Has your loved one started living & traveling in a campervan, and you’re not sure what to get them for a special occasion, Birthday, or Christmas? We are here to help!
From lack of space to practicality needs, picking a van life gift can be a tough choice.
From that funny friend ha-ha gift to a practical “thinking of you” parent gift, this guide covers 40 amazing gifts that van lifers (like us) would love to get, for every type of budget. Many of these are items that we use ourselves in our campervan (or seriously wish we had! Hint, hint mom, if you’re reading this!).
Helpful tip: When gifting a van lifer, stay away from items that are big, heavy, or unnecessary. You don’t have to go all-out – a small, thoughtful gift can go a long way!
Here Are 40 Amazing Van Life Gift Ideas:
Gifts For Campervan Kitchen:
As van lifers, we cook A LOT of meals in our van so it’s no surprise that we always need things for our campervan kitchen. Here are some of our favorite items that we love and are helpful for cooking in a van!
1. AeroPress. Is your friend or a family member an obsessed coffee lover? Do they always know the closest coffee shop in town and can’t stop talking about single-origin coffee beans & pour-overs? Then surprise them with an AeroPress set!
AeroPress Set On Amazon – $30
AeroPress is a portable coffee maker that is small, lightweight, and made of plastic so it won’t break – perfect for van life. If you really want to be the best, get the Porlex manual coffee grinder to go along with it for the ultimate fresh cup of coffee!
2. Dish Drying Mat. If you want to get something more practical for the kitchen, a dish drying mat is always a great go-to gift. Not many van lifers have one but it’s a lifesaver for washing and cleaning dishes in a van.
While most people use towels for laying out dishes to dry, towels can stay damp and warp wooden countertops over time. It’s not something we even thought about (until it was too late). Impress your van life friend with a must-have gift by getting them a dish drying mat!
Microfiber Dish Drying Mat – $10
3. Collapsible Food Containers. Space is always a limiting factor when it comes to living in a van. These super handy food storage containers are collapsible and can help save space in the fridge and kitchen cabinets – something that every van lifer can appreciate!
Collapsible Food Storage Containers – $15
4. Soap Dispenser & Dish Brush. A soap dispenser is a useful little trinket and the perfect accessory for a small campervan kitchen. Using a soap dispenser can help save both water and soap when washing dishes in a van – two items that van lifers go through very quickly!
Ceramic Soap Dispenser & Bamboo Dish Brush – $15
5. Cutting board. Van lifers do a lot of cooking so a cutting board is always a solid gift that they’ll get a lot of use out of. You can go functional with a foldable plastic cutting board or go decorative with a wooden one.
Small Walnut Cutting Board – $30
6. Cookbook. Are you a parent whose kid has decided to travel in a van but YOU KNOW that they don’t know how to cook? While, sure, it’s easy to pull up recipes on the phone these days, there isn’t always reception available everywhere they might travel to. Get them a cookbook so they’re prepared for making meals on the road – there will be many to come! And who knows, they might return from their van life journey a cooking pro!
The New Camp Cookbook is perfect for adventurers! While it’s technically geared towards outdoor camping, their recipes are easily adjustable to be made in a van, especially with a cast-iron skillet – the one pan that we use nearly every day in a van. This book covers a ton of interesting yet easy meals that will make you drool – like the Peanut Butter-Stuffed French Toast with Honeyed Blackberries – yummm!
For more kitchen ideas, check out our guide that covers our entire DIY campervan kitchen setup & essentials!
This next category I call “the parent category” because these are all items we van lifers can always use, but rarely want to spend the money on. Hence, it sometimes takes a responsible party, like the parents, to get them for us.
7. Car Vacuum Cleaner. Living in a tight space like a campervan can be messy business. There’s always dirt on the floor, dust stuck in hard-to-reach corners, and in our case, dog hair just about everywhere. A portable car vacuum cleaner is a great gift that will often come in handy!
Portable Car Vacuum Cleaner – $35
8. Dustpan & Brush. Another super useful cleaning item for campervans is a small dustpan & brush set. We use ours at least twice a day – so you know they will get great use out of it!
Compact Dustpan & Brush Set – $10
9. Reusable Grocery Bags. When traveling in a campervan we do a lot of grocery shopping – 1) our fridges are tiny and can only hold groceries for a couple of days and 2) we end up making most of our meals to save on cost.
For frequent trips to the grocery store (and to be more eco-friendly) gift these awesome reusable grocery bags and mesh produce bags. They’re good for the planet and good for traveling!
Reusable Grocery Bags (3 Pack) – $25
10. Laundry Basket. I can be a functioning 35-year-old adult who runs her own business, yet I still don’t want to spend the money and effort on getting a laundry basket. Just do your van lifer a favor and get a laundry basket for them… don’t underestimate how many travelers are willing to use trash bags for their laundry!
Mesh Pop-up Laundry Hamper – $10
11. Dr. Bronner’s. I am obsessed with anything Dr. Bronner’s (and if you have ever tried one of their products, the chances are that you are too!). The best part – Dr. Bronner’s soaps and cleaners are made to serve multiple purposes which are perfect for van life where it’s not always possible to bring many household products.
Most people know that Dr. Bronner’s soaps can be used for showering but did you know that they can also be used for washing dishes, cleaning countertops, washing floors, doing laundry and so much more? My personal favorite is the peppermint scent that smells sooooo good! I am always super happy to receive Dr. Bronner’s products as a gift because I run out way faster than I can replenish them.
Dr. Bronner Peppermint Pure Castile Soap 2 Pack – $25
While there are a ton of practical gifts that you can get for a van lifer, sometimes you just want to keep it light and gift something funny. Here are hilarious out-of-the-box gag gifts that will put a smile on their face!
12. Female Pee Device. I didn’t know that these feminine products existed until I started traveling full time and I found out that just about every female traveling in a van has one. I immediately ordered a pee funnel and it’s been a lifesaver for emergency bathroom situations. It basically lets women pee standing up (like a guy) and go to the restroom outdoors more discreetly.
Sunany Female Pee Funnel – $15
13. Wipes. Having a set of wipes is a must for van lifers when showers are not easily available (like in cities). While it certainly is a practical gift, you can put a funny twist on it by giving him the Dude Wipes and for her the Booty Wipes.
14. Sleeping Mask. Bright lights, loud neighbors, and generally sketchy parking places can cause countless sleepless nights in a campervan. Gift this sleeping mask to help your loved one get better sleep!
Sleeping Mask on Amazon – $15
15. Foot Mask. Foot masks are made to repair and exfoliate skin on the feet, which is such a treat especially after long drives in the car. Get your friend a relaxing foot mask (and we won’t judge if you grab one for yourself too!)
Foot Peel Mask (2 Pack) – $30
16. Underwear. In van life, you can never have enough underwear, especially for people like us who end up doing laundry only every few weeks. It’s the first thing to run out (and the last thing you actually want to run out of).
For Him: Fruit Of The Loom Boxer Briefs
For Her: Seamless Underwear – perfect to wear underneath leggings which are my go-to van life pants.
17. Coffee Mug. When in doubt, get them a coffee cup. You can go funny, cute, custom… the options here are unlimited.
“Probably Whiskey” Coffee Mug on Amazon – $15
Van Life Accessories:
After buying the van, building it out, furnishing it, and getting all the basic necessities, often the last thing that we have money left over to spend on are accessories and decorative stuff. Here are some gift ideas that will make the campervan feel more like a home on wheels!
18. Decorative Blanket. We always have a few quality blankets stored in our campervan. They look great, keep us warm, and are easier to remove and wash than a duvet cover. Plus they can be used for hanging around a campfire at night, having a picnic in a grassy area, and just look great in photos!
My favorite brand for travel blankets is Sackcloth & Ashes. I’ve worked with them in the past (Psst! See my Ireland travel series here!) and I really admire their mission to donate a blanket to a local homeless shelter for every blanket sold. These blankets are very cozy, come with beautiful prints, and are made of durable materials that don’t fade or shrink even after a ton of washes.
Sackcloth & Ashes Throw Blanket on World Market – $100
19. Fruit Hammock. Fruit hammock is a cute campervan kitchen accessory that also keeps fruit and veggies from getting damaged while driving. Instead of rolling around in a drawer, fruit & veggies will swing in the hammock reducing bruising and spoiling. It’s both decorative and practical!
Veggie & Fruit Hammock – $15
20. Twinkle Lights. Twinkle lights are great for creating a cozy ambiance, especially at night. We have one set of twinkle lights installed below the ceiling and another set that runs on batteries which we often hang outside.
Battery Operated Twinkle Lights – 2 Pack for $10
21. Welcome Mat. Spruce up your loved one’s campervan and help them keep the dirt out with this stylish welcome mat! It can be used inside the van or outside by the entrance door at campsites. It’s useful and cute – a win, win!
“Life Is Better At The Campsite” Welcome Mat – $20
Gifts For Traveling:
What a better way to set up your friend for the perfect van life journey than with some helpful travel gifts? In the next category, we’ll cover some fun & useful things for traveling in a van.
22. Travel Books. I love planning trips. I’m that person that spends hours browsing through blogs and Pinterest, has a google doc with potential itineraries, images, map screenshots… call me nerdy but it’s my jam (and also ahem my job). But accessing information online can be limiting especially in places abroad that don’t always have internet reception.
During our 15-month long Pan-American road trip, we heavily used the Lonely Planet Books for Mexico, Central America, and South America. These books helped us navigate through international countries, find beautiful locations to visit, safe places to stay at, and one of the best tapas bars in Mexico that sells wine for just $1 per glass!
For those traveling in the US, consider getting this guide by National Geographic that is full of inspirational photos and things to do.
50 States 5000 Ideas by National Geographic – $13 Paperback
23. Instant Camera. An instant camera is such a fun way to capture all the best travel moments on the go! The Fujifilm Mini is very small, easy to bring everywhere and prints photos & selfies on the spot. Plus the pictures can be used as a campervan decoration especially when used together with these super cute photo clothespins.
Fujifilm Mini 11 Instant Camera – $70
24. Foot Rest. I wish I had one of these bad boys during our multi-country road trip. After adding a swivel base to the passenger car’s seat, my feet did not reach the floor. During the long haul drives, I ended up sitting cross-legged which was extremely uncomfortable and has led to some knee issues.
This memory foam foot rest can provide more comfort, lessen pressure and improve circulation – perfect for passengers during long drives in a van!
25. Lumbar Support For Driving. Our campervan has an extremely stiff driver’s seat that has no lumbar support. The combination of a bad seat plus no adjustability is destined to create a formula for back problems in the long term. Do your friend a favor and get lumbar support for their back. They will thank you later!
Memory Foam Car Lumbar Support – $30
Cool Van Life Hack Gifts:
Looking for a functional gift that might not be so obvious? Here are some great van life hack ideas that are not your typical gifts but will help your traveler A LOT on the road!
26. Packing Cubes. Is your friend a serious organizer who always has everything in order? Then they’ll really appreciate these travel packing cubes that not only keep everything nice & tidy but also help save a ton of space!
Packing Cube Set on REI – $45
27. Travel Clothesline. Travel clothesline is a must-have item that every van lifer should have. You never know when the next chance to wash laundry will come and sometimes we have to resort to washing clothes in places you wouldn’t imagine (think sinks, buckets, and showers).
For hanging wet laundry, I suggest gifting this travel clothesline that comes with 12 clothespins, great for a quick impromptu laundry day!
28. Under Cabinet Lights. As soon as the sun goes down, being in a dimly lit campervan can be a bit of a hassle, especially when getting ready for bed and not being able to find your favorite pair of pajamas.
These under cabinet puck lights are a complete lifesaver for night times and are easy to install. Plus these lights come with a wireless remote control so they can be turned off without getting out from underneath the covers of a cozy, warm bed.
Dimmable Puck Lights – $20
This Brita water bottle has a small built-in filter at the center that filters our chlorine taste & odor and is helpful to the Planet by eliminating the need to buy plastic bottles at the store. It comes in handy for traveling, especially in places where water quality is not that great.
Brita Water Filter Bottle – $20
30. Solar Shower. “How do you shower in a campervan?” is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get. Most van lifers end up using a small portable shower, like this solar shower.
3 Gallon Solar Shower on Amazon – $25
A solar shower is easy to store in a van, doesn’t take up much space, and can be used anytime the weather is sunny and hot. Want to really impress them? Gift it along with a WolfWise Shower Privacy Tent!
Gifts For Hanging Out:
Traveling in a van can be stressful, but it all pays off when you find that perfect campsite and it’s time to take off your boots and kick up your feet. Here are some special gifts that will help your traveler relax during their journey!
31. Kindle. Kindle is one of my most used van-life items for entertainment. It’s perfect for long drives in the car (as a passenger), hanging out at a campsite, or for unwinding before the bed.
Having a kindle is especially convenient in countries where reception is not always reliable so you can’t access social media for fun or stream Netflix. For longer van life trips, I recommend getting a kindle that has extra storage.
Amazon Kindle With 2x Storage – $130
32. Camping Hammock. You will really become someone’s favorite if you gift them a hammock! A hammock is perfect for relaxing at a campsite, reading, lounging on a beach (or let’s be real – taking that much-needed afternoon nap).
This ENO Double Nest Hammock is durable, lightweight, and compact – plus it comes in a ton of different awesome colors!
ENO DoubleNest Hammock on REI – $70
33. Foldable Chairs. Foldable chairs are great for eating meals, hanging out with friends, or huddling around a campfire. We have a couple of foldable chairs that we can easily put together when we’re stopped at a campsite or store at the back of our van when we’re ready to move on to our next destination.
REI Co-Op Flexlite Chair – $100
34. Noise Cancelling Headphones. Having a set of noise-canceling headphones makes it easy to work on the road and watch our favorite movies in a van while stealth camping. They can also help block out traffic noises in cities or obnoxiously loud neighbors at campsites (let’s be real – there are always a few).
Anker Soundcore Noise Cancelling Headphones – $50
35. Camping Lantern. Hanging outside of the campervan after dark can be difficult unless you have a camping light. Instead of calling it a night your friend can enjoy the outdoors with this camping lantern set. It’s also a great backup option for indoor lighting if the solar panels ever give out.
Vont Camping Lantern Set of 2 – $20
36. Clip-On Fan. During our time in Mexico and Central America, we suffered through unbearably hot days for months to no end. A clip-on fan comes in handy for hanging out or for leaving a pet inside the van to run errands.
A fan like this is easily attachable just about anywhere – we usually clip ours onto the seat or the kitchen countertop.
Schumacher 12V Oscillating Fan – $20
When it comes to van life clothing, comfort, functionality, and durability is the key. My go-to van life outfits include leggings, a plain t-shirt, and a fun travel hat to hide my messy hair that I probably haven’t brushed in a few days.
For clothing get things that someone would typically bring on a hiking or backpacking trip. In this next section, I cover a few useful van life clothing items, but you can also get more inspiration here – Backpacking Gear Guide: Our Ultimate Packing List.
37. Socks. If there is one thing that van lifers can always use more of, it’s a good pair of socks. By the end of our 15-month long trip, all of my socks had the toes-sticking-out type of holes in them. Go with something durable, like merino wool that will last much longer and provide extra comfort.
Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks on REI (Women’s) – $25
38. Birkenstock Sandals. I still remember how sad my friend was when someone reached into her van and stole her Birkenstock sandals. We, van lifers, may have very few possessions, but we get very attached to them!
A pair of sandals is an essential shoe for van life. We use them for everything! From hanging out at campsites to running errands, sightseeing, heading to the beach, showering… you name it! It’s much easier to take off sandals before getting into a van than to keep tying & untying shoelaces.
Birkenstock Mayari Sandals – Women’s on REI – $100
39. Small Backpack. A small backpack is another versatile and highly used item in van life. It can be used for grocery trips, hiking trips, walking around cities, and hauling a laptop to coffee shops.
I currently use the REI Co-Op Flash 22 pack that’s very lightweight, yet can fit a ton of stuff inside. It comes with a soft breathable back and mesh shoulder straps for extra comfort and a waistbelt that’s helpful for longer day hikes.
REI Co-Op Flash 22 Pack – $55
40. Pajamas. There is no better feeling than changing out of dirty day clothes, showering with wipes, and changing into a fresh set of pajamas at the end of the day (except for maybe a really really long, hot shower). When all else fails, a cozy set of pajamas is always a great gift!
Women’s PJ Set – $35
We hope this gift guide has helped you find the perfect present for a van life traveler in your life! Whether it’s for Christmas, their Birthday, a special occasion, or a send-off gift for their van life journey, these thoughtful (and yes, practical) gifts will show how much you care about them.
Nothing on this list caught your eye? You can find more gift ideas here: 85 Van Life Essentials That We Pack In Our Van.
Looking for more van life inspiration? Here are a few other helpful resources and blog posts that you may like:
Interested in how I capture amazing photos on my trips? Here is the camera gear that I use to create my photos:
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Also Read: How To Make Money While Living In A Van