If you’re getting ready to head out on a Buslife adventure, preparing your vehicle for the road is going to be at the forefront of your mind. With this guide, we’re going to run you through all the essentials with an array of recommended must-haves to help you get your VW Bus ready to hit the road and prepared for whatever comes your way during your next road trip.
Are you new to living life on the road? Discover if the Buslife is for you in our article.
Six steps to preparing your vehicle for the road
1. Service your VW Bus
To ensure you stay safe on the road, the best thing you can do is service your VW Bus. With regular servicing, not only will your bus run more efficiently, but you are far less likely to break down on your trip, and it could potentially save you a lot of cash in the long run.
If you fancy giving this a go yourself, have a read of our guide VW Bus Servicing: What You Need to Do & How Often You Need to Do It. It outlines what key areas you need to look at, including your vehicle’s tires, engine oil, fluid levels, and lights.
Servicing your VW Bus before you hit the road isn’t a legal requirement, but we strongly recommend it and if you’re in any doubt, get in touch with a trusted mechanic who will ensure your vehicle is ready and safe for the road ahead.
2. Get your papers up to date
Getting your vehicle’s papers in order before your road trip is all about being organized. You might not need them, but by spending a bit of time ensuring everything is up to date in advance, you’ll be thankful in the long run if you do find yourself in the situation where you have to produce your paperwork.
Here’s our VW Bus paperwork checklist:
- Vehicle registration certificate – appropriate for your country. This certificate will contain information including:
- Registration number
- VIN number
- Personal data of the vehicle owner
- Engine specifications
- Exhaust emissions
- Vehicle insurance – valid in the country you are traveling in.
- Green card is required in many countries to prove that you have the minimum insurance to drive in that country.
- In some countries, vehicles require additional safety certificates; for example, in the UK, all registered vehicles need to have passed an MOT to be roadworthy.
- Breakdown cover for the country you are driving in.
- Vignettes/toll passes. These are stickers or passes required for some roads in certain countries, so it’s worth planning your route to check if you need one.
3. Pack tools for on the road mechanical repairs
No matter how good a condition you keep your VW Bus in, there is always a risk of your vehicle breaking down or getting damaged on any road trip you take, which is why a tool kit could prove very handy.
Here’s our recommended list of essential tools to use if you break down on a road trip:
- Cloths and/or rags
- A funnel & bucket/tray
- Electrical tape
- A selection of nuts, bolts & washers
- Jump leads
- Set of screwdrivers
- Wrench/spanner set
- Torque wrench
- Socket set (with a spark plug socket)
- Oil filter pliers
- Tire pressure gauge and pump
The following fluids may also be worth packing:
- Windscreen washer fluid
- Engine oil
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
In addition, if you know there are some essentials parts for your VW Bus that are mighty hard to get a hold of where you plan on traveling to, we recommend packing a spare to avoid getting stranded.
Essential spare parts could include:
- Spark plugs
Buslifer top tip: For anyone attempting any servicing work on their VW Bus, we recommend buying yourself a Haynes Manual. Featuring every piece of essential mechanical information you will need, it will become your road trip bible!
4. Pack for all environments and weather conditions
Another way to be prepared for any eventuality on your road trip is to plan for adverse weather. Yes, this means bringing your thermals if you’re traveling to a cold climate, but we’re talking about preparing your VW Bus for all environments and weather conditions in this instance.
Tires – Ensure you have the appropriate tires for either winter or summer weather conditions and check both the tread and pressure are ideal. Your tread should be at least 3mm deep, and tire pressures may need to be checked more often in colder weather. In snowy conditions, you may also want to invest in snow chains for extra security.
Windscreen – During winter and rainy seasons, you will find that you’re using your windscreen wipers a lot more, so replace yours before your road trip and packing a spare set. We would also recommend packing an ice scraper and some windscreen washer fluid.
Engine – For colder conditions, ensure your engine coolant is sufficient and take some antifreeze to avoid any frost damage.
Doors & locks – To stop your locks and doors from freezing shut in cold weather, spray them with WD40 and take some de-icer with you for the road.
Inside – If you’re traveling to a humid climate, a dehumidifier will help protect your VW Bus interior from growing mold, and mesh bug nets can be fitted to protect you from any unwelcome biting guests.
Brakes – Before any road trip, and particularly if you will be driving in wet or snowy conditions, inspect your brakes. Any squealing noises could be a sign it’s time to change your brake pads.
Headlights – We’ve already mentioned packing spare bulbs, but it’s essential that all your headlights work, including fog lights, before heading out.
Other essential items that will come in handy during adverse weather conditions include:
- Tow rope
- Jump leads
- Traction mats
5. Make sure your VW Bus is kitted out with road trip essentials
We’re confident that you probably have a packing list as long as your arm if you’re about to head out on a road trip but here are just a few essentials we recommend having onboard your VW Bus.
- First aid kit
- Portable power station
- Phone charger
- Hot water bottle
- Water bottles
- Fire extinguisher
- Carbon monoxide detector
6. Do a test run
Like with most things, you don’t always know what you’re going to need until the situation arises, which is why a test run is a great idea before any big road trip. Once you think you’re as ready as can be, take your VW Bus out on the road for a local one-night trip to discover if you’ve forgotten any essential items or if something doesn’t quite work as it should.
We hope that having read this guide, you’re feeling ready to put your foot on the gas pedal and drive off into the sunset for a memorable Buslife road trip.
For Buslifers traveling with children and/or pets, you may also find one of these articles helpful to prepare for your next trip. Read The Buslifers Guide to Travelling With Kids and Bringing Your Dog on The Road.