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The essential packing list for campervan and motorhome hire
Updated February 2019
BY KERRI McCONNEL
This essential packing list for campervan hire contains lots of little things that you may not normally think about, but make your life a whole lot easier when on the road. Whilst we think we have a very comprehensive list, each time we go on a motorhome road trip, we usually find some extras to add to this list.
I’m going to assume that everyone knows how to pack their clothes for their destination. This is simply a “useful extras guide” for what to pack for your motorhome holiday.
A great feature of hiring a campervan for your holiday is that most of the things that you will need during your trip have already been included by the hiring company. But, hiring companies are not all built the same, so it’s best to check before you arrive to ensure the basics are provided, and most importantly, included in your total cost.
We keep adding to this list every time we travel in a motorhome or campervan. Even with all of these things on board, I keep finding more ways to make life easier when on the road.
These include such things as:
- Kitchen equipment including pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, glassware, sharp knives and scissors, colander
- Road safety equipment – warning triangles, hi-visibility vests, jacks etc
- Maps/GPS – if you have included this in your hire
- External campervan equipment – Water hose, electrical cable, adaptor for hooking up to mains electricity and levelling blocks
- Gas bottles
- Cleaning equipment – dustpan brush, broom in some cases
Here are a few other items that are highly useful and should make any campervan equipment list. I know we couldn’t do without them.
If you are travelling with your own motorhome then you will have this problem well and truly sorted. Motorhome owners have padded the silver insulation for the inside, keeping them cool and warm when needed. They are also great for privacy at night. On the outside, they will have another silver lining that also helps with insulation and the dreaded windscreen condensation.
When you hire a motorhome or campervan, however, it is unlikely that these will be included. It would be great if they were, but it’s just not often the case.
Each morning, especially in winter, where it is cold outside and warm inside, the windscreen is usually dripping with condensation. Years ago we used to use paper towel, but we would go through so much. The other alternative was using a towel but these just get wet and are a pain to dry if you are travelling all day. Now, we use a chamois and it’s so simple. It’s easily transportable, doesn’t weigh much and is more economical than buying paper towel.
I am now a packing cubes convert. Having used them in suitcases before, I took them with me on our latest motorhome trip. What a breeze it made unpacking and keeping things organised in the motorhome. I simply kept the cubes up in the storage space above our bed, making them easy to access each time we needed them. I would highly recommend them for long motorhome trips as it would be seriously annoying to have to keep diving around bags and suitcases every day.
Plastic bottle stoppers
Faced with such a wonderful range of whites, reds and champagnes/sparkling in Europe, we’ve always got a bottle or two open. And, because most European wines have not succumbed to the screw top lid ( I can hear the French especially gasping at the thought of this!), taking our own stoppers always comes in handy. One thing we have also noticed too, is that the French champagne bottles sometimes won’t take the smaller plastic stoppers. We also carry a cchampagne stopper with us too.
Note: most campervans come with a corkscrew these days, but it might still pay to check with your hire company first.
Re-usable shopping bags
Because we eat a lot of our meals in the motorhome, we are constantly at supermarkets and local markets stocking up on goodies. In Europe, plastic bags are not provided free of charge. Culturally, Europe is a long way ahead in terms of the use of reusable shopping bags. There is also a growing movement towards not using plastic bags for environmental reasons. We prefer to take our own bags as we can fit more in them (the wine and beer are usually heavy too!).
They are incredibly useful for our first big shop where we stock up the motorhome. We keep several in the motorhome and I also have folding bags that I carry with me for when we go to the markets. We never know when we are going to need them.
Anti-bacterial sanitiser and wet wipes
Whilst these might be a normal inclusion for general travel, they are a great item to have readily accessible in the campervan. I usually keep some sanitiser and wipes in the bathroom and also at the front of the cabin, as there’s always a need to touch stuff that might be a bit yucky. (emptying the chemical toilet, using the water hoses, using public facilities etc)
A first aid kit is always helpful when you are travelling on the road.
Ear plugs and eye masks
We always try to stay in reasonably quiet locations but it’s not always possible. Memories of being parked out the front of a bar in Cannes are still vivid, as is the night we spent in Liesel in The Netherlands with scooters zipping around us all night.
Tip: If noise is an issue, try stopping at a France Passion site. They are usually on farms or in really quiet locations, ensuring you have a great sleep.
Light is never an issue for us in a France Motorhome vehicle as the windows have blinds and curtains, and the bedroom area is separated off from the main cabin with a curtain also. However, if you are a light sleeper or in someone else’s motorhome, it might be a good idea to also pack an eye mask.
Short, lightweight bathrobe
I highly recommend this item if you are going to be spending a lot of time in public campgrounds. It’s not something I would normally consider packing, but when you are in a campervan, it makes a lot of sense. Getting changed in public bathrooms can be a little tricky at times. Sometimes there is limited hanging space for your clothes/toiletries.
On some occasions, the facilities can be less than ideal. Getting undressed in your campervan and using a bathrobe means less hassle. I can’t recall the number of times my clothes have fallen onto a wet floor, or where the shower cubicle is so small, every part of it is wringing wet.
Hanging toiletry bag
For the same reason as above, it’s better to have something that hangs off a hook. We take bags just large enough to fit in the basics (soap, shampoo/conditioner, razor) for this purpose. The rest of your toiletries remain in the bathroom onboard.
Microfibre travel towels
If you are hiring a motorhome that doesn’t include towels I highly recommend these microfibre towels. They are also useful then for taking to the beach or public pools, without the bulk of having to carry large towels.
Universal travel adaptor
My biggest tip is to take more than one! Sometimes electricity is not readily available, so having a number of these means we can charge multiple items at once, taking advantage of the available electricity. We are huge converts to universal travel adaptorsand simply won’t leave home without one, regardless of where we travel to. Ours have a main power plug, four USB connectors and a USB-C connector (which I use for my Macbook). This means I could charge my camera battery, Macbook, our two iPhones and iPads all at once.
In a hired campervan there is often only one power outlet, so a power board is also helpful for charging multiple items at once. Most people these days travel with a lot of power hungry equipment. Unless you are planning on being in an official campground every night, it could be days before you get access to electricity.
Sometimes you can only access electricity through service areas for a short period of time. A power board allows you to charge up everything you have in a short time frame.
Chargers and extra USB cables
The more the merrier! USB connections on board are useful when driving.
When we are connected to mains power, sometimes the power board is full. In this instance, I use the USB cables to connect my iPad and iPhone. That way everything is charging and everyone is happy 🙂 Getting power when travelling becomes quite an obsession!
TIP 1: I keep all of the cables and chargers in a cable organiser. This way I always know where I can find a cable when I need it. It also helps keep the cabin free of clutter and safety hazards.
TIP 2: Make sure your charger has enough watts/amps to charge tablets. Many chargers only have enough ampage to charge phones.
If you are planning on staying off the grid quite a bit and have a lot of equipment (especially laptops), consider taking an inverter with you. We use one of these all the time (converts 12V to 240V). The one below is for the American market, converting to 110V. I couldn’t do without our inverter.
If you don’t want to disturb your fellow passengers in the night, consider taking a small travel torch with you. It’s also handy if you need to go outside your motorhome at night.
Travel laundry liquid
Sure, you can buy laundry products wherever you travel but we love this product and have travelled with it for years. It’s compact so it doesn’t take up much room in the vehicle but it’s real power is that it is super-concentrated. We’ve been travelling with the same bottle for years (and I’m a constant washer!)
We also use shampoo bars now too, as a way of cutting down on our luggage and having less on board when we are in smaller vehicles. They are great space savers.
Our days are usually busy and tiring, so at night time, we look to kick back with a nice meal, a few glasses of wine and some tv to watch. But, in the campervans we hire, we don’t have a tv. In any case, if it did, it would be difficult to find English speaking channels. This is where our iPads and laptops prove their ultimate value.
Before I travel, I load up these devices and hard drives. I also download e-books and e-magazines. This is one of the reasons I love technology. We get access to so much and it doesn’t take up any room. I can even borrow library books online from my local library provided I have wifi access.
Super glue – tape – scissors – bubble wrap
When you’re on the road, items like these always come in handy. I’ve had soles come loose on my favourite pair of shoes, where super glue has come to the rescue. We’ve needed scissors to open packaging where a knife hasn’t been able to. [Note – some hiring companies do include scissors], and sticky tape….well it’s a fix all for so many issues.
The bubble wrap might appear a bit strange, and maybe we are just a little weird, so this mightn’t really be necessary for most people. But, think about what you are planning on buying overseas and whether it will need protection.
We buy a lot of food when we travel and much of it comes in bottles. Finding bubble wrap can be really difficult. We’ve walked the streets of Paris looking for it, and stopped at nearly every supermarket, house shop and hardware store looking for it, to no avail. Now, we take it with us. It’s light and serves as general protection inside our luggage anyway.
We get a bit spoilt with our campervan hire company, who now provide a clothesline and pegs. Even so, we’ve become accustomed to taking our pegless line with us. It’s great for using inside to hang up tea towels, and other lightweight items of clothing.
Plastic containers, bags and clips
Whether you buy these on your first shop or take them with you, they are a handy item to have on board. Because we buy a lot of food along the way from local markets and shops, we’ve always got a fridge full of goodies. The containers come in handy for leftovers and storing food and the plastic bags are great for keeping things fresh.
We are ultra security conscious. We know that if someone really wants to get into your campervan or motorhome then they will, but we go to additional lengths to try and keep our belongings safe, especially because we travel with lots of equipment. Our view is that in the event of an issue, if we can prove to our insurance company that we went over and above to protect our stuff, then we stand a better chance of having any potential claims supported.
Recently we have started using bicycle locks to lock all of our suitcases and bags together in the campervan, whilst we are not in it. It only takes a moment to link them all together (preferably to something in the vehicle). If someone was to break in, they would need to first get past this lock, then the luggage locks before they could even attempt to steal anything. Stealing a whole bag is also not an easy task given they are all tied together.
Everything on this motorhome packing list is easy to take with you
This campervan packing list covers many small and often easy to miss items that can make your trip much smoother. Your trip won’t be ruined if you don’t have them, but it’s sometimes the little things that count. We always make sure we have these packed with us for any campervan trip.
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Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.