What do you pack for campervan holidays in Europe?

What to you pack for campervan holidays in Europe

Volkswagen Caledonia owner Bobbie has many good tips on what to take for long campervan holidays in Europe.

Bobbie is one of a growing number of sunseekers who head south in their campervans at the first sign of winter. We asked what camping equipment she takes for three-month holidays in her VW Caledonia camper.

She says, “I take a small filter coffee machine, as I like real coffee, but I have to be on a campsite with electric hook-up to use it. If not, I just boil the kettle on the gas hob and have instant coffee.  I tend to make a lot of meals in a wok, whether it’s curry, pasta or a stir fry. I have a small Cadac barbecue with its own gas bottle and a two-litre Remoska, which uses less electricity than an oven and in which you could cook a roast dinner if you wished to. I also have a plug-in halogen oven, but I only take it for long stays. Some people take slow cookers. I tend to eat out a lot as well, when the weather is nice, as it’s so much cheaper in Spain.”

VW Caledonia campervan owner Bobbie takes her dog and cat to Spain for three months

Bobbie takes her rescue dog Willow and her black cat Ebony with her wherever she goes

The Volkswagen Caledonia comes equipped with a 50-litre fridge with ice box, a two-burner hob and cold water pumped to the sink. Bobbie likes to eat out as well as cooking in the campervan and entertaining, so she only takes essential kitchen equipment: “Electric kettle, gas hob kettle, wok, a saucepan for rice or pasta, five-litre fresh water bottle for coffee, and for me, my cat Ebony and dog Willow to drink, and bottled fizzy water in the fridge. I just use the campervan’s onboard water tank for washing or washing-up. I also have a collapsible kettle, saucepans, strainer, and a bucket – all blue, of course, to match my van’s interior.”

Spanish markets sell fabulous fruit

Food-wise, Bobbie takes, “Bread, butter, cheese, small tins of tuna, fresh or powdered milk, soup, apples or any fruit that is easy to eat while driving and to store. When on-site in Spain, I go to local markets and buy fresh fruit like kiwi, oranges, grapes, strawberries and avocados, which are all so much cheaper than in England. I also take dog and cat food, treats and bowls.”

For the rest of the camping kit and clothes, Bobbie takes, “The Porta-Potti. and chemical sachets – easier than liquid to store safely. A warm sleeping bag with liner, which is so easy to wash while I’m away, or a duvet in its cover, so that if it’s warm I can just use the duvet cover. I pack nightwear that I would be happy to wear in public, in case of emergencies, or just for going to the site facilities. Like most people, I take flip-flops to wear in campsite showers.”

This is the life... campervan owner Bobbie spends the winter in Spain and comes home in time for spring

This is the life… Sussex Campervan owner Bobbie spends the British winter in Spain and comes home in time for spring

There’s not much time to watch TV

For entertainment, Bobbie takes, “Books and DVDs, an iPad and a 12V TV. Campsites will often rent you a TV lead if there’s no signal. You can organise expat VPN ( or other providers) for secure use of the internet and to watch British TV, for about £5 per month. You can also download Mobdro on tablets to watch TV, but this can be inconsistent and freeze and buffer, especially during sports events. Usually there’s not much time to watch TV, as people are mostly very friendly and you could be out; entertaining or being entertained for many days and nights of the week. Equally you can spend time exploring, or just chilling.”

The VW Caledonia campervan has a twin-burner hob, sink with pumped water, 50-litre fridge and more

How to pack clothes for three months

When packing clothes, Bobbie recommends, “A minimum of three of everything – shorts, T-shirts, casual trousers, fleeces and underwear – so that if you get wet, or it’s hot, or it’s cold, you can change. Put one set in the wash, while another is drying and you’re wearing the third set of clothes. Hand wash your clothes every day, so it doesn’t build up, unless you’re on site with washing machines. I also take walking boots or shoes, short Wellingtons, casual and smart sandals, a waterproof jacket and trousers, a skirt, dress, linen trousers and tops for more formal occasions. I also take my swimming gear and two special quick-drying camping towels – they’re honestly not as nice to use as normal towels, but wet towels hanging inside a campervan are not nice either. In a nutshell only take what you will wear and use.”

Buy toiletries on holiday

When it comes to toiletries, Bobbie says, “I only need one tube of toothpaste and one shampoo, shower gel, etc as you can buy these everywhere in the world. I take a soap bag that I can hang up, as not all floors are salubrious. Flat pack toilet paper takes up less room.”

Medication is one area not to skimp, she says. “If you are on medications, take enough for the trip abroad, or if you’re touring Britain take your prescription. You may be able to buy your medication over the counter in some countries, but they may not be the same, and you might have to see a doctor to get a new prescription.”

Despite all her years of touring experience, Bobbie confesses that even she packs too much into her VW Caledonia campervan. “I usually take far too many pairs of shorts and T-shirts and actually end up wearing same ones. I take three dresses, when one would do, four pairs of smart trousers and blouses, when two would do. Make a list of what you don’t wear and leave it at home next time. This list can be condensed for shorter trips or winter or summer stays when the weather is predictable. Everything basically must be as light and easy to store as possible.”

Happy campervan touring!

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Why own a campervan anyway?

Lots of people say to me

  • why a campervan?
  • Why is it so much better than a caravan?
  • Why not just pack up a tent?
  • What’s the advantage of a campervan when I can just go stay in a 5* hotel?

This is one of my favourite subjects, let me tell you why:

With a campervan the world really is your oyster!

The thing is, if you have a caravan, and I can speak from experience as I have owned both a folding caravan and a large German variety, you have to pitch it somewhere and although that’s not too difficult to do once you find a campsite to park, it’s then not so easy to move around.

With a tent, need I say more?! You’ll most likely experience earth worms, cold nights and damp canvas.  The advantages of hotels are pretty obvious, however, you have to dance to someone else’s tune – get up when you’re told, eat when you’re told; there’s simply little felixibilty, but with a campervan…….

Home is where you park it!

It’s relatively unknown that in almost any public place in Great Britain (and Europe!) it’s perfectly legal to stay the night – even in the street! It’s great to be able to go to campsites too; enjoy the facilities they have to offer.

It’s just about holidaying though, it’s suitable for daytrips out and about, be it at the coast or the countryside; It’s easy to pack up some tea, coffee and bits to eat, and chill for the day!

Campervans are great as an everyday car too, it’s not much bigger than the average estate car. You can load in the kids, sporting equipment, shopping….. the list is endless!

Campervans are incredibly versatile which can offer an experience like no other.
Great for holidaying, day trips and as an everyday vehicle!

CAMPERVANNING TIPS

One of the great things about having a campervan is that you get to explore the great outdoors whenever you feel like it, as well as having some home comforts wherever you are in the world.

With the luxury of being able to step outside straight into fields and onto beaches comes the small downside that there is lots of muck you and the kids might bring into the camper. The benefit of having a small campervan so you can easily get around anywhere you like, without having to worry about turning circles, height or weight restrictions, will mean that there is limited kitchen space for the preparation of fresh food. With the privilege of having running water in your own vehicle comes the need to utilise less water than you may be used to, in order to save supplies in between water tank fills ups. These few worries will easily be wiped away with a few tips from us campervan lovers over at Sussex Campers:

Help, I am running out of water!

You can have lots of different sizes of water tanks in your campervan but you will still probably need to get used to using a lot less water than you do at home- (it may even make you realise just how much water you waste at home)

For cleaning the camper

Make sure you use hot water and antibacterial washing up liquid when cleaning up after food preparation and meal times but if the rest ofyour campervan gets mucky, you don’t necessarily need much water to keep it clean- you just need a few good tools and antibacterial products.

Have packs of antibacterial wipes like Dettol or similar around so you can wipe down sides, cabinets, floors and any spillages.
Dettol antibaterial spray and kitchen roll
Get a handy spray floor mop or similar from somewhere like JML so you can easily wipe the floor down quickly, perhaps once a day, and they are usually very easy to store.

For you and the kids

Take packets of face wipes and refreshing body wipes.
Stock up on the antibacterial hand gel that doesn’t require water to use in between proper hand washes. Make sure you wash your hands with hot water and antibacterial hand was when you go to the loo or prepare food.
Take packets of face wipes and refreshing body wipes.
Keep a few bottles of drinking water as well as your water tank in case you run out and need a drink.

Help! Where do I prepare my food?

The great thing about a campervan is having your own kitchen- being able to cook whatever you want and stop for a cup of tea whenever you want. You will, however, be unlikely to have a kitchen in a campervan that is as big as your one at home but you can still easily cook pretty much whatever you want!

Chicken- Chicken scares some people but as long as you are careful and clean up properly, like you would at home, you will be fine.

Washing up and cleaning after food prep is the one place that I wouldn’t skimp on water. Boil a kettle and mix with a bit of cold water and washing up liquid to wash up everything you have used for cooking. Clean down the sides with antibacterial spray too.

If you have a small kitchenette area go for the two topped kitchen unit that we install so that you can have half of your lid down over the hob or sink to create more work surface space when you are cooking or washing up.

 

With all the food preparation you could always do some preparation at home before you leave eg chopping up vegetables, making salads or marinating meats, and then put in tupperware boxes or freezer bags and keep in your fridge or freezer. Marinating the meats before you go away also means you will get some really, lovely juicy food- pop it on a BBQ for a really tasty treat!

General Tips

Don’t leave any food out uncovered as this will attract flies.

If you are reheating food, reheat once, make sure it is piping hot and then throw away left overs (I doubt there will be left overs where you are having nice long walks!)

Make sure that you have chemical loo cleaner, available from most camp shops, rather than just ordinary toilet cleaner.

Change your hand towels more often than you would at home, take one for every day and a couple spare, or enough to last until you do a big wash.

Use this simple tip: take your shoes off before going in the camper. Have a special shoe bucket and indoor slippers/ shoes- this will minimise the need for cleaning inside.