One of the joys of a having a van is the ability to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. It’s why I recommend a van to everyone – whether they intend to go full time, part-time, or only use it as an adventure wagon. Obviously, you need to put stuff in it. Aside from the big-ticket issues (here’s my Gear List), below are my Top 5 inexpensive things that all vanlifers, car campers, and RVers should consider. For me, they’ve made all the difference.
Mini Shopping List for Roadtrips, Day Hikes, and Life on the Road
Dry Bag (Link)
I love my phone. I don’t want to destroy it. I love my camera. I don’t want to destroy that either. Nothing is more miserable than being caught in an unexpected rain and wondering if your camera or phone will survive the run back to your van. Enter a dry bag. This is a water repellant bag to drop all of your sensitive items in and prevent a costly disaster. Pictured here is the smaller one that lives in my purse.
This has saved my beloved cell phone more times than I can count. Speaking of counting, I’ve thrown my wallet in there while running off a tour bus during a deluge. Let’s be real – wet, sticking-together cash is annoying. These are so awesome that I keep one in my purse, one in the van, and a huge one in my backpack at all times.
Use a Tick Remover Tool aka Tick Key (Link)
Bless the freaking geniuses behind this. Once you’ve gone through the hell of tweezering out a tick only to find you’ve left the head behind, you’ll never, ever go back to the old-fashioned way of removing a tick.
How does this work? You put the tick in the large end of the hole and pull down. The whole tick pops out. This is really great for pets as well. Once you’ve removed the tick (and burned it until it explodes with a satisfying pop), swipe the spot you removed the tick from with alcohol, drop the tick remover tool in a cup of alcohol and go on with your tick-free life.
Cell phone camera lens kit (Link)
The best camera is the one you have, right? Clip these camera lenses to your phone to expand your phone’s ability. I store them in eyeglass cases and toss them in my purse. The standard kit contains a macro lens (for close up photography – a cupcake, a flower, etc), a fish-eye lens, a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens (to bring things at a distance hat much closer).
The two pictures below were taken from the same spot (my passenger seat). The first image uses my phone’s camera as it is. The second image was taken with the fish-eye lens.
Foot Exercise Ball aka Foot Massage Ball (Link)
I’ve had plantar fasciitis flare-ups for the last few years. The pain can sometimes be unbearable. But like a wrecked meniscus, you can feel an episode about to come up. That’s where this exercise ball comes in. I mean, I was told to use this every day…I don’t. Not even close. But I DO use this each night after a long hike or if I feel that weird twinge in my heel.
To use it: I roll my foot on top of the ball for about five or ten minutes. No shame in putting some pressure on it. Dig in there. I’ve also found that this works well on sore ankles when paired with some Badger Balm.
Makeup / Sunscreen Remover Wipes
‘Cause sometimes I’m way too tired to wash my nasty face. I’m not tied to any particular brand with these. I just grab them as I see them.
So that’s my list of five things to pack (or generally keep in any adventuring vehicle). Happy travels!