With the holiday season well upon us, we’ve been asked by non-RVing friends what would be ideal gifts to give the RVers in their life.
Considerations When Gifting an RVer
Giving gifts to full time RVers can be a tricky endeavor – for they have so little space to store things. Most RVers have painstakingly gone through everything they owned (including gifts they’ve received for the past decade) and purged most of it to be able to travel full time. They have carefully considered every single item in their mobile home, down to each pair of socks, each electronic device and each kitchen gadget.
- If there’s something they need, they probably already have it.
- If they need it and they don’t have it, it’s probably because they’ve not yet found the exact RIGHT thing.
- And if they don’t need it, they don’t have room for it.
If you give them something they don’t need, it’s not just a matter of them sticking it the basement until that day they might be able to use it. They really don’t have room to put it anywhere. And returning it can be quite a hassle, as their location is always changing and they may be far away from somewhere they can facilitate a return.
So please don’t buy bulky stuff for the full timers on your list without asking first. If you’d like to gift them an item they can utilize – they can probably provide you with exact model numbers they’ve researched. If you have an idea for something they’ve not mentioned, ask them – they’ll appreciate you taking the consideration (and don’t be offended if they say your idea wouldn’t fit their mobile life.)
Or at the very least, gift small and/or consumable stuff that doesn’t take up much space. We have been taken by surprise at gifts we hadn’t thought of that do fit our lifestyle.
And in particular, avoid buying RVers random stuff – no collectables, no figurines, no gag gifts, no wall hangings, no decorations, no re-gifting the useless ‘thing’ you got last year, no items that just yelled out ‘I’m cute’, no camping gear (it may seem like a clever appropriate gift, but trust us.. it seldom is), etc.
The idea here is that extra thought needs to go into the gifts you give someone living on-the-go – will they have room for it? Is it breakable (remember, RVs are like houses under constant earthquake conditions)? Will it serve a needed function?
If you don’t have ideas for a useful gift for the RVers in your life; they’ll probably much more appreciate a gift card, act of service or a video chat.
Note to our fellow RVers: You can also do your part to avoid receiving stuff you can’t use – remind your loved ones of your limited space and that you really do want less ‘stuff’. Offer to provide ideas for stuff you actually can utilize. We keep an Amazon wish list.
It’s not that us RVers don’t appreciate your desire to gift us something. And we know how difficult it is for the gift-givers in our lives to hold back - and that it may even feel awkward for them.
But we just don’t have physical space.
Gift Ideas for RVers
So what are some things that a RVer might appreciate and that won’t take up a ton of space? Here’s some ideas:
Memberships to various clubs, groups and resources can be of great value to RVers, and take up little space. Of course, you’ll want to check in to see what memberships they already have – because two is not better than one.
Passport America - $44
Passport America members enjoy 50% discounts at RV Parks across the country. There are limits on the number of nights, and blackout dates – but it’s very worthwhile. We use this discount quite often, and we’ve more than paid for the membership cost in our savings. (This is an affiliate link, and will net us a $10 credit towards our renewal if you purchase.)
This is a park pass that gives the owner free entrance to most national parks, forests, BLM Land and monuments. This can be a huge money saver for RVers, and because we always keep one of these passes, we never hesitate to route through our gorgeous national park lands. Unfortunately, for us younger folks, it doesn’t provide any sort of discount for camping fees.
Zoos & Aquariums, Museums, etc. - Varies
Did you know that your local zoo, aquarium or museum may be part of a nationwide network? If you get an annual pass to your local organization, often times the pass also includes free or discounted access to the entire national network. Us travelers get to benefit by increasing our exploration in new locations and you get to support a wonderful resource in your community. A win-win!
RV Specific Clubs – Varies
There are many organizations that cater to RVers that will give the RVer in your life access to discounts, road side assistance, services and even lots of potential junk mail. Some such larger organizations include FMCA, Escapees, Coach-Net and Good Sam. And there are membership sites run by independent tiny businesses that provide access to directories of overnight RV options including: Overnight RV Parking, Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts.
Gifts that are digital make great gifts and only take up a fraction of hard drive space.
Music, movies, apps and books in a digital format take up no physical space, and make great gifts! Many stores that sell them allow you to pick out specific content to gift, or you can buy a gift credit to allow your recipient to choose what they want. We love keeping iTunes credit on account for all our iDevices. And for the nomad wanna-be in your life, giving them a copy of our No Excuses: Go Nomadic eBook is a swell idea :).
Gift credit to DVD rental services like Netflix and Redbox can be wonderful assets to RVers. Many Redbox kiosks are at overnight free parking spots at Walmarts or even in walking to distance to campgrounds – making it super easy to grab a newly released flick for the night. And the Netflix DVD mail service is surprisingly easy for RVers to keep up with, and offers a wider range of content from movies, concerts, documentaries and TV shows. Unless your RVer has regular access to an uncapped internet source however, membership to a streaming service may not be as useful.
If the RVer in your life supports a cause, perhaps consider making a donation in their name? Of course, do your due diligence to make sure the organization meets your & their requirements for a ethical, well-run organization.
A lot of things we appreciate most these days are not things found on store shelves.
Acts of Service
Do you have a special skill that could aid the RVer in your life? Maybe you’re handy with wood, appliances, plumbing, technology or mechanics? I bet the next time your RVing loved one passes through town they’d love some help with a project. (We know we do!!) Or maybe you can hook your RVer up with some free RV parking, use of your laundry facilities, personal tour of your favorite thing in town, hot tub, home cooked meal or a unique experience?
Rendezvouses & Keeping in Touch
Make a point to reach out to them – they may not be on your daily radar because they’re not always nearby, but knowing you’re thinking about them really is appreciated. Most likely, they’d love to get a non-Facebook version of what’s up in your life – just like you might have used to share regularly. And we have so loved when family and friends know where we might be headed and make an effort to meet up with us. Whether we’re visiting their town, or they’re on a trip of their own – getting to reconnect with loved ones is part of the joy of our lifestyle.
Gifts that can be consumed – like food and booze – also can make great gifts. They’ll take up space at first, but if it’s something yummy that problem won’t last long. As with any food gift, make sure you know of any food restrictions before gifting.
Roll of Quarters – $10
Seriously. For us RVers without laundry machines in our rigs, a quarter can be worth its weight in gold. Why? It’s the only currency a RV Park laundromat will take. When we pull into a campground after office hours with no clean underwear left – it’s not about the actual dollar amount charged, it’s about the number of quarters we have available. One quarter can make all the difference. Increase joy (and clean underpants) in the world – and gift quarters!
Since I hit the road, I’ve found I actually rather appreciate gift cards now. They take up no space, and allow us to choose what fits in our space when we need it. We keep an active Amazon Prime account, which gives us free 2-day shipping on anything they stock – so Amazon gift cards are something we’ll always make use of. And a pre-paid fuel card? Oh yeah, that’ll make any RVer’s heart sing!
Kiki would like to add that cat treats, catnip and cat toys make great gifts! Even if your RVer doesn’t have a cat, they are sure to rendezvous with us, and Kiki has an *entire* cat treat drawer to fill up. So yes.. cat stuff. Lots of it.
There’s an awesome movement to support local independent businesses, instead of only shopping at the big box stores. But did you know there’s quite a number of us mobile RVing folks who are running businesses from the road?
We’re not always local to you, but we’re definitely independents.
So this holiday season, consider supporting a location independent business by Shopping Mobile! There’s some great gift ideas from mobilely made jewelry, candles, books, apps and more within these Shop Mobile guides:
We are sending you lots of warmth this holiday season, and urge you to keep the important stuff in focus. Quality time with loved ones is where the memories that last a lifetime are created. That’s our favorite kind of gift. You don’t have to beat the holiday shopping crowds to get the best deal and it doesn’t take up room.