrabble. There are few greater pleasures than escaping the hustle of our tech-filled lives and spending an evening collecting firewood and watching a fire crackle and burn. Not to mention, it’s more exciting than an electric heater.
Check out Wendy The Woodburner
Film nights and Netflix binge sessions just got a whole lot more exciting. If the wind is howling and the rain is hammering in the middle of winter, what could be better than curling up in front of a film? Well, curling up in front of a film and a woodburner, I suppose.
Check out the YG300 Home Theatre
Portable Barbecue & Firepit
Summer evenings, marshmallows and time with friends are all improved with a campfire. Two in one barbecue grill and firepit, this piece of kit will really jazz up your van life experience and keep you warm and toasty. What’s more, it packs up into a handy carry bag so you cart it off to the beach and store it flat. Just remember to Leave no Trace. Drink.
Check out this VonHaus Firepit and Grill
What To Think About When Buying Accessories For Your Camper
There is a seemingly bottomless choice of accessories to spice up your van life experience and it can be tricky to know what to splash out on when there’s so many exciting things out there. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself (in this order!) to make sure you’ve got what you need, and then what you want.
What would I use every time I go away in the van?
This is a useful question. There’s not much point splashing out on a roof rack so you can sit up top and have your morning coffee every day if you’ve forgotten the kettle. Start with the truly essential items that you will always always use on a trip. We’re talking fridges, bedding, chargers, cooking utensils etc. Check out some useful packing tips from Escape Campervans.
What will I need for my daily personal care?
This is the stuff you really shouldn’t be forgetting. That is, unless you’d rather go a few weeks without brushing your teeth. Ensuring you have running water to wash your face and brush your teeth, as well as some nice clean bedding and a comfortable bed to sleep in will always feel like a luxury when you’re in the middle of nowhere and will allow you to live cleanly and comfortably whilst adventuring.
What have I used previously on similar experiences?
Chances are if you’re going on a van holiday or thinking of buying one, you’ll have been camping or perhaps even away in a caravan before. What kinds of things did you find useful on those trips? Maybe a portable barbecue or stove, camping lanterns, mosquito repellent candles and weather-appropriate clothing are the types of things you’d consider.
How am I going to be spending my time?
Finally it’s useful to think about what you want to get out of your van travels. Perhaps it’s a new way of working remotely, in which case a wifi dongle would come in very handy. Perhaps it’s about reconnecting with friends or family, in which case accessories such as a fire pit, board games or a projector screen would be great accessories to your trip. Think about how you want to spend your trip and choose to spend your money on those luxuries and fun items that will really enrich your experience.
Oh and we've teamed up with Camptoo (Airbnb but for camper vans). Head on over to their site to rent a camper for your next trip.