25 Skoolie Must Haves to Survive & Thrive Bus Life

Curious about what you must have in a skoolie?

Here is a compiled list of 25 best skoolie must haves to live and thrive in a skoolie conversion.

Skoolie Essentials

If you’ve landed on this article, you’re probably wondering what do I actually need to thrive living in a skoolie? As you are downsizing and get ready to live in your skoolie, it’s important to know what you should be keeping and what you should be selling/donating. A lot of the items in this skoolie essentials list you may already have.

Without further ado, let’s get into the skoolie must haves.

Please note that you do not need any of these and a few are a luxury. These are just some things that make bus life a little easier! We hope you enjoy and feel free to comment below on what things make your skoolie journey a little easier! 

Special Note: This article does have affiliate links. If you click a link and happen to make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support – this commission helps us to continue educating the skoolie community!

Living In a Skoolie Essentials

Water Purifier

A water purification system came in as the number one skoolie essential for bus life. On the road, you will never know where you are going to get your water from. Sometimes you can only find ‘non-potable water’ meaning it is not chemically treated and not suited for drinking water, much of the same water you would find in a lake or a creek. I am sure if you look hard enough, you will be able to find potable drinking water, but having a good quality water filtration system is still a necessary item.

This reverse osmosis filtration system has 11 stages. It filters over 108 water contaminants, such as lead, chlorine, pharmaceuticals, and bacteria. If you know anything about good water, it is not as much as taking things out of the water, but really adding the good things back into the water. When the water goes through system, it adds back in essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

I could go on and on about clean water, but I think you guys get how important a water filtration system is in your skoolie.

12V Fan

In a skoolie, having as many things running off 12V is such an energy saver. While box fans only run off 50-200 watts, they are bulky and are hard to find a designated space to put them in a small space. This 12V fan is mountable so you have a designated spot for it and you don’t have to worry about moving it when driving.

It has 3 different speed settings and timer settings as well as full 360-degree airflow.

Handheld Battery Vacuum

You may already know this, but you will not have room for a regular household vacuum unless you are doing a full size bus or even a coach bus. So a small portable handheld vacuum is another skoolie must have. You can store it anywhere and easily pull it out when needed and put it away.

With this vacuum, you get 10 hours of run time!

Water Bottle

Having a durable water bottle while living in a skoolie is essential. Water is not always available and we have to use it as so.

Having a good reusable water bottle makes it easy to fill up at a coffee shop or wherever you are visiting that has potable drinking water instead of always having to get it from your water tank.

Bluetooth Speaker

Having a Bluetooth speaker is great for being outdoors and listening to music at the beach or on a hike. Even playing it while driving to your next destination, since most buses don’t have radios in them (or they don’t work anymore).

This JBL speaker is waterproof and has 12 hours of playtime before the battery dies.

Instant Pot

We didn’t get have an Instant Pot before living in the bus. We are so glad we bought one! You can do a ton of cooking in this little thing. It’s mainly a pressure cooker, but it’s also a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and you can sautee in it.

The only drawback to this is it uses 1000-1200 watts, so you will need to have a 2000W inverter at the least as well as enough battery and solar power to use this Instant Pot to cook.

Ceiling Vent Fan

Moving air around in your skoolie is one of the most important things you can do to keep the bus from not getting stale. Chris & I lived in our skoolie for a summer without a vent fan and it was awful. We were so amazed at how much the air got moved around. We went with the Dometic Fantastic Fan.

There’s also the MaxxAir Fan, which we have linked above. There are only subtle differences like the MaxxAir fan has enough surface area where you can keep it running while it’s raining out and the Fantastic Fan has a rain sensor that will automatically turn off the fan when it detects water.

It really boils down a personal preference here.

Backup Camera

Another skoolie essential is a backup camera. After converting your skoolie, the only real way to see the back of your bus is through a backup camera. This backup camera has been super beneficial to us so many times.

This specific backup camera comes with 4 exterior cameras so you can mount one on the back, two on the sides, and even one in the front if you want. Just remember to run the wires before you start building your walls!

Trucker GPS

While there are books that account for mountain grade percentage and letting you know the best route, a trucker GPS can be super helpful.

This Garmin trucking GPS gives you custom truck routing, gives you situational awareness in new places by using the routes fellow truckers have successfully used before you, and much more!


To keep the humidity levels in your bus comfortable, you might want to get a dehumidifier. While dehumidifiers can be really bulky, this dehumidifier is only 9x6x6″.

Dehumidifiers can be really helpful for people living in cooler climates, especially in winter to pull out a lot of the condensation that forms inside the bus.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

If you have any propane appliances in your skoolie at all (range, water heater, propane heater) you need to make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector.

This CO detector can seriously be a lifesaver for you and your family. Be sure to put the detector close to the floor as carbon monoxide is a heavy gas and it stays very close to the ground.


Reflectix is another great skoolie must have as it’s fantastic to put in the windows to help the windows not absorb as much heat (or cold in the winter) and it’s great for privacy. We have cut this Reflectix down to fit our windows and have a piece for our dashboard as well.

External Battery Pack

An external battery pack is another skoolie essential. If your skoolie batteries are running low, you may not be able to charge your phone or anything else that runs off USB. That’s where this guy can be very beneficial.

Kindle with Membership

We love reading books, but they take up a ton of space! If you like reading as well, you can get a kindle and download all your books onto that so you don’t have to take up your precious space with tons of books.

Fruit Hammock

With having limited room on countertops for fresh fruit, a fruit hammock is a good idea, especially when traveling. You don’t want those oranges or bananas flying everywhere when driving your skoolie, making this another skoolie must have!

Audible Membership

If you like to listen your books instead of reading them with a Kindle membership, an Audible membership can be great for people living in a skoolie, making it a skoolie must have!

Cabinet Magnets

Attach these to your cabinets and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier! These magnets are a skoolie must have. Mounting these inside your cabinets will make sure the cabinet doors don’t open when driving, which could be disastrous.

Outdoor Skoolie Must Haves

Walkie Talkies

Walkie talkies are definitely not just for kids. These can come in handy on so many different occasions. You can use them to communicate when someone is driving, you can use them to communicate if you are driving separately (some people choose to do this instead of towing a car), hiking, and many other situations!

These can last up to 96 hours and can reach up to 1 mile in cities.

Small Camping Chair

Camping chairs are such a necessity for skoolie owners. You never know if there will be a picnic table where you camp and you want to be comfortable enjoying the outdoors.

One of my favorite things about these camping chairs are that they are the size of a water bottle! They are also super comfortable so you can enjoy the outdoors for hours and hours!

Outdoor Table

An outdoor table is another skoolie essential. This table has a storage organizer underneath the table to keep all your food and utensils free from bugs! It folds up and would fit in any nook or cranny you have in your bus.

If you are feeling a little DIY, many people build outdoor tables on the side of their bus instead of setting one up wherever they go!


To really enjoy the outdoors in remote places, a hammock is one of the best places to enjoy the scenery or a good book. We tie one strap to the bus and the other one to a tree.

This hammock comes in plenty of colors and comes with extra straps so you can find a good spot without having to find two trees super close together!

Insect Repellent

It should come as no surprise to you that bug spray is a skoolie must have as we are really living indoor/outdoor, it’s good to protect you and your family against bug bites.

This bug spray is some of the best as it’s all-natural and non-toxic and there’s no deet!

Outdoor Rug

We love pulling up to our parking spot and rolling out the outdoor rug right away. Something about doing it makes the spot feel so cozy.

Going in and out of our skoolie brings so much dirt and dust into the bus and when we can keep our shoes outside, it eliminates all of that making it a definite skoolie must have.


Chris is always using his Olight flashlight around the bus. Whether he needs it for doing electrical work behind our refrigerator as there’s no daylight back there or he’s working late on the bus outside, this thing comes in handy.

Olight has a 5 year warranty on products and these can last a long time on a single charge!

Magnetic Screen Door

A magnetic screen door may be the last thing on our skoolie must have list, but it’s actually an important one! Keeping bugs out of your skoolie is such a hard task and these screen doors have been so nice to put up and let the breeze come in through the front door without having to worry about bugs getting into our home!

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