But wait… How do you shower? The top 10 essentials for van life:


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We’ve lived in our van for 10 months now, and in that time we have discovered some things that help make our lives easier. To give you some perspective we live in a 1978 VW Westfalia– which means we are limited on space. Here’s the list in no particular order of importance:

  1. Pendelton Wool Blanket: Not only does it provide cuddly warmth, but it adds just the right amount of color pop to make our bus feel more homey.
  2. MSR Pocket Rocket Stove: We use our little stove multiple times a day, every day.  The Pocket Rocket is compact, easy to use, and can boil water in two minutes flat. Also, it retails for $40, and even when we are backpacking we chose this stove over the four other backcountry stoves we own.
  3. Sea to Summit Trash Bag: Basically a dry bag with a roll top that you line with disposable bag. The tough material contains the garbage so it doesn’t spill or smell, and it only needs to be tossed every week or so.
  4. Bob the Stuffed Hippo: You may laugh at this one, but something to think about when you are moving into your bus (car, van, etc.)  is making your living space feel more like home and less like an extended camping trip. For me it was bringing along a little stuffed hippo.
  5. One Pot to Rule Them All: We have one medium sized pot with a pouring strainer on the lid– its all we need to cook most things. I’ve sauteed vegetables, boiled noodles, and cooked the sauce all in the same pot with a bit of creativity (and over the Pocket Rocket stove!)
  6. Sea to Summit Collapsable Bowls: Space for us is the biggest issue, so this accordion style dinnerware helps us keep things compact and organized.
  7. Gym Membership: This answers the most frequent question we are asked when we tell people we live in a van, “where do you shower?” It’s that easy folks, buy a gym pass. We hang around Utah most of the time so we frequent the showers at the climbing gyms we work at, but our traveling friends buy passes to places like 24 Hour Fitness so they have access to showers (and workouts) across the country.
  8. Camp Stools: Small, compact, portable– essential when your living room is a desert floor.
  9. Shag Carpet: We found a shag carpet rug at Ikea for $10 and bought it on a whim, but we found that it gives our living space a more cozy feel. (If you haven’t noticed there’s been kind of a theme here: making the bus more homey and comfortable is important.)
  10. Bookshelf: We love to read, and we love collecting guide books. Having a shelf full of options has been one of our favorite additions to the bus.

There you have it, our top ten list of essential for van life. As time passes and we build our new van perhaps our list will change… we will let you know if it does!

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5 thoughts on “But wait… How do you shower? The top 10 essentials for van life:

    1. We just used scraps of wood leftover from the cabinet build (we built our own cabinets and tore out the original westfalia kit.) We screwed it into the top panel that makes the upstairs bed as well as the closet cupboard that sits above the lower bed. It worked nicely although it was in the way of any passenger sitting on the bench. The belt was one of our favorite features for securing the books while we were driving.

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