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Many solo travelers, retirees and young couples have ditched suburbia and hit the road to live and travel in campervans and RVs. However, buying gifts for van lifers who live in a tiny space with minimal storage can be a challenge. After living on the road for over five years, I know the best presents for van lifers are practical gifts. Here are 41 gifts for van dwellers that are sure to delight any road tripper in your life.
- 1 Essential Gifts for Van Dwellers
- 2 Campsite Accessories and Gifts
- 3 Kitchen Gifts for Van Dwellers
- 4 Fun (and Tiny) Gifts for Van Dwellers
- 5 Other Gifts for Van Dwellers
- 6 Experiential Van Life Gifts
Essential Gifts for Van Dwellers
These essential gifts are perfect for new van dwellers. Our essential van life gear recommendations will keep travelers safe and comfortable while driving long distances.
Every van owner should travel with a 12 volt portable air compressor. While there is air available at many fuel stations, carrying your own air compressor ensures you never travel without properly inflated tires. The TIREWELL 12V Tire Inflator is compact, but it can quickly inflate van tires up to 150 PSI. This portable air compressor derives its power directly from the van’s battery, so campers can inflate tires even if they do not have access to shore power. Please note 12 volt air compressors are not appropriate for large motorhomes that have bigger tires.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Unfortunately many RV and van owners have experienced tire blowouts while traveling down the road. Tire pressure monitoring systems monitor pressure in real-time and alert drivers when problems occur. The GUTA Tire Pressure Monitoring System has seven alarms to warn travelers of any tire issues, including high pressure, low pressure, tire leaks and high temperatures.
Many van lifers like to explore back roads and remote locations. The one thing most of these places have in common is a lack of cell phone service. Therefore, every van owner needs an old school road atlas to help guide them when navigation apps are not working. The Rand McNally Road Atlas can guide travelers through the United States, Mexico and Canada. Make sure to buy the latest edition, so all routes are up to date. This atlas is one of our favorite affordable gifts for van dwellers.
Car Battery Self-Jumper
Another essential piece of campervan gear is a self-jumper for the van’s battery. When you are living in your van and using it to charge your electronic devices, it is easy to accidentally kill the battery. A self-jumper will ensure you never have to wait for roadside assistance to get back up and running. The NOCO Boost HD GB70 2000 Amp Jump Starter Box is the perfect portable but powerful jumper for campervans.
Compact Tool Box
Every home owner knows that things break and repairs are constant. This truism also holds for houses on wheels. While space is limited in a campervan, it is important to have a full set of basic tools to handle inevitable issues and repairs. The Cartman tool set contains 39 tools in a 12 by 7 inch container, making it perfect for life on the road. The kit is available in several colors, so you can match the tools to the van.
Roadside Emergency Kit
In addition to the bigger essentials listed above, there are several small safety items that should be carried in every van. A prepackaged roadside emergency kit is the perfect way to gift all of these must have items in one compact package. STDY’s roadside emergency kit includes a first aid kit, tow rope, reflective warning triangles, work gloves and more.
Car Vacuum Cleaner
Adventure activities often include trekking through dirt, sand and mud making a vacuum cleaner an essential van accessory. Car vacuums are the perfect solution for vans because they are compact and plug right into the vehicle. The ThisWorx Car Vacuum Cleaner weighs only 2.4 pounds and stores neatly in its included carrying case. For larger vans and RVs, see our full guide to the best RV vacuum cleaners.
Campsite Accessories and Gifts
In addition to the essentials, there are several practical gifts for van dwellers that make van life more comfortable. Purchase one of these gifts to enhance your loved one’s campsites.
Portable Power Station
Many van campers spend a large portion of their time boondocking or dry camping in areas with no electricity. A portable power station allows digital nomads to power their phones and laptops while working off the grid. Jackery’s 500 Portable Power Station has 1 AC port , 3 USB ports, 2 DC ports and 1 cart port to power several devices at once. The power station is easily charged using Solar Saga 100W solar panels.
Relaxing in a hammock is one of the best parts of camping. The aodoer Camping Hammock is compact and lightweight, but is a large hammock when unfolded. This durable camping hammock can hold up to 660 pounds. Carabiners and tree straps are included, so the hammock can be easily hung between any two trees. It is available is a variety of fun colors.
A camp table is one of the most practical pieces of campsite patio furniture. Folding camp tables can serve many purposes from dining table to footrest to desk. The Trekology Portable Camp Table is perfect for van campsites because it is lightweight and collapsible for easy storage. The table is available on Amazon with a brown or blue top.
For van lifers who work remotely, a comfortable workspace is a necessity. While many digital nomads prefer to work outside, noise, glares and weather often make outdoor work impossible. A car desk provides a comfortable place to work inside when the elements are not cooperating. The Cutequeen Steering Wheel Desk hooks onto the van’s steering wheel to provide a stead surface for your laptop.
Living in a van, often means living without a full bathroom and sometimes skipping showers. A portable solar shower helps travelers stay clean when they are camping without access to a bathhouse. The KIPIDA Solar Shower Bag allows campers to have warm showers anywhere there is sunshine. It heats water to 113°F in 3 hours of direct sunlight. Just hang it in the sun and use the attached showerhead to rinse off.
Propane Space Heater
Dry camping in van means travelers do not have access to air conditioning or heat. Fortunately, there is a great solution for campers who need extra heat when visiting cold weather locations. The Mr. Heater Portable Heater is powered by propane so it can be used without any electricity or battery power. This heater also has several important safety features, including an auto shut off if it the pilot light goes out or the heater turns over.
Just like everything else in their life, full time campers’ closest must be minimal. Having a separate pair of bedroom slippers is not realistic for van life, but comfy pair of indoor/outdoor slippers is perfect for mornings and evenings at the campground. Teva’s MOC Slippers are are lightweight, durable shoes that are comfortable for lounging or walking. The MOC slippers are available for men and women.
Kitchen Gifts for Van Dwellers
When you are living in a van, you want to cook more sophisticated meals than just smores and hot dogs. The following gifts for van dwellers help make a tiny kitchen feel fit for a chef.
Collapsible Kitchen Sets
Size is key when buying gifts for van dwellers. That is why collapsible dinnerware and tools are perfect for van kitchens. The PurpleChef makes a collapsible kitchen set that includes a mixing bowl, strainer, colander, cutting board and measuring cups. The 10 piece set is BPA-free and made with food grade silicone.
A stove or grill is essential for cooking proper meals at the campsite. Van lifers need a cooking appliance that is portable, compact and easy to use. Our favorite camp stove, is Coleman’s Fold N Go™ InstaStart™ 2-Burner Propane Stove. This camping stove has two propane burners and features an easy, matchless ignition. After cooling down, the stove can simply be closed and easily stored in a small space.
Stackable Camping Cookware
Van owners also need cookware to use with their portable stove. KingCamp’s Camping Cookware Set is a 17 piece aluminum set that all fit together in a 8 inch tall stack. The set include 3 pots with lids, a frying pan, bowls, a spatula and a ladle. An even smaller 8 piece set is also available for solo travelers and smaller campervans.
Filtering Water Bottle
Having clean, safe drinking water is always important. However, installing a large water filtration system is not feasible in most small vans. Brita’s Water Filter Bottle filters water as it is poured into the 26 ounce bottle. The sleek, leak-proof filtered water bottle is car cup holder friendly, and features a built-in carrying loop.
Portable Espresso Machine
Just because you are camping off the grid, doesn’t mean you can’t have great coffee. The Wacaco Minipresso GR is a portable espresso machine that is manually operated without any need for electricity or battery power. Simply add coffee grinds, boiling water and pump a few times to create a perfect expresso anywhere in the world.
Compact Folding Grill Tools
Cooking outdoors and grilling is one of my favorite parts of camping, but grill tools are usually long and difficult to store. KingCamp’s 4 in 1 Grilling Tool combines all of the essential BBQ tools into one 8.7 inch tool. This multifunctional tool folds out and separates into tongs, spatula, fork and a bottle opener. The tools are all made of food grade stainless steel.
Folding Outdoor Kitchen
When you live in a van or RV, many meals are cooked outside, which makes a portable outdoor kitchen one of the most luxurious item on our list of gifts for van dwellers. KingCamp’s Folding Cooking Table provides an outdoor counter space for cooking and food preparation. Campers can unpack all of their stackable and collapsible kitchen gear for easy access while they are parked. The table also has a lantern pole to provide light while cooking at night.
Fun (and Tiny) Gifts for Van Dwellers
If you want to gift something a little less practical and a little more whimsical, check out these fun (but still compact) gifts for van dwellers.
Hiking Boot Tags
Shoelace tags to adorn hiking boots may not serve any practical purpose, but they also don’t take up any additional space which makes them the perfect gift for van lifers. The tags are strung onto shoelaces and feature motivational text to keep hikers feeling strong on the trail. These “Remember Why You Started” tags are a great reminder for any adventurer.
Phone Camera Tripod
When you are traveling solo or as a couple, you end up with tons of selfies that don’t truly capture the amazing places you visit. A smartphone tripod makes it easy for travelers to take quality photos of the whole family. The UBeesize Portable Tripod comes with a wireless remote control that can snap photos from 30 feet away.
Tiny Movie Projector
Many van owners choose not to put a TV in their home. However, a mini projector can create the ultimate drive-in movie experience. The PVO Portable Projector weighs less than one pound, but can project videos up to 150 inches. Campers can project movies onto a screen or directly onto the side of their van. The projector can be connect to media devices, including laptops. It is powered by an included power adaptor so it can be used anywhere.
GoPro is the ultimate adventure camera, and the Hero9 takes incredible high quality pictures and videos. The Hero9 features a front display for live previews and easy framing and a large rear touch screen with fast, intuitive controls. Even if you van-living family member already owns a GoPro, the Hero9 is a real upgrade and great holiday or birthday gift.
Books are always an amazing gift, but most vans do not have space for a library. A kindle allows people living in tiny spaces to have access to an unlimited number of books. The Kindle Paperwhite is the best eBook for outdoor use because it is lightweight, glare-free and waterproof. A single battery charge lasts weeks, so campers do not have to worry about battery life while drying camping. For a gift that keeps on giving, add 6 months of Kindle unlimited when purchasing. Click here to see our favorite travel books to read during a road trip.
Most full time travelers, choose van life because they love outdoor activities and adventures. A fitness watch is a compact way for campers to track their fitness goals. The Garmin Instinct is an ideal gift for outdoor enthusiasts who want to track their activity. The durable watch tracks metrics for activities including running, biking, swimming, strength and more. Solar Charging capabilities leads to a much longer battery life than other fitness watches.
One of my favorite gifts for van dwellers is an engraved compass, which serves both as a practical gift and a beautiful keepsake. Customized with the text and images of your choice, brass compasses can be purchased on Etsy. For more personalized gift ideas, see our guide to personalized gifts for RV campers.
Other Gifts for Van Dwellers
If you haven’t found the perfect gift idea yet, don’t worry. The following list of other gifts for van dwellers includes unique, practical ideas for van enthusiasts.
Packing for campervan adventures can be a challenge, but it is so much easier with the Pillowpak backpack. The Pillowpak is an ultra light, large capacity backpack designed to roll and stow in a minimal stuff-sack. Campers can stuff the bag full of everything they need for a weekend adventure or extended road trip, but after unpacking the pack can be rolled up and easily stored out of the way.
The Slughaus Bullet looks like ammunition, but it is actually a tiny but powerful flashlight. For camper owners who take minimalism seriously, this is a fantastic gift. The Bullet is tiny, but is is also waterproof, tough and bright, shining for over one mile. The shatterproof light fits perfectly on a van’s keychain.
GPS Dog Tracker
For RV and van travelers with dogs, a GPS tracker that attaches to the dog’s collar is a great gift. Dogs who wander off may having a hard time finding a campsite where they have only been for a few days, so a GPS tracker allows owners to find their lost pet. The Tractive LTE GPS Dog Tracker is small, lightweight and works anywhere in the world. Don’t forget to add a subscription plan when gifting a GPS tracker.
Darn Tough Socks
When you closest doesn’t have much space (or doesn’t even exist), all of your clothes need to be high quality pieces. While socks are usually the worst Christmas gifts, campers will be excited to receive a pair of Darn Tough Socks. These all weather socks are beautiful, durable and comfortable. Socks are available in a variety of sizes and colors for both men and women.
Clothes Washing Bag
Vans and small RVs do not typically have enough space for a washer and dryer and laundromats are not the most exciting place to spend a day. Fortunately the Scrubba Portable Wash Bag allows campers to hand wash their clothes right at the campsite. The key to the pocket size Scrubba bag is the flexible internal washboard. It is more effective and sanitary than using shared washing facilities or a sink.
Sand Free Towel
The beach is one of the best places to camp, but a sandy van does not make for happy campers. The Wekapo Sand Free Beach Blanket is made of durable ripstop nylon that sand won’t stick on. Just shake the oversized blanket to quickly rid it of any sand before returning to your van. The beach blanket is also great for doing yoga or letting kids play outside without getting dirty.
Van dwellers are bound to have numerous stories and adventures, so a travel journal is a great gift to help them remember all of their travel experiences. The Adventure is Calling Travel Journal has pages with prompts to record campsite details and blank pages to record personal experiences. For more gift options, see our full list of awesome road trip journals.
Experiential Van Life Gifts
Experiences are always the best gifts for van dwellers because they provide the adventure travelers crave without taking up any additional space. Gift cards and camping memberships are a great way to gift experiences.
Harvest Hosts Membership
The gift of a new adventure is one of the best gifts for van dwellers. Gift new experiences with a Harvest Hosts membership. Harvest Hosts members can camp for free at wineries, breweries, museums and farms throughout the country. Purchase a membership using our excusive link and receive a 15% discount on a gift membership. Read our complete guide to Harvest Hosts to learn more about this awesome RV membership club.
Plan a Meet-Up
While planning a trip for yourself may seem like a selfish gift, it is an incredible trip gift for full-time RVers who miss their family members. Rent an RV though RVezy and plan to meet your favorite van lifers out on the road. Spending quality together is the ultimate gift.
National Parks Pass
A National Parks Pass is a ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and grasslands and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The annual pass provides a year of endless experiences and outdoor adventures.
Wag! Gift Card
Van owners who are traveling with dogs and cats will often need to find dog walkers or pet sitters to take care of their furry companions while they visit attractions that don’t allow pets. A gift card to Wag! allows travelers to find reliable dog sitters anywhere in the country.
AirBnB Gift Card
Just because someone chooses to live in a van, doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate hot showers, big kitchens and access to laundry. An AirBnB gift card allows van lifers to take a vacation from their road trip and enjoy the amenities of a normal house. AirBnB gift cards can also be used to purchase local tours and experiences all over the world.
Fuel Gift Cards
Vans require lots of fuel to transverse the country, so travelers will always appreciate some extra gas money. If your fuel station of choice does not offer gift cards, simply purchase a visa gift card instead.
Are you still looking for more campervan accessories and gifts? Check out our other gift guides for more ideas:
- Personalized Gifts for RV Campers
- 30 Gift Ideas for RV and Van Owners
- Campsite Decorating Ideas
- Must Have Gear for New RV Owners
When purchasing gifts for van dwellers remember to consider space and functionality. If an item is physically large, it must serve an essential purpose. The best camping gifts are lightweight and multipurpose.