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The 11 Essential Items You’ll Need To Glamp Out Your Van For The First Time

The 11 Essential Items You’ll Need To Glamp Out Your Van For The First Time

If the classic Aussie road trip movies are anything to go by (and in my experience, they are), there’s not a lot of ways to travel that reset your whole being better than a road trip.

I was recently lucky enough to escape the city and head around South East Queensland for a few days of road-tripping and I can’t tell you just how much it’s improved my mood.

I personally love to camp, at least I do until the point that you don’t get a shower and you have to do all that tent set-up and pack down. I’m also a long way off being able to purchase one of those kitted out camper vans, as much as I would love to.

So what did we do instead? My bestie and I converted the back of her Rav4 into the perfect sleeping space so we could have the best of both worlds while spending the least amount of money possible.

Because of this, I’ve been able to come up with a list of essentials you’ll need to get glamping. You can build up from here of course, but this is the bare minimum you’ll need to be comfortable.


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#1 A van or large car

Basically, anything that you can at least fold the back seats down in to make room for a mattress. I’ve definitely road tripped in a smaller car and used the back seat as my bed, so more power to you if that’s your best option. However, I can promise you that’s a solo mission only, and you’ll still be cramped.

Cost: I’m going to leave this one up to you.

#2 A foam mattress

I’m sure if you have a whole van you can get away with a bigger mattress, but we found a simple single-sized foam mattress was perfect. It’s comfortable enough that you can’t feel the lumps beneath you, but lightweight enough that you can roll it up during the day to make room for your suitcases (they go in the front for sleeping, in case that wasn’t clear).

Cost: From $59.95.

#3 Blankets and pillows

How many and how thick obviously depends on the time of year and general temperature in your area, but we found for a Queensland winter that while the car did stay warmer than it would in a tent, it can still get chilly at night. Just grab the covers and pillows off your bed, no need for anything new.

Cost: $0


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#4 Makeshift drapes

You’re going to want some sort of blanket to cover up your windows. It’ll make this a bit more private for your slumbers as well as blocking a bit of light if you’re hoping for a sleep in.

Cost: Even just a big scarf works perfectly, we had two of them that stretched along each side that were $10 each.

#5 Folding chairs

If you’re really on a tight budget you can do away with folding chairs, but honestly, when it gets to the end of a long day and you just want to be comfy by the campfire watching the sun go down, you’ll very much regret not bringing them along.

Cost: From $5 each.

#6 Folding table

Again, you can skip and just go a picnic blanket instead, or only choose camping grounds with their own tables — but frankly, good luck with that — but a folding table that compacts nicely into the back of your car but can hold all your ingredients for cooking is a delight.

Cost: From $35.


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#7 Groceries

Obviously you can choose to buy all your meals from restaurants and cafes as you go, but you’ll absolutely rack up the money spent. Besides, cooking your own camp meals feels oddly wholesome.

Cost: We went a little bougie and bought a lot of snacks you can trim this budget, but it was about $70 each for brekkie, lunch and dinner over four days.

#8 Your kitchen utensils

Special camp pots, pans and table settings are great and usually fold away more compactly, but if you’re not someone who would use them a lot they’re completely unnecessary. Save the money and just grab a pot, pan, plates, bowls and cutlery from your kitchen at home.

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Cost: $0

#9 Camp stove

Many campgrounds do have kitchens, although with covid not all of them are open. Other times, needing a stove to be provided can really limit your camping options. Seeing as camp stoves can be pretty cheap, I strongly recommend just buying your own.

Cost: From $20.


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#10 Car chargers

I know that road trips and camping often come with the *disconnect* connotation, but also remember that most people use their phones as cameras and clocks too so you’re going to need it. I also sometimes just love falling asleep to a movie on my laptop after a long day of exploring — so sue me.

For this reason, don’t forget your car chargers so you juice your tech up during the drive. You won’t always be able to get a campsite with power, and even when you do it’s usually more suited to powering a campervan.

Cost: Everyone probably already has a phone charger for the car, but car chargers allowing regular powerpoints start from around $50.

#11 Headphones

Hardcore campers will probably come at me for this, but please see above re: wanting to fall asleep to a movie sometimes (yes, other times I fall asleep to the waves or crickets, so calm down). For this reason, I found headphones to be an essential. This goes double when you’re travelling with someone and they don’t want to watch with you, and you’re both tired and a tad grumpy from a big day.

I personally just tried the new Sony WH-1000XM4 ones, it’s my first noise-cancelling experience and OMG, game-changer. The battery lasts for up to 30 hours too, which is helpful when it could be a while between charges.

Cost: The Sony ones go for a SRP of $549.95, but you can keep it budget and buy plug in headphones from $10 — although you do get what you pay for.

Know where you can go

Obviously, with this whole pandemic thing you need to be aware of where you can and can’t travel before you get there. Check out our updated list of border restrictions around the country here.

(Lead Image: Unsplash / Alex Azabache)

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