Everything you need to know to plan for a campervan road trip

Chapter 4: Space saving, storage and organization tips

Published: 22-10-2019



Space saving, storage and organization tips

If you’re converting a camper van, you will soon discover that the key is to optimize available space. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Pack smart. You’ve heard it before, “take half the clothes and twice the money”! You won’t need 10 pairs of shoes or 5 pairs of jeans (seriously, who does?). Remember the way you packed for your WHV adventure? Same process, even less stuff.
  • Technically, a bed is just a flat surface with some padding. Many like to build the bed high to fit storage space underneath (but keep headspace in mind!). Platform bed, drop-down table bed, flip-bench bed, slide platform bed, bunk bed, couch bed, slider bed… there are tons of options if you’re resourceful and skilled enough. You may want to check some pictures here.
Watch for bedbugs! They are every traveller’s worst nightmare. These small, oval, brownish insects live on the blood of animals or humans and move fast. They often come out at night to bite and infestation is not limited to bedding–they love to hide in luggage, furniture, clothes, etc. Make sure to inspect your used campervan thoroughly, especially if it comes with a mattress. You can see bedbugs with the naked eye or you may notice clusters of dark brown or black spots of dried excrement on infested surfaces (yuck, right?).
How to avoid bedbugs?

  • Bedbugs are great hitchhikers. Check the mattress and furniture in hostels and motels before unpacking. Avoid putting your luggage on beds, it’s best to leave it on a chair or any high surface.
  • Check second-hand clothing and used furniture carefully. You know, this seemingly new mattress sitting at the curb with a “FREE!” sign on it… yep, could come with bedbugs. In Canada and Australia, there are strict regulations regarding selling used mattresses for a reason.
  • Vacuum floor space in your campervan regularly (and keep your living space clean in general). Many major-brand gas stations have vacuums, although not in all locations.

How can I get rid of bedbugs?

  • Check carefully to see where they are hiding.
  • When taking ownership of the van, vacuum it thoroughly (use the crevice tool to reach into holes, cracks, etc.).
  • Wash all textiles with very hot water. Some backpackers opt for leaving their sleeping bag in a freezer for a while!
  • Keep things clean and orderly—fewer opportunities for bedbugs to hide in peace.
  • Most importantly, contact bedbug extermination services because you won’t get rid of them alone.

  • Optimize storage space. Boxes and containers are great but consider off-the-floor solutions like closets, ceiling rails, hooks, etc.
  • Tag generic boxes and containers until you master your campervan. This is the best way to avoid looking for the *one* item you *know* you put in a box somewhere…
  • Use collapsible water containers—just keep in mind they aren’t as sturdy. That said, unless you’re crossing the desert (this is not a metaphor, looking at you, Australia) you probably won’t need to carry that much water. A few 3-4-litre jugs are enough if you fill them up regularly. The exception is South America (read on for a spotlight on road trips in Argentina and Chile ) and the Australian Outback.
  • Make sure to install blinds or bring thick fabric to cover your campervan windows. You may need some privacy and it’s for your own comfort too as sunrise can be very early.
  • A good floor plan is the key when you’re loading your campervan for the first time. Think of it as a real-life Tetris game—one thing at the time, everything should fit. Don’t rush, else you may have to take everything out to fit in the one essential item you forgot!

For more info, you can watch the three-minute video below (in French) that shows how to turn a regular van into a cozy vehicle for a road trip.

Chapter 4 of 13


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