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The Best Gift Ideas For Van Life – Items For Someone Starting A Road Trip

  • By Kate Moore
  • on 
  • This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my full disclosure.

These gifts for van life are perfect for any travel or road trip enthusiast getting prepared for a road trip adventure. All of these items will come in handy on a daily basis and certainly make life in a camper more comfortable.

Van Life Gift Ideas

national geographic adventure road atlas mapNational Geographic Road Atlas: Adventure Edition

For those times when you want to do some more big picture planning, the National Geographic Road Atlas: Adventure Edition is the perfect resource.

This map is very up-to-date marks out all of the National Parks, detailed information on recreation areas, popular trails, campsites and even points of interest.

Avoid getting lost with this practical gift

You also get free entry to a number of National Monuments, National Historic Parks, preserves, battlefields and seashores.

The pass covers entry fees for one vehicle so you can bring the whole family along.

Some of the most popular National Parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Zion can cost over $35 per vehicle, so a parks pass will pay itself off in just 3 days of travel.

Save money on travel with this gift!

National Parks passport stamp bookNational Parks Passport Book

Along with a National Parks pass, then next best thing is a passport book. Each US National Park has a cancellation station located at the visitor center.

This station contains free stamps that include the park title, location, and a changeable date. This van life gift is a great way to keep track of your travels and a timeline of where you’ve been.

Help your van life friend keep track of their adventures!

lithium jump starter batteryLithium Jump Starter

The last thing anyone wants to experience on a camping trip is getting stuck with a dead battery. There are not always other campers around to help jump-start the car. 

That’s why we think a lithium jump starter makes a great travel gift. This accessory is easy to throw in the trunk and will turn into a major lifesaver if you accidentally leave the lights on while heading off on a hike.

This is one of the most practical gifts for a camper van owner on our list!

Portable Camp ChairPortable Camp Chair

The best part of living in a van is that the outdoors is your living room. Folding chairs are a great way to relax in nature where the sky is high and there’s room to stretch your legs.

These aluminum collapsable chairs are a great solution because they are comfortable and pack up extremely small inside the van.

Makes the perfect comfortable gift for a van life owner

Vacuum Insulated Camping ThermosVacuum Insulated Mug

Any time the weather gets cold is a great time to use a vacuum insulated thermos. This thermos will keep your coffee, hot chocolate, or any other liquid warm for hours on end. These drink holders are especially cherished in the cold winter months. Zojirushi are our favorites because they consistently have the best insulation performance.

Heat coffee and soup in a camper vanJetBoil

A Jetboil is a fast and efficient way to heat up water. Fuel is easy to find, and you can have boiling water in minutes without having to pull out your kitchen setup. This is one of the best ways to make coffee, hot chocolate, soup, boxed dinners, and anything else you can stuff in the container.

Jetboil coffee press attachmentJetBoil: Coffee Press Attachment

If you drink coffee on a daily basis and already have a Jetboil, this coffee press attachment is our favorite accessory. You’l have fewer dishes to clean and fresh coffee is only one press away.

Small, collapsible bowl for a tiny camper vanCollapsible Stovetop Pot

With the space constraints of a van, these collapsible pots make excellent space savers. Made with durable silicon and an aluminum base, they are perfect for cooking and easy to clean.

Save space in a tiny camper with collapsible accessories

WaterBrick Camping Water ContainerWaterbrick

These are one of the most durable water containers on the market. Waterbricks hold 3.5 gallons of water each so they are easy to carry, have a solid handle, and stack like Lego bricks. Add on a spigot and you’ve got easy to use water for days.

personal locator beacon for emergency situations during travelPersonal Locator Beacon

This gift is one of the best things you can give for both personal safety, and peace of mind. A personal locator beacon works in any location–whether you’re at the bottom of a ravine or in the middle of the ocean. 

You can use the beacon to send a distress signal or message through satellite and let your loved ones know where you’re located in case of emergency.

A must-have gift idea for van lifers who are constantly traveling off-grid

a Kindle e-book reader makes the perfect rv or camping giftKindle e-Reader

Space constraints are a big pitfall when it comes to van life. That’s why having an e-reader rather than a stack of books is so much more practical on the road. e-Readers like the Kindle take a small amount of battery power and can last for weeks at a time.

They’re also designed with e-ink so the screen won’t glare in the sunlight.

If you know someone that does a lot of reading, consider pairing it with a subscription of Kindle Unlimited so you can download new books every month.

Our favorite space-saving entertainment device

jbl flip bluetooth music speakerBluetooth Portable Speaker

For those times when you don’t want to sit around a campsite in silence, a portable bluetooth speaker is the perfect compact way to crank up the tunes or listen to a podcast. These sound machines are rugged enough to throw around, waterproof and the battery lasts for hours of play.

Omnia camping stove top oven for momOmnia Stove Top Oven Kit

An Omnia allows you to bake bread, cakes and other dishes using far less fuel and heat than a conventional oven. This gadget is popular with campers because you can bake delicious recipes without heating up the entire camper van.

Cook baked goods in a van with this versatile road trip accessory.

led lanternBattery Operated Lantern

Another overlooked vanlife accessory is an outdoor lantern. This battery powered version lasts for hours and you won’t have to worry about it rattling around in the vehicle and breaking.

Clip In door spice rackClip-In Spice Rack Holders

Every food deserves a little bit of spice. A spice rack holder is a fantastic way to keep those individual containers secure and prevent them rolling around the back of the van during travel.

Travel Bathroom ToteBathroom Tote

The easiest way to stay organized both in the van and out in public. These bathroom totes pack up small and are easy to transport shampoos, soaps and other sanitary items.

Van Life Dry ShampooDry Shampoo

If you have long hair, bottles of dry shampoo work surprisingly well. They may not clean the dirt off, but they will keep your hair from getting too greasy! Bottles of dry shampoo are an inexpensive solution for the long days between a shower.

Wet WipesWet Wipes

An endless amount of uses can be found for wet wipes. From cleaning off sticky hands to cleaning off sticky body parts, you’ll never feel like you have enough. Wet wipes also make an excellent shower alternative until you can get to the real thing.

Boar Bristle Brush for cleaning a vanBoar Bristle Brush

For those times when your overnight site gets pretty muddy, a bristle brush is the perfect way to keep your van clean. Simply wait for the mud to dry and bristle brush the dirt off in the morning. Pairing this with an outdoor welcome mat on the floor is one of the most efficient ways to keep your van feeling clean. 

rv fire extinguisherAutomotive Fire Extinguisher

Hopefully you never need to use one of these, but in case of a fire it’s much better to have one nearby! Fire extinguishers are a must-have in any van build. Make sure to get a class ABC which uses a dry chemical to put out fires, perfect for the van life.

collapsible rv telescoping ladderAluminum Telescopic Extension Ladder

Another practical accessory is a collapsible step ladder. Most camper vans do not come with a ladder attached so there’s no easy way to get to the roof.

Why do you need to be up there? To clean off solar panels after a dusty or snowy drive. Dirty solar panels greatly impacts capacity so it’s something you’ll want to keep on top of.

We like ladders with this telescoping design because they pack down small and are easy to store.

First Aid KitFirst-Aid Kit

It’s always important to have an up-to-date first aid kit running around. Especially when you spend the majority of your time outdoors. It’s an often overlooked but important part of your being prepared.


With this gadget, you will no longer have to guess what temperature you weathered outside or in the van. This digital thermometer is battery powered and small so you can stick it anywhere without outlets.

Mountain House Camping FoodMountain House

Nothing says love like freeze-dried food! Every once in awhile it’s hard to find time to get to a grocery store. Keep a couple mountain house dinners around and you can skip the trip. They double as backup calories in case you get stranded in the wilderness.

Keep warm in the winter with a propane heaterMr. Heater – Portable Propane Heater

Sure, you might not need a heater for the winter, but it’s a portable propane heater is a great luxury item to have. With just a few canisters of propane you can keep yourself warm and toasty all night, just don’t forget to crack the windows! Want to learn more? Read our blog and check out other ways to heat your van in winter.

Portable power bank campingUSB C Power Bank Portable Charger

Having an extra power bank or two around the van means you won’t have to be stuck inside with your laptop when the weather is nice. Portable power banks charge up quickly and you can use them later when there aren’t any outlets available.

We often find ourselves charging up power banks at a campground right before heading off on an all-day hike.

Getting internet during a road tripCell Phone Signal Booster

When you work on the road, having a useable phone signal is imperative. The weBoost makes the perfect gift for van lifers that need a strong internet connection. 

Cell phone signal boosters amplify a cell phone signal giving stronger service in sparse areas. weBoost is the gold standard when it comes to signal boosters. We’ve used this device to stream Netflix in locations you would never expect and can’t recommend this product enough!

The best van life gift idea for travelers working on the road.

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Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, we’ve used almost every item in this list on the daily – except the folding pot, it’s on my Christmas list 😉

  1. Awesome list, every item here is essential for living on the road. I have the exact same Terralite camp chair, used it on my road trip in Macedonia last year. Best chair ever! By the way, the mountains in Macedonia are amazing and I’d recommend this country to any nature lover!

  2. Great ideas! There’s also Gritmaps (, a zine (36-page, hand-drawn magazine) about vanlife and free campsites — for someone who already has all the odds and ends for living in a van, a zine can make a great holiday gift, too! And it’s only $5 🙂

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