Items We Can’t Live Without (the month 2 edition)

IMG_3342I am trying to remember all the topics I googled in preparation for our departure and I am doing my best to report on such topics as we gain insight and our days in the van increase. Perhaps our blog will come up on someone’s hit list and it will offer some insight. As I keep a promise to myself to expose our day-to -day van life experience, I have come to appreciate a few items more than others. I believe as the year presses on this list with change and evolve. It’s not exhaustive but it’s a start. Hence forth is our list of items we can’t live without (the 8 weeks in to the trip edition)

Dust Buster – Dear Target, you win again. Don’t judge. 72 square feet, only about 12 of which we actually stand in, and one dog can get very dirty and that can make us all a little cranky.   The idea of a dust buster came to us after we spent a night in gale force winds at a sand dune in Bodega Bay, CA. We hunkered down inside the van, a sand free haven, but opening the door was inevitable. Following that particular 24 hour adventure there was a thin film of sand on every surface inside Ellie. We have power, some bathrooms have power, some camp sights have power, the sun gives us power for our outlets so a little dust buster was an easy cost to justify. We love it.



Rice Cooker – have you met us? If so, then you know that a rice cooker is paramount to our diet. We blame Allen & Skratch Labs and the concept of clean whole food livin’. We have not made proper portables yet but it’s in the works. Like most people who purchase a rice cooker for the home, we totally ignored the steamer part of the apparatus. Ask around, most house dwellers chuck it. But in van life, it’s a little pot of heaven. While making rice we, thus far, have also steamed up fingerling potatoes, green beans, carrots and spinach. We have not tried broccoli yet but I’m partial to soggy broccoli so I’ll probably love it.   Before we left we purchased this 6 cup rice cooker from, yup, Target and left our 10 cup cooker in the storage unit. We are also working on perfecting our “how to make Skratch cookies in a rice cooker” technique. It’s almost ready to release to the public so stand by.


Hot Pot – At the time that I write this, this little gem is our newest addition. We’ve only had it for 48 hours and I already can’t remember life without it. We cook food, heat water and make coffee on our camp stove. Sometimes, I just want hot water quick for hot chocolate or coffee in the morning or we don’t feel like pulling out the stove to heat water for a quick dinner (for example, this New England based company Good-To-Go). For the last few weeks I have mentioned getting a plug in hot pot like I had back in college, but Jon was reluctant. Thankfully, after meeting Dakota & Chelsea (aka Traipsing About) in real life during our recent PDX visit, they validated my desire. So, one visit to Fred Meyer, a $12 withdrawal and we are already wondering how we lived without this technology. As an added bonus, pour over coffee in the van just got way easier.

Dish Gloves – While we do have 12 gallons of tepid running water in the van, I can’t pass up the opportunity to use a spigot when I see one. In fact we even travel with a water key to access spigots that don’t have handles. Super stealth. Anyway, while our goal has been to chase summer, we have yet to actually find it. We are firmly settled in spring where it is pretty chilly most of the time. It’s comfortable enough but sometimes dinner dish washing from an outside tap is down right numbing. Yes we heat up water for sanitation, but rinsing with cold water happens. So, thanks to a swing through a dollar store, we know own dish gloves and the addition of these gloves to our arsenal has, undoubtedly, made my life better.



Baby Carrots –Van Life makes me snacky. After spending the last couple of years getting my body back after fertility treatment and knee injuries, I was worried about not being diligent with my calories in versus out as we settled in to life on the road. Besides that, being in a car generally makes me hungry. It took a few weeks (and a few unwanted pounds) to find a balance, but it happened. I didn’t work that hard to lose it all as soon as this trip started.  Basically I’d be rolling out of the van by now if it weren’t for baby carrots. They are the most perfect snack. I chose wisely and organically so as to avoid the sketchy market of farmed baby carrots. Gross.  I choose the good ones. They keep me awake when I need to be the driver or the navigator, they keep me full and hydrated and they crunch. I basically check on the baby carrot supply as often as I check on gas and water. It’s a basic necessity at this point.

Fire Balls – They live in the glove compartment and they are the perfect pick-me-up for the driver and navigator when they days are a little longer. They get your attention, they are something to pay attention to…and I have learned that I do best when I’m limited to one per day. And that one is so totally worth it.

Bike Stand – Admittedly this comes from Jon’s brain, not mine, but I benefit from it greatly so it’s worth a mention. In a nutshell, we have a sweet bike stand that mounts perfectly on the back door of the van. This makes cleaning and maintenance, two things which are usually annoying tasks, easier on the body and the mind. It’s mounted at the perfect height for Jon’s body mechanics, so I’ll just let him keep working it 😉


Next up…Basic needs: bathing, toileting and Penny.

3 thoughts on “Items We Can’t Live Without (the month 2 edition)

  1. It ain’t easy living in the box, I did it for 15 years on and off. The vans looking sweet, psyched for you guys. Baby wipes were always on my tic list.


  2. […] this post could have been combined with “Items We Can’t Live Without” but I felt like breaking it up would make more sense in my brain. However, for the sake of future […]


  3. […] if you are parked near shore power, just use that).  Back in month 2 I wrote a blog about items I can’t live without, in which I mentioned this rice cooker and the goal of making Skratch cookies […]


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