new to caravanning

New to caravanning? 22 items you may need!

New to caravanning? 22 items you may need!

When you first start thinking about caravanning it can be a bit daunting – what do I need? What should I take? Have I thought of everything?  

You’ll probably find that on your first trip away there are things you wish you had brought with you, but it’s difficult to know what they are until you are away in your caravan.

Here are some things that I think are ‘must haves’ if you are new to caravanning and going away for the first time, not the obvious items (like on most checklists etc) but things that may not have crossed your mind.  I have also done another list for going away with children, so take a look at that too if you have little ones accompanying you. 

New to caravanning checklist...

Torch – always helpful: you might arrive on site later than expected and it’s dark, you might need a torch to walk around parts of the site during the evening or you may need it for some repairs, it’s just a generally useful item to have.  I would advise a rechargeable one that charges off your phone charger like this cheap twin pack.

caravan torch

Fire extinguisher – unfortunately accidents do happen.  It’s just peace of mind having one in the van. The ABC powder variety seems to be the most commonly sold extinguisher as it does both electrical and liquid fires. It’s suggested to replace these extinguishers every 5 years even if the gauge still shows in the green.  Also check the smoke alarm works when the test button is pushed too.

Towing mirrors – easy to forget but it is a legal requirement to be able to see down the sides of your caravan whilst towing. 

Milenco 2899 Universal Aero 4 towing mirrors, pack of 2
  • Set of two convex mirrors
  • Very efficient
  • Easy to use

Last update on 2023-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mini toolkit – We’re not talking Snap-On quality here, just a cheap toolkit to screw things back together like the cupboard hinges that kids have hung off etc. It only needs to include the normal screwdrivers, big and small of the flat and Philips style ends, some pliers and a utility knife of some sort. Kept together in a handy zip up case is always a bonus as well. Something like this little kit.

Caravan jack pads or bits of wood – if you go away and you’re not on a hard-standing pitch you will most likely need some jack pads, which basically stop the corner steadies from sinking into the grass.  The pads (or square pieces of plastic) attach to the bottom of the steadies, usually by a large plastic pin, allowing them to dangle and adjust to the ground undulations.  You could of course use bits of wood to spread the weight from the steadies, but the ease of not having to get on your hands and knees to retrieve them (especially when it’s raining) is a no brainer as they are cheap to buy. 

Low wattage kettle – if you like a hot drink then a low wattage kettle can be quicker than boiling water on the hob.  The reason it ideally has to be a lower wattage kettle is that domestic kettles use about 12.5Amps when being used.  The site may only be geared up to supply your van with 13Amps (normally 16Amp on most sites now) and it will end up tripping out the site post every time you make a brew as other things like water heater, charger etc will be running as well.This Russell Hobbs Travel Kettle 1000w  is ideal. 

Bedding – sheets and pillows seem to be the most common things to be forgotten.  If you have a fixed bed the special sized sheets are available that fit properly. Bettersleep Caravan sheet/mattress protector get good ratings, they do corner cut-off style and island bed styles as well.

Corkscrew and bottle opener – how annoying to have that lovely chilled bottle of wine or lager but you can’t open the bottle!!! 

Door mat – often sites can become muddy and it’s likely you’ll encounter mud at some point so use a door mat to keep your caravan nice and clean. This Caravan Print mat is cheap and fun.

Dustpan and brush – even with a door mat, you’re still likely to bring in some of the outdoors as well as crumbs etc.. So some sort of sweeping brush is a must!  A small, handheld electric hoover is also a great idea. 

First aid kit and medications – painkillers, plasters, insect repellent, antiseptic.  I’d also strongly advice items such as bandages, slings and butterfly stitches.  Also, don’t forget any normal medication that you take.  I would recommend checking where the nearest A & E department is to where you are staying – particularly if anyone has medical conditions or there are children with you. 

Toilet brush and toilet chemicals. Self explanatory this one!

Washing up bowl – even though you have a sink inside the caravan, it can be useful to have a washing up bowl as you may have larger pans that won’t fit in the sink or a large amount of washing up. Also good to take your washing up over to the site’s sinks instead or  for cleaning the outside of the caravan. 

Windbreak – really useful when sitting outside the caravan.  Also, helpful to hang towels etc on to dry. I have this one, it does the job well and is not as garish as some. Don’t forget the hammer to hammer it in with.

Andes Large Blue Camping Windbreak Beach Windshield Shelter With Top Window
  • WINDBREAK TOP WINDOW – The Andes Windbreak Top Window is a...
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE – This item is quick and easy to set up, you...
  • PROTECTIVE – It provides privacy at your campsite as well as...

Last update on 2023-01-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pegs and/or washing line – I have never actually brought a washing line but I do think it would be useful.  However, as a minimum you’re likely to need pegs.  You can use them to hang towels from the ropes on the awning or when hanging things over the windbreak, or other items. 

Flip-flops/slip on shoes – Dare i say it but crocs are ideal when camping as it doesn’t matter if they get wet. Something easy to put on and off as you go over to the site toilets at night with your new super dooper torch!

Tea/coffee – don’t forget the tea bags! Or if you’re a coffee lover you are likely to want a cafetière or maybe even put that coffee pod machine in – I certainly do.  You can also buy coffee bags which I find better than instant coffee but they don’t take up as much space.  Don’t forget sugar or sweeteners too. 


Food storage – foil, clingfilm, reusable wax wrapping, plastic storage boxes.  It’s likely at some point that you have some unused food items that need wrapping up – beans, bacon, cheese, bread etc… kitchen roll can also be very handy. 

Condiments – salt, pepper, tomato ketchup, mayo and any other sauces you enjoy. Don’t forget some sort of cooking oil too. 

Phone Chargers – of course an absolute essential!

Bluetooth speaker – To have a bit of music on . You  can’t go wrong with a waterproof  JBL Flip 5 or a lesser known and cheaper  Tribit Xsound, both get amazing ratings.

Items when using on-site facilities – if you intend to use the facilities on site then I think these tips are helpful: 

Separate small washbag for each person to include toothbrush and toothpaste (you don’t want to share because it’s very annoying to walk over and then realise you didn’t bring the toothpaste because someone else has got it), flannel and soap.   

Larger bag to use if you are showering.  This bag can include a towel (don’t forget a smaller hair towel if you wish), flip-flops – these are so helpful if, like me, you don’t really like standing on the shower floors.  Just a cheap pair that you can even wear whilst standing in the shower if you wish is all you need.  You then need to include any items you want for showering such as shampoo,  shower gel and sponge. The shower cubicles often don’t have many spaces to put items down, so I always find that shampoos etc… with a hinged lid (rather than screw cap) is so much easier.

You might then want to include items in your bag that you will use whilst getting dressed, such as deodorant, moisturiser, make-up remover, cotton wool, tissues, make-up, perfume, hairspray.  When you go for your shower you have your large bag ready to go and you can just throw in the small bag so you’ve got your toothbrush with you too and you can put your clothes in.

It may sound like a lot of things but it’s easier to forget things when you go for a shower so by having bag ready you can just either grab the small bag for a basic clean up or grab the bigger bag for a full shower.   

There we have it, a list of slightly random things that I’ve found useful when caravanning and the odd thing that might not be on most checklists but can help make your first trip away easier. 

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     Please note these are the words and opinion of the author only. Neither the author nor the website can be held responsible for any errors or omissions. You should seek professional assistance if in doubt.