Preparing to pack for Alaska was the fifth time we had packed and unpacked Bubbles. It was our 2nd time packing in Tampa and this time we had a plan. Unlike the last time (last May) we packed in Tampa when it was 90 degrees out and we decided to park and pack next to our apartment, which required about 17 walking trips back and forth. This time we decided to be proactive and pack over a few days in the shade of our RV storage facility. We packed up my little Jeep Wrangler with everything we needed and in a 3-day span Bubbles was just about packed.
Fitting two people’s necessary belongings for 6 months in a 19-foot van is no easy task. It takes a lot of preparation deciding what is actually necessary to have and what would be a wish list item. Your Tetris skills also have to be on point, as a lot of items need to fit in a small space. Lucky for us Julie and I have this down to a science. We figured most of this out when we first left back in May 2017 on our very first leg of our journey. Packing then took about 2 weeks. When we spent the summer in Rochester in 2018 we then took an inventory of every item that came out of the van so that when we repacked we would be able to remember exactly what we had.
So there we were for 3 days, driving the 30 miles each way from Tampa to Lakeland and packing in relative cool temperatures inside the van. This does seem like an out of the way excursion but from experience we liked being cool and level headed instead of insanely hot and sweaty like before.
There is no sugar coating the amount of things you need for two people to live out of a small van going on a cross continent trip. The list is long and varied. To give you an idea here is a scaled down list of the main things that we have brought on the road.
In the trunk – outdoor/camping/vehicle items
- Coleman camping chairs, Coleman Grill, table, bike pump, water hose/RV water filter, leveling blocks, space heater, bike helmets, jumper cables, DEF
- Our fridge is slightly bigger than a mini fridge (the size that some of you might have had in your college dorm). It does have a very small freezer as well. We pack our fridge with chicken breasts, ground turkey, pork chops, lunch meats, bread, veggies and a few condiments. We also pack dry food such as rice, potatoes, onions, fruit, cereal, soup, raisins and a few other items. As I do have a food allergy we eat a lot of Schar Gluten Free Bread. We love it and always try to keep it on hand. We also bring a cooler with us, which we keep most of our drinks in. The fridge is not big enough to hold our food and drinks.
- Bubbles does come with a tiny closet which we have separated into 3 shelves, one for each of us and one we split. We roll our clothes up and are able to fit about 3 weeks of clothing into them. Most of our clothing consists of tee shirts and shorts. We also keep bigger clothes (jackets, jeans, sweaters) in a few other areas of the van.
- Above our kitchen counter we keep plates, bowels, cups and measuring cups. If you are camping or RVing we would recommend Nordic Ware plates & bowls. They are light, plastic, microwave & freezer safe and have worked very well for us!
- Instead of sheets and a comforter we go full camp style with 2 sleeping bags. We do have a few extra blankets for those very cold nights.
- Even though we do technically have a shower in Bubbles (it is a tiny toilet/shower combo) Julie & I have never used the shower. We do use the shower facilities at campgrounds bringing our great Raqpak travel towels with us.
- Books, maps, lantern, hammock, tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, hatchet, hammer), lighter and an extra gas can.
As I said before this is just an abbreviated list of everything we have with us. If you are curious about anything specific just give us an email or comment on the video.
Although we packed 98% at our storage facility in Lakeland some things could not be packed ahead of time. Food was left to be packed until the very end so items did no go bad as well as any other items that we were still using up until the moment we left Tampa.
Up next….We start our next adventure. Alaska here we come!