Oh the weather outside is frightful, but my van is so delightful… OK so let’s just say that we’re not cut out for writing Christmas jingles, but there is something we’ve become experts on. Hint: it’s got 4 wheels, a 32 gallon gas tank, and low clearance.
As the weather gets colder and the days grow shorter (we see you, seasonal depression), it’s clear that the holidays are upon us. Racking your brain to come up with the perfect gift for the vanlifer in your life? Worried that your package won’t arrive by Christmas? Fear not! Your trusty #VanMamas (that’s us!) have always got your back, and today is the last day to order on Amazon if you want your package arriving before Christmas. As vanlifers, sometimes the best gift is as simple as a much-needed hot shower or the occasional driveway to park in, but there are a couple non-necessities that come in handy while on the road. Even though vanlife forces you to lead a more minimalist lifestyle, everyone still appreciates some creature comforts.
Visiting the nation’s national parks is one of the most popular reasons people consider vanlife. This interagency pass gives access to thousands of federally managed lands across America. This gift will be used again and again and lead to countless happy adventures in our great outdoors!
Exercise Dress $100
This article of clothing is the MVP in our closets. It’s a dress, yes, but it also has spandex shorts underneath that allow you to be active without the threat of that not-so-nice thigh rub (just being real here). The shorts are even fashioned with a pocket to hold your phone. This dress is the peak of comfort and function, and we’ve never not been complimented on them. Literally, everyone loves how they look and feel in this dress! It can be sporty or casual; wear it on a hike and then throw a jacket on to go on a date. This is a power dress!!!! The Outdoor Voices motto is “Doing Things” and we promise, you will be doing things in this dress!
There are few things more magical than solitary nights spent under the stars hundreds of miles from light pollution. But it’s also sometimes nice to have the option of illumination, especially when cooking and reading outside. These battery-powered string lights won’t drain your van’s power supply and they are surprisingly bright. They also add a ~stylish~ touch to your van’s nighttime look (mom, are you reading this??)
Handheld Vacuum $34
This may be the number one item we kept wishing would spontaneously materialize in our van. Instagram has a knack for making vanlife seem glamorous, but we’re here to tell you that there is A LOT of dirt. Like ENDLESS dirt. Somehow even after sweeping meticulously morning and night, there’s always some pesky grit leftover. Exterminate that dirt with arguably man’s greatest discovery: vacuum suction!
Trader Joe’s Gift Basket
If we would have known that there were entire states without a Trader Joe’s, we would have stockpiled some of our favorite TJ snacks. It’s likely that your vanlifer has also experienced Trader Joe’s withdrawal. Throwing some TJ crowd favorites into a box is a simple and cheap gift that will be sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face.
It’s no secret that vanlifers tend to push the limits on typical hygiene standards (we’ve definitely shocked ourselves with how comfortable we got being greasy queens). One of the ways to prolong the time between showers and have any semblance of hygiene is to use dry shampoo. It zaps the grease and makes you feel clean-adjacent. We love Batiste dry shampoos because they’ve got options for different hair colors and it’s powerful stuff.
Another one for vanlife hygiene. Another thing we learned early on is that wipes are your best friend. Sure, it’s not a shower, but it makes a huge difference when those unmentionables feel ~fresh~ (they’re for men too!).
An Oil Change $50-$75
For some reason, lots of people conveniently forget about needing their vehicle’s oil changed until they get a heated reminder from their dad, “What do you mean you don’t remember the last time you got your oil changed??” This is normally not too catastrophic when you’re driving around town, but when you’re driving your home around the country, the importance of oil changes escalates. Chances are, most vans could use an oil change. And even though this isn’t the most “fun” gift, it’s one that will be met with appreciation (from both human and van alike).
***Disclaimer: We recommend getting an oil change every 3 months or 5,000 miles. Best yet, read your car’s instruction manual and save your dad his biannual heart attack over your engine’s lubrication.
Boxed Wine $20
Things that don’t mix well: Donald Trump using Twitter, and glass in a moving vehicle. We live for wine nights, but our van, Gulliver, does not appreciate broken glass and wine stains. Our solution? Boxed wine! We grew up hearing that boxed wine is no good, but the boxed wine market has come a long way since then (and who are we kidding, we’re not buying premium wines anyway. We’re not living out of a van because we’re made of money!)! Boxed wine is also less prone to spoilage than an open bottle of wine. In certain states with more funky liquor laws, it may be hundreds of miles between wine stores, so more, in this case, is better. One of our favorite brands is Bandit Wines! This Christmas, nothing says, “I love you,” like boxed libations.
Part of the appeal of the van lifestyle is it’s lower carbon footprint. Lots of vanlifers use solar energy to power their batteries, and it’s easy to take them off-grid. Storage and waste are dilemmas for vanlife. You learn to only live with what you actually need, and even then, for us there was probably some more room to whittle down possessions. The thing that we never regretted having was reusable plastic bags; in fact, we probably could have used more! There’s lots of options out there, but we snatched ours from HomeGoods for a steal. Spending our days hiking, we knew we’d go through a lot of plastic bags housing our sandwich lunches, and this was a small way we could reduce our plastic waste.
Signal Booster $250-$400
Staying Connected can sometimes be a challenge for vanlifers. There’s vast stretches of land where there isn’t a cell tower for hours. Other times, there’s dodgy signal that could be improved upon by a signal booster. Depending on how tech savvy your loved one is, this could make a great gift. And who knows, maybe you’ll get a Facetime call from a remote boondocking site!
This one’s for the ~ladies~! Men don’t know how lucky they have it; the world is their toilet. Well guess what girls, now it’s yours too! Say goodbye to gross gas station bathrooms and nervous pees on crowded trails. Gone are the days of squatting over the world’s worst porta-potties. This nifty contraption lets you pee upright without taking off your clothes. Now if that’s not liberation, we don’t know what is!
We love documenting our travels, but sometimes you get so caught up admiring the scenery, the video turns out looking like Mr. Tumnus took it. Give the gift of smooth videos. Who knows, maybe their video will go viral and they’ll have you to thank for their success!
Your Xfinity password FREE
Give the gift of wifi! Sometimes getting the password to a good wifi network makes you feel like you just won the golden ticket. There’s lots of areas that have an Xfinity wifi network open to anyone who has a valid username and password. This can really come in handy when there’s spotty service or data is running thin. Good wifi is our love language.
Garmin inReach $340-$500
Do you ever get worried when your loved ones are going on a multi-day backpacking trek or they haven’t checked in for a while? Get them a Garmin inReach and they’ll never have an excuse to remain radio silent again! Best of all, they are all manufactured with a built-in SOS button so that even when they want to “unplug,” they need only press a button for help to come their way. Some even come with a messaging feature so you can get a message that says, “Hey mom, I’m alive!” from the backcountry of Montana.