Essentials for a Road Trip Europe
Spending three weeks on a Road trip Europe was a big learning curve for us. We prepared as best we could for the practical side of vanlife. We did this by making lists of what we thought would be the essentials for a European road trip. This was refined as we travelled and Rebecca kept notes, ensuring that we kept track of the items we actually used.
This is our list of the most useful bits and pieces that aren’t included with a hired van but are essential to life on the road. Some of them need to be bought in the UK, so check the list and stock up before you go.
List of Essentials
- Aqua Kem sachets or fluid for the chemical toilet – these can be hard to find in Europe, so stock up when you see them.
- ¾” to ½” universal hose adapter – ours is by Karcher and has proven invaluable to create tighter seals when connecting our fresh water hose to the tap and to tame the flow enough to fill water bottles directly from the tap. We got it on Amazon before we left the UK.
- 2-pin adapter for electrical hook-up – some sites (such as our campsite in Luxembourg) still use 2-pin mains hook-ups, so you’ll need this adapter if you want to plug into the campsite’s electricity. They’re under £10 on Amazon in the UK, or sometimes you can hire them from the campsite. We work on the road and rely on electrical hook-ups to charge our tech, so we would rather have our own adapter.
- Non-slip matting – cheap as chips from Poundland. Cut it up and slip it between plates, bowls and line your cutlery drawer to minimise rattling as you drive.
- 2 old towels for the floor – essential to wipe up rainwater and spills, and we use our second one folded in the door well as a mat to wipe our feet.
- Bag clips for food – everything moves about in the cupboards in a motorhome, so needs to be tightly sealed in case it falls over and spills, possibly onto you when you open the cupboard at your next stop!
- Foldaway storage bins – grab a couple of these to put into cupboards to increase storage space. We have one each for our chargers and cables and they create organisation out of chaos in our tech cupboard.
- Reusable shopping bags – we threw a couple of these in at the last minute and they have been lifesavers. European countries are very committed to reducing plastic bags in shops. We found cheap bags very hard to come by or very expensive (we reuse them as bin bags).
- Vegetable bag – we found that putting our root veg in a canvas bag (from Poundland) kept it in much better condition than keeping it in the fridge.
- Washing line & pegs – campsites will charge for the use of their tumble dryers and a length of washing line and a dozen pegs takes up no space in the van at all.
- Daypack or rucksack – once we parked up at a campsite we didn’t move the motorhome again until we left, so when we went out for the day we were travelling on foot. A 20L rucksack was useful to carry our food, water, cameras and other essential kit with us when we were out and about. Pack it flat in your suitcase to use when you arrive, or fill it to the brim and use it as your carry-on luggage.
Other items to consider
We also packed a few other items which, while not essential, helped make our road trip more comfortable. So, if you’re wondering what to do with all that extra space in your suitcase, you might want to consider some of these.
- Old clothes – a change of old clothes in case the van breaks down and you have to rummage underneath it.
- Work gloves – for changing the toilet cassette, handling grimy vehicle parts etc.
- Marigolds – waterproof versions of the above for mucky tasks inside the van.
- Folding coat hangers – our motorhome came with a wardrobe but no hangers. Folding ones (from Poundland again) take up little space and make the wardrobe usable.
- Microfibre cloth – handy to clean the windscreen, as water runs off the roof and leaves marks right in the middle of the driver’s line of sight.
- Picnic blanket – we really wish that we had packed one of these. We had no awning or outdoor furniture in our hire van. We really missed being able to sit outside when it was too hot inside the van. (You can sometimes ask to have an outdoors furniture kit added to your hire for a fee.)
- First aid kit – our motorhome came with a first aid kit, but it cost £10 to open it so I also packed a small kit of our own with Savlon and plasters.
- Torches/emergency lights – for late night trips to the campsite toilets and power outages. We have a couple of Ledlenser torches that provide fantastic light.
- Food thermometer – since this was going to be our first time cooking in the motorhome’s oven, I wanted to make sure that any meat we cooked would be safe. A digital read-out food thermometer cost £8 for a pack of 2 from Amazon.
These were the items that we found to be essential for our European road trip planning and many of them will become standard items on our packing list for future road trips around the UK and beyond too. What will you take? Comment below and we might add them to our next list.
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