If you’ve never been on a campervan holiday before it’s good to take advice from someone who has, especially on the subject of what to bring with you. Even if you have been on one before, consulting a list can relieve the paranoia of packing. This list is here to help!
Most campervans available for hire already come with a range of equipment such as bedding, towels, cooking implements and crockery – for a comprehensive list check out this example of a campervan rental, but you will need to supplement this with your own holiday gear and a trip to the supermarket. Here is a list of 30 things to take on a campervan holiday:
1) Beach towels
There’s nothing worse than having to use a wet towel! Although most campervan rentals come with towels, there will probably not be enough for spares. It’s nice to have a separate towel for going to the beach, leaving your showering towel behind to dry. Also, most women require two towels anyway – one for the body and one to wrap around the hair.
2) Torches (and spare batteries for them)
These are essential. Not only are they useful if one member of the party needs something in the middle night and doesn’t want to disturb the others sleeping in the campervan by turning on the light, they are needed for finding your way to toilet blocks in the darkness. Not all the toilets you encounter on your campervan trip will have electric lights, either. Torches are also good if the battery of your campervan is running low and you want to conserve it by not using the lights.
3) Insect repellent
Unless you are one of those rare people whom bugs never seem to bite, you will probably want to sleep with insect repellent on. Most campervan rentals do come with fly screens, but the determined insect can get through them and, especially in summer, you will not want to have the windows closed at night.
You shouldn’t be anywhere without sunscreen anyway, on holiday or not, especially in New Zealand.
The very nature of a campervan holiday means driving long distances, an experience always made more pleasant with accompanying music. Most campervan rentals come with stereos, so bring your favourite CDs or something more technologically advanced, along with its charger and an auxiliary cable to connect it to the campervan stereo.
Reading a book is a great compliment to a campervan holiday, either reading it by torchlight at night or while sitting in the passenger seat on a long drive. There may come a time, when it is raining too heavily to leave the campervan or when you need to conserve the power supply and therefore are unable to charge your laptop or Kindle, when you will be grateful for a good book. Do not, however, forget to simply stare out of the campervan window and take in the landscape you have never seen before.
This one seems obvious, but make sure you have a spare memory card or the cable to upload photos to your laptop as you go, (or, if you are living in the last century, spare rolls of film,) as you will want to take many, many pictures. Also, don’t forget the charger.
8) Laptop, tablet or smart phone
This is by no means essential, but it is good for uploading your digital photos as you go, keeping a blog of your adventures, researching where you are and places to go, booking campgrounds, and finding campervan dump stations and places where you can freedom camp. The best online map for campervanners in New Zealand, which has on it the location of every campground and dump station in the country, is wendekreisen.rankers.co.nz. The Rankers map is also available as an app.
Now a mobile phone is essential for safety reasons, but is also useful if you need to call the campervan company’s breakdown line or book a campsite. Remember to bring its charger and to keep it topped up.
10) Method of travel sickness prevention
If you or someone in your family gets terribly carsick, then a campervan holiday probably isn’t the best option for you. However, even people who do not usually suffer from travel sickness can occasionally feel ill over long distances, or on particularly windy roads. Ask your pharmacist for some travel sickness tablets or acupressure bands and keep a packet of ginger nuts in the cabin.
11) Alarm clock
You don’t want to sleep in until lunchtime and miss out on half a day’s holiday – it’s throwing money down the drain.
I don’t know about you, but it’s something I always seem to forget to pack.
There were times on my last campervan holiday when I wished we’d brought a ball with us, to use at the beach or at a campground.
14) Picnic blanket
I also wished we’d brought a picnic blanket. It’s lovely to eat and sunbath outside the campervan.
You will need to have your credit card with you, as most campervan rental companies require your credit card details, and it would be prudent to have some emergency money handy. Keep it somewhere very safe, i.e. on your person at all times. Don’t leave it in the campervan when you’re out for the day.
16) Driver’s licence and insurance information
Keep this with your credit card and emergency money. You should be able to use your normal driver’s licence when driving a campervan, as long as the campervan isn’t especially heavy and, if you are in a foreign country, your licence complies with that country’s standards.
You’ll always need them and they’re good for cleaning up spills within the campervan.
Family fun for those rainy days and long evenings – and they don’t require any electrical power.
Most campervan rentals come with televisions and, if not DVD players, you may be able hire or buy a portable player from the company. Obviously, if you have a laptop with you, this won’t be necessary. It can be nice to watch a movie with the family in the campervan before going to sleep, but don’t let your holiday be about that. You can watch plenty of movies when you’re back home.
20) First aid kit
A first aid kit is always good to have in the back of your campervan to deal with any minor injuries that might occur.
21) Notebook and pens
There may come a time when you need to write something down, such as licence plate numbers if you get in an accident.
22) Maps and guide books
These will probably be provided by the campervan rental company, but it does not do any harm to bring your own, even if you have a smart phone or tablet.
Unlike hotels, most campervan rental companies will not provide complimentary shampoo and soap. You need to bring your own, along with any other toiletries you need, including your toothbrush and toothpaste.
24) Washing-up liquid, dishcloth and cleaning fluids
Your campervan rental company may or may not provide these. Just wait until you’ve got the campervan and pop to the supermarket if they haven’t. You will need to go to the supermarket anyway for…
You will want to buy the basic foods for making no-fuss, one-pot meals. Packet pastas and pot noodles are the easiest, if not the most healthy. Milk and teabags are a given, as are muesli bars, for taking with you on long walks. Many campsites you stay at will have barbecues you can use, so you could even buy some steak, but keep in mind that storage and fridge space are very limited.
26) Plenty of clothes
You will want to make sure you pack plenty of clothes, as not every campground has laundry facilities. Also make sure you have some warm clothes and thick socks to put on at night, if the weather happens to turn, and some good, sturdy walking shoes. One of the points of campervanning is enjoying the great outdoors.
27) Plastic bags
It is a good idea to take a lot of spare plastic bags with you. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including as a laundry bag for keeping your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes while on the move, for putting any wet clothes in and for lining the campervan bin with.
When you do reach a campground with laundry facilities, make sure you have your own laundry powder and coins with which to operate the machines.
29) Soft bags
When packing your holiday gear, it is best not to use a hard-cased suitcase, as your bags will have to be squeezed into the campervan’s limited storage space. Nothing can be left loose while the campervan is on the move. The best thing is to use a large rucksack for your clothes.
30) Day pack and water bottle
You will also need a smaller rucksack for when you go on day trips, and ladies will need a handbag. It is best to take your valuables with you on day trips, so that if your campervan happens to be stolen while you are gone, you are not completely screwed over. It is highly sensible to take a water bottle on your day trips too.
Phew! There’s 30 things you should bring on a campervan holiday. I hope it helps.
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand