Vanlife Essentials: Taiwan Round Trip Packing Stuff

January 6, 2020

Nature is a wild thing. It is mirthless, and masterful. It does not care who you are or where you come from. In its eternal, it is beautiful. 

But, unlike Chris McCandless, (you know…the book Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer. Famous for trecking into the romance of the Alaskan wild and never coming back) you need to be prepared before taking a long form camping trip or your vanlife road trip. Chris McCandless brought with him

  • A bag of rice 
  • Some spourous shoes 
  • A nice backpack

We like to keep it simple too… but a man can not live off of bread alone (or rice…trust us we live in Asia). Fear not fellow traveler, for we are here to help. Here is what we decided we need for our van-life essentials and our Taiwan round trip. 

Planning Our Taiwan Huan Dao Van Trip 

Around Taiwan.

10 days.

9 Nights. 

300 km + (getting lost or sidetracked not included)

Our van, our dog, flashlights…wait, what else do we need?

Last Fall Johan and I took a West Coast road trip through the America West. With me in Chicago, and Johan in Taiwan the calibrations and alignment of where we would go, what to expect, and what to pack were difficult to imagine. Time zones were not on our side. With some more experience behind us but with similar unknowns in front, we are able to prepare for our round trip (huan dao) of Taiwan with a little more of the essentials in mind. 

So, we looked through the blogs, most of them full of things you don’t need, read over the checklists, most of ours scattered through our notebooks and Google Docs…and decided it comes down to this. 

  • The Van Build
  • Kitchen Essentials
  • Camping Accessories
  • Electronics & Electrical Equipment
  • Clothing
  • Toiletries

The Delica L300 Van Build 

So, you want to be able to live in your van. You don’t need  Instagram pisquresque vibes, or stained wood panels, or a bath tub in the back of your van. But, you do need some things if you’re going to sustain a decent life on the road for a relatively long period of time.  So, this is where we are. Along with our packing essentials, these are the basics and essentials (which really is all you need) we have incorporated into our initial van build. 

A bed. 

It is worth it to get a good nights sleep we have learned. Sleeping on a hard floor is okay for a night or two, but we intend to spend some time in our Delica Van. So, might as well make our slumber sweet. 

Blackout curtains.

Keeping the Taiwan sun out is essential when staying cool. Blackout curtains help with this, and they also help us sleep at night knowing there is no one peeking in. This is unlikely is Taiwan, considering it is one of the safest countries in the world, but Johan and I are not from Taiwan. 

A cooking area. 

Cooking is one of the most human things you can do. We enjoy making our own food. From camping hash browns, to fire bread, a functional cooking space is something that we consider to be essential. 

Storage. 

Let me mention again, storage. A lesson learned while camping out in the US and our whole lives. It is important, especially for long term travel to keep things (kind of) organized and packed away. Where is the bug spray? Wait, where is the flashlight? Johan…

And spot for Thula because we love her. 

Thula likes to be involved…in everything. But, we like her company as much as we think she likes ours. She may just like the food part. A space for Thula to hang out when we are driving, or sitting by the fire makes us feel happy. Dogs. 

Exciting? Heck yes it is. Really. Take a look. 

Here is the man who helped us build what we needed. “If you can dream it, he can build it,” Bevis. 

Located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, he owns Home Van Life. Bevis builds out cars, vans, and trucks for campers and business alike. You want to sell food and drink out of your car? It’s possible. Want to put a shower in your truck? It’s possible. Want to build out your van to make it a mobile tiny home? Yeah, he can do it. 

Born and raised here is Kaohsiung, Bevis used to work in insurance, but has always been interested in building things with his hands. “Most homes in Taiwan are made of concrete. But, wood is better. It is warmer and more natural.” If you take a look at the photos above, he is currently working on building a second apartment for himself above his woodworking shop. This used to be an empty garage…now it has a staircase a functional kitchen, bathroom and upstairs.

His shop is like a temple. The light, the quiet. You feel as if you have to whisper. There is a smell of wood and his saughter is playing is sawdust and building tiny homes out of spare parts in the background. The first time we met him to draw up our idea, he offered us his favorite food and a Taiwanese speciality, stinky tofu. We brought him homemade quesidillas and green tea from the Family Mart down the road. 

Bevis has built 11 projects so far, and has many more to come. “I am very busy these days,” he tells us. But, he likes the work that he does now. He took out a box and opened it, showing us all of the wood inside. Wood from Japan, to American. From America Pines to Fu Shan Chinese Fur Trees. “I like building vans because they are like tiny homes,” he calmly told us. One day, he hopes to build another home of wood, except this home would be in the mountainside of Japan somewhere. “The final project,” he says. 

Is it possible? 

Yes. It’s possible. 

With our van build done with the  essentials such as a bed, storage and kitchen area by  Bevis, we now need to make a list of van life camping essentials for our round trip of Taiwan.

Kitchen Essentials (for 2 people)

  • Potjie (South African cooking pot)
  • 2 plates
  • 2 bowls
  • 2 cups
  • 2 spoons
  • 2 forks
  • 2 travel mugs
  • 1 knive
  • 2 pairs of chopsticks
  • 1 large wooden spoon
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 cast iron pan
  • 1 cutting board
  • Bottle opener
  • Tongs
  • Spatula
  • Plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Biodegradable dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Baking soda
  • Camping stove

 

Camping Accessories

  • Small fan (or two because we don’t have our van fan just yet…)
  • Tool kit
  • Axe
  • Small shovel
  • Letherman
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Blackout window covers or curtains
  • A strong rope – You don’t need a rope until you need a rope!
  • Fire starters
  • Bungee cords
  • Jumper cables
  • Small fire extinguisher (you don’t need it until you do people)
  • Garbage bags
  • 2 Hand towels
  • 2 Towels
  • Pillow, sheets, blankets
  • Large water tank
  • Small broom (A tiny home tidy up)
  • Folding chairs
  • Earplugs
  • Your typical toiletries – no need to go into detail on this. You know what you need.
  • Wipes – for your body, hands, countertops
  • Lighter/matches
  • Toilet paper
  • Umbrella/poncho
  • Passport
  • Paper cash

Clothing / Wardrobe (for 1 person)

  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 bathing suit
  • Hiking shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • A fun hat
  • This is not a fashion show.
  • Laundry detergent
  • Rope

Decorations

  • Lights – Christmas style lights or lamps
  • Rocks
  • Drift Wood
  • Delica mini van

Electronics & Electrical Equipment

  • Solar Panels (Just kidding. We don’t have solar panels…yet.)
  • Speaker
  • Laptop with charger
  • Phones with chargers 
  • USB car charger
  • Cameras and gear
  • Batteries
  • Headlamps and flashlight
  • Headphones

Entertainment

  • Podcasts and music 
  • Books 
  • Travel journal/notebooks
  • Pens, pencils, art supplies
  • Playing cards
  • Backgammon
  • Chinese Checkers
  • The hand made games that Gregg made 
  • Snorkeling gear

Okay, I Think We’re Ready

We take a trip almost every weekend. Camping, biking, hiking, snorkeling. Taiwan is one of the best places to travel if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Green mountains in the center, a clear coastline to the east, and waterfalls and hot springs scattered in between. We are more than looking forward to spend some time bonding with our home on wheels. But again, we don’t like to overpack. Bringing just what we need often helps us recalibrate our wants in life. It forces us to be creative and use what we have while connecting with other humans on the way.  

Challenge yourself with what stuff you bring. Rethink what your essentials actually are. What can you do without? What have you been taking for granted? Find comfort in being occasionally uncomfortable. But, don’t forget the flashlight. 

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