Vanning Essentials – The Inside Stuff

Friends of ours recently bought a new caravan, which had me thinking about what one needs other than the basics listed in Caravanning, how do I get started? You know the sort of things that one really doesn’t think about, the day to day ‘setting up a holiday house’ type of stuff. Being the ‘inside things’ I like to think of them as the ‘Pink Stuff’ as they are usually the domain of us women.

Caravanning readers out there, is there anything that I’ve missed that you can’t live without?


Carry a full spare set of linen for the times when you are out whoop whoop and don’t get a chance to wash.

2 Doonas, winter and summer weight. When heading north in winter we start out with two Doonas and end up with just a sheet on us by the time we reach the tropics as the climate changes so much. Vice versa for the folks who live up north and go south in the summer months.

Light acrylic throw rug, so handy anywhere just to snuggle up in.

Bathroom, toilet, laundry

Medications, prescriptions and a health card from your doctor listing your ailments and drugs. It’s better than trying to remember how many milligrams of whatever you take when some strange doc is asking and you’re as sick as a dog and just want relief and sympathy.

Stingose, fly spray, personal insect spray “Bushman’s” is great, also “The Locals” which is available up north. Rub in thoroughly to beat the midges before they sink their little teeth in.

Towels, hand towels, tea towels, and a Jumbo roll of Chux from Bunnings, is a blessing for mopping up everything.

Cleaning stuff, Windex etc. I find disinfectant wipes a handy way to wash the floor when you’re in a hurry.

A dedicated caravan set of toiletries. Keep to a minimum what goes on and off the van for your own sanity. Aim to get it down to food, washing & gadgets only.

Folding picnic basket from caravan stores for loading unloading and carrying happy hour nibbles across the park.

Laundry basket, we bought ours at Howard’s Storage, we keep it in the shower sitting on the step stool when not in use. The shower is a handy cupboard and hanging space for 23₁⁄₂ hours a day.

Toilet chemical, we use Napisan (2 capfuls, 2 litres warm water) empty at a dump point no later than day 3) to keep fresh, wipe over daily with a disinfectant wipe, deodorise with a few drops of eucalyptus.

Toilet rolls of course.

Dustpan & brush, small broom.

Old towels, at least 6. Use for securely packing underbed items, the main purpose however is for covering the floor when there is torrential rain outside. Trust me.

Small plastic baskets use as dividers in cupboards and the fridge. They make it easy to find things and stops items from rolling about. I use one for spices, have 4 in the bathroom cupboards and a couple in the fridge. Buy at Reject shops and $2 shops.


Digital thermometer for monitoring fridge freezer temperatures.

Toaster electric, you can use the gas griller when free camping. Oh and don’t forget to cover the smoke alarm before you make toast, your neighbours don’t wish to be woken early.

Whistling kettle for making a cuppa in the bush.

Heavy Wok, so handy.

Heavy based casserole with lid (Aldi Crofton).

Saucepans 1 large 1 small.

Frying pan 1 large 1 small. Remember these maybe used inside, outside or over the fire, so get ones that are tough yet inexpensive.

Gas bottles last for ages and gas is cheap. Unlike the ‘tight arsed Tuesday’s’ out there I reckon that if a girl feels like cooking a long slow casserole or baking a cake then why not. It tastes better in the bush anyway. In theory you should be able to cook anything that you can at home but with less bench space.

Cheap plastic stick blender from Big W, great for pumpkin soup when you’ve just bought a pumpkin from a country market.

Storage containers, use square or rectangular ones to maximise space. Never round ones, every millimetre of space counts in a small home.

Cupboard liner, use soft bubbly rubber as it cushions the ride for the things in your cupboards, not the IKEA version which is OK at home but rolls up and never stays flat in a caravan.

Plastic folding step stool. Why? Because for shorties like me most caravan cupboards are too high to easily reach. It can double as a stand to keep the laundry basket above the wet shower floor, a foot stool and a tiny seat when visitors drop by. From all good caravan stores.

Electric hot plates from Aldi for powered cooking outside.

Electric griddle (Aldi) for bbqing with power.

Zip lock bags, a space saving way to store spices and for shell collecting.

Crockery, Corelle is best by far and rarely breaks. 4 of everything covers the days when you don’t wash up after lunch to conserve water. It’s wonderful to have an excuse not to wash up.

Glasses, highest quality plastic, wineries sell lovely stemless glasses that are ‘ladies hand’ sized and don’t topple out of chair cup holders when you’re sitting on uneven ground.

Food cover to keep the blowies at bay when eating outdoors.

Tablecloth (and battery powered candles) for those elegant outback dinners under the stars. Oh dear, my mind’s wandering now, warm nights, delicious food, great company and the sound of an amorous koala. If you’ve ever camped near a lovelorn koala you’ll know what I mean.

Cutlery, keep it to 4 of each and don’t forget the steak knives.

Utensils, favourite good kitchen knives (you don’t want to be cursing about bad knives), matches, gas lighters, toasting fork for the marshmallows.

Batteries of all sizes, your neighbours will thank you too.

Foil, plastic wrap, paper towel.

Small chopping boards.

Coffee Maker for our daily dose of caffeine we use an espresso machine and an Italian stove top pot when free camping.


Some people travel light. We prefer to cater to all climates and often shop on the road from interesting places. I reckon you need everything from bathers to beanies and gumboots for those muddy days.

Small hanging clothes line. I have one with little pegs on it for smalls and a folding clothes horse for the bigger stuff.

Pegs are not only for clothes but sealing bags of crisps and a thousand other things.


iPad, for internet, games, photos and WikiCamps………..endless fun.

Kindles, get onto Bookbub & buy through Amazon, at prices from $0 upwards and you can store thousands of books. Best of all is not getting out of bed to buy that third book in a trilogy when you finish book two at midnight in Longreach or Dunedoo! Now that is satisfaction.

Chargers, for all of your gizmos.

Wifi, use your mobile phone hotspot, or get a Netgear modem from Telstra for stronger coverage.


12 volt shower pump, remove the head and use to pump crystal clear mountain river water into your tanks, brilliant.

Roll of black Velcro tape the stuff you hold plants up with, use for securing awning arms, fixing all sorts of stuff hanging lights, lanterns and Xmas lights.

Gaffer tape, fixes everything. We’ve proven that a roll of Velcro and one of gaffer tape can get you pretty much right around Oz, though we did need plaster and medical assistance for the broken ankle.

Floor mats, van floors get cold at night, we use Target bath mats, they keep the floor nice and are easy to wash and dry (Thanks Elle Prado for that tip).

Fuses, assorted sizes for the van. Our bathroom lighting seems to blow a fuse every trip.

Head torches to keep your hands free to do important things like bringing in the awning in your undies in a storm at midnight.

Blue Tac for I don’t know what, but it is handy.

Velcro Dots to hold things in place or to stop doors and things bumping against walls.

On the road

Google Maps app lists distances to service stations and important businesses like Dan Murphy (liquor) and Aldi (for all the things that you didn’t know that you needed).

And I almost forgot…the food and grog!

Folding Step Stool
Folding Step Stool

16 thoughts on “Vanning Essentials – The Inside Stuff

  1. What about a small pair of scissors? We’ve just had to buy a pair to cut through insulating tape … we needed to mark annexe poles so we knew which ones went where. 🙂


      1. It’s ages since we put ours up and this time it took an hour!!! Nearly 40 years ago we had an Andre Jamet tent and I remember putting coloured tape on poles then too. 🙂


  2. Our new van should be here in less than a month, so reading this list was extra exciting. We forfeit the coffee machine and make do with instant, and we use an electric frypan outside When in powered sites. Apart from that, I think we take most things listed with the exception of the disenfectent wipes. They sound like a great addition. We have a new addition now too – various sized mesh zip bags, now popular for separating clothing in suitcases. I’ve heard they’re wonderful for separating clothing in a caravan and keeping everything neat. Will let you know how they go.


    1. Mesh zip bags sound like great idea. Where do you get them? We gave up on hanging clothes long ago as wardrobes are never big enough. We put shelves in the last van. They were great but we haven’t got around to it with this one. Havre tried various hanging shelves but flung them in frustration.


  3. I love the different names and phrases other countries for the same items we have also. But Windex will always be Windex!


  4. Great list, and very similar to what we have in the van for our full time travels. Definitely agree with the steak knives and a sharp cutting knife. I’m amazed at how many of our house sits have crappy knives! Here is a couple of more ideas:
    1. Small tool set in the van for emergency repairs, screwdrivers, pliers, stanley knife, teflon tape, electrical tape, gaffer tape etc
    2. Spare batteries for torches, remotes, cameras etc
    3. Spare USB’s for taking to libraries or Officeworks to get printing done
    4. Bird Identifcation book: we have a pocket/glovebox version that travels with us, as well as an App
    5. Big book of maps: we use the HEMA Road and 4WD Atlas, much easier for broad trip planning than Google Maps because you can see much larger areas in detail.
    6. Baby Weber Q, we couldn’t live without it, and a single burner gas cooker, one of those explosive butane ones, for cooking outside when we want things like pasta or paella.
    7. Mozzie coils of equivalent. We are currently using the giant incense stick types made with sandalwood
    8. Insect spray for when you decide the bugs in the van are just getting too much. Leave the light on in the ensuite for 10 minutes then unload half a can of spray at the little blighters!

    If I think of some more I’ll add them.


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