Life Saving Equipment

I wish you will never need to use these but as a wise person once said “prevention is better than cure.”

So here is a short list of the things we carry everywhere.


There is a vast difference in products, for example, jump leads may not jump start your van! Small cheap leads can not handle the amps required to jump a big engine such as a van (I found this out the hard way).

Read on to find out more…

I have lived in and out of vans for around Four years and built my own. So hopefully we have learnt a thing or two about van life survival. I have a bus license meaning I have had additional training and insights from people in the industry, fire extinguisher training, first aid and more.

It has helped to deal with a road side situation yet I have been stuck in a muddy field, had a  flat battery in a car park, many cooking malfunctions, set off my carbon monoxide alarm on several occasions (then broke it when I sat on it) and struggled in snowy conditions.

I recommended buying one large or two small fire extinguishers that are always easily accessible.

Break glass hammer also needs to be accessible for the obvious reason, it is worth getting one with the seat belt knife built in, they are often orange built from strong plastic and have a metal point for the glass.

First aid kits really variety in price and this is personal choice although we think the vehicle specific option are the perfect compromise.

Torch (but I have one on my phone). That is true but you may need your phone to call for assistance and phone batteries often die.

A simple  torch can really save a lot of frustration. We had a rechargeable torch in a docking station, we always knew where it was and it was always charged. I also have a back up head torch for when I need to be hands free like under the van removing branches.

High vis vest and a warning triangle is actually a requirement when entering some countries as is a breathalyzer test kit. These are low cost simple items that can fit in to a small nook or cranny.

Bonus, yet personally I would never go on a long trip  without are jump leads. The bigger the better when it comes to these.

Buy the best you can afford at the time (some helpful drivers may not want to wait with you for an hour or two while your small jump leads trickle charges your van because the leads can not start it the first time).

When you are stuck in mud and someone stops to help and asks you if you have a Tow rope and you reply "No!" they are likely to drive off leaving you feeling like an idiot. It's worth carrying one even if it is just to help others.

Snow socks can be very cheap and take up little space (also very good for getting you out of mud). If you are traveling over the winter time it is worth having winter tyres on or something measurably better than cheap regular tyres (I got caught out in Germany, woke up to a dusting of light snow around me and then I high tailed it to Spain). 

Tools for basic repairs are personal choice.

Tools weigh a lot and are not cheap to buy, also it's hard to predict what will need fixing.

I think about what I'm comfortable to tackle,  taking in to account my diminishing  skill level, the weather and danger level (I am not getting under my van on the hard shoulder of the autobahn).

Other articles talk about servicing and maintaining your vehicle. Most people do this but unfortunately there is not a warning device to give you a few days notice of an impending breakdown.  (We did drive for many miles with the engine check light on, then it went off and all was fine).

Roadside assistance is a sensible choice yet the level of coverage, the country and your budget can have a big impact on  your decision to buy or not.


Should I have a fire blanket? If your budget allows I would have one as it is better than cleaning up the mess in your van for a small kitchen fire such as toast. We had one hanging up on the wall next to the kitchen.

Do you need breathalyzer packs in Europe? That was the case in some countries pre brexit, we suggest you look in to the rules for the countries you intend to visit (or just buy some for peace of mind).

Should I have a mouth shield? A mouth shield for CPR is very cheap, small enough to go in your first aid kit and desirable if you don't know the person you intend to perform CPR on. (highly recommended). t

Can I get in trouble for hurting someone whilst performing CPR? All my instructors have said the same thing in the UK that providing you have had some training attempting to save someone's life is better than doing nothing and that any court will see you have the patients best interest in mind. (It is common to break a rib or two of the patients so I have been told).


Related articles.

Is it healthy to live in a van? (Insert link)

Cons of living in a van (insert link)

Further resources.