23 things to know before going on a road trip

With Aurel, we experienced many adventures during our first road trips together. These adventures taught us that it is important to prepare properly before hitting the road with our van and Mini-Léonie.
It is sometimes tempting to neglect (or forget) certain details during short or long journeys (I am the first to do so so as not to overload our van) and then when the unexpected arises, we realize that we should have done so. think sooner.

This is why we have decided to share our essential advice with you in this blog article so that you can prepare as best as possible before your big departure .

1. Establish a budget to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Establish a budget - Casambu Blog

Before leaving on a road trip, it is best to have a small extra envelope for emergencies and unforeseen events.

We advise you to establish this budget in case your vehicle breaks down , one of your tires is flat or there are slightly more important repairs to be carried out.

2. Carry out a complete check of your vehicle before leaving.

Carry out a complete check of your vehicle before leaving - Casambu Blog

Checking your vehicle before leaving on a road trip is an essential step to reduce the risk of breakdowns on the road and avoid unforeseen events and interruptions during the trip .

You can also save money by avoiding emergency repairs or even towing on the road , which could ruin your road trip (this happened to us…)!

And if you rent a vehicle, it is also important to know the vehicle, the breakdown number and where the spare wheel and jack are located…

If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

3. Avoid overloading your vehicle.

Avoid overloading your vehicle - Casambu Blog

I am often the first to want to take my home with me in my suitcases because the famous phrase “you never know” sometimes resonates a little too often in my head.

And with experience, you realize that you spend time tidying up and (re)organizing all your things in your van .

We also recommend leaving a few cupboards empty (or not very full) which could potentially be useful to you during your trip and allow you to be a little disorganized.

If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

▶ Blog post: Accessories to optimize space.

4. Do not over-equip and under-equip your vehicle.

Do not over-equip or under-equip your vehicle - Casambu Blog

When you go on a road trip , don't overload the interior of your vehicle . Carry only your essential and necessary equipment according to your plans for the trip . You'll be surprised how quickly the space fills up.

If you want to know more, we have written several blog articles on this subject:

Blog posts:

5. Download useful applications for your road trips.

Download useful applications for your road trips - Blog Casambu
With the rise of Vanlife , many applications have been developed to simplify logistics during our road trips : whether to find the right route or the ideal location , knowing where to get water or easily locating a service station e.

Before leaving on a road trip, don't hesitate to download any applications that may be useful to you.

We have selected our 15 best applications for you, specifying our favorites and our essentials .

If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

▶ Blog article: The 15 Vanlife apps

6. Plan for a longer travel time than indicated.

Plan for a longer travel time than indicated - Casambu Blog

To avoid unnecessary stress on the road, we tend to allow more time than expected for journeys . For what ?

Some roads may be narrow and unsuitable for our van . We will then drive much slower than the indicated speed.

We also like to leave time for unplanned breaks , to take the time to stop in a village that we discover on the road, to go for a walk if we feel like it, etc. In short, plan for the unexpected !

7. Plan an itinerary that is flexible but not too detailed.

Plan an itinerary that is flexible but not too detailed - Casambu Blog

Sometimes you want to plan your road trip in detail and know your itinerary perfectly. However, our advice is quite different!

Road trips are also made for adventure and discovery , so yes, it is important to have a general idea of ​​your destination , but we suggest that you do not impose strict constraints on yourself, whether in terms of distance to go through each day or by planning your sleep stops two weeks in advance.

Leave yourself room for the unexpected and spontaneous discoveries , whether it's a breakdown , changing weather conditions , or simply an opportunity to discover a new place on your path.

8. Don't miss the opportunity to refuel.

Don't miss the opportunity to refuel - Blog Casambu

Refueling regularly helps minimize the risk of running out of fuel . On the road, gas stations can sometimes be distant from each other, especially in more isolated areas.

By keeping a sufficient fuel level , you ensure that you can reach the next gas station without problem (and with complete peace of mind), give yourself more flexibility regarding the journey and your route and avoid last minute stops. .

And the little extra: you will have more opportunities to stretch your legs !

9. Always have a first aid kit on hand.

Always have a first aid kit on hand - Casambu Blog

We don't want anything bad to happen to you during your road trips , but it is always preferable to have essential safety equipment on hand during your road trips , such as a first aid/emergency kit and fire extinguisher .

If you're not sure which products to include, here are some suggestions that may be helpful:
  • Basic medications: Painkillers, anti-inflammatories, etc.
  • Medicines specific to your needs
  • Disinfectants and disposable gloves
  • Bandages and dressings
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Tick ​​removers

    10. Plan a backup meal(s) in case of unforeseen circumstances.

    Plan an emergency meal(s) in case of the unexpected - Blog Casambu

    We have the habit of always having one or more “emergency meals” (cans, pasta and tomato sauces, etc.) for unforeseen circumstances.

    Whether it's an unexpected situation like a breakdown , an unforeseen delay or an inability to find a restaurant or supermarket , you will always have a solution for a quick meal within reach.

    11. Carry a sufficient supply of water.

    Carry a sufficient supply of water - Casambu Blog

    Who has ever found themselves short of drinking water during a road trip in a van ? WE !

    After a few situations where we were (very) thirsty, we decided to always have 2 emergency bottles of water to make sure we were well hydrated and able to cope with unforeseen events.

    We also bought a filter bottle which allows us to drink water from rivers , lakes , fountains , even when we were not convinced of the cleanliness of the water (thanks to the super efficient filter).

    Having a water supply on a road trip is essential for staying hydrated , meeting medical and hygiene needs , and dealing with unforeseen events , especially in isolated or desert regions. It is an essential element to ensure your comfort and safety during the trip .

    12. Keep a headlamp in your vehicle.

    Keep a headlamp in your vehicle - Casambu Blog

    This little piece of advice, seemingly harmless, was very useful to Marie (our apprentice) and her dad during their first road trip .

    Whether it is to inspect/repair your vehicle , take evening walks (or bathroom breaks), walk along a road at night, it is important to be visible to others (and to see where you are going).

    The headlamp is also very useful for reading a book under the stars !

    13. Have a paper road map in case your GPS fails.

    Have a paper road map in case of GPS failure - Casambu Blog

    We find it particularly fun to have a paper map with us and to trace the route we are taking with a Sharpie (indelible marker) and to be able to see the kilometers already traveled .

    You can also have a mobile map previously downloaded in “offline” mode (the network is sometimes scarce, and very often when we are lost).

    14. Get a portable battery to charge your electronic devices.

    Get a portable battery to recharge your electronic devices - Casambu Blog

    All it takes is for your vehicle to run out of battery for your phone to drain quickly.

    We learned our lesson well with Aurel and since then, we always have at least one portable battery (it all depends on the length of our road trip) charged on board our van , whether for our phones or for our electronic devices .

    15. Plan activities in rainy weather.

    Plan activities in rainy weather - Casambu Blog On a road trip, the weather conditions are not always the best.

    That's why we always take a deck of cards , board games , books , something to watch a movie , and of course our Omnia Oven to prepare delicious, warm cakes!

    If you like to watch movies in your van, consider downloading them in advance in case the network is not very good at your location.

    If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

    Blog article: 6 100% Vanlife films

    16. Keep your vehicle clean (and tidy!).

    Keep your vehicle clean (and tidy!) - Casambu Blog

    If you go as a couple or family, or even solo, you will live in a living space of around 5m2. And to avoid any frustration, we advise you to tidy up / clean your vehicle a little each day.

    If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

    17. Divide tasks among members of your group.

    Divide the tasks between the members of your group - Blog Casambu When we travel in a van, certain daily tasks become recurring: washing the dishes, storing and organizing the van, installing/uninstalling the furniture, folding/unfolding the awning, etc.

    During our 5-month road trip in the Scandinavian countries , we had to take care of Mini-Léonie (who was still just a baby at the time) and daily household chores.

    For this, we found a rhythm that suited us with Aurel, that is to say that everyone knew what they had to do . That way, there’s no reason to step on each other or ask the other “can you do that please?” (and therefore to avoid possible tensions).

    We don't necessarily suggest creating a schedule, but rather dividing up tasks fairly . For example, one does the dishes while the other takes care of the laundry or performs a vehicle cleaning task.

    Everyone knows what they should do, which makes community life easier during your road trip.

    18. Ask locals for recommendations for the best places.

    Ask locals for recommendations to discover the best places - Casambu Blog

    If you have the opportunity to stop in a town or small village, do not hesitate to ask the locals for good addresses, whether for restaurants , places to visit , spots , hikes , tourist visits , etc.

    Their advice and recommendations can really make your trip even more unique and introduce you to beautiful places .

    19. Have multiple payment methods available.

    Have multiple payment methods available - Casambu Blog

    It's important to have different payment methods on a road trip for flexibility and security. Indeed, some stores, restaurants, etc. may have limited payment options.

    It is therefore preferable to have change on you , especially for parking lots or also for coffee machines at motorway rest areas ;)

    In addition, if your credit card is lost or stolen, it is reassuring to have another means of payment such as cash or another bank card.

    And of course, some cards may charge transaction fees or apply unfavorable foreign exchange rates. Having several payment methods allows you to choose the one that offers you the best financial conditions .

    20. Arrive at your destination before dark.

    Arrive at your destination before dark - Casambu Blog

    When you plan to stop at a spot , we advise you to arrive before nightfall.

    Setting up your camp in broad daylight is much more pleasant and also allows you to evaluate your spot more effectively, particularly in terms of safety, neighborhood and location.

    You will be able to sit quietly and perhaps enjoy the sunset .

    We advise you to choose your spot in the morning or the day before in order to spend a quiet day and evening.

    If you want to know more, we have written a blog article for you on this subject:

    Blog article: How to find the perfect spot?

    21. Respect the environment and leave no trace on the places you visit.

    Respect the environment and leave no trace on the places you visit - Casambu Blog It is crucial not to leave any trace when leaving a spot where we have bivouacked with our van equipped for:
    • Respect the environment and preserve natural habitats
    • Respect the local rules and the inhabitants of the region (and do not wish to see a spot filled with toilet paper and bottles)
    • And contribute to a positive image of Vanlife among communities and authorities (so that bivouac in a converted vehicle remains authorized).

    To leave no trace in your wake, we have listed the essential zero-waste accessories on our blog and have put together some tips for an eco-responsible road trip .

    If you want to know more, we have written several blog articles on this subject:

    Blog posts:

    22. Keep a reasonable distance between your vehicle and others once installed on your spot.

    Keep a reasonable distance between your vehicle and others once installed on your spot - Casambu Blog

    Although you may sometimes want to get closer to others to enjoy a breathtaking view , we recommend that you maintain a reasonable distance between your vehicle and other vans and vans .

    Adequate distancing helps preserve your privacy and that of other campers , avoiding feeling crowded or watched too closely.
      In addition, keeping a reasonable distance makes it easier to maneuver without disturbing other travelers.

      23. Have the right accessories to (simply) cook good meals.

      Having the right accessories to (simply) cook good meals - Casambu Blog

      It is important to cook good meals during your road trips, and it is essential to have the right accessories with you!

      To do this, we share with you some ideas for items to put in your nomadic kitchen :
      • The Primus toaster, for delicious grilled toast.
      • The Omnia Oven or the Petromax Oven, for your meals, cakes, etc.
      • Barbecues, and with the sunny days coming, nothing better than grills on your spot
      • The Cookut salad spinner, with its double bag which allows you to wash your salad without splashing yourself (and a little extra: you can water your plants with the accumulated water)
      If you want to know more, we have written several blog articles on this subject:
      Blog posts:

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      Vanlife is an incredible adventure, but it requires good preparation to be fully appreciated. By sharing these 23 practical 100% Vanlife tips, we hope to have helped you better organize your next road trip.

      From budget to vehicle check, space optimization and useful apps, every detail counts to ensure a smooth experience. Remember, every unexpected event is an opportunity for discovery and learning.

      We hope this article has inspired you and made you want to hit the road. If you would like to know more, do not hesitate to explore our other blog articles dedicated to Vanlife .

      Whether you are looking for advice on renting a van, tips for cooking in a van , finding a dream spot or even quick recipes , our blog is full of resources to support you in your Vanlife adventure.

      So, are you ready to hit the road? Keep following us for more tips and inspiration for your future travels!

      May 17, 2024 — Marie Armingol

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