16 dos and don’ts to travel by campervan on a road trip

Travel tips

Written by Ophelie
Updated 29th April 21
Will take 5mn to read

How to make your travels in camper van the perfect road trip? Follow me and my 16 tested tips! From the road, to you.

Camper van and road trip: Dos and Dont's!

Overview

  1. Why is a road trip in a van so cool? 
  2. Travel in campervan: 11 Dos
    1. Before starting the road trip
    2. When living in the campervan on the road
  3. What to avoid on a campervan road trip: 5 Don’ts

My extra tip: ]a list of 37 essentials I took with me in the campervan on road trips! Download the checklist for free. 

Campervan, road trip : why is it a cool combination ?

Honestly, a campervan road trip is one of the coolest travel experiences you can do. Traveling Australia, New Zealand or the US in a camper van is the best way to roam these vast countries.

Camper van trips equal freedom, adventure… and challenges! I still have no idea how travel influencers make it to take perfect photos of them when waking up after a night in the campervan. But truth is, I loved my travels in campervan across Australia!

Yes, you will lose your mind sometimes by living in a van. But you’ll feel a real road tripper, you’ll live crazy moments with your campervan mate, and you’ll experience travels in complete freedom. Sleep at the sound of the waves, wake up on the beach, drive wherever you feel.

Traveling in a campervan is also the perfect way to save money on your travel budget. Share fuel and food cists with a travel mate, and save your dollars by not having to book hotels. And sleeping in the campervan is way more comfortable than you imagine!

Solo-travel-blog-tips-and-Travel-photography
Frayser Island, Australia - the beach where we camped

How to enjoy traveling in your campervan on a road trip : 11 Dos !

Traveling in Australia, in my case, rimes with campervan road trips. Adventures on the road, sea and sun … You wake up every day on the beach with a cute surfer next to you. That’s what your friends think you are doing. And that’s true, for the best sides! But the reality of traveling in a campervan also hides some downsides.

11 Tips to living in a campervan on a road trip

  1. Compare deals
  2. Check the mechanic
  3. Equip the van
  4. Take the essential gear: water tanks, camping gear, battery and cables, emergency road safety kit, tires, chains, mini fridge
  5. Organize the inner space 
  6. Share daily tasks with your mate
  7. Find nice / equipped campgrounds
  8. Think intimacy: get curtains!
  9. Train your driving skills
  10. Pack your favourite songs
  11. Enjoy the freedom!

What you are really doing when it’s not a dream day in your road trip life: killing mosquitoes, trying to dry the clothes you forgot last rainy night on the camper vans’ roof, or looking for your underwear every morning in the camper van (that’s especially true when you’re traveling with a cute travel mate!).

So, how to make the most of your camper van trip? With simple tips to camper van life, you can avoid some stress of traveling in a campervan!

Before starting your campervan road trip : 4 tested tips

Compare deals

A lot of vans and backpacker cars are sold every day on Internet. Check Gumtree in Australia, TradeMe in New Zealand, and of course all the backpackers Facebook groups. A good tip to camper van deals is also to use comparator prices. They browse thousands of offers for you within seconds!

Check the camper van before going on a trip

If you buy or rent a vehicle: go to the mechanic to check the car  and do the paper work carefully – regio in Australia, insurances. For those who rent: take pictures of the camper van if you see any damage before leaving.

Equip the camper van to make it more comfortable

It can be a very cool thing to do for travelers who are handymen. And it can be a pain in the …. For those who can’t hold a hammer (I count myself into the second category). In Australia, I saw many travelers rebuild a camper van and make it a very cozy place. It’s even a way of making incomes, by rebuilding a campervan and selling it! You can equip the camper van according to your needs, or buy a functional one.

And add what you need, before going on the road trip. Most important things to live in a camper van are: have a bed with a comfortable mattress in the back, leave space for luggage and gear. No need to be fancy, just functional, comfortable and nice to stay in! Additional cool things: a solar shower, a mini camping generator, romantic lighting!

The links below are affiliate links, to redirect you directly to the products on Amazon.

Coleman Portable Butane Stove with Carrying Case – 30$. On a road trip by campervan, the camping stove is your best friend… to avoid starving in the pampa! Take a stove easy to carry and safe to use. This one is simple, and affordable. Having a spare stove is also recommended, just in case!

SimPure Gravity Water Filter Straw, Portable Water Purification Filtration System with 3L Gravity-Fed Bag, BPA Free Outdoor Survival Camping Gear Equipment for Camping Hiking Emergency Preparedness – 33$. One of my travel partners had a water purifier in the camper van and it was useful to us in Australia, in the bush. A nice-to-have, and even an essential item, according to where you go on a road trip. This one is BPA free, with a bag to store it.

Take the essentials for your camper van trip!

In Australia,  you’ll often drive miles without encountering any civilization! And you don’t want to have to chase kangaroos to survive, do you? Take the essentials for a road trip in your van: several water tanks, camping gear, and second battery for the camper, but also basic tools to repair the campervan.

14 Essentials to have in a campervan on a road trip

  1. Sustainable food (muesli, pasta, cans, porridge…)
  2. Camping stove + spare one
  3. Toilet paper
  4. Emergency road safety kit
  5. Jump starter cables + battery
  6. Extra fuel cans (5/20L)
  7. Music speakers
  8. Hand disinfectant
  9. Wipes (face + body)
  10. Water tanks
  11. Sunscreen
  12. Skin mineral water spray 
  13. First aid kit
  14. Mini mirror                             

The links below are affiliate links, to redirect you directly to the products on Amazon.

Eau Thermale Avene Thermal Spring Water, Soothing Calming Facial Mist Spray for Sensitive Skin, Fragrance-Free, Alcohol-Free, 10.1 oz. – 19$. My favorite skincare! On a road trip or not, I always have it with me. My skin is very sensible, and allergic to so many products.. but not to the Avene ones. To refresh your skin, or to clean up the face before sleeping and in the mornings. And it fits in every purse!
BAGSMART Electronic Organizer Small Travel Cable Organizer Bag for Hard Drives, Cables, Charger, Phone, USB, SD Card – 15$. A very cool invention. My USB sticks and phone cables used to wander on their small legs on my first road trips. And when you’ve got no charger in the middle of nowhere in new Zealand, it’s not that cool. I tried the travel organizer and it made my life a bit easier! Small, and affordable. No need to be top quality, just to do the job and keep electronics at one place.
Bagail 4 Set/6 Set Compression Packing Cubes Travel– 23$. I often lost my mind, trying to keeping the backpack organized or to finding clothes, socks, and shoes in the camper van every morning. Compression packing cubes are a good way to save space in the van and in your luggage. And to gain time, when getting dressed every morning!
Hanging Travel Toiletry Bag Cosmetic Make up Organizer for Women and Girls Waterproof (A-Flamingo)– 13$. A travel toiletry bag is definitely a must-to-have. Choose it pocket-format, waterproof… and cute! I like the design of this one, its price and the waterproof protection.

On the road: 7 advices to enjoy living in a campervan on a road trip

Be organized while traveling

The rule number one! You will be surprised how quick the campervan gets full… of various, sometimes useless, stuff. Clothes, food, camping gear, bottles, mechanic tools – the campervan is your home on the road. Try to put every item at the same place during the road trip. Thus, you won’t lose things and you‘ll feel more at ease in the van!

On the evenings, take your clothes and toiletry items for the next morning with you. It can be annoying to look for your stuff every morning in the bags or for your underwear in the camper van… once again, it’s all about organization!

Share tasks with your travel partner

If you share the camper van with a travel partner, share also the daily tasks! Who makes the bed ready, who makes dishes or tidies up after eating, who cooks… Keep up with this routine on the evenings when settling down at campsites and on the mornings when leaving the grounds with the camper van. 

You’ll see that you’ll save time to set up the camper van for sleeping and for hitting the road on the mornings. Everyone will feel useful and you will avoid stress with your travel mates!

Find nice campgrounds

The cool things about traveling in a camper van is that you don’t need to book hotels. And can overnight wherever you want. Or almost!

In Australia, road tripping in a campervan is particularly easy, thanks to a fair amount of well-equipped campgrounds, at awesome places. Your homework is just to check locations of nice campgrounds in advance! Usually, a day before will be enough. Except if you’re traveling Australia’s East coast and its touristic spots.

Think intimacy!

Put the curtains at night! It’s a detail but an important one… if the campervan is on the street and also for your comfort.

Get some driving skills

Driving a camper van or a big car is not that easy… you will understand it when you will experience the winding roads in Australia and New Zealand. Take it slow and give yourself time to get used to the camper van.

Pack beer, your favorite songs and multitasking talents

Drinking a beer around a handmade camp fire (for that, make sure you travel with some MacGyver travel partners) at the sound of electro music near a white sandy beach remains one of my best travel memories in Australia. Playlists will be very helpful when driving miles, and miles, and miles!

Enjoy the freedom of traveling in a campervan!

That’s the most important point while being on a campervan trip. The best part of the road trip is getting lost on the road, stumbling upon amazing wild campsites near the beach or in the forest, waking up with kangaroos and other fun animals around you.

What’s not cool to do on a camper van trip : 5 Don’ts ...

Leave windows and doors open too long

The thing you don’t say to your friends back home: the fight with mosquitoes, flies and other weird insects which suddenly appear in tons at twilight. Insect repelling sprays and above all closing the windows and doors of the camper van should help! Don’t forget to leave the windows a little bit open at night, though. If you sleep in a car or don’t have a lot of space in the camper van, it’s a must.

Forget your stuff…

… outside of the camper van at night! When it rains at night and you find your clothes or towels wet the next morning… or food left and end up with possums all around the camper van.

Fill up the tank at the last moment

It makes particularly sense when traveling in Australia or New Zealand, where gas stations are not that numerous on some road trip routes. Avoid the problems by checking for gas stations in advance.

Get stressed while road tripping in a campervan

At the end of a long day, when you get tired hungry or can’t find fuel, your way or campsites or when the camper van get broken… just take it as a travel experience, laugh about it and make the best of it. You will always find a solution. For me, the getting lost with the camper van at night in the Australian bush is still a really fun travel memory.

Plan too much your campervan road trip

It would ruin the magic of the road trip. Allow yourself to drive at random sometimes, to check spots on the way you hadn’t include in the road trip, to stay longer at a place you like. In short, follow your instinct and not your planed itinerary!

Download here the full list of 37 essentials and nice-to-have items in the camper on a trip!
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I am made of photography,stories from the road and a good dose of passion. I am Ophélie, French-born traveler always on the go. My travel photography blog is about my travel experiences, tips and my addiction for adventure. To help you explore countries on your own… as an independent and curious traveller.