Top 25 Gift Ideas for the RVer/Vanlifer in Your Life

Living full-time in your van/RV you end up purchasing several items thinking it will make your life so much better!  After 10 months and living in about 25 square feet, we now know what is helpful in tight spaces.  We have made a list of items ranging in price from a few bucks to a several hundred to meet people’s varying holiday budgets. We decided to share with you items we use either weekly or daily.  Here are our top 25 holiday gift ideas before Black Friday!   First, we’ll just list and hyperlink the items.  Below the list is an explanation why we like the items so much and are recommending them. Happy Holidays!

  1. Instant Pot $79
  2. Outdoor Mat $36.99
  3. Compact Camping Chair $119 camping stool $19
  4. Trasharoo $54.90
  5. Scrubba $55 or Easy Go Portable Washer $52
  6. Berkey Water Filter $337
  7. Weboost Cell and Internet Booster $499
  8. HydroFlask Coffee Mugs $29.95, Wine Glasses $29.95 or Water bottles $45
  9. cbdMD Sleep Tincture and cbdMD dog treats and cbdMD Hip and Joint Chews for Dogs
  10. Electric Kettle $18.69
  11. Induction Italian Espresso Maker $41.39 Coffee Grinder $15
  12. XL Camp Towel $17.99 and Camp Towel Set $11.99
  13. Compression Clothes Travel Bags $25.47
  14. Back Roller $26 and Yoga Set $29
  15. Duel Bike Cover $75
  16. Set of collapsible containers $19.99 and steamer  $21 and dog bowl $3
  17. Chaco’s Men Sandal $65 and Chaco’s Women’s Sandal $68 and walking sticks $22
  18. LMNT Recharge $45
  19. Zinc Spray $25.99 and Airborne Vitamin C Chewable $22
  20. Paper Towel Holder $14.99
  21. Walkie Talkies Long Range Waterproof $69.99
  22. Atlas $22
  23. Dr. Bonner’s Liquid Lavender Soap $31
  24. Kindle paper white e-reader $89.99 or Amazon Fire Stick $39.99 or Apple HDMI Dongle $62 or Apple Airpods $99 or Costco Lenovo Touchscreen IdeaPad $499
  25. Healthy Protein Bars $18

So why these items?  We find these items help us with everyday living.  We try to find items that take up as little space as possible, are the most affordable and durable (as everyone who knows me, I am the Samsonite Gorilla when it comes to using items-if it can break, I will find a way to break it). First item on the list, is the Instant Pot!  Being able to cook a full meal in one pot and typically in less than 30 minutes makes life easy and efficient!  Plus, when you are doing the dishes it makes clean-up so much easier in a tiny space.  When it comes to cooking, we use these items every day. The Instant Pot usually makes about 2-3 meals for a couple so these collapsible containers are great for storing leftovers and pack away nicely.  I also like to steam my vegetables instead of them overcooking in the instant pot, this steamer does the trick in the microwave. We love our Espresso and our cooktop is induction so you must have a special induction coffee maker.  This Induction Italian Espresso Maker makes the perfect espresso to fit in our Hydroflask Coffee Mugs (keeps your coffee nice and hot and spill proof, especially good for me as a clutz I am in the morning).  We like to grind fresh coffee beans each morning, makes a wonderful scent throughout the van, this Coffee Grinder is durable and small to store.  I also love the Hydroflask Wine Glasses, this way you don’t have to worry about glass breaking in your van and it keeps your wine the perfect temperature. There are so many recipes that require boiled water and if you are a tea lover, having boiling water in a couple minutes is great.  We use this electric kettle every day. Getting your paper towels out of the way but in easy reach is important.  I am surprised many RVs don’t come with a paper towel holder, we like the modern look of this paper towel holder  and its durability.  When you are living in less than 25 square feet if something can be used in multiple ways it is especially beneficial.  We love Dr. Bronner’s Soap as it can be used as hand soap, dish soap, shower body soap and washing clothes soap.  It is biodegradable and won’t hurt the environment and if you have dry skin we find it doesn’t dry you out.  My favorite is the Dr. Bonner’s Liquid Lavender Soap.  A lot of RVers worry about the fresh water in their water tanks and if its clean and how often to clean the tanks and how to clean the tanks. We solved this by getting a Berkey Water Filter.  We love this, the water taste fantastic and we use it every day! If you have a hard time falling asleep like Greg and I do, we are huge fans of cbdMD Sleep Tincture.  Bode is almost 11 years old and is a big fan of their cbdMD dog treats (really calms him down and he thinks they are super tasty) and the cbdMD Hip and Joint Soft Chews really helps his hips if he goes on too long of a walk or hike with us. 

When we roll into a new camp spot either at a campground or boondocking.  I usually have the ritual of putting the awning out, laying out the outdoor mat, setting up the compact camping chair and I love this camping stool if a friend comes by to sit or we typically used it as a table for drinks or electronic devices. After a long drive Greg and I love to roll out our backs with this back roller and stretch out with this yoga set.  We also find there are many times you will get to a spot where there is no cell reception so having good walkie talkies that are long range and waterproof are helpful for communication when you are trying to find a camp spot, go out for a hike or bike ride alone or helping your spouse backup and avoid smacking into a tree or rock!  People ask us what type of shoes do you use as you can’t bring too many pairs on the road?  For the Spring, Summer and Fall we love these Chaco’s men sandals and Chaco’s women’s sandals they are super comfortable, great support and we can walk/hike for miles.  One thing that is super important if you are walking in areas there are snakes is to have good walking sticks.  Make sure you bring plenty of water on your hikes, we really like these water bottles from Hydroflask and this collapsible dog bowl for Bode.  I also find after having two reconstructive knee surgeries, these walking sticks are great going downhill and in rocky areas.  Don’t forget to bring your protein bars, we like these healthy protein bars as they are super healthy and have no added sugar but only the natural sugar from dates. I have low blood pressure so I need to take salt tablets, I find LMNT Recharge gives me the salt I need and flavors the water with a yummy citrus taste, so you get the rehydration benefits and a tasty drink!  I have said multiple times in our blogs I have gone over a year without a cold and I live by this Zinc Spray.  I take it when I feel run down, especially when I am out and around sick people.  When I feel a possible cold coming on I take 3 sprays every 4 hours and Airborne vitamin C chewable and, so far no cold!

There are some important items you need for your RV to make life easier.  If you are carrying bikes and are off roaders- like us, you go down a lot of dirt roads, hit the elements: like rain and snow.  If you want your bikes to stay in good shape we love this duel bike cover from Formosa, it’s also big enough for electric bikes.  They also stand behind their product; the zipper broke after 3 months and they sent us a new one when we contacted them!  It’s nice to get the trash out of your van, we really like the Trasharoo that fits on our spare tire to put trash, our shovel, and some of our dumping supplies.  Depending on the size of your RV you will want one or both of these options for doing laundry.  When I am on the road, I use the Scrubba when I am at a campground and can easily hang a line. It rolls up so small and can store in any cabinet in our RV.  If I am at our RV stop at Caballo Loco Ranch, where we have a storage trailer and more room, I use the Easy Go Portable Washer where I can do almost a full small load of laundry!  They both work amazingly well and I use Dr. Bronner’s soap so I can dump the soap water and not damage any vegetation. When you are in limited space of a camper van there is not many places you can hang towels.  We have found these XL Camp Towel great for drying off after a shower and can hang off the AC vent.  We use these set of three Camp Towel Set (one for hand drying, one for dish drying and one for our feet when we step out of the shower and to dry off the shower)  and all of these can easily hang off the AC unit with the snapping leash. GPS is great but sometimes you want that paper map!  We love our Atlas where it shows rest stops, camp grounds and more details on national parks.  When we hit the road we had no idea, how limited cell coverage is in a lot of the rural areas in this country the Weboost Cell and Internet Booster works great and usually doubles our reception coverage! We wouldn’t be able to enjoy Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pandora, AppleTV or maintain this blog without it!  Living in a small camper van, you are limited on space and these Compression Clothes Travel Bags make it so we can take a lot more clothes in our small cabinet.  

Last, but not least folks asks us what types of tech items we use often.  I love to read and I love the Libby app where I can download 15 books from my library to my Kindle paper white e-reader.  When we watch TV we like to use our Amazon Fire Stick  or Apple HDMI Dongle .  It is important you get the apple dongle and not one of the cheaper knock off brands as Amazon and Netflix will not let you stream with the knock off brand while with the Apple it works!  If you are on the road and need a good affordable laptop, I can’t believe how inexpensive the Costco Lenovo Touchscreen IdeaPad for only $499 can do everything you need!  It is a great product, dependable, I use it to make all my videos, maintain my blog and do everything else you need to do online.  Also, Costco has great customer tech support.  My laptop stopped working and I just sent it in and 4 days later it came back repaired or replaced.  Last but not least is good Bluetooth ear buds.  I loved these Apple Airpods that are currently on discount for Black Friday as they are super comfortable and they don’t light up and wake up Greg when I am listening to a book in the middle of the night to fall asleep. 

We hope these are helpful and know they will make the RVer in your life super happy to get one of these items! Cheers, next week’s blog will bring my favorite recipes on the road- none take more than 30 minutes and some only 10 minutes.

(We are Amazon Associates & cbdMD Influencers, so we may earn from qualified purchases.)

Importance of Leave No Trace Ethic When Camping and RVing

Now that we have been on the road for 8 months and have visited over 40 national parks, monuments, historic sites and stayed in Bureau of Land Management, National Forest, National Recreation Area disperse camping areas in 17 states. We have found some of our public areas in poor condition.  We are not sure if it is new people camping and RVing that aren’t aware of the rules or people being lazy.  I am hoping the previous and not the latter.  This week’s blog we would like to refresh folk’s memory on what we should do to ensure we keep our lands pristine for the wildlife and next generation to continue to enjoy. We hope this helps new RVers & campers and serves as a good reminder for those long-time veterans in the outdoors.

  • LEAVE NO TRACE: This means the spot you stayed at looks like you never stayed there.  That means you should pick up all your trash.  Yes, that means cigarette butts.  You should dig a hole around 6” deep and bury your ashes and leave the firepit empty.  Please don’t leave trash even items that can burn in the firepit as critters will still get into the firepit and you don’t know when the next camper who comes will make a fire or if there may be fire restrictions in place later.  Please don’t dump your grey water at the campsite.  Take the time to pick up trash of other’s who left it behind.

Unfortunately, there are more public lands than employees who can come and clean-up.  You should assume there is no one coming to clean up areas.  If you are lucky and you discover a place that does have trash disposal, do not overfill trash cans or lay your trash next to the full trash can.  This encourages wildlife to eat things they should not be eating or the wind to blow it all over the place.  Consider getting a trasharoo if you don’t want trash inside your vehicle.  There are trash cans at every gas station and most city parks and rest areas that you can drop off at the next place. 

  • DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE: Yes, its cute that the chipmunks, squirrels and birds will come up to you and even on to your hand but don’t feed them!  There will not be people at that spot all year around to continue to feed them and we don’t want them dependent on humans and human food.  Second, many of these cute animals’ harbor diseases (such as Hanta Virus), you don’t want your kids to get bitten or cut by one of these cute animals.  These cute animals will also ruin your vehicle.  As you continue to feed them, they would like to be stow-a-ways and will eat your wires and other items in your RV, car or truck.  If they are scared of humans, like they should be, then they will stay away.  We have had a few field mice and ground squirrels enter our vehicle-not fun!
  • DISPOSING OF TRASH:  It has been so sad to go to rest areas, historical pull outs and viewpoints to see trash all over the parking lot, in the river, streams and banks.  These beautiful places are beginning to look like junk yards.  Please take the time to throw your trash in trash cans.  If trash cans are full or there are not at the stop please just hold them until the next gas station or other appropriate location.  If you have junk to dispose of, please use the dump where it is supposed to go and not these beautiful places.  Also, please take the time to bag up and throw away your dog poo.  If you don’t have a bag then take the time to dig a hole and bury your dog poo.  No one wants to step in it, see it, smell it and it drives wildlife out of the area.  I know its not fun but that is why we carry this great portable shovel from Amazon or leave the dog poo bag in the trashroo until we find a trash can. 
  • RELIEVING YOURSELF IN THE OUTDOORS:  Unfortunately, many places in the outdoors do not have bathrooms or vault toilets.  If that is the case, the rule of thumb is to dig a hole at least 6” deep.  Your hole should be 6 inches deep so you can bury your feces and toilet paper so critters do not dig it up and people don’t step on it.  The last thing you want is your dog eating human waste, sorry gross has happened to us before.  When you need to go or a child needs to go, its understandable but please take the time to bury it and do not leave diapers-they do not degrade away.  We were in Glacier National Park hiking up to a water fall and someone left human waste and toilet paper and a diaper right next to the trail.  Not only was it gross but animals were going after it and kids not paying attention were stepping in it and dragging it down the trail.  Please don’t be the person who does this!
  • BEING CONSIDERATE: Not everyone wants to interact with other people.  If you are boondocking and there is an empty area don’t park next to the people.  Try to park as far away as possible, give people space.  If you are boondocking and you see an area that already has a vehicle but a second vehicle could fit, take the time to knock on the other RV and ask if they would mind if you parked near them.  They found the spot first, many will say that is fine but some people may prefer you not to be there and if they do, it’s fair for them to ask you to find another spot.  Many people go to the outdoors to enjoy peace and tranquility.  You may want to listen to music but others may not.  Feel free to enjoy your music but consider doing it at a quieter level so others don’t hear you rocking out and consider turning it off at a reasonable hour.  We were camping and a group of ladies having a bachelorette party decided to play their techno dance music blaring from their SUV until 3AM.  It really was not enjoyable.  As much as I want all ladies to have a fabulous bachelorette party please be considerate of others.  If your RV has a generator, those are loud and some very stinky!  Many campgrounds require them to only be used from 8am-8pm.  Consider that a standard even if its not specified at a campground or if you are boondocking.  People go to sleep at different times and it’s a considerate rule to go by to be a good neighbor. 
  • COVID-19: I know this topic has lots of controversy and people can believe whatever they want to believe, but we can all be respectful.  Even if you don’t like masks, we should be considerate of others.  Considering we are in middle of a pandemic, not everyone wants to interact with others.  Please wear a mask or give people 6 feet if you want to ask them questions.  We are happy to talk to people about our rig and our adventures but I don’t appreciate when people touch my vehicle, come up next to me or continue to walk closer and closer to me, when I am backing up.  Don’t be a ‘Space Invader’.  I have been a year ‘sick free’ for a reason and I’d like to stay that way.  People may look really healthy but you don’t know if they have any health issues that put them in a high-risk bracket.  If you are hiking trails or biking, bring a mask or at least a buff or bandana.  You don’t need to wear it the whole time but when you are passing other people you should.  When we are walking we wear our masks on our chin so we can easily put it on when people are approaching. If you are hiking with friends don’t take up the entire path, walk single file.  Many people don’t want to have to be pushed to the side or walk right next to you.  Its very considerate to even stand to the side and let people pass by, especially if they are struggling. If you are taking a rest break by yourself or with a group, please stand to the side and wear your mask so people don’t have to go around you or have you and your group breathing on them.  Many campgrounds are closed or at half capacity, make sure to check before you show up at national parks and monuments.  Some require reservations while others have first come first serve spots, I suggest calling the park and talking to a ranger before just showing up. 

We hope this helps as you enjoy the great outdoors!  If we all follow these simple rules then we can ensure our parks and monuments and public lands stay open.  If we continue with the trash, human waste and destruction, many of these lands will close and then we won’t be able to get out and enjoy the outdoors.