Question: What’s harder than shopping for the person that has everything?
Answer: Shopping for the person who has decided to divest themselves of everything that doesn’t fit into a van. The wretched vehicle dweller who has decided to embrace the minimalist lifestyle that is #vanlife.
We see this question get thrown up a lot on various forums and corners of the internet, as well as from our own friends and family. What can I buy for my hippy-dippy loved one living in a van down by the river that they aren’t just going to re-gift or leave behind?
Fear not, we believe that deep down there’s still a little room for luxury and commercialism left in even the most die-hard van lifer. We have put a bit of thought into it and come up with a list of our favorite little luxuries that elevate van life, and that we can’t imagine being without. These are our top unique van life gifts.
The Top Ten Best Gifts for Van Life
- Spotify Gift Card
- Portable Projector
- Key Lock Box
- Cast Iron Pots and Pans
- Bialetti Moka Coffee Pot
- Cocktail Shaker
- Welcome Mat
- Campervan Log Book and Journal
Van Life Gifts Under $25
Nalgene Water Bottle
Nalgene originally designed laboratory jars, bottles, and containers that could handle a range of solutions, temperatures, and conditions. Their bottles were soon adopted by wilderness adventurers who realized the value of their sturdy design and range of applications. Nowadays, they are the go-to water bottle for any adventurer worth their salt.
Van life tends to mean more than a fair share of bad hair days. Thankfully hiding messy hair under this attractive buff is just one of the ways to use this multi-faceted gift. Tripling as a neck warmer and face mask as well as headwear, a comfortable buff is a great example of multifunctional clothing that is perfect for saving closet space on the road.
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen
When you live in a van it’s likely you will spend more time outside than your house-dwelling counterparts. Naturally, it follows that van lifers are going to need a good sunscreen.
Our absolute favorite is Hawaiian Tropic 50+ with hydrating silk ribbons (not sure what hydrating ribbons are but we have tried the ribbon-less kind and refuse to go back). Goes on easily, smells great, isn’t oily, and offers great sun protection! It is one of our favorite campervan gifts on the cheap.
Travel Clothes Line
Washing on the road can be a pain, especially when it comes to drying clothes. Help your van dweller save money at the laundromat and preserve their clothes for longer with this simple and sturdy, travel clothesline.
When you’re always on the move, the chance of leaving something behind increases. A lanyard can help the forgetful traveler to retain some of their most important possessions. Keys, sunglasses, wallets, and more can be kept securely fastened with a stylish and practical lanyard.
Keeping your coffee hot (or your beer cold) can be a challenge on the road. These awesome Yeti brand insulated mugs keep hot beverages warmer longer.
Perfect for your loved one who is always on the go, these carabiners can be used to hook, hang and secure things all over their mobile home. Hats, cook wear, speakers, towels, ropes, you name it, you can secure it with a carabiner.
Reusable Produce Bags
Great for the traveler who wants to cut down on waste, these reusable produce bags are great for visiting markets and keeping your produce fresh on the road.
Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
Shampoo and conditioner bottles take up space and create unnecessary waste. Shampoo and conditioner bars are another great solution for the eco-conscious van lifer who also likes to maintain their hair hygiene.
Gift Cards And Experiences
Hotel Gift Card
Van lifers may not want to admit everyone loves a nice night in a plush hotel room from time to time. Trust me when I say they will really appreciate this hotel gift card when they need it most.
Outdoor Gear Gift Card
Living in a van you spend a lot of time outdoors. Grab a gift card from REI or your favorite outdoor gear store! A gift that will surely be appreciated when they hit the trails.
Spotify Gift Card
Lots of time in the car means lots of time for listening to your favorite songs or podcasts.
Give the gift of Premium Spotify which allows subscribers to listen without interruption. Better still, users can download their favorite podcasts and albums to listen to offline for when they get off-grid. A Spotify subscription is a gift that certainly won’t go to waste.
AmazingCo Date Night
Take the hassle out of planning with the gift of an AmazingCo experience. With tons of handcrafted experiences from mystery picnics, activity trails, weekends, secret menu tasters, and more in cities all over the world.
This is a gift idea for someone who values experiences over things (aka van life enthusiasts).
Van Life Gifts for Outdoor Lovers
When you live in a van, the opportunity to expand and improve your outdoor living areas is hugely appreciated.
A hammock is a cheap and easy way to add outdoor living space and another way to relax.
Many places that are accessible by van, do not necessarily have access to clean drinking water. A water filter allows freedom from bottled water which is good for the planet, good for the hip pocket, and allows the adventurer to stay off the grid for longer.
The Platypus Gravity Filter can filter four liters of water in five minutes using nothing but gravity. One of our favorite additions to the van!
National Park Pass
Where ever your loved one is traveling, access to the national parks is sure to appeal to any wanderer.
An annual pass is great value and provides a year’s worth of access to the most beautiful parts of a country.
Living on the road means plenty of opportunities for alfresco dining. This blanket is a great gift for van life to elevate your van lifer’s picnic game.
This quintessential red checker picnic blanket is perfect for life on the road. Easy to clean, simple to store, and a great size in case you have friends for dinner.
The perfect gift for the beach bum in your life is the surf poncho. A towel and personal changing room, this is great for the van lifers who are chasing the sun!
Best Campervan Gadgets
GPS Tracker for Your Car
The only time thing worse than having your car stolen is having your car and your home stolen at the same time.
A GPS tracker can give peace of mind to the wayward traveler worried about theft and will lead them back to a car that has wandered off.
Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)
A personal locator beacon or PLB is the ultimate peace of mind for any traveler that likes to get off the beaten path.
A distress signal that will trigger a search and rescue and provide authorities with your exact position using GPS, a PLB is the last word in responsible adventuring.
Whether you are hiking, skiing, climbing, sailing, or camping far from civilization the PLB is a must-have safety device.
Monocular Telescope Lens For Phone Camera
Upgrade any smartphone into a serious camera with a monocular telescope. For those who value space and money, deleting the need for a dedicated camera is a great thing.
If your van lifer loves cinema as much as they love living in a van then a portable projector may be the perfect gift.
Turn a bed sheet or any other white surface into your very own theatre. A portable projector means movies by the campfire or beaming films onto the roof of the van.
Turn the van, beach, park, or campsite up to eleven with a super portable super handy blue tooth speaker. Everybody loves music so give the gift of portable tunes. The third generation U.E. Boom remains the best option for travelers offering super portability, water, dust, and shock resistance, plenty of sound, and decent battery life.
Before they set off into the wilderness, arm your loved one appropriately to combat the ever-present threat of wildlife.
These battery-operated electric mosquito zappers will give an edge when it comes to battling mosquitos, flies, and any other annoying flying insects.
Garmin Instinct Watch
This rugged outdoor watch features cutting-edge technology.
The Instinct features multiple satellite navigation systems, vitals monitoring, compass, altimeter, and smartphone compatibility. It has thermal, shock, and water resistance and a 14-day battery life. Bringing together the best of cutting-edge technology and rugged design it is the perfect solution for the road-bound technophile.
Losing your keys is never fun even, less so when they are the keys to your campervan. A Tile Mate will help your van lifer keep a track of their most important possessions.
A Tile Mate is a Bluetooth tracker that can be attached to anything that frequently goes missing.
The WOLFBOX Camera is the perfect van life gadget for any type of van. A backup camera and digital camera in one, the WOLFBOX camera solves two problems at once, keeping you safe and allowing you to catch awesome content.
Key Lock Box
When you are living on the road and you lock yourself out of your car, you can’t just pick up a spare from the house.
A lockbox for a spare key magnetically mounted under the car can be an absolute lifesaver for the haphazard overlander.
Cell Signal Repeater
Stay connected with your loved ones by helping them stay online with a WeBoost cell phone signal booster.
A WeBoost amplifies a cell signal allowing your van lifer to get off the grid without ever actually having to be off-line.
Car Diagnostic Scanner
Gifts for the Van Life Chef
Quality Cast Iron Pots and Pans
Quality cast iron pots and pans can make all the difference in cooking on the road.
Great heat properties, non-stick, and easy to clean make cast iron the obvious choice.
If your favorite van lifer doesn’t yet have some quality cookware, then this van life gift will be a sure-fire win!
Bialetti Moka Express
The Bialetti Moka Express is a simple stovetop coffee pot designed in Italy in 1933 to ensure everyone had access to espresso-style coffee.
In an age where countertop espresso machines require at least a bachelor’s degree in barista and a dedicated, plumbed-in filtrated water supply, we sure are appreciative of this simple pot that reliably delivers hot fresh coffee without having to have a call out for de-calcification every month.
There is no better way to spice up the kitchen than with a manual spice grinder. Perfect for upping your cooking game, this van life gift is perfect for those who enjoy cooking, no matter where they are.
A simple hand grinder allows us to pick up bags of freshly roasted beans and when we have a lazy Saturday morning our hand-ground coffee makes the morning joe all that more satisfying. We recommend Java Presse manual grinder.
Bees Wax Paper
Another van life gift for eco-conscious van lifers. Beeswax paper helps keep fresh and cooked food longer while reducing waste.
When traveling, they say the best way to experience a new culture is through food. But what about local drinks? Besides, there’s no better way to class up a campsite soiree than a cocktail shaker.
Unbreakable Booze Tumblers
What’s the point of dazzling fellow campers with your mixology skills only to pour your cocktail creation into battered tin mugs? Sip in style with these unbreakable tumblers.
We prefer steel wine glasses over plastic wine glasses as they tend to hold up better when on the road.
The perfect present for anyone who might be missing their oven on the road is the wonder pot.
A wonder pot is designed to simulate oven cooking using the stovetop. You can bake pizza, loaves of bread even cake in a wonder pot. Give the gift of an oven to a van lifer with the wonder pot.
Van Life Cook Book
The New Camp Cookbook by Linda Ly is a camping cookbook but is also a perfect addition to any van life kitchen.
The New Camp Cookbook is a great van life gift for those who love to make delicious meals on the road.
Homeware VanLife Gifts
No one likes sand in the van.
Besides keeping the van clean, a welcome mat adds a touch of hominess to a vehicular abode.
Happy Camper Dish Towels
One of our favorite ‘van warming’ gifts that we received was our happy camper dish towel. It was the perfect addition to our van life kitchen and one that was always a great reminder of our friends and family back home.
Another gift that can make the van feel a little bit more like a home is a photo clip string. This simple photo holder can be uses display their favorite memories or pictures of loved ones back home.
Space is limited in the van. A great gift to help keep your van lifer organized is a seat organizer. A seat organizer can be used as a “junk drawer” to store all those small items that don’t really have a home.
You don’t need a coffee table to own a coffee table book. Give a little inspiration with a travel book like the Destinations of a Life Time from National Geographic.
Games and Novelty Gifts For Van Life
Playing cards is a great way to spend time in a van. With plenty of two-person games out there, you can be sure your loved ones will never be bored with a deck of cards. Plus, these waterproof cards won’t get damaged in wet weather or if you manage to spill a little wine on them.
A beloved family favorite, everyone loves Uno (until they are on the receiving end of a couple of draw fours). Now this classic game can be enjoyed anywhere with waterproof uno cards.
There are few two-person games that rival scabble. A personal favorite on our van life travels, this portable scrabble is a perfect gift to keep your loved ones entertained on the road.
A foldable frisbee is a perfect gift for outdoor enthusiasts. Easy to pack and won’t bust a window with a wayward throw, the Waboba Wingman can be taken anywhere.
Send them off in the proper attire with this stylish captain’s hat.
They can look and feel the part as captain of their own vessel and of their own destiny as they head off into the unknown.
Help them decorate the cockpit with this classic set of hanging dice or another ornament of your choice.
Camper Van Log Book
Help them record their epic experiences on the road with the camper van log book.
Maintaining a journal about their time spent living on the road will come to be one of the best things they ever did while traveling, preserving the journey and the memories forever.
There you go. Just because your friend or family has eschewed some of the comforts of this modern life to live some romanticized vagabond existence, doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate the finer things in life from e.coli free water to the perfect martini.
What do you think of our list? Are there some unique van life gifts we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Looking for more Van Life tips and tricks? Check out these articles:
- 51 Simple Van Life Hacks and Tips You Need to Know Before You Hit the Road
- 25 Important Lessons and Candid Confessions from a Van Life Couple
- 16 of the Best Van Life Blogs in 2021
- Van Life Horror Stories: 9 Terrifying Moments From the Road
- The 51 Best Gifts for Hikers in 2021: Thoughtful Things for Outdoor People
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