Packing clothes is a challenge. I always take too many anyway, and for this trip I need camping clothes, city clothes, and 5K training clothes.  Since I am kind of picky about not wearing clothes more than one time before washing, I need to take quite a few items. Hey, that is why I bought a van!

Still, my family (certainly my son, who now has a wish list a mile long on REI) will make snide comments about packing so much junk, so for their sake I will make an attempt to think this through and pack less clothing.

My efforts include these thoughts:

  • Do I REALLY need different purses for each camping outfit? Won’t the rubber chicken purse coordinate with everything?
  • Ditto with shoes…would one pair for camping, one pair for city, one pair for running, and hiking boots be enough? No…won’t give on this one.


  • Can I combine camping and running clothes, instead of changing from running clothes to the day’s camping clothes, then to sweats at night? Yes, by golly! Just change shirt after running!!
  • Hey, while I am thinking about it, can I combine sporty running clothes with jeans for the city? That would be tres chic, to schlep around the city in sporty running things. Imagine the admiring glances as I wear my thrifted Columbia wind breaker around town.
  • Do I need five fleece quarter zip tops? No, not really
  • Do I need all my son’s Marine clothing? Yes!!!! It gives me comfort. I have a quarter zip and regular military shirt in desert camo, a green camo shirt and a full set of green camo outerwear (pants, jacket) that is water, chemical, and wind resistant. That outfit might be intimidating to zombies, too.

So, all I need besides my sporty stuff is some jeans, and  2 somethings to change into for restaurants and church. Now I am getting someplace. I have gone from 21 outfits to 9 (thank God for washing machines). I also need jammies,  long underwear, gloves, hats, wool socks, and bandanas.


Church Outfit

So, where do I put this mountain of textiles, shoes, and stuff? I will hang as much as I can.  I will take two medium duffles. Normally, the duffles would go under the bed, but the bed is on the floor this trip. I will just stack them under the hanging clothes. Duffles are the BEST for camping. I have had some of mine over 20 years.Finally,  I have a hanging shoe holder for the footwear.

When I first got the van I bought a long, sturdy, tension rod for clothing. Lucky for me, there were two pre-manufactured “holes” in on opposite sides of van interior, and the tension pole was long enough to work into the holes and tighten up nice and snug. Photo below!

I also pack two laundry bags: a large one for just plain dirty clothes and a mesh bag for wet and/or sweaty stuff. I keep jewelry to a minimum when traveling. What I do take goes into a sun glasses case (yes genius…I know).

Kitchen and Cooking

Surprise—here is one area where I do not over pack. I do not cook a whole lot on the road, and I do not keep tons of food with me. In fact, I gave my son the 5-day super cooler and now I just use a large insulated bag. It’s smaller, lighter, and easier to store.

When camping for just a few nights I put Blue Ice in the insulated bag. For longer trips I use real ice because I don’t like to store unfrozen Blue Ice; it always seems to leak. In either case, stuff will keep very cold for several days. Into this bag goes yogurt, cheese, veggies, apples, Slim Fast in cans (for after workout), and maybe some meat or soy meats. I replenish when passing through town.

As for non-perishables, I pack oatmeal, Starbucks Double Shots (bad me), instant coffee, olive oil and Mrs. Dash spice mixes. I will also confess to you here and now one of my weaknesses: instant mashed potatoes. It is my camping staple. Up to this point my love of this processed gunk has been a deep secret, so go gentle.


That’s right, hovered over the cook stove so no one can see, I make instant mashed potatoes mixed with cooked veggies and some diced meat. YUMMMM. Alternatively, I will use cut spaghetti with the veggies and meat. I use different spice mixes for variation, sometimes if I am feeling care free, I add cheese. I can eat this every night! I also like to stop and get a Subway egg white sandwich when I am driving.

I have a typical Coleman camping stove but I only take my small, one burner stove. It is much easier to use and store. That means I also pack canisters of propane and lots of matches.

As for dinner ware, I use real plates, bowls, and silverware. I don’t like the waste associated with throw away stuff. For cooking, I have a nice little set of nesting pots. I love them—makes life very easy on the road.   Unlike the drama involved in packing clothes and gear, my food needs are simple. Photos below!

Other things to tell you about:

  • 12 volt beverage warmer-: I found this jewel at a truck stop .Its a heating element with a cord attached!  It’s amazing what you can buy with a cigarette lighter adapter on the other end. Sometimes I make morning coffee the night before when I have the little stove out and then reheat with this gadget. I keep this up in front of the van, since to use it I have to plug it in!  Upfront I keep a travel coffee mug, a tall plastic cup for water, and a glass Mason jar to use with above 12 volt warmer. I use these for everything, even a little glass of wine now and then in the Mason jar!
  • Water- I take several gallon containers of water, and a reserve supply in a large flat container.
  • Miscellaneous: Dishpan, sponge, Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, foil, and paper towels. cooker with long handle for campfire, wire marshmallow sticks, although that is a big no-no

And where do I put all these goodies? I use three bins without the lids, which go just inside the back doors. It works GREAT. The curtain separates this stuff from the bed area. If I need to stick my hand under the curtain while in bed and grab and apple, no problem.


The photo shows back doors open and  a bin holding water and insulated bag on left,  one with stove, pots, propane in the middle and one with food on the right. .On top are my folding chair, folding table and camp rug. The cardboard box has a new metal dog pen…will be very handy when I get to Mom’s house since the yard is not fenced. The nice little curtain keeps everything tidy-looking from inside the van.

Dog Stuff

Can’t forget Tango. Here is his stuff, which I store in side doors.

dog gear

Dog tie down, leash, poo bags, bowls, dog food, snack box. The park rangers love me for using the poo bags

dog gear 2

dog gear 3


Oh boy, all the brownie points I awarded myself for reducing my clothes by more than  half will now disappear. If they make it, I have it:

  • Flashlights
  • Lantern
  • Day pack, fanny pack
  • Water bottles
  • Camera
  • Binoculars (one regular pair and one mini pair for up front)
  • Computer/Kindle/Verizon Air Card
  • Mechanical pencils
  • Folded resusable bags
  • First Aid stuff
  • Drug store (anti-itchy stuff, bug bite goop, 5 kinds of pain reliever, 4 different things to help me sleep at night  and so on)
  • Electric diffuser with essential oils (run it while driving, using converter plugged into cigarette ligther)
  • Satellite Radio
  • Red Cross Emergency Radio, solar powered and hand crank
  • Print Sudoku books in case Kindle runs out of power
  • Whistle
  • 2 stun guns (one for purse, one for sleeping area)
  • Assorted tools
  • Fire starter blocks
  • Lighter fluid for those times when I want a fire fast (secret information)
  • Fabulous chair (don’t go cheap here)
  • Folding table (mine is like a folding TV table but oval-shaped and bigger. Its from Walmart and I will show you pics while on the road.
  • Too many more to think of right now, but I will elaborate as I travel, and I will eventually have links to Amazon for many of the things I use.

For this trip I have to store all these little goodies somewhere besides under the bed. I installed several wire racks from the Dollar Store. I have used them before and they squeak and scrape while I am driving. This time I used some cotton batting to make little pads to put between hanger and metal walls of van. Mo betta! Sigh.gear

Wire gear racks, near front of van-note the cotton wads to keep them from squeaking. Looks funky so in the future I will make some little pads that look better…maybe recycle some shoulder pads.

 Keeping Things Charged

Yes, there are gadgets for that, which is a good thing because I don’t have electricity in the van. When I am driving, I have no problem keeping things charged. I have 12 volt (cigarette lighter) recharge  cords for some things. For those with a  regular cord, I have an inverter I plug into the 12 volt socket first.

While driving, the phone and Satellite radio go in the two 12 volt sockets on the dashboard of the van. If I want to use my 12 volt water heater I have a 12 volt plugin with 5 sockets. I can also run my electric blanket through this system.

I will plug the computer into the converter and charge it up. I plug the camera into the computer via USB. Then I charge up the Kindle using the converter. The converter makes a humming sound so if I am cranky I pull it out.

So, that is when I am driving, and it generally keeps things charged.  I cannot do this when not driving or my van battery will be kaput.

Still, those sneaky  electronics can run out of a charge when you are on the last pages of a gripping e-novel at night. What to do? I keep my battery box nearby (it’s normally a door stop to keep the potty out of site). It has regular and 12 volt plugins. It is also an air compressor.

However, the battery box need charging too! So if that runs out or I want to save it for later, I have my new little solar charger which is awesome. I throw that on the dashboard when I am driving.

One more thing. When road tripping like I will do tomorrow (!) I like to stop at coffeehouses. Usually I can charge a few things there while I linger and read. Sometimes I spend the night at a KOA, to get cleaned up and charge up stuff. I carry an extension cord for that and get a space with electricity for a night.

I am used to this system of charging and will post photos while on the road. However it does seem complicated. In the future I will install a solar panel on top of the van, but that is another story for another time.

TMI-Stop Now if You Don’t Like Potty Talk

I have received several requests from my most quirky friends to write about my potty arrangements. Normally I would have glossed this over but BY REQUEST, here is the scoop:

  • I make every effort I can to use campground facilities. However, since I stay at official campgrounds only some times, I need an alternative. If I am really out there in the boonies, well, you know what they say about the bushes, although I am getting a bit old for that kind of positioning.
  • My mainstay potty is a 5-gallon bucket with a specially made potty seat. I use Double Doodie(seriously) liners that I get online. They are pricey but I gladly pay the price.
  • I have a pop-up privacy tent that is great if I am around other people or feel a need for privacy when mountain lions and bears are lurking nearby.

This is really getting personal so STOP NOW if you don’t like potty talk but kept reading anyway. I also have a female urinal which I keep handy. Perhaps you too know about those “gotta go gotta go gotta go RIGHT NOW moments.

potty stuffFolded Double Doodie Bags, little shovels, urinal

potty stuff 2

Everything put away nice and neat in the other side door

potty stuff 3

No one but you and I know what is behind that curtain

potty, fresh bagPotty with Double Doodie Bag

potty place

Potty hidden behind door in the partition between front and back. I use my battery box as a door stop to keep door in place.   Note: this is also the corner where the gear racks are hanging in above photo


Pop Up Privacy Shelter, in case

pop up

Don’t I look great since I started running and dyed my hair blond?dish pan, shelter

Pop up stowed near bins. The curtain is not closed in this photo so you can see some of the clothes hanging. One the curtain goes across the bins are separated from the rest of the van.

The End for Now

By the way, I keep firewood up on the passenger seat. Tango won’t sit up there, cause it’s too high up. He gets nervous. He rides along comfy and cozy on my bed.

So, we got through that with almost no potty humor! What’s next? Will write from the road!

5 thoughts on “Packing the Van Part Two – Clothes, Cooking, and Lots of Gear

  1. I was more than happy to discover this site. I need
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