You’re faced with limited space so it can be hard to know what to pack when travelling in a motorhome. This essential list is full of must-have accessories that will enhance your trip and ensure you have everything you need for those last-minute adventures.
Awnings are the simplest way to increase your vehicle’s living space and there are two common varieties.
A drive-away awning is self-supporting and simply acts as a tent. It can be detached and left standing whilst you and your vehicle go out and explore.
It is typically the more expensive choice but gives you more space to move around. Store muddy shoes and outdoor wear, entertain more friends than you planned or enjoy the view whilst being protected from the wind or rain. It essentially provides you with an extra room with all-round protection and privacy. Some of the larger ones can even include sleeping cabins.
A canopy awning differs in the fact that it rolls out like a blind with a couple of added poles for stability. It only offers top protection so is normally cheaper, but it can still be temporarily or permanently attached to your vehicle. You can find more premium options with fabric walls to enclose the space and offer the protection and privacy of a drive-away awning.
There will be a huge variety to choose from but, whichever you go for, you’ll need to check it will fit your particular model before purchasing.
Fire safety equipment
If you’re using gas on board then you’ll need a carbon monoxide detector, as well as a fire blanket and an extinguisher.
Let’s start with fire extinguishers, shall we? There are many different types out there but before making your choice I’d recommend speaking to a fire safety professional for advice. Once you’ve made your decision, make sure you buy two - just in case. These can then be stored in different places within your van. I’d make them readily available, for example, mounted on the wall near the cooker or by your bed.
Moving onto fire blankets, and even if you aren’t planning on lighting candles or using open flame gear, it’s also a good idea to have one on board just in case you need to smother a fire quickly. Again, this can be stored anywhere but I’d make sure it’s easy to grab.
And lastly, carbon monoxide detectors. Every van needs at least one.
This is especially essential if you’re thinking of going free or wild camping or wanting to eat your dinner and enjoy a glass of wine al fresco. I’d recommend getting a LED lantern so you don't have to worry about batteries running out.
I’d also suggest having a head torch for those times when you need light after dark, but your hands are full, like when you need to change the gas…or empty the toilet.
A hosepipe is a really useful tool to carry as it can be used to fill up the water tanks on board, or wash off muddy, sandy feet. I’d recommend buying a food-grade one that measures around 15m in length.
Even though most campsites will have a hose-lock type connector, I’d also suggest carrying one just in case, you never know when you might need to re-fill your water tank.
Portable outdoor shower
For those going rogue and opting for wild camping rather than staying on a campsite with amenity blocks, this is a must!
Of course, if your vehicle already has shower facilities then just skip this suggestion. But for those with smaller vehicles or campervans which rarely have the room for toilets and showers (unless you’ve renovated it yourself), keep reading.
A portable outdoor shower is a lightweight, low-cost, and low-space option and perfect for those planning on spending lots of time on sandy beaches. All you need to do is hang it high enough and attach it so the water can flow freely.
You can also get pop-up shower tents that can offer extra privacy and additional storage space.
If you get stuck in a muddy field, mud mats can be a lifesaver! Traction boards can also be used but be careful as they can slip out from under the wheels and fly off backward.
Whilst I’m on the subject you may also want to consider…
You never know when you might need to pull yourself out of a sticky or boggy situation! A tow rope will be invaluable in such a situation. When looking you’ll need to know the weight of your vehicle because if the rope isn’t strong enough it could snap or damage your chassis.
Larger vehicles or renovations will have one already built-in, but if you are free camping, I’d recommend taking one of these.
Portable toilets come in many different varieties and sizes; it just depends on how fancy you want to go. If you find a small one, then it’ll be easy to tuck away in a cupboard until you need it. Just don’t forget to pack some toilet paper!
Fold-out outdoor furniture
You’ll know that space is limited, so fold-up furniture ensures you get a little more room and aren’t confined to your vehicle.
Obviously, you can go basic and choose something that only does the job but you could also go for something a little more stylish. However, it all depends on your needs, budget and available space.
Fold-out furniture is a great option to consider, especially for those of you travelling through the warmer months, so you can sit outside and enjoy your surroundings or those summer evenings. It’s a great investment that will soon become indispensable!
Most campsites will have level ground but if you are straying from these then you’ll want to ensure the ground you’re staying on is level. I can tell you that sleeping at an angle is annoying. It’s even more annoying if you can’t drain the sink properly! Levelling ramps can help to conquer uneven ground.
But before buying, consider the size and weight of your vehicle to ensure you get the right set. Also, consider the hardness of the surface you’re staying on as grass and concrete will affect the suitability of the chosen ramps.
Collapsible kitchen equipment
You’ll want to think about your kitchen equipment carefully. Items like kettles, pots, pans, colanders and even graters are essential for all you travelling chefs. But they can also take up a lot of valuable space.
If you are running low on space or want to store everything away neatly, then why not look into getting collapsible or foldable equipment? It’s a great solution to save on space and guarantees you have everything you need for when you feel like cooking.
If you want more tips and tricks on how to maximise space, I go into a lot more detail in our storage solutions guide.
If you’re travelling all year round, then a thermal blind can help to control the temperature of your vehicle. In warmer weather, it can reduce condensation and therefore humidity, and in colder weather, it simply acts as another layer of insulation to stop heat escaping.
Bigger and more premium motorhomes will likely already have one installed, so this suggestion is really for the smaller and more budget-friendly vehicles.
It’s a simple solution to make things cosier and more private. Just make sure you measure your windscreen and windows before purchasing!
Now, not everyone will have room or want to take these extras, but I thought I’d give them a mention in case you haven’t thought of them.
One of the more unusual suggestions I know, but hammocks can be attached to anything so, can come in handy on those lazy afternoons where all you want to do is soak in some Vitamin D or finish that last chapter of your holiday read.
They take up little to no space as they can easily be rolled up and stored when on the move. Can you think of anything better than lying back and relaxing in one of these bad boys? Me neither!
You know us Brits love a BBQ, and nothing says holiday quite like one. So I’m including a portable BBQ as one of the must-have essentials for when the weather is right (or even if it’s not; bad weather never stopped my dad!).
If you can get a foldable one all you’ll need to do after enjoying your favourite flame-grilled cuisine is clean it down and pack it away!
However, if you want to save on storage space but still want that holiday feeling, you can buy a disposable one from a supermarket – it just might not be the same.
Travelling by motorhome or campervan can give you so much freedom. But once you arrive at the site and have everything in place, you might not want to move your vehicle again.
Attaching a bicycle rack allows you to store and bring your two-wheeled companion along for the ride so you can explore without having to pack and set up your motorhome or campervan again. And with most campsites being bicycle-friendly, it’s a no-brainer!
There are many options on the market, so I’ll give you a quick run-through of each.
- Bumper-mounted rack
Once installed, these racks can hold up to four bikes, whilst still offering good visibility, so is perfect if you’re holidaying with the family. However, it does work best if the bumper is reinforced with steel, and it isn’t compatible with every vehicle so be aware of this before buying.
- Hitch and tow bar rack
This is easy to use, secure and uses your vehicle’s receiver tube or tow ball. Be aware though that the prices are typically higher and extend the length of your vehicle.
- Ladder-mounted rack
By simply hooking onto your vehicle’s ladder, it’s the simplest choice.
- Rear door mounted rack
As the name suggests, these racks are designed specifically for those with rear doors. They are easy to install, with the choice of drilling or not. And you don’t even have to attach your bikes to this one, you can use it to increase storage space by attaching a rear trunk instead.
Because of the variety, all will differ in price and size, so you may want to shop around to find your perfect fit. If you need a bit more guidance or help narrowing your focus, I’d keep the below in mind:
- How many frames can it carry?
- What will work best with my vehicle?
- What security will I need?
Perfect for family time or those ongoing scrabble feuds between you and your partner. Board or card games are a great way to spend the evenings, especially as you can buy travel-size versions.
One last thing
All of these suggestions will differ in price and eat into your storage space, so they might not all be possible.
Consider your budget, vehicle’s size, and what spare space you have before deciding which essentials you need, then you can shop around for the ones that will work for you.
Now you've got all the essentials, don't forget to properly insure your motorhome before you head off on your adventure - make sure to get a motorhome insurance quote direct with Lexham!
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