Do you travel in a motorhome, live in a van, or tow a caravan around the world? Every home on wheels needs the right gear to make traveling an even better experience. The hacks in this article will enhance your safety and comfort. Our family travels began a long time ago, so we know a few tricks. Oh and quick disclaimer: we’re minimalists.
We don’t bring anything redundant along, but we cannot go without some useful pieces of equipment. I will narrow it all down to the most essential gear, which proved to be extremely helpful while traveling tens of thousands of kilometers and visiting places as diverse as Morocco and Turkey.
The most important thing is to buy a high quality travel trailer or RV. Most built-in equipment that comes with the vehicle is cheaper than any add-ons that you add yourself after the purchase. We recently bought a reasonably well-equipped Bessacar caravan from England, which came with plenty of gear and appliances. It was the second caravan we bought from Burimex and we already knew what we were looking for. After few years traveling on it, we’re still happy with it.
The Absolute Essentials
For our long travels, we look for equipment that saves us money and time, and allows us to camp in a campground as well as in the wilderness. Our caravan is currently equipped in a way that we can go boondocking the same way as we would do on a motorhome or a van (a caravan usually is less well-equipped for this). These are the most essential gadgets we chose:
- Built-in Water Tank – probably our most important piece of equipment. You can find water on the side of the road, at gas stations or in campgrounds. We always keep 40 liters of water under the bed and often another 40 liters in a barrel. If you have a canister brand other than Aqua Roll, a short hose with a flexible head for easy refilling will come in handy.
- Electric Heating Plate – it saves us gas and money at campsites.
- Built-in Deep Cycle 12V Battery – we’ve had the Platinum 110 ah battery for five years and it is still as good as new.
- Propane Tanks – we have two 10kg exchangeable ones and they last us for either a three-month trip in the spring, one month in the wild, or two months in a campground. Switching between tanks when the first one runs out doesn’t bother me, but Duo Control would be a more comfortable option.
- Barrel for waste water Wastemaster – this piece of gear allows for great flexibility on our travels.
You also need high-quality electrical cabling and reduction for CEE outlets, which are much more common in Europe. On top of that, we have a 25-meter long cable and a normal extension cord.
The multifunctional Leathermann knife is useful for repairs of all kinds. We also always travel with a 12V compressor, which we use for inflating the car, caravan and bicycle tires, as well as sports balls. And of course some basic tools are a necessity.
If you only take one trip a year, you won’t need any extra gear, but if you are serious about traveling, some extra comforts will come in handy. After years of traveling, we tried out multiple entrance ladders, but the only one that lasted long-term was a Brunner two-step ladder.
- Solar Kit – we have one from Burimex and a 140W panel is more than enough for us. The longest we lasted working on two computers was three cloudy days in Portugal. Then we had to go to a campsite for power.
- Truma Heater (Gas/220V) – it saves gas when we are in a campground.
- Vacuum Cleaner – we first tried a handheld one, but now we travel with a small, regular one, which has the much-needed power for cleaning well. We vacuum only in campsites, but that’s enough for us.
- Water hose – it helps us fill the built-in tank and our extra barrel easily.
- Solid Camping Chairs – we have chairs from FrontRunner, which are probably the best small camping chairs on the market.
- Travel washing machine – it already saved our day many times.
We also considered a built-in voltage converter, which makes 220V out of a traction battery, but because the price of high-quality converters did not reflect their effectiveness, we charge our important appliances through USB plugs or through a cigarette lighter 12V outlet. Another option can be a quiet generator from Honda.
If you plan to sleep only in campsites in Europe, you probably won’t need any of the following. However, I recommend locking your door at night, even in a campground. If you sleep in the wild, I definitely recommend purchasing a latch for your door.
- Wheel boot Venus – it helps us secure the caravan, when detached. I also use it when we sleep in the wild, so nobody can drive us away at night 🙂
- Door latch – it increases our feeling of safety – the regular plastic locks in a caravan are no good.
- Safe for computers and valuables – we have it attached to the floor, but recently I don’t find it important. Preventing a break-in by closing the curtains and keeping expensive things out of sight is more crucial.
A refrigerator with a separate freezer (12V, 220V, and gas) is perfect for storing food and it’s necessary for long trips or lazy days in a campsite. We also have folding dishes of all kinds and a juicer, which is useful in Spain for squeezing the delicious Spanish oranges, or any old fruit or vegetables. If you cannot live without coffee, like us, I recommend a manual coffee maker like the AeroPress and a manual coffee grinder. Even without power you will be able to enjoy a decent cup of coffee. We also bring along Nespresso, which offers the best flavors, and Dolce Gusto, which you can buy anywhere in Europe.
Internet and Work
Because we work while traveling, we perfected many tricks to maximize efficiency. Among the most important tricks is staying at StayFree and Park4Night campgrounds. You can measure the speed of the Internet on Speedtest and find free Wi-Fis (requiring a password) with the app WiFi Map Pro. An antenna Power WiFi with a router can catch a hotel’s WiFi from hundreds of meters away. If you buy an ACSI card, most off-season purchases will be nearly half price. More work hacks can be found in the article: With A Caravan Across Europe.