When we began touring back in 2017, we were happy to just jump in and go, without too much thought about what we would pack to take with us. Obviously we included the essentials, such as food, clothes and our then two-year-old son, but outside of that, we had an attitude of ‘what we don’t have, we can do without’.
Fast forward almost four years, add our second child and the experience garnered from a multitude of trips, and we have an altogether different outlook. Now we are very much of the belief that our experiences on the road can be greatly enhanced by what we pack, not to mention our life being made a lot easier and more comfortable, thanks to certain additions to our packing list.
With many of us planning our trips for the coming months we wanted to share our ideas about some of the top accessories that we pack to take away with us.
Of course, every touring family is different, and the accessories and items that each of us deems important will depend on the sort of trip we are going on and what we intend to do while we’re away.
For us, traveling with two children under the age of five years, there is an obvious focus on ensuring that they enjoy the adventures as much as we do. We are also a very active, outdoor family, another aspect reflected in the items we consider important.
Quite understandably, you might not agree, or see the need for everything that we take away with us. Equally, you might think we are missing something, so if that’s the case, do email us via [email protected] – we’d love about your views on the subject!
COBB outdoor cooking system
It was the story behind this clever portable barbecue that first caught our attention.
I spent a year backpacking in Africa in 2009, often wild camping in remote villages in exchange for cooking a meal with the locals; so when we heard it started life as an eco-friendly way to use old corn cobs for fuel, rather than wood or coal, we were intrigued.
The set we use today has advanced somewhat from the original, combining the ability to grill, barbecue or even oven-cook, all in a portable carry case.
The focus is on being as eco-friendly as possible, by burning small charcoal lumps made from coconut shells, and we think that it’s ideal for being able to barbecue anywhere, either by the motorhome or taking it somewhere more scenic.
- Price From £120
- Available from cobb-bbq.co.uk
Duvalay Comfort sleeping bag
This might not be new to some, but given it only came onto our radar last year, and was an instant game-changer, it has to be included in our list.
As much as the kids love the ‘giant jigsaw’ that is putting together the bed at the front of the van in the evenings, the mix-and-match of cushions doesn’t always lend itself to a great night’s sleep – many have been the nights I’ve woken to find myself sliding between two cushions!
That all changed when we invested in a couple of Duvalay Comfort sleeping bags, designed to go on uneven, hard or mixed surfaces, providing a firm, comfortable topper with built-in duvet.
- Price From £144.95
- Available from www.duvalay.co.uk
Montane Anti-Freeze down jacket
Given our love of touring all year round, we are faced, at certain times of the year, with some pretty fresh weekends away in the Welsh Mountains (other cold destinations are available!).
Not that we mind being out and about in the cold, especially when we have the right clothes for the conditions, which is where our Montane Anti-Freeze jackets come in. Not only do they pack very small, so they don’t take up masses of cupboard space, but thanks to their 750+ fill HyperDRY down, they are like wearing a sleeping bag when out walking – or just pottering around the campsite first thing in the morning.
- Price Around £185
- Available from Various retailers
We are a family that loves stories, and if we are not reading books in the van, we are often listening to them.
The challenge with listening is that it requires a phone or tablet, which as any parent will know, often leads to children wanting to use the device. Not that we are against our children developing technology skills, but we prefer to keep screen time to a minimum; which is why the Yoto Player has been such a revelation for us.
It allows both Harrison and Dorothy to be in total control of which of their books they listen to, without the need for a phone or table.
With a huge library of audio cards suitable for children aged three to 12 years, there’s enough stories to last many a trip or evening in the ‘van.
- Price (for player) £79.99
- Available from www.yotoplay.com
When you’re up early with the children, or out exploring and catching the sunrise, a good cup of coffee is an integral part of the day.
Last year we encountered two coffee challenges – the first was fewer coffee shops being open because of the Covid-19 restrictions, and the second, when we were off-grid or on hikes, was no electricity for our Nespresso machine.
Our solution? The hand-powered Wacaco Minipresso, which allows us to enjoy a fresh espresso no matter where we are, be it parked up in the mountains, on a long walk or sitting looking at a view miles from any form of civilisation (let alone a good coffee shop).
The Minipresso is compatible with Nespresso capsules: all you need is hot water and a little hand power for the perfect espresso.
- Price £44.28
- Available from www.wacaco.com
Like many families, our philosophy centres on creating great holiday memories. We also want to capture as many of these as possible, to give us something to look back on – this is even more important during the lockdowns, as we dream about past and future trips.
Our GoPro HERO9 has proved invaluable, and pretty much indestructible – just as well, with two small children using it too – in enabling us to capture brilliant images.
One of our favourite uses for the camera is mounted on thedashboard when we are driving over spectacular mountain passes, giving us some stunning footage.
- Price £329.98 including one year GoPro subscription
- Available from GoPro.com/en/gb
There’s nothing quite like finishing a day spent outdoors by sitting around a campfire. We fell in love with this during our month-long road trip around Colorado a few years back, where almost every site had a fire pit on each pitch.
The kids had great fun cooking bananas and marshmallows, and for us, it was a chance to relax with a cold beer, watching the flames and enjoying the evening air.
Although a lot of UK sites don’t allow fires, many privately owned ones do, so we invested in a small collapsible fire pit, to make the most of those occasions when we can safely have a campfire. It folds flat, so takes up very little room, and is there whenever we need it.
- Price £60
- Available from www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SprintCNC
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