After building out our van and getting it roadworthy, Sarah and I had to decide what to bring and what to leave behind. This turned out to be trickier than either of us imagined. Packing for a road trip is a delicate balance between too much and too little. We wanted to have everything that we genuinely needed for 8 months on the road without burying our tiny home with stuff. Here are a few of the big supplies that we packed for our trip:
- Coleman 2-burner camping stove
- Jet boil for heating water
- Pots, pans, and cooking utensils
- Cups, mugs, silverware, plates, and bowls
- Cooler with nonperishable food and drink
- 1 plastic bin of clothes each
- Shoes, hiking, boots, and scandals
- Travel kit for personal hygiene
- Small library
- Backpacking Backpacks 2x
- Sleeping bags + pads 2x
- 2 person tent
- Water purifier, camel packs, rope, etc.
- Laptops, IPad, and phones
- 2x Longboard skateboards
- 2x Skimboards
- Camping Hammock
During our first stop in Joshua Tree National Park, Sarah and I found out that finding space for all our stuff was going to be a problem. Almost immediately we started having trouble keeping things organized and accessible. We started to talk about ways to free up some extra space inside the van.
While building the van I had considered adding a storage compartment on the roof, but decided that it wouldn’t be necessary. Now some extra storage on the roof seemed like the perfect way to get the infrequently used items out of our way. Fortunately we had a few free days in Solvang, CA to find a solution.
Our friend Paula had an old roof container sitting around her yard that hadn’t been used in years. Before buying anything new, we wanted to have a look and see if we could get a second-hand carrier for cheap.
Paula’s roof carrier was a fiberglass container that opens like a clamshell. It was about the size of the trunk on a car, so we could count on it fitting just about everything that had been cluttering our living space. The roof carrier seemed compatible with our van and was big enough, so we decided to buy it on the spot.
After a thorough cleaning and some new weather stripping, we were ready to put our new roof carrier on the van. I used some adjustable straps and parachute cord to secure the carrier in front of our solar panels. Then we got to packing.
Almost all the bulky items – tent, sleeping bags, skateboards and skimboards – now moved up to the roof. The difference inside our van was like night and day. The plywood chest that had been packed to the brim now had enough space to store our backpacks, cameras, and tripods. The longboard skateboards that almost had to be left behind were now out of the way, but still available if we needed them. Best of all was the feeling of order and organization inside the van. Living in such a confined space will always take some adjusting, but it’s so much easier when theres a little room to stretch out.