Aside from the actual van build itself and the materials needed to make a van functional, a home on wheels is still a home.
It is still a place to relax, to sit down and binge Netflix, cozy up on a rainy day, and do the things we all do in our homes. It is the extra accessories, the decorations, the “fun stuff”, that really pulls a van build together at the very end. Whether an item is strictly for entertainment, or truly a functional item used for daily tasks, it is important to remember these extra, miscellaneous items that make a house a home.
Written by Katie Larsen, in collaboration with Vanessa and Adam Hickey, Mary Ashley Krogh, Owen Chikazawa, and Brittany and Drew Neumann. Sponsored by 76®. Don’t forget to check out their First 30 Day series, all about diving into vanlife and life on the road!
A Good Set of Camping Chairs + Table
Some builds have super functional dining areas, workspaces, and extra table space for general entertainment. However, many smaller vans and builds lack such an area. A theme throughout vanlife is that people are choosing to live this lifestyle because they want to spend as much time outside as possible. So instead of choosing to have a “dining room” or work area inside a van, it is common to find that people rely on outdoor setups. Having a good set of camping chairs with a solid table is an absolute must. It allows you to cook, play games, fold laundry, or do pretty much anything, outside.
“We opted for a camp table, chairs for four, and some good ol’ fashioned card games. We’ve found that we really love to entertain, but we have so little that being able to offer someone a comfortable chair is really important to us.” – MAK and Owen
A Way to Watch Movies + a Bluetooth Speaker
Whether you use a laptop, iPad, or an actual TV, this is a wonderful form of entertainment through bad weather or cold nights. While most of us prefer to enjoy a lit-up sky of stars and a campfire, some nights are tamer than that. You also can’t run away from bad weather year-round so having forms of entertainment in your van, such as a way to watch movies or television, will likely come in handy.
“You may have more time freedom than you once had so pick up a hobby that you’ve always wanted to try. Paint more, draw more, read more, hike more. Do more yoga. Whatever it is that makes you happy, van life allows you to do more of it.” –Vanessa and Adam
Books, Kindle, or Audio Books
Consider designating a certain area of your van for reading materials. This could be a shelf, a drawer, or even on your counter with some sort of stationary bookends. If you’re a reader, this is something you will definitely want to prioritize in your build. Pick five of your favorite books, or books you want to read, and house them in this area. There will be many opportunities for you to swap books with other travelers or donate your currently owned books and purchase others. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy reading, there are still reading materials that you may want in your van, such as a cookbook, atlas, trail guides, etc. Remember to make room for these so you don’t find yourself shoving your atlas underneath your bed mattress with no place else to store it.
If you aren’t attached to the action of holding a physical book in your hand while reading, consider purchasing a Kindle. While you can purchase e-books and download them directly to your Kindle, you can also save money by getting a library card and connecting your account to your Kindle device. This allows you to search for any e-books in the entire online system, place holds on such files, and download them directly to your reading device when they become available. Even better? The files are automatically removed when your e-book loan expires, avoiding any late fees. While you can pay for audio books online, consider checking them out from your library for free as well! These are sure to make the long drives fly by.
Polaroid Camera + Film
Anytime you first walk into a van, you can often tell if somebody has been living in it for a week, a month, or a year. Vans usually start off beautifully organized, neatly kept, and extremely clean. But as time goes on, you may find yourself collecting small tokens or trinkets that hold special memories from your road travels. One great way to document your adventures and also spice up your van decor is polaroids. Photos that print instantly allow you to capture a moment and immediately add it to your van’s personality. Plus, it’s a great way to remember all the friends and faces you will surely meet along the way.
Games, Games, and More Games!
Something that you will likely find in every van you enter is an abundance of games. Whether they are two-player games or more, games are a great way to connect with others in such a tiny space. Most games are small or come in a travel size, allowing for optimal fun yet requiring minimal storage space.
Our must-have games for vanlife:
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is to have fun.
Life on the road is filled with decisions, the unknown, and sometimes chaos. But always remember why you are out there traveling in your rig. Remember to have fun, find entertainment, and enjoy the simple parts of the adventure. It will help you end each day with a smile on your face.