Guest post by Katie Larsen
Living in a small space, such as a tiny home, has its own challenges. Living in an even smaller space, such as a van, has even more challenges. There is a constant battle for space. Consumption has to stay minimal and items need to have a real, functional purpose. Bonus points if any products owned by a minimalist have dual-functionality! After living on the road full-time for nearly four years, this is my list of must-have gear to conquer vanlife.
Garmin Dash Cam 45
This item made the list for many reasons, but the highest is safety. The Garmin dash cam 45 works by constantly recording snippets and holding onto them temporarily. If an accident is detected, the camera automatically saves the current, last, and next recording. I also enjoy the security of having a camera displayed on my windshield, as it could potentially deter a break-in from occurring.
One of the harder things about living in a van is the lack of storage for books. To replace the need for physical books, I purchased a Kindle and was able to hook it up to my public library account. My library pairs with the OverDrive app, which I’m able to borrow e-books through. Wifi is only required to download the file, and then e-books can be accessed offline. This saves physical space in my tiny home and allows me to check out multiple books and access them at any time.
Maxsa Buddy Traction Mats
As an individual who often travels solo, it can be nerve-racking to think of getting stuck somewhere without cell service. Carrying escaper buddy traction mats provides the peace of mind I need to camp off-grid. If I ever get stuck, I simply wedge these traction mats underneath my tires and drive onto them, getting me out of whatever pickle I’m experiencing. These work for snow, mud, sand, and whatever else you may come across on the road!
Polaroid Camera + Film
Gear doesn’t necessarily always have to be solely functional - it’s okay to have gear that exclusively provides entertainment or joy! This is where a polaroid camera comes in handy. Polaroid pictures are instantly printed, which allows me to decorate my tiny home with travel memories. It’s also a fun parting gift I can hand out to new friends I make on the road!
Waterproof, Portable, Bluetooth Speaker
Every morning I wake up in my van, open my sliding door, turn on some music, and make my coffee. I thoroughly enjoy what music brings to an environment, whether camping, hiking, or anything else. The JBL FLIP 4 speaker is durable, so I don’t have to worry about rain, dirt, or damage from outdoor elements. My phone automatically hooks up to it and the sound quality is quite impressive. It also serves as a great addition to movie nights!
The Pakt Coffee Kit
With the never-ending chaos of vanlife, my morning ritual of making coffee is the singular constant I have and is an absolute essential to my travels. By starting each day the same, I’m able to ground myself and be more flexible for whatever adventures the day may bring. The Pakt Coffee Kit is sleek and stores stacked within itself, allowing room for other kitchen items in the van. My favorite part? It comes with a stainless steel mesh reusable filter, which helps me reduce the amount of waste I create each day.
Hot Water Bottle
The day I started using a hot water bottle was the start of a new life on the road. Personally, my Sprinter van does not have internal heat, meaning I experience all seasons and have spent many nights in harsh weather conditions. Using a hot water bottle allows me to warm up by creating heat as I boil water on the stove and holding heat within the bottle itself. I simply tuck my hot water bottle into my bed or my sweater and immediately, am much more comfortable.
Vanlife is a journey of learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Having the above-mentioned must-have gear will help you conquer vanlife like a true professional. So now that you’re prepared, where will you adventure to next?
Katie Larsen is a digital nomad, working as a freelance writer and digital marketer. Happiest with fresh air in her lungs and dirt between her toes, she is following her philosophy of doing life differently by living full-time in her self-converted Sprinter van. Follow her adventures through @soweboughtavan and learn more at www.soweboughtavan.com.