As van lifers, we know we can be difficult to buy for at Christmas! What do you get someone who doesn’t own a traditional home, and needs to keep material items to a minimum? Candles, picture frames, cushions and other large items are out – and what if you want to buy something more exciting than chocolate or socks?! We’ve got you covered with our gift guide for those that live on the road! Whether you’re buying for the nomad in your life or are a van lifer yourself and need to drop some hints (!) read on for our top picks for van life Christmas gifts.

Keeping warm

What better Christmas gift than something to keep a van owner nice and toasty on those cold Winter nights? One of our best investments this year has been our Oodies – these oversized, fleecy hoodies are incredible for keeping warm! We have one each so we can both cosy up, tuck our hands into the fleece-lined pocket and put up the hood for extra warmth. Once you’ve seen how warm and soft they are, you’ll realise why there’s so much hype around the Oodie.

To keep toes toasty when the van floor is chilly, we pack our slippers for the Winter. Chris swears by his Toms as they’re easy to slip on, and have a rubber sole which he can wipe clean if he steps out of the van for a minute! I have a pair of slipper boots to keep my ankles warm as well as my feet (they no longer make the ones I own – they are penguin shaped!!) But there are lots of different styles of slipper boots out there that would make a perfect Christmas gift.

If you’re unsure of clothing sizes (and don’t want to ruin the surprise by asking!) then another fab gift for keeping warm is a good quality hot chocolate. Most van lifers will have a way to heat up water or milk in their van, whether on a hob or a camping stove, and we do find ourselves drinking copious amounts of hot drinks throughout the Winter! We LOVE the Hotel Chocolat chocolate flakes to stir into hot milk – the variety of flavours are incredible and we’re slowly making our way through all of them! Chris loves the limited edition Mince Pie flavour at this time of year. Equally Whittards have a lovely range of different flavours, including the festive limited edition Gingerbread! We have to admit we’ve also tried our fair share of these – our favourites are the Creme Brulee, Cookies and Cream, and the simple Luxury White.

While you’re buying your van lifer friend a delicious hot chocolate, why not also gift them a Yeti mug to drink it in! We have these 14oz mugs in our van and we love how much more durable they are than ceramic or china mugs – it gives us peace of mind that our mugs won’t shatter in the kitchen drawer while we drive our home on wheels! The stainless steel design means the mug is well-insulated, so hot drinks stay hot for longer, and the mug comes with a leak-proof lid with a sliding magnet component so you can drink from the mug while the lid is on. We also have the matching tumbler that fits perfectly in our cab’s cup holders, and because they’re made of the same great quality, they’re perfect for life on the road!

Van decor

Decorating a space to live in can be very personal, but we believe any van lifers would love these! If you’re not sure what your van lifer friend’s colour scheme is, or if you’re just not sure what kind of decor they’d like, you can’t go far wrong with a set of fairy lights. These ones are battery operated, so no draining any power from the van, and the warm white colour will add instant cosiness to any home on wheels! The fact that they’re 5 metres long is a bonus too – you’d be surprised how much length you need to cover an entire van wall! On dark Winter days, we love to turn all our lights off and just have our fairy lights on for a warm and snuggly atmosphere. Paired with our countertop Christmas tree, it’s the perfect way to bring a festive touch to our home on wheels.

If you’re not sold on buying a giant wearable Oodie, but want to make sure your van life friend stays warm though Winter, a simple but effective gift is a soft, fleece blanket. We’ve had our fleecy blanket from Wilko for years (SO sad they closed down – we would gift their blankets to everyone we know!!) but there are some fantastic alternatives out there! This snuggly fleece blanket comes in a variety of colours and is large enough to cover you up without taking up too much valuable space in a van. We also love this doggo-print one for our fellow van life / pet sitting friends! We never regret throwing our blanket on top of our duvet before we go to sleep – we always wake up super warm and cosy, even on the coldest Winter mornings.

If your van life friend loves to explore as much as possible, like us, we highly recommend buying them a scratch map! This is a fun way to create a kind of scrapbook of all the places you travel – we’re still making our way through our one of the UK! We love to scratch off a new place after a trip, and it makes the perfect wall hanging for a van.

Practical gifts

These may not be the most fun, but sometimes when a gift fills a need it’s the one that gets used the most, and it shows that you’re really thinking of them! We recently had to dig out our pocket-sized ice scraper when temperatures in the North of England reached freezing on our Winter trip, and we’re so grateful that it can be stored easily in our glovebox for quick access! The VW camper design of this one gives it that little personal touch for van lifers.

We bought a set of Apple AirTag trackers a few years back and we’re still coming up with new uses for them! For the last line of defence in campervan security, it could be a good idea to store an AirTag in your van in a place that nobody would think to look. This way, if the worst should happen and your van is stolen, you can track the location of your van from your iPhone. Obviously, we have quite a few more effective security measures for our home on wheels, but when all else fails this could be the one that makes the difference.

Sometimes no matter how lovely a park up looks online, when we arrive in our van it’s busy, or there’s traffic noise that disturbs us. This year we invested in two sets of Loop earplugs to cut out any background noise – we chose a Quiet set and an Engage set. We love that the silicone Quiet style are comfy enough to wear to bed at night, and all the ear plugs come with a variety of sizes so you can easily change them out to fit your ears. We wouldn’t be without them now – we even use our Loops on days when bumpy roads make the noise in our cab a little too loud!

For those with a kitchen in their van, there are two items we always recommend. The first is the Ridge Monkey, which is a lightweight aluminium pan with a lid, so when we’re cooking on the hob we know that nothing will spatter out and stain our van! We cook all kinds of food in it, from grilling halloumi to making a fry up of sausages, eggs and beans! The second item we recommend is an electric lighter, for lighting gas hobs and camping stoves. Having this electric lighter means there’s no matches or fluid lighters in the van, and you don’t have to worry about running out of matches or fluid as it’s fully rechargeable with the included cable!

Our last practical item is for those in their van life infancy – The Van Conversion Bible. This book is the ultimate guide to converting a campervan, and is incredibly informative without being overwhelming. There are detailed electrical system diagrams, design tips and information to save any budding camper converters from making expensive mistakes! We learnt so much from this book when researching our van design and we highly recommend it.

Just for fun!

We love nothing more than a cosy Winter night in the van, hot chocolate in hand, playing endless rounds of card games. Our favourites fluctuate, but right now our most played game in the van is Uno Flip! This take on the classic game has all the fun of original Uno, but with an added ‘dark side’ to all the cards that have even more punishing action cards to inflict on your opponent! Like all our favourite van games, it’s quick to play for multiple rounds and pocket-sized for easy storage.

Our second most played game (judged partly on how battered the box looks) is Monopoly Deal. This card game is based on the classic board game, but involves thinking ahead and being strategic about when to play your cards. The aim is to collect properties or bankrupt your opponent, but there are some devilish action cards in the pack that allow players to steal or swap properties. On average it only takes 10 minutes to play with the two of us, but we will always play at least five rounds!

Dobble is a relatively recent addition to our games drawer this year, and we’re hooked! We love that there’s 5 different ways to play, but it’s essentially a match game and all the cards have multiple symbols on them. We sometimes play this quick-fire game to decide who does the washing up in the van! As with the other games we’ve mentioned, you can play with more than two players, but it’s a great way to spend an evening just the two of you. For more van-friendly game recommendations, head to our dedicated post below!

If you’re really stuck for ideas…

Sometimes it’s just impossible to know what to get someone! Especially, as we’ve mentioned, van lifers tend to lean towards packing light. In that case, a gift card or membership will be more appreciated than an item they’ll never use! We’ve been National Trust members for the past 6 years and we don’t know how we got by without it on our travels. The National Trust have hundreds of locations all over the UK, from grand houses to miles of public footpaths to explore, and we often pause to make our lunch in the back of our van after a long morning at a new property! More often than not, NT car parks are overly spacious which we’re always grateful for in our van. For those who love to get out for a good hike, or dive into history, a year’s membership could make a great gift. Our blog and Instagram have lots of inspiration for the best NT places to see, with snaps from our visits!

Some gift cards that could be valuable to a van lifer are those from outdoor shops, like Cotswold Outdoor, Mountain Warehouse or Decathlon. If your friend has recently bought their campervan or motorhome, you can’t go far wrong with an IKEA gift card – we always head in for one item and leave with armfuls of clever storage solutions and decor to brighten up our roaming home.

Beyond items and gift cards, the best present you can gift your van life friend is your time! If they’re constantly on the move, they’ll probably be missing their friend and would love a catch up. If you’re able to, take a trip together this year! And when you do, if you really want to experience van life for yourself, Quirky Campers have hundreds to rent to suit every need..!

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