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The essential packing list for motorhome and campervan hire

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This essential packing list for campervan hire contains lots of items that you may not normally think about but will make your life a whole lot easier when on the road in a hired campervan or motorhome.  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 it. These packing tips make packing a camper super easy.

I’m going to assume that everyone knows how to pack their clothes for their destination.  It is also necessary to point out that this is not a packing list for people who own their own campervan or motorhome.  Of course,  you could still use this list if you were kitting out your vehicle for the first time as an owner.  Or we’ve got a great motorhome and packing list here for those of you lucky enough to own a motorhome yourself.

As an owner, however, you would need to include a whole lot more to get your road trip underway. eg crockery, cutlery, pots and pans and bedding. There’s also no end to the number of options you can add to a motorhome when it is your own. This is simply a “useful extras guide” for what to pack for your motorhome holiday, that will make your life a whole lot easier.

This is the most unique packing list for campervan hire to be found on the internet

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.

Tip: If you’ve never hired a motorhome in Europe before, we recommend that you read our comprehensive article here >> The ultimate guide to campervan hire in Europe: the questions you must ask before you make the hiring decision

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.

Motorhome essentials

  • 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 and connector, electrical cable, adaptor for hooking up to mains electricity and levelling blocks
  • Gas bottles
  • Cleaning equipment – dustpan brush, broom in some cases, cleaning wipes, disposable gloves for handling portable toilet cassette.
  • Bedding – if you are hiring you need bedding included in your hire or bring it yourself
  • In the summertime, outdoor chairs and tables are a must
  • Bicycles are also a great idea and provide enormous flexibility

Following are more items that are highly useful and should make any campervan equipment list.  I know we couldn’t do without them.

Note: this is a list for travellers who are a long way from home and don’t have the luggage space or travel capacity to bring huge amounts of equipment all the way to Europe with them.

Not hiring a motorhome? Click here to see our comprehensive motorhome equipment list for those who are fitting out a new motorhome

Basic packing list for motorhome hire

Chamois 

If you are travelling with your own motorhome then you will have this problem well and truly sorted.  Many motorhome owners have padded silver insulation for the inside, or other custom-built insulation barriers, 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.  

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 kitchen 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.

Packing cubes 

We are packing cubes converts.  Having used them in suitcases before, we took them with me on our last motorhome trip and use them all the time in our campervan in Australia too.  What a breeze it made unpacking and keeping things organised in the motorhome. We simply kept the cubes up in the storage space above our bed, making them easy to access each time we needed them.   We 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, in our opinion.

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 bottle 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 champagne 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 reusable 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

We’ve been travelling with these for many years but in the current global environment, they are now a common if not essential travel item. We usually keep some disinfectant wipes and sanitiser 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)

First aid kit

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.  Earplugs would have been a welcome addition on those occasions.

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 aneye mask.

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.  You can read our article on motorhome stopovers in France.

Short, lightweight bathrobe

We highly recommend this item if you are going to be spending a lot of time in public campgrounds.  It’s not something we 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 a waterproof hanging toiletry bag 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

Our 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 adaptors and 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 mycamera battery ,Macbook, our twoiPhones and iPads all at once.

Powerstrip

In a hired campervan there is often only one power outlet, so a power board/power strip 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 onboard 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 πŸ™‚  Getting power when travelling becomes quite an obsession!

TIP 1We keep all of the cables and chargers in a cable organiser.  This way we always know where we can find a cable when we 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 amperage 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 inverterwith 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.

Torch

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 its real power is that it is super-concentrated.  We’ve been travelling with the same bottle of travel laundry liquidfor years (and I’m a constant washer!)

Shampoo bars

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.

Entertainment

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 television.  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.

We also have our noise cancelling headphones and bud earphones, meaning my husband and I can watch different content whenever we want.

Stationery

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.   and sticky tape.

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.

Check out our favourite food and cookware stores in Paris.

Clothesline

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.  Silicone food covers are also another good idea and can save having the plastic containers too.

Lock

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.

Read our article on how to keep you and your motorhome safe when travelling.

You might also find our article on some of the best security travel products.

Summary

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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49 thoughts on “The essential packing list for motorhome and campervan hire”

  1. Hi Vai, thanks so much for stopping by. Whilst some of these are expressly European, you are right in thinking there are so many applications in other countries too. Enjoy your trip. Our very first motorhome trip was also in NZ. I am quite sure you will love it.

  2. Awesome tips, thank you. Excited to go on our very first campervan trip here in NZ next weekend, although it’s only for a week, but am researching things to pack already lol Great insight into things we may not have thought of. Cheers

  3. I am inspired by your top tips, it has been my mother’s dream and finally, at 72 my Mom and brother set off and we will meet up them on the weekend. Not sure who is more excited but they love it and the photo of their first meal they look super happy. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to learning all these to know about travelling in a motorhome.

  4. Yvonne de clouetv

    We are thinking of travelling through Europe for a few months we have 3 yr old and two dogs
    Never Dione it before so we really need to plan and get as much info and help we can

  5. Hi Stuart, hope you had an amazing time. Thanks so much for taking the time to write up all of these as tips. They’ve given me some food for thought. Certainly as an Aussie, I couldn’t imagine taking tarps and poles with me but I guess buying them in those big supermarkets or a Decathlon once over there would be easy enough. We find the chamois cleans our windows really well but having said that we’ve always got those cleaners on board as well. The Euro 2 pin adaptor….not sure if this is different to what I’ve already mentioned. We use a Euro powerboard with three Euro plug spots plus we also have a couple of Euro adapters for taking our Australian pins directly into a socket. Is this what you mean? The bike rack warning sign is interesting. As you can see from the photo you have mentioned, this is a French registered and domiciled vehicle and this photo is definitely taken in France. We’ve driven all over France before without this warning and I would imagine that the rental company would have supplied this if it were indeed law. Shall check further into this. I agree that covers would be a good idea if you owned the bikes. We didn’t worry as these were rentals and they were “as provided” in terms of wear and tear. Never thought of the HDMI cable as we’ve never hired a vehicle with a tv, never needed to. We just use our devices and laptops. Good idea though. AGree with the door mat. Our motorhomes from France Motorhome Hire always come with a door mat and I couldn’t do without one. Again, the anti slip matting is a great idea. Our hirer has all of this in their cupboards but the rattling would annoy me so it’s a great extra.Thanks so much again for these, shall add them in as my “special audience list” πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for these tips. We got back from our first motorhome trip last week and used most of these. I also took some antislip mat and some silicon placemats (the thin heat resistant types). I stuffed bits of tehse between all crockery, pans etc. Also between grille pan rack and grille pan. It cut a lot of noise in our rented motorhome.

    Also put some non-slip mat on the cab shelf and cubbies so that we could safely store, ipads, sunglass cases, book or two etc whilst driving.

    I’d also add:

    – a decent glass cleaner to keep windows and mirrors clear (applies to cars also, but mirrors so important on a motorhome).
    – Euro 2 pin hookup adaptor (only used once but invaluable when needed and cheap)
    – bike rack warning sign if travelling in countries which require it by law (and possibly a cover) – the picture at the top of the article would be illegal on public road in France etc.
    – ipad to HDMI adaptor and HDMI lead if you want to watch downloaded content on the TV
    – our motorhome was not equipped with an awning so we took a cheap tarp and poles to create some shade.

    We didn’t take, but would next time, a door mat of some sort.

  7. I have actually never been camping in a camper-van before (not even with a proper tent). I would agree that the first air kit is essential, you never know what can happen and you should always be prepared. Never thought about bubble wrap before but that’s a great idea as I tend to bring a lot of food too back home.

  8. These are all great tips!! I understand the bubble wrap, don’t think you’re weird (or maybe I am too πŸ˜‰ ). I definitely find your tip about packing a bathrobe very useful! Not only do your clothes stay dry, it feels comfy too πŸ™‚ And getting power while traveling is definitely an obsession for me! My partner and I travel by hitchhiking and camping. Not often do we get the chance to charge our stuff! Often we go somewhere for a coffee but only in a place that has power plugs πŸ™‚ We drink a few coffees while our laptops, phone and camera is charging! I’ll pass this article on to a friend who loves to travel by campervan!

  9. Interesting post! I haven’t tried traveling with a campervan before, but I can imagine the essentials one need. I agree with everything, but instead of bring country-specific adaptors, I usually go with a general 150+ countries travel adapter. It costs more than 20 euros, but it works!

  10. Thank you for promoting the reusable bags. People have no idea how much plastic is a problem. The most I travel the more it hits me. Standing on a remote beach in the middle of nowhere Africa I found the beach littered with what looked like sea shells, but instead it was tiny pieces of plastic. It was a sobering experience, and sad.

  11. Samantha we travel reasonably regularly in a campervan. It’s a great way to relax even more without having to catch flights, pack/unpack, checkin/checkout etc. Great way to travel.

  12. I would’ve never thought about packing a bathrobe – but it makes total sense! For camping as well, and hostel traveling (if you use share bathrooms). So much better than lugging your clothes to the shower. When I bring back breakable items from a trip, I heavy duty wrap them in all of my clothes in my suitcase – bubblewrap sounds better though!

  13. I have never even been inside a campervan. How often do you take trips with the campervan? It sure seems more cost efficient than having to book hotel rooms and flights.

  14. Thanks for the tips! I’ve never been in a campervan before, but now I’ll know what to bring! Never thought of bubblewrap though…

  15. That is really a comprehensive packing list, can’t see anything that’s left out. The reusable plastic bags are a great suggestion, so that one can leave the place as it is and help in sustaining the environment of the place.

  16. Hi Christina. The last trip was 42 days. Generally we go for 5-6 weeks as it makes all the effort worth it, and we find we really unwind. Always seems like we are gone much longer than we actually have too which is a good sign. From a technical perspective there’s not much difference. But, the sizze of the country/cities and therefore the roads, size of towns etc is very different. Far more space of course in Australia – not a lot of tight cities that you couldn’t drive into. Even the big cities you can take a motorhome in Australia. I find Europe is much more open to motorhomes though and it’s far easier and more accessible to free camp in Europe than in Australia.

  17. You have a great detailed list right here. It is my dream to try a campervan and I will definitely try your suggestions and tips! Thanks!

  18. I’ve never travelled in a campervan before – but some of your essentials are totally useful what ever form of travel you take! I especially like the glass of wine that is your working equipment πŸ˜‰ when in France hey!

  19. Some good tips. Everything but the kitchen sink! It is a good job you have plenty of room, but that is the joy of a camper van I should think. Chuck everything in and off you go!

  20. You’re so organised Kerri. Some great tips here. You’re quite an expert on campervan travel! How long was your Europe trip? Is there a big difference between travelling around Europe and travelling around Australia in a campervan?

  21. It’s always good to have some helpful reminders as I always forget ONE important thing. For us, it’s pepper and salt or some other condiments that we’re like, UGH we don’t want to buy a whole new bottle, we just want a little on the meat we’re grilling or something. Why did we forget it?! The stoppers are always a goood idea too. We just shoot to finish the drink hahaha

  22. This is a great list and enjoyed reading it. For some reason, I’m really into reading packing lists lately. I think it’s a wonderful adventure to use a camper and go wherever you please. I also liked the tip about the bathrobe. I bought one in Thailand and it has been my best purchase yet!

  23. Helpful tips for when traveling in a campervan. I def bring along some of those items you mentioned on my own travels.

  24. with this super complete list we are all ready to go! next time you come to Paris (or France) you will find tons of bubble wrap in “Castorama” shops πŸ˜‰

  25. i have never hired an RV before but its high on my list. A road trip in Costa rica/Australian outdoors is just what the doctor prescribed πŸ™‚ So, I am keeping this list handy for when I do plan one – some points are so important (powerboard, adaptor, first aid) yet often overlooked.

  26. Great tips! I wouldn’t have thought about some of these before. I specifically like the light bathrobe one. It makes so much sense but I can’t say that I have ever though of it before!

  27. Forwarding this article to a friend of mine! They’ve recently renovated a bus and they are on their way to do a big roadtrip! Traveling via RV is definitely high up on our list- would love to do this! Great tips!

  28. Thanks for all the tips. I’ve only done one RV trip and yes we forgot to bring quite a few things but made the best of it. If the scenery is good I don’t get too bored

  29. These are all fantastic ideas. The powerboard is a great one, this would have come in handy on the road trips I did in Australia.

    Entertainment is always essential in a campervan, it can soon get boring. Amazing what even a pack of cards can do!

    Thanks for these tips, I will be using some of these the next time I hop in a campervan for a road trip!

  30. Mimi (eBaulaTravel.com)

    While we have backpackers here, it’s great knowing the camping style from the different parts of the world. Nice checklist for campers!

  31. Great tips. It’s the little things that we always seem to forget. We have been packing a clothesline for years, but just this year I started remembering clothespins to go with the line. And I can think of a million uses for superglue. I’m going to start adding that to my packing list!

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