Perfectly prepared for a camper van holiday with this packing list
You get in, head off and then halfway to the highway comes the question: “Are you sure we have everything?” Everyone knows that unpleasant feeling of having forgotten something essential for the vacation. Not anymore! We have put together the ultimate packing list to make sure that you are perfectly prepared for your next camping vacation with the van.
First of all: how do I properly prepare for a vacation with a van?
The packing list will be incredibly long if you try to prepare for every eventuality. The list of luggage for the van is extensive. But once everything is on board, you can set out without any worries. Plus: this puts an end to carrying heavy luggage back and forth, missed connections or socks left behind in hotel rooms.
But just what do you need to bring? Naturally, the luggage changes depending on your vacation season, your own vacation ideas, travel habits and hobbies. In truth, there is no ONE ultimate packing list. Nevertheless, we have tried to put together a packing list that you can modify to meet your own specific needs.
The following sections contain instructions describing how to prepare your van for the vacation step-by-step and all of the things that you definitely need to bring along.
Six months before the journey: these preparations need to be made
The first step consists of finding out about the country that you are travelling to. The sources need to be reliable and up-to-date. They need to provide you with information about the visa, customs and traffic regulations, in particular. Check that your identification documents are valid well ahead of time. You should start applying for a passport, visa and vaccines six months ahead of time. The van should also be inspected thoroughly and repairs made well in advance. The guide “10 steps to preparing the camper van for the season” provides clear instructions for these preparations. Take out the necessary insurance for you and your van and create a folder which contains all of the insurance certificates and hotline numbers for the journey. For all of your important documents, always make sure that you save a digital version to a cloud or on your computer.
Important points when planning the route
Once the basic preparations are complete you can start planning the route. Are you travelling along toll roads? Do you need to take a ferry? Where can you stop for fuel during the journey? Which equipment and extras such as snow chains do you need along the way? Finding out about the school breaks and public holidays in the country you are travelling to is also helpful, as is an overview of the legal camper van parking areas, camping grounds and local Mercedes-Benz workshops.
Comprehensive inspection: check-ups before starting the journey
Shortly before you leave, you should inspect your van again and make sure to check the operating liquids such as the coolant, engine oil, windscreen wiper fluid etc. Also remember to check the validity of the first-aid kit and the fire extinguisher as well as the pressure in the spare tire. It needs to be usable in the event of a flat tire. Well thought out loading of the van is often neglected: light objects can be stored in cupboards whereas heavy luggage should be positioned close to the axles. Naturally, loose objects need to be stored and do not forget to close the windows and the skylight. Lastly: check that the permitted gross vehicle weight and axle load are not exceeded.
I pack my van and pack… travel papers and important documents
Everything in the travel papers/important documents category is absolutely essential. Pay careful attention and make sure that you have all of the papers, certificates, cards, printouts and confirmations and make a note of the emergency numbers and hotline numbers. Packing one or the other instruction manual and a second key is also a good idea. In keeping with the motto: better safe than sorry. Planning ahead when it comes to ways of paying is also worthwhile. Take more than one credit card with you, sufficient cash and/or travelers’ cheques and distribute them among several wallets. Also ensure that you have made a note of the telephone numbers needed to lock debit and credit cards just in case the worst comes to the worst.
Important items for the van’s toolbox and kitchen cupboards
When it comes to spare parts and repair materials, carefully check what your van needs and what the local workshops have to offer. Remember: the more remote your destination, the more extensive the equipment in your toolbox has to be. When you pack all of the spare parts and tools for the van, also remember not to forget the classics for camping holidays. A rope that you can use as a washing line, a flashlight, candles and matches along with a folding spade.
When packing kitchen articles and cleaning articles, remember: there are a lot of items which might not be essential but which still make life easier. Think about cleaning agents, toilet paper, insect repellent, a can opener and a corkscrew. Bringing along basic cooking utensils, foodstuffs and beverages is well worth it. Especially if you intend to do a lot of cooking yourself and plan to camp far away from supermarkets.
Last but not least: clothing and leisure equipment
The miscellaneous category includes all of the remaining travel equipment. The first-aid kit is a topic of its own. Special packing lists are available on the Internet and you can always modify these to match your own personal needs. Pack any medications which you take regularly along with spares and the leaflets with the international names of the medications. Your pharmacy or general practitioner can advise you with regard to your specific destination. Remember to choose the right clothing and shoes for the season, climate and your needs. Last of all, consider where you plan to sleep: would you like an extra tent or an awning? Perhaps a hammock? A sleeping bag? Or bedding with quilts, pillows and sheets? Let our packing list inspire you to find the perfect solution.
Preparing your leisure equipment is probably the most fun part. Games, music and books, badminton rackets and frisbees, cameras and guitars, swimming clothing, sunbathing equipment, a surfboard, binoculars and writing equipment – and whatever else you like to do in your free time. Once everything is prepared, planned and packed then you are ready to go at last – we wish you all the best with your van camping vacation!
Photos: La Strada & Christian Adam