Goodnight Trail

Our Travels

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🚐 Camper Van Must Haves

See my personal reviews linked to the categories below or click the specific product link in the list below the category to go directly to that website for the maker and/or best distributor.

Packing and moving in! It is very important to outfit your van or RV for efficiency and it takes some creativity to live well in the tight space. One thing to consider is to try to have more than one use for everything. Also, think small or compact to save even more space. These are our tried and tested while living in our camper van.

Above are my favorite must haves to maximize the enjoyment of our home on the road. All of these items have been tried and tested for over two and a half years traveling part time and also living full time on the trail. Each is linked to the best place to research and/or purchase. Currently, I do not make a commission on anything. I will continue to add to this list! Join our mailing list for current updates.

Camper Van Storage

“A place for everything and everything in its place.” The age-old saying is always great to follow, but in a tiny space, it really is essential if you want to live your best life in a camper van or other tiny home. We opted not to put upper storage cabinet faces on above as they take up more space, offer less maneuverability and lower head room. Bill is 6’2″ making it even more important to have ease of movement. We also went for the open floor plan in this area as well so that we wouldn’t feel boxed in.

Large Soft Bins

I’ve gotten more compliments on these baskets for storage bins and questions on where I got them. These cotton rope baskets are soft and large. The cylinder shaped bins were just what I was looking for. These baskets welcome an added element of warm texture and beauty.

Also, believe me when I say that these bins have never fallen over or off the shelf. Even on the bumpiest of roads, or even when I only had one or two up there, they stay put. The 8020 aluminum rail does have about a 1/2″ lip at the bottom that helps to keep them in place.

They are stiff enough to hold their general shape but malleable enough to nestle in so much stuff and mold into the shape of the back wall. We pack clothes, shoes, a heater, extra blankets, beach towels and lots of stuff for all four seasons. They also can fold down to about 1/3 of their size, packed inside of each other into threes when not in use.

Packing Cubes

I do also use packing cubes in some of the larger bins to organize even further so that we don’t have just a big pile inside. I love the Tom Bihn cubes we purchased a few years ago and they are still like new. I also enjoy the different colors to quickly differentiate between what’s what inside. Many places now offer quality packing cubes in a variety of sizes and colors.

Small Soft Bins

Amazon sellers also offer the half size cotton rope baskets seen in the photos which easily stacks on top of a stiff wicker basket. The stiff square baskets are better for toiletries, boxes and bottles and can be found in many stores in their home section.

Camper Van Kitchen

Dometic Fridge/Freezer

I love, love this fridge, freezer. We have the Dometic CFX3 75DZ Dual Zone Powered 12 Volt Cooler, 75L. If you’re traveling long distances or full time in your RV, being able to go longer without grocery shopping is the best! This is one important way to be very efficient and have the most time for enjoying your travels with less shopping; to have a big freezer and big refrigerator.

When you can have frozen veggies and foods with a longer shelf life, it is a wonderful time saver and great way to eat healthy on the road! Small refrigerators made for small spaces like camper vans, have tiny freezers not big enough for much at all. I also love how you can decide if you want both compartments for refrigerating or freezer or swap which side you want temperatures for cold or frozen foods.

We chose the chest style refrigerator/freezer for a few reasons. One, was to eliminate a floor to ceiling wall to plan and design for an open concept flow in our floorpan. We’re even more grateful now that we are full time in our camper van to not feel like it’s such a small space.

We also love that things don’t fall out and it does seem to retain the coolness inside the drawer. Many others complain about the need to move things that are stacked to get to everything, but I do feel like that is happening in a standard fridge as well. Both also require some stooping to look and reach down depending on the location. Some have their fridge/freezer higher.

Portable Induction Stovetop IKEA

We steer clear of propane anything in our van. We don’t like to worry about refilling it, specific ventilation for safety, storing it or having the potential fire propellants in our home.

We love having so much counter space on both sides of the aisle and this one-burner, portable, induction stovetop was one of our first purchases for the van. It is immediately cool enough to touch as soon as it is turned off and easily fits in a drawer for storage. Make sure to use induction specific potware for cooking.

As a note, another reason to store it in a drawer instead of inset into the counter is in case we are too unlevel. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter if we’re at some kind of a slant, but if we are parked somewhere too uneven, I can use the silicon hot pads to level up the corners that need raising for liquid to lay and cook evenly.

Microwave Walmart

We bought this microwave at Walmart on a whim and chose this one for the size and color to match our interior colors. I thought having a microwave was silly and that we’d never use it, but it has been great for leftovers or frozen foods or things that just take a bit of thawing. We can use 1,000 watts or more with our four lithium batteries. This microwave has been truckin’ with us for two years now.

We have discovered that we love the microwave we and use it often.

Camper Van Cleaning

🧹Be a clean freak! 🧽🫧 You will feel much better in a small space to clean as you go. You’ll see that I follow the philosophy of Benjamin Franklin’s famous saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As another saying goes, nip it in the bud, and squash any problems before things can grow into bigger issues and take even more time to manage.

🚽 We regularly use Clorox Wipes for bathroom and sink cleaning. We use Lysol spray, which now comes in a new dreamy scent called “Brand New Day” for disinfecting and an additional happy aroma. I love to freshen up our pillow cases between washings or shirts that have been in our storage bins awhile and are quite wrinkled. Remember, find multiple uses for everything!

🧺 Since we use a laundromat most often for laundry, we use Lysol brand non-chlorine laundry disinfectant additive in our washes which is a great non-chlorine alternative especially for bleach sensitive material. We empty our small trash can daily to maintain freshness and make sure to dust and sweep often to eliminate any enticing corners for bacteria or bugs. No safe harbor for those here! 🦠

We maintain good air flow through our tiny home and hang things or lay them out to dry right away including soiled items. Damp dirty clothes stuffed into a bin, for any amount of time, will be prime real estate for musty, smelly, gross, unhealthy spaces 🥴 A dry room is bacteria’s doom! 😃

Your home is your haven if you keep everything as clean and dry as possible as you go about your daily routines. That’s the key and my philosophy for a happy home and even more so on the road in a small space to foster a welcoming haven to live in. It feels even better when impromptu tours are a requested part of life on the road as so many love to see our van build in person.

We use four bungees in the back for hanging items and multiple fans to dry.

I have been amazed by how quick our towels and everything else will dry with the combination of fans we have strategically placed throughout and when we spread things out. The fans in the above photo can be angled in all directions to quickly and thoroughly dry. This in combination with the installed MAXXFAN Air Fan in the ceiling makes for quite a force for combating the bacteria bugs.

Camper Van Home

My favorite touches of home give us the added atmosphere to live on the road.

Insulated Window Covers

I love my insulated window covers that I made with Thinsulate for our van with our Goodnight Trail pattern. They worked great at insulating from heat and cold and stayed in place with magnets. In my initial project, I used the thicker Thinsulate which works great but takes up a lot of space.

So, for our full time van excursion, we spent the extra money and bought these window covers for the front and side windows. They work great! The trick to ensure the best insulation is to get covers that set inside the window frame and lay right against the window. These do just that and they are thin and pack away nicely. I believe they take up 2/3 less space than my original covers I made.

Wanderful insulated window covers behind the valance

I recently just discovered that there are additional magnets that enable a half shade position to let some light in or to allow our open vent window the room it needs to circulate the breeze in or out with our MAXXFan air fan. It is a testament on how insulated these covers are that the fan cannot suck much air through that vent if it is covered by the Wanderful window cover on our slider door. We just ordered one for our back doors too. Some day I may add our custom fabric to fit the theme! More pictures and a detailed review coming soon!

I have been amazed by how strong and reliable the MAXXFAN Air Fan in the ceiling. See the photo above in the cleaning section of this article. It makes for quite a force for controlling air flow in the van with cooking and showers and humidity. This fan in combination with our window vent(s) has been going strong for over two years.

Silicon Hot Pads

Silicon hot pads can be found in most stores in the home section. There are so many uses for them especially when in an RV. I use them for, well… hot pads, leveling pads for the induction stove top, spoon rest, drink coaster, fly swatter (eewww … but easy to clean), dish dryer mat, picnic table mat and the list goes on.

Shower Curtain

I use this similar shower curtain for all but one of the curtains in the van. Any waterproof shower curtain will work the same. With our Goodnight trail theme, I use the designer curtain to make the potty box area have the extra width for full coverage in the privacy area (and airflow) it needs for, well, you know … air flow.

Camper Van Bathroom

We tried a floor plan with a fixed bathroom and decided it was too cramped and we didn’t want to compromise that much living space and we didn’t want a wet bath. We wanted an open floor plan. We came up with our own version of portable. We partitioned off the potty space and we created a separate shower curtain area on the ceiling as well.

OGO™ Toilet Origin Camper Van Potty (see my article review on camper van or RV compact potties). Don’t be afraid to go!

We love this OGO Toilet for our campervan!! We can’t say this enough. It really doesn’t smell like potty, it really is easier and less of a mess to maintain over all than you might think. It’s comfortable and I love that we can “go” longer without using a messy dumping station and the cleanup is minimal. We have the OGO™ Origin. This version has a fan and vent for making the absolute best of what we gotta doo! This exhaust system may be even more aroma free than any other bathroom in any home!

After a few months of using this compost toilet, there’s no comparison in our minds if you can budget a compost toilet! I can tell that the OGO™ Origin in particular is the best option out there from personal experience and from talking crap about pottying with lots of fellow camper van home enthusiasts, both part time travelers and those who are full-time living.

The urine diverter helps the ladies and any worry they had about getting pee in the right hole! The fan and the vent installed through the wall gives one a fragrance-free pooing experience for all! It is comfortable, compact and quiet.

For an awesome van builder guy like my husband, the install was smooth sailing.

Thetford Porta Potti 365

We had been using a cassette toilet that fits great behind the driver seat in what we call the potty box. We have often thought about trying out the composting kind, but figured waste is waste and you got to deal with it one way or another anyway. However, after a few years of having to find and deal with finding dumping stations and the mess and cost, we bought and installed an OGO™ Origin compost toilet. We went all out and got the kind that has an electric mixer and fan and vents out the van wall and wish we had done so a year ago.

After a few months of using a vented compost toilet, there’s no comparison in our minds for us. But if you don’t want the hassle of installation and initial cost, the Thetford Porta Potti 365 cassette portable toilet is a great option.

Some people think nothing of the dumping process and have no qualms about emptying the sludgy liquid poo. Some just use theirs for weekend trips and just dump the contents into their toilet and manage the clean up at home. However, finding appropriate enough places on travels is a bit more of a process.

For us on long trips and then living full time in our camper van, using dumping stations for regular, weekly emptying was wearing on us. We had been pretty fortunate to have good weather most of the time, but seasonal, colder temperatures were coming as well to think about. We were using so many cleaning supplies and it was becoming somewhat of a stress to make sure we could find an appropriate place to dump and rinse to maintain any unwanted chemical mix aroma.

Quick Dry GILDEN TREE Waffle Towel Sets

The potty box doubles as a seat.
This seperate curtain rail gives a privacy partition for the potty.

We purchased these GILDEN TREE Waffle Towel Sets on Amazon 2 1/2 years ago at the time of this update. So, we’ve been using them quite awhile. I love that they are 100% cotton, extra large, packable and dry so fast. They come in so many colors to choose from. Since they are all cotton, do not use bleach with them as they will discolor. However there are many options to use to disinfect these days such as the Lysol brand non-chlorine laundry disinfectant I use.

Shower Curtain

We do think we have an awesome portable shower in our camper van! This is the one and only “portable” shower system or “pack away” shower method I have seen anyone try that is truly anti mildew and anti mold. This is because we don’t actually pack away the curtain since it has multiple uses such as for privacy and shade as well.

Curtain Ceiling Rail

It neatly hangs on the rail to cover all of the slider door and behind the passenger seat like drapery or slides over to the corner out of the way. It is consistently getting airflow and does not develop unwanted mildew growth. I sewed two water proof shower curtains together to get the full wrap around enclosure for the shower. Velcro tape would work as well.

We integrated the curtain on the ceiling rail that we think works the best. Incidentally, I also used these shower curtains at the back of the van to match after cutting one panel in half to create two panels and sewed a beige lace trim. The waterproof side acts to protect the inside of the van from the weather elements outside when the back doors are open.

The double wide, sewn shower curtain neatly tucks beside the passenger seat.

In a small camper van, it is essential to do everything possible to eliminate moisture inside. After showering, it hangs to dry in the tub (a waterproof storage bin like a Rubbermaid tub) or over the van entrance step until it no longer drips.

To speed up the process, it can be quick dried with a towel and we also have one of our portable fans that is mounted to face the curtain and within an hour it is dry enough to gather to the side or it remains pulled across as we are usually using it for shade or privacy anyway.

Our method creates constant airflow with no moisture retention, and no mildew or mold build up. The “tub” is dried and put back in the garage box at the back of the van. Two laundry bags are stored inside. While we shower in our van a lot, we also utilize showers at the gym we have a membership at and also use campground showers if they are up to my criteria of being worth using.

This is our “tub” being fitted with a quick connect adapter to the gray tank.

Camper Van Accessories


Brita Water Bottle

These water bottles are a must have for sure! They come with a charcoal filter to help ensure that you are drinking the best water. We fill up our fresh water tank with potable water spigots all across the country that goes through our own filter system . We clean and disinfect the tank regularly too so I love that my filtered water in my personal drinking bottle can take any more chemicals and such out.

It’s important to drink the recommended amount of water and knowing it’s the cleanest and freshest helps! In the hot temperatures, we keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator from the van tap and refill our Brita water bottles as needed for cold drinking. So refreshing! 💦

These bottles come in multiple sizes, and colors, BPA free or insulated stainless steel and can be purchased along with the filters at Walmart and Amazon. When you’re on the road, on the trail, camping, backpacking or just on a day trip, you can have great, clean, fresh tasting water. We have three of these and incidentally, your travel stickers work great on the BPA free plastic bottles too!

Sunday Afternoons Hat

My favorite breathable, uncrushable, shapable, USPF 50 protection hat is a Sunday Afternoon in the western style. The best hat out there. Form the brim in the style you want! I also love that it has a discreet chin strap for those windy days.

Stay tuned for updates on more essentials for van living! Join the email list for notifications when the website is updated.

Until then, have a good night on the trail, wherever you are on your journey