I’m SO STOKED to be back in my camper van Freebird after a lonnnngggg hiatus this spring. Here are some easy, affordable products I’m adding to my camper van conversion that will make HUGE difference in upgrading the quality of my daily van life! These are simple changes, but sometimes it’s the simple things that make all the difference.
Don’t feel like watching the video? No problem! Read below for a list of the upgrades I cover in the video above.
Berkey Travel Water Filtration System
This is by far the most expensive product on this list, but it also brings the most value. The Travel Berkey Water Filter is a vanlife game changer! One of the biggest health challenges for a full-time vanlifer is finding healthy filtered water on the road. When it comes to finding filtered water on the road, there aren’t a ton of options. If you buy plastic gallons of water, you’re wasting money and damaging the environment with single-use plastic waste. Some states like California have water refilling stations, but this water can be pretty expensive. I found myself either filling up filtered water at friends’ houses (if I was lucky enough to find a nearby friend), finding the occasional fresh water spring score (which is both rare and amazing), or just dealing with unfiltered water from gas stations or random hoses– NOT ideal for your health!
The Travel Berkey changes all that. Now I fill up my 5-gallon tank with water from any potable source, hose or sink, and then fill up my Berkey from that water. The sink water is used for dishes/brushing my teeth and I drink my Berkey filtered water.
The Berkey filters 99.9% of all contaminants! It filters literally everything you don’t want in your water– including chlorine and fluoride. The travel system holds 1.5 gallons and measures 7.5 inches around by 18 inches high, so it fits perfectly on my countertop. I highly recommend making this investment in your health!
Hanging Fruit Hammock
Everyone LOVES this cute, convenient little fruit hammock, so I needed to add it to this list. I’ve been using this for a while, so it’s not a recent upgrade, but I did recently fix the installation by angling it 45 degrees. This way apples can flow freely without smashed the walls of the van and making applesauce.
Houseplants are good for your health. Not only do plants add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, some plants even remove toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air! Here’s a great article that lists different plants and the ways they improve your indoor air quality.
Reusable RV Sticky Pads
Reusable sticky pads make it possible to keep everything on my countertop when I’m driving, which makes life so much more convenient! These pads are reusable and you can wash them to make them sticky again. In my opinion they’re best used on items you’re going to keep in one spot long-term, because taking them off and cleaning them is a little annoying. (I deal with that every time I water my plants, which is kind of annoying but it’s worth it for me to have a lot of plants in the van.)
Black-Out Vehicle Window Covers
Window covers that insulate and also block light are essential, especially if you ever stealth camp (which you will). This is the only time I recommend reflectix because it works so well on window covers and make a big difference. Definitely have thick black-out covers for every single window in the van, including the front cab.
This is a give-in, but having cute stuff in your van that makes it feel nice and homey is so so important. Yes, function matters, but so does comfort. A couple of cute throw pillows and a colorful rug and blanket make a HUGE difference in such a small space. Plus it’s a fun way to collect memories from your favorite places throughout your travels! Be sure to hit up some vanlife gatherings while you’re out there!
My friends over at Austin Rug Co. has small 1.5′ x 3′ and 2′ x 3′ vintage rugs that fit perfectly in a camper van. You can get a cute blanket while on your travels to remind you of places you’ve been and be sure to cover your walls with stickers and magnets from all the places you’ve explored!
Benchmark Maps are pretty cool if you plan to spend a lot of time in one state and want to thoroughly explore. These maps have extensive recreational information and detail exactly where you can find free parking in the west United States.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and National Forests allows free parking for up to 2 weeks (at which point you need to relocate 25 miles away).
These atlases are an incredible way to find excellent natural places to explore! Check out the Women on the Road podcast to get discounts for Benchmark Maps.
Pillow-Top Mattress Pad
Ohhhh man, this mattress pad makes me SO HAPPY. My cushions are not very comfy and so a lot of the last year was spent with an achy back. For a while I had a foam mattress topper, but it just couldn’t handle being rolled up and put away daily and ended up ripping into pieces.
This pad is super comfy and soft, and it rolls up and squishes into small spaces without requiring you be delicate with it. My van bed sleep has already improved 100%!
And while we’re at it, get a badass book!
You Are A Badass is the first book I’m digging into on this solo vanlife vision quest. It comes highly recommended and I highly recommend it to you!
I’ll leave you with an inspirational quote from the book:
“If you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done.”
I’ll see ya’ll on the road!