Looking for the best campervan hacks for your upcoming trip? I love a campervan holiday, but it pays to be prepared. So, here are a few nuggets of advice I’ve picked up along the way.
All the best things in life start with a little leap of faith – especially true when hopping on new travel adventures. Going on a campervan trip might seem scary at first, as all kinds of questions pop into the mind. What should I bring along? How should I choose the perfect campervan? What about food?
By sharing my campervan experiences I aim to help to silence your inner control-freak, just read and take my advice and you’ll have a great time!
Here are our hacks for the campervan holidays.
13 Clever Campervan Hacks
Use these cunning campervan hacks to help you plan the ultimate motorhome adventure…
1. Practice with the right van
Although going on an adventure with a campervan is exciting and, typically, quite incredible too, it also comes with its challenges. You’ll have to give up the comfort you usually are used to. There might not be any electricity, easy access to hot water, and, of course, your internet connection will be worse too.
Being in a tiny space is not easy.
That’s why my top campervan hack would be to choose a campervan that’s comfortable and suits your needs. You must think whether you want to rent or buy a van, choose low top or high top. Of course, the type of van you need depends on your family’s size and how much you are willing to spend.
For example, Volkswagen campervans are a good choice for two adults and two kids, but it gets a bit trickier if your family is bigger. Of course, you can always bring a hammock or something else, but then you have to think if the hassle is worth it.
I’d strongly recommend hiring campervans for the weekend to try out before you commit to a specific one if you’re not totally au fait with campervans. I have a guide coming soon on the campervans I’ve rented, and the pros and cons of each. For now though, check out my guide on what you need to know before hiring a VW Campervan.
Campervan hack: check out rental companies like Gobooony and Camptoo to give a campervan a trial before you commit.
You can also consider checking out Wilderness Campervans if you prefer a unit that may come with accessories like camping tables, chairs, bike rack, portable barbecue, child restraints, and even Wi-Fi.
2. Prepare yourself for life in a campervan
Whether you plan to go on a trip that lasts just a few days or go on week-long adventures, you have to prepare for what is coming. Travelling in a campervan comes with plenty of advantages, and you’re guaranteed never to be bored.
If you plan to bring your partner and kids (or even your friends) with you, accept that you’ll have to be in a small space without almost no privacy. That means – finding time for yourself may be pretty difficult.
Probably the best way to prepare for this unusual adventure is to think about your expectations and end goals. Perhaps you should even make a plan.
Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself, and don’t worry about things going wrong. It’s all part of the fun!
For your first time, make sure to allow for extra time on your trip.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not enjoying every minute, you’ll soon relax into it.
3. Practice actually driving the campervan
Due to its larger size and turning radius, driving a campervan is not really the same as a regular vehicle. Driving the old VW we rented to go to Wales was HARD. That blummin gearstick and me just did NOT get on. That’s why it is crucial to make sure you actually know how to operate your chosen campervan. Then, make a choice and inquire about manual and automatic transmission before hitting the road.
In the past decade, most campervans have had a manual transmission, but the need for automatic ones prompted many makers to create one. Nevertheless, if you’re not a pro in driving a manual car, this is probably not the best time to try. Americans beware!
Research your campervan before you rent and know what you need to do. Check the vehicle offered to you carefully. Good thing there are many videos available online helping those who need answers in this matter.
4. Be spontaneous, but make plans when needed
One of the best aspects of travelling with a campervan is the fact you can stop wherever and whenever you want. You are truly free – if you decide you want to discover and explore a new place in the morning, you can easily hop in your car and go on the road. So, try to make the best of it. Don’t be in a hurry – instead, enjoy the slow-paced way of travelling.
However, it can sometimes be good to plan a little too.
Planning for your next trip is easier nowadays since the internet can show you practically everything you need to know, such as sights that are on your path that you can stop to enjoy, rest stops, and other interesting information. Take the time to research and browse the internet before your trip and check potential places your family might enjoy on the way.
5. Know your nearest shower / toilet
Although you have your bedroom with you, it’s wise to look for campsites before – this way you can eliminate unnecessary stress because you will know where you will be parking at the end of the day. Of course, sometimes creating a precise plan can be challenging, but try to think of possible stopping points throughout your route.
Take a look at Park4Night for some free places for wild camping when you don’t need a toilet or shower along the way. If you’re campervanning round one particular country, for a while, you could look at getting some sort of gym membership to use the facilities.
Campervan hacks: I’d totally recommend getting a solar powered shower for emergencies. It’s so great to have a shower outside, and so simple too. If you’re planning on doing a lot of wild camping and don’t have a shower in your van then this is a great option to keep you fresh. Those living quarters are tight – you don’t want to be the smelly one!
6. Pack only essentials
What should you bring on your campervan adventure?
Well, you will need some extra clothes – t-shirts, trousers, underwear and cosy socks. Depending on the weather, also pack a jacket to keep you warm during colder nights or days. Remember to bring some toiletries such as soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, and shampoo. Those storage pockets that go over the back of seats can be really good for these items, clear ones might not look as good but it’s a lot easier to find what you’re looking for!
Having a phone charger, universal adapter, bug repellent, sunscreen, towels, flashlights, and lighters or matches will also help.
Top campervan hacks: you can always stuff the cushion covers with your more bulky items – things like hoodys and comfy cardigans. Great campervan space saver for you!
You may also want to bring a portable washing machine. This way, you wouldn’t need to bring so many pieces of clothing. This tiny useful appliance is very small but will do the job of washing your clothes.
7. Stay tidy and organised
Might sound boring but a bit of organisation in your campervan will really help you to keep it tidy and easier to use. Make sure everything has a place to go, and encourage everyone to put things back.
A clean and neat campervan will be a place of calm and serenity. It will also reduce the stress of travelling.
Campervan hack: if you’re a regular campervanner or camper it could be worth buying a few collapsible and foldable items. Collapsible wash baskets, collapsible bins, and collapsible kettles all exist for exactly this purpose. Great space savers!
Also, bungee cord is good to have around – great for holding things down when you’re moving, and providing extra storage when you’re still.
If you own the campervan make sure you’ve utilised every bit of space. Any corner, any nook and cranny – there’ll be some sort of box or container that’ll fit the space – guaranteed.
Camper van hacks: buy a small handheld vacuum to keep the inside of your van free from crumbs, sand, soil, and any other annoying bit of mess.
8. Take only people you like with you
During your trip, you’ll be in tight quarters, and there is nothing you can really do about it. Except – you can choose the right people to join you. If you plan to discover the magic of campervans with your partner, friends or any family members, make sure you really get along.
Otherwise, it genuinely might turn into a nightmare.
9. Don’t forget to refill the water & fragrance it
If you’ve got a fancy campervan that has both running water and a toilet must keep in mind that the water tanks should be refilled regularly. Don’t forget about the waster too – you have to empty it whenever you can. Otherwise, you may be greeted with an unpleasant surprise.
Also, instead of using expensive chemicals in the toilet, you can just use a bio washing machine tab in the toilet – saves hassle and smells good!
We did this when we had our mega motorhome in the Peak District.
10. Take extra (frozen) water with you
Finally, when it comes to water (also drinking water), make sure to bring some extra bottles. It’s better to have more than less, especially if you don’t have running water.
Great little campervan hack for you: when you leave for your campervan trip, bring some pre frozen water bottles in the fridge. Not only will it bring your fridge temperature down, you’ll also have some lovely cold water to drink once it thaws.
11. Plan your meals
When staying at a hotel, you may expect croissants at 8 in the morning. When staying in a campervan, part of the beauty is discovering hidden and distant places. But that means – having a breakfast spot or a grocery store near you is not always guaranteed. Therefore, it is essential to do some meal planning.
First, figure out how many meals you will and what you will probably want to eat.
Next, take into account what kind of food storage you will have. If you don’t have a minifridge, it is not wise to pack products that go to waste easily.
Campervan hacks – choose dishes that are easy to make and don’t require much effort, such as baked potatoes, roasted veggie skewers, a stew, or chilli. Of course, there’s no point in planning out what you will eat every day of the week, but this can be helpful to avoid any dangerous moments of being hangry. Plus – remember to bring snacks. A lot of them.
When it comes to food, it can be helpful to pack things that you can use for cooking over an open fire, for example, potatoes, beetroot, corn, lean meat.
Great camper van hack: Food items like the ones on my festival food list could be good – low maintenance, easy to use, and sometimes even healthy!
12. Take the best bedding you have
Sleeping on your campervan trip is just the best. Going to sleep to the sound of the local wildlife, and waking up to the same just makes it all worth it. I’d strongly recommend you buying a luxury duvet and bedding, rather than just thinking, oh this’ll do.
Days when you’re on a campervan trip can be full and exhausting so it’s lovely to have a sanctuary to sleep in after.
Camper van hack: You might also want to buy a campervan mattress to go between the bed and you, just for some extra comfort. This is also a great idea if you’re sleeping on the pop top above, as it’s basically just a shelf.
13. Download campervan apps
In my campervan experience, one of the best camper van hacks I’ve found is Park4Night – showing you all the best spots to park for free, or for cheap.
You could also try BritStops, and of course, Google Maps. Just anything that will help you in your quest!
Camper van hacks
There are all, of course, great tricks for campervans, but what is most important is to truly enjoy and soak in your holiday. There is no better way of travelling than hopping on a campervan.
Try it, prepare for it, you’ll love it!