Taking the giant leap from house or apartment living to bus or van living can be a drastic change and you’ll find yourself downsizing. You’ll also start needing things you wouldn’t normally need living in a house or an apartment. I’ll go over 8 must have items for vanlife or buslife that makes life a little easier.
When starting vanlife or buslife you really don’t know what important items you’ll need until after your living that lifestyle for a while. As time goes on you’ll realize that small things such as bungies or baby wipes become a necessity for living the vanlife or buslife.
8 MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR VANLIFE OR BUSLIFE THAT WILL MAKE LIFE EASIER
Not all bus or vandwellers have the same list of important items they use on a daily basis. The items that I am going to inform you about are ones that I personally use on a regular basis.
1. Multiple Power Sources
Most all vanlifers and buslifers require power for specific items. Your cell phone is obviously one of the most important items to have charged. Aside from that some bus and vandwellers need laptops charged, camera equipment charged, power tool batteries charged, or even usb led lights charged. A lot of buslifers and vanlifers have solar installed and that provides power for everything but there will be days that are rainy, cloudy, or snowy and you may not have enough solar power to charge or power all your devices. This is when it becomes handy to have multiple power sources. The Jackery portable power station has become rather popular amongst digital nomads. I personally use a Renogy Phoenix 300 Portable Power Station and I love it. It can charge your cell phone up to 21 times, a laptop up to 4-5 times, and a GoPro up to 53 times.I use my Renogy power station on cloudy days or at night when I have limited solar power. I also have 2 smaller portable chargers that I use from time to time. I use my Anker PowerCore Portable Charger when I go out hiking or when I go out to capture video footage. Having this backup charger is great if I need to quickly charge my phone or camera batteries.Last but not least I have a portable car jump starter. I had this prior to buslife and it has come in handy a number of times. I’ve used it to jump start peoples vehicles, I use it to power USB LED lights in my bus, I use it to charge my phone, and I use it to charge my drone and camera batteries when I’m adventuring outside my bus.
2. Heat Source
Not all people who live in their vehicles are privileged with warm sunny weather year-round. Some of us have stationary jobs in areas that get cold weather and even snow. Heat plays an important role in survival when you’re living in your vehicle. I personally migrate to warmer weather throughout the year but I do occasionally require a heat source. One popular item is the Mr Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater. It’s an affordable option as long as you don’t need to use it on a daily basis otherwise propane costs will get expensive.
Another great option is using a portable wood stove. These can be great because the heat generated doesn’t release moisture into the air like a propane heater would. A portable mini wood stove will keep the inside of your vehicle warm and dry. These aren’t recommended for smaller vehicles though because they could be a fire hazard. A disadvantage is that you have to continuously replenish your wood supply.
The best option, in my opinion, is getting a Chinese Diesel Heater. These are affordable, small, and efficient. You’ll have to make some modifications to your vehicle during the installation process but after it’s all set up it doesn’t require much maintenance. All you need to do is ensure that it has fuel. They operate on diesel fuel and they generate a dry heat so you won’t have to worry about condensation on the inside of your vehicle. You will have to replenish the diesel fuel but it is cheaper than buying propane.
3. A Fan
Depending on where you live it can get pretty hot inside your vehicle. Some people have air conditioners they can use but it’s not practical to run that all the time. I know it can get over 100 degrees inside my bus in the summer so I have found that using a battery powered fan like the Milwaukee Jobsite Fan helps out tremendously. My fan can stay on all night on the low setting. I’ve owned my Milwaukee fan for 2 years now and it hasn’t ever let me down. I use it on a daily basis. I’ve heard of people using other brands like DEWALT and Ryobi but all my power tools are Milwaukee as well so my batteries are all interchangeable.
4. Solar Shower
Showering is one of the biggest luxuries that we vehicle dwellers miss. Many vanlifers and buslifers have gym memberships that allow them to use the shower facilities but what happens when you’re in a location where there are no gyms?
You could always bathe in a river or other body of water. If you want to spend the money you could buy a portable propane powered hot water shower or you could go the cheaper route and just get a Coleman Solar Shower which gets the job done. I use my solar shower on a daily basis to stay clean. I like how you can just fold it up and stash it away without it taking up much space. When I need to use it I just heat up some water on the stove, pour it in the solar shower, hang it up, and get to cleaning.
5. Bluetooth Speaker
If you are like me then music is a necessity in your vehicle. I’m a musician and someone who listens to music on a daily basis so I require a bluetooth speaker. If you’re not a person that requires loud music then you could get away with using something like the Altec Lansing Portable Bluetooth Speaker. If you are looking for something in the medium price range then you could go with something like the JBL Xtreme.
I’m the type of person that goes big or goes home when it comes to music so I have the JBL Boombox which packs a punch. It has a long lasting battery, its waterproof, and it is loud. You can also charge other devices with it.
6. Baby Wipes
I feel like baby wipes are a very popular item to have in your vehicle and should definitely be included in the 8 must have items for vanlife or buslife. They can be used for a number of things. I have been using baby wipes the entire 2 years that I’ve been living in my bus. I use them occasionally to clean my body when a shower isn’t available. I use them to wipe down dirty dishes and to clean messes with. They can be used as a toilet paper substitute. I usually buy the bulk supply of fragrance free baby wipes and they’ll last me a couple months.
7. Rechargeable LED Lights
Lighting is a must when your living in your vehicle. When the sun goes down you need light to see what you’re doing. Some bus and vandwellers have lights hooked up to their solar setup which is great but what if you don’t have a solar setup. I have solar on my bus but I still use rechargeable LED lights. They’re not only great to use inside your vehicle; they are great to use outside as well. I use them when I’m doing repairs on my bus or if I’m carrying items out to a bonfire. These little lights will last hours on a full charge. One of the great things about them is that they are rechargeable. I use them everyday and I couldn’t live without them.
Living life on the road means that there is always that chance that you could break down somewhere. You don’t necessarily need a whole garage full of tools but a nice set could go a long way. You never know when you might become stranded and sometimes just a simple screwdriver or a socket set can put you back on the road.
I always have a nice toolset with me like the Craftsman 230 Piece Tool Set. This is a nice set of tools that has socket wrenches, screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and tons of fittings. It has certainly helped me get out of difficult situations. I also have a Milwaukee cordless drill. A cordless drill speeds up repairs and can be used for a number of different repairs. A nice tool set and a cordless drill can prove to be very beneficial living the nomadic lifestyle.
ARE THESE 8 MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR VANLIFE OR BUSLIFE IN YOUR VEHICLE?
If you have been living the vanlife or buslife for a while now you probably already know what the best items to have are. These are just a few of my recommendations and what I use on a regular basis. All you nomads out there that are new to this lifestyle this may be of interest to you and you may find that these items can improve your quality of life on the road.
If you see any items that are missing from my list feel free to comment below and let me know what items you use on a regular basis.