25 Items Under $25 Every Camper Should Have!

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When your home is the road, it’s small, seldom absolutely necessary gizmos and gadgets that make the biggest difference. From plants to paints to puzzle mats, I’m a firm believer in surrounding yourself with things that make you feel good, prepared, and inspired. Basically, things that make a person feel right at home. And all without breaking the bank. 

Here’s a round-up of 25 items under $25 that I’ve grown to consider essentials in my cross-country travel.

1. USB String Lights

Be warned: once you put string lights in your road home, it’ll never feel right without them again! Stringing up petite, pretty lights in a camper home or van elevates the mood in an instant, creating a certain warmth that’s tough to replicate with bigger bulbs. USB-powered lights in particular are the bee’s knees since you can hook them up to a small battery pack without any plug-ins.

  • Find it HERE for $6
String Lights Hanging  On The Roof Of The Van
String Lights

2. Foam Muscle Roller

Chances are that you’re spending a lot of time in the driver’s seat, logging in a good amount of miles day in and day out. Chances also are, that your body grows tired of it from time to time. These foam rollers are muscle-massaging marvels, and there’s no better way to loosen up tight muscles. Especially if you’re prone to back pain from staying seated for too long.

  • Find it HERE for $16
Lady in Lime Green Sweater On A Pink Foam Roller
Foam Roller

3. Blender Bottle

One of the biggest things I miss about living in a stationary home is having easy access to a powerful blender for my daily green juices and smoothies. Especially since on-the-road cooking is often more focused on convenience rather than health, finding a nutrient-packed protein powder or smoothie mix to supplement your meals can be a game changer for balancing energy levels and keeping your well-being in check. Think the old spoon-and-shake vigorously method will suffice? Believe me: once you start using a blender bottle for your mixes, you’ll never go back.

  •  Find it HERE for $18

4. Clothesline

On the road, frequent stops at Laundromats are part of the program. For smaller, lightweight garments that don’t need urgent laundering but a mere refresh, take a suggestion from the camper handbook and wash them in a bowl – or, a really big Ziploc! This is the most obvious way a clothesline comes in handy, but, there’s so much more to it.  It’s also pretty sweet for hanging towels after impromptu river dips, hanging dish cloths after dinner wash duties, or even hanging artwork that needs to dry. 

5.Budget Sleeping Bag Blanket

Let me be clear: a really good sleeping bag is a really worthwhile investment, especially if you’re a fervid camper or backpacker. In addition to that really good sleeping bag, though, I’ve found that a budget-friendly synthetic bag is a welcome addition when living in a van or RV. With a lower-tier model, I find that I’m more apt to use it for napping on the dirt, or sitting in front of a bonfire (which down sleeping bags should stay far, far away from!)  I’ve even used one as an impromptu rain jacket. So buy it, get it dirty, get it wet, wash it freely, and live boldly, friends!

  • Find it HERE for $25

6. Reusable Silicone Storage Bags

Leak-proof Tupperware is great for food storage, but once I started using these silicone bags, I found it hard to go back to regular containers! Whether you’re packing leftovers in a fridge or cooler, or consolidating snacks or grains in your pantry, these bags are airtight, watertight, and take up so much less space than glass and plastic containers.

  • Find it HERE for $20

7. Portable Battery Pack 

Oh, let me count the ways my van and I love our portable battery packs! I have four different kinds, if I’m being honest, and all serve their purpose beautifully. For the sake of this article, I’ll include the lightest and cheapest- but don’t think that weight and price imply poor quality! This baby can run my string lights for days, and works wonders for charging my phone when the van isn’t running. 

  • Find it HERE for $18

8. Skipping Rope

It’s a full body workout, it barely takes up space in your van or RV, and it enhances your heart, your bones, your muscles, your balance, your coordination, your endurance, and your mood. And it probably costs less than your favorite burrito. Need I say more? There’s a lot to love about a skipping rope, but the biggest selling point is that it’s basically a portable gym that fits in your pocket. 

  • Find it HERE for $11

9. Headlamp

If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, you’re probably already used to packing a headlamp when you go for a hike or longer adventure. Because as the Scouts say: Be prepared! Be prepared! Be prepared! Living in a van or RV is no different. Sometimes, your lights stop working. Sometimes, you need to spend 30 minutes looking through your dark storage nook because you’ve misplaced something. Sometimes, you get a flat at midnight. A headlamp – or two or three- is a must.

  • Find it HERE for $25

10. Nalgene Water Bottles

I currently have three Nalgene bottles scattered throughout the van. My partner has four. Is that one or two too many, you may be wondering? Never! My Nalgene bottles wear many hats. They hold my hydrating liquids. When filled with hot water, they warm me on cold nights. When a proper bathroom is far from reach, they act as a pee receptacle. Once, they stored cheese-its for a week. Having a few on tap in your road home is always a good idea. 

  • Find it HERE for $15 
Lady Carrying 3 Nalgenes Water Bottles
Nalgene Water Bottles

11. Thermos

Perhaps I’m a bit biased as a passionate tea-drinker, but a big thermos is something you don’t realize you need until you have one. I always top mine off when boiling water for my morning coffee, or, when I’m at a gas station –hot water is free, after all!– so that I have it ready to go, just in case. Whether you want to make a cup-o-soup, a hot chocolate, or do a quick underwear wash in a plastic bag, if hot water is a gift, a thermos is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Find it HERE for $25 
Black Thermos Next To Silver Kettle On Stove

12. Hammock

I used to swoon when other vans and RVs would roll up to a campsite and set up a hammock, but no longer! These days, hammocks are so lightweight and packable, that there’s no reason not to stash one or two in storage. There’s truly nothing like cozying up in a hammock and swaying with the wind in a beautiful location, so: just do it. Be swoon-worthy!

  • Find it HERE for $20
Two Hammocks One red And One Blue

13. Compact Camp Chair

It’s intended to be used outdoors, I know. But to my own surprise, I use my camp chair just as often inside my van. Camping “travel chairs” these days are super compact, super lightweight, and somehow fit in the strangest of places. Especially if you’re in a van and don’t have a dedicated sitting space (I feel your pain!) a chair like this is invaluable.

  •  Find it HERE for $25
Lady In Blue Sitting On A Camping Chair
Camp Chair

14.  French Press

The average van-lifer or full-time camper spends a decent amount of time going to coffee shops. I say this confidently because I’m one of them. I love coffee, and I love craft coffee, but believe me when I say that near-daily coffee runs gets expensive very quickly. The solution? Buy a good French press, and buy beans from your favorite roaster. You’ll still get the quality, but for half the price. Chances are you have a hungry gas tank, so put those spare coffee bucks toward your road expenses instead.

  • Find it HERE for $25
Red French Press
French Press

15. Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headband

I admit: I laughed at the idea of this headphone headband before I actually tried it. But as someone who loves listening to podcasts, music, and brown-noise channels before bed, this has proven necessary for falling asleep with my favorite sounds. And without the discomfort of weirdly placed headphones that are bound to fall out anyway. Even if you like silence before bed, trust that you’ll want this around if you ever spend a night at a rowdy campground. 

  • Find it HERE for $19

 16. Electric Screwdriver

Most road homes have a basic tool box stashed below deck, but I’m constantly surprised to learn how many don’t have an electric screwdriver. Why would anyone do that to themselves?! An electric screwdriver comes in handy whether you need to fix a shelving unit or attach a whisk to puree a soup (…am I kidding?) 

  • Find it HERE for $25

17. A Pretty Plant

Having a plant in your camper or RV really makes a space come alive. Even more so, plants improve air quality and mood. As long as you affix it to a secure place, there’s no reason a little greenery won’t thrive when your wheels are in motion. To ensure the relationship is a successful one, pick a plant that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, does well in low light environments, and one that won’t hate you for all the bumps and shakes that come with driving. Give it a name, give it love, and watch the magic happen.

  • Find it HERE for $7

18. First Aid Kit

Hopefully you already have a first aid kit in your RV or van, but if you don’t: what are you waiting for? Seriously. Unless you’re within ear shot of a hospital all the time, you should be prepared with, at minimum, some basic medical supplies for when those happenstances catch you off guard. 

  • Find it HERE for $25 

19.  Puzzle Roll Up Mat

At first glance, a puzzle mat seems like a silly invention. If I wasn’t living in a van, I might think so, too! Hear me out though. The act of puzzling (that may not be a word but it should be?) does wonders for your brain. If you’re based out of a RV or camper, however, it’s hard-going setting up and breaking down a puzzle every time. That space is needed for eating or working or cocktail hours! A roll-up puzzle mat isn’t the most perfect system, but hey: it packs down to nothing and it makes puzzle creation far more accessible. A win in my book. 

  • Find it HERE for $15

20.  Slip-On Comfort Slides

Every camper van or RV has its own set of rules. Whether or not “NO SHOES IN THE HOUSE!’ is one of them, having a comfortable pair of slip-ons – ahem, comfort slides– for when you’re indoors for a while will totally elevate your relationship with your feet. Long drives? Slip-ons. Late night bathroom stops? Slip-ons. Laces get annoying. Sneakers get constricting. Socks get sweaty. You’re on the road feeling free and all, so spread the love and let your feet feel the freedom, too. 

  • Find it HERE for $18

21. Hanging Finger & Hand Strength

You don’t need to be a rock climber to reap the benefits of hand & finger strength tools. If you’re working from the road and spending your share of hours on a keyboard, working on grip strength is a great way to prevent carpal tunnel from worsening, too. These hang boards are a personal favorite because they can be hooked on and off easily, and provide a full upper body workout.

  • Find it HERE for $22 
Man in Black With Hang Boards To Strengthen Hands
Hand Strength

22. Trickle Charger

I went years without a trickle charger, and wish someone had told me about the benefits of one sooner. The slow, low-voltage charge emitted from a trickle charger maintains your vehicle’s battery life by preventing damage from charging it too quickly, or over-charging. Batteries don’t come cheap, so there’s no reason not to have something this wallet-friendly that helps extend their life.

  • Find it HERE for $22

23. “Emergency” Camp Stove

If you’re anything like me, your stovetop is a dear friend, one whose service you rely on several times a day. Stoves are imperfect creatures, though, and if yours decides to start acting funky for unexplainable reasons -or explainable reasons you simply don’t want to contend with in a hungry state- having a backup can be everything.  With such compact, affordable, barely-there camping stoves on the market these days, there’s no reason not have a small spare, just in case.  

  • Find it HERE for $14
Lady Cooking On A Camp Stove
Camp Stove

24. Charcoal Air Freshener Bags

On any given day, there are a lot of smells that can “happen” in your road home. From bags of laundry and residual food smells to sweat-soaked shoes and garbage that hasn’t been thrown out yet, it makes sense that aromas materialize quickly in vans and campers.  And since chemical air fresheners and overly scented candles be a lot to handle in a small space, finding alternate ways to freshen up your home-on-wheels can do wonders. These charcoal-packed bags are magical for that very reason. And they last years

  • Find it HERE for $25

25 Watercolor Set 

Water coloring- or any form of artistic creation!-  is a great way to slow down, de-stress, and reconnect to the present, to yourself, and to your surroundings. If you’ve never water colored before, or, if you think you’re not very skilled, fret not: this isn’t about creating a masterpiece!  It’s simply about creating. Personally, I try and schedule an art session at minimum once every couple of weeks, even if just for fifteen minutes. Trust that it’ll get your neurons firing and activate that part of your brain that makes you feel real good.

  • Find it HERE for $18
Woman Painting With WaterColor Set
WaterColor Set
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