Christmas Gift Ideas for Vanlifers 2022

Great Ideas for Christmas for the Van Builder in your life.

Here are some Christmas gift ideas for your friend, spouse, or significant other who loves Van Life?  Maybe they don’t live in their van but enjoy any weekend they can.  Well, we understand, and we love short trips and our trips across the United States.  One thing we have found, regardless of your time away in the van, is having the right tools, widgets, and adventure gear to make each and every trip memorable.

We all love our vans, and the best way to show that love is to make your van stand out. We have listed six items we love and have on our van to make it stand out from the rest. We like to show our patriotism to this great country with some US flags.  These 3D-printed flags look like badges on your vehicle. Make sure that you place them on the correct side of your van.  You will feel that the passenger side is going the wrong way, but the stars and stripes are always supposed to be before the stripes, whichever way it is facing.  We topped that off with a stars and stripes license plate frame, and there are many to choose from. 

When it comes to navigation, we love using Google maps, and using the wireless Andriod Auto on our phone which makes Android Auto userfriendly and wireless.  Now our phone is free to charge anywhere in the vehicle.  

Our next big improvement to our van was the Vancillary-DIY shelf. This overhead storage area has been one of the best improvements in our van build, and the kit is super easy to use.  Purchase the wood and use their template to trace out the design, no measuring just cut along the line and install.  There are two bolts on each side of the grab handles to replace and then screw down the board from the top.  We covered ours in carpet, which keeps things from rolling around and rattling.  

Our final addition has been a big hit at van meetups.  We purchased a cork US map and use push pins to show our travels and overnight stays.  This will create a conversation every time someone looks inside your van.

Things to make your van look cool

Cork Board Map of The United States
  • With 10 Pins to Mark Travels, Home and Office Wall Decor- Continental USA Cork Board (16 x 10 x 0.3 in)
Vancillary DIY Ford Transit Headliner Shelf Kit

– Upfitting Components for DIY Van Conversions (Fits Ford Transit Medium and High Roof Models 2015+)

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When you are out on the road, one thing that comes to mind is security.  With laws for each state all over the place on firearms, we decided against this option, but we do have a few items to make your van overnight stays more secure.

We use the security baton, which works as a flashlight, and the 3-foot aluminum baton would give you something to swing.  But the real benefit is the built-in stun gun, so if the person is not backing away, you can give them a warning.  Hopefully, you don’t need to go further.  We also have added these little solar powered LED lights to the outside of our van, using some earth magnetics and hot glueing them to the back makes it easy to attach to the side of the van.  They work great when boondocking, and you have just finished your starry sky photos, and now you need to find your van in the pitch dark.

roll toolbox makes for a great Christmas giftOur next handy van accessory is the roll tool kit.   While you have to purchase the tools separately, just having this roll toolbox will give you the encouragement to get the tools together that you need for your next adventure.  It hangs easily from the back doors or lays flat on the ground.  The best benefit is that it easily stows away in your van and does not rattle while on rough roads.  We purchased an inexpensive tool kit from Harbor Freight and then added some electrical tools, fuses, tape, and zip ties.  We all know that our vans are sometimes held together with zip ties.

Recovery straps may not seem like a security item, but having one with you does give you the sense that you have options if you were to get stuck.  While no one thinks we should be offroading, these long and very heavy vehicles, can get stuck, and having a strap to ask a fellow explorer to help you out will go a long way.  Be very careful where you attach these straps as these vans do not have great recovery points.  We have an aftermarket bumper, and we have a recovery strap in our back trailer hitch so we are ready to help or be helped.

Blackstone Grill

The 1813 Stainless Steel Propane Gas Hood Portable, Flat Griddle Grill Station for Kitchen, Camping, Outdoor, Tailgating, Tabletop, Countertop – Heavy Duty, 12, 000 BTUs, 22 Inch, Black

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Now, who didn’t buy their van without the idea of making some epic dinner in the middle of nowhere?  We love making dinner and eating in our van or on top of the van.  We have a rooftop deck that we love for dinner time.  Here are some items that we find to be great additions to our van build for cooking.  

Overland Spice CompanyA portable Blackstone griddle!  Yeah, the four-burner model fit perfectly on top of a large black and yellow storage bin.  Our van build has what we call a garage, and we have our two mountain bikes, two inflatable kayaks (we will talk more about those later), our storage bins, and now our Blackstone griddle.  I don’t need to go on about what you can cook on these, they are so versatile, and with the 5lb growler propane tank, you can cook with the Blackstone and use them for your firepit later.  So, where do we set this thing up?  We love these portable tables as they roll up and store away very easily.  They are quick to put together with no tools needed, and they make the perfect table to cook with your Blackstone.  What if we don’t want to set this all up to cook?  We use an induction oven that cooks quickly with no gas, so cooking inside on rainy nights works great, but it also works when we drop down our side table to cook outside.

What meal is complete without some great spices? Our friends at Openroad4two shared their favorite spices from Overland Spices They make some great spices, and their product is ready for Overlanding or Boondocking.

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ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Ultralite Inflatable KayakNow the van ownership was built on the idea of adventure and the ability to stay out in nature.  We opted to build a garage in ours as we wanted to be able to bike when we were out, but over time we discovered that kayaking is something we also love to do.  We looked at several ways to mount kayaks to the roof or back of the van, but when we came across these high-quality inflatable kayaks, we were sold.  They use two air chambers, so they inflate quickly and use a heavy-duty non-tear material with aluminum in the front and back to give the kayak a rigid feel, and it helps them track very well in the water.  While they are for people under 175 lbs, they offer some storage area, and the seats are adjustable and very comfortable.  We also purchased these dry bags that came with phone holders, and they are great for packing a lunch or jacket and knowing that it will be dry when you need it.  

After a busy day out riding or paddling a river or lake, we like to use these chairs as they pack away very easily and offer good support and comfort.  Our rug folds up in this handy bag that it comes with to help us keep down the dirt we track into the van.

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02/18/2024 05:32 pm GMT
TrailBuddy Folding Camping Table

 - Aluminum Foldable Table for Tailgating or Camp Site with Carry Bag - Lightweight and Portable for Beach, Picnic, Tailgate & Outdoor Use, 28"x 28" x 28.

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Every season comes to an end, or you just prepare to take on the elements, and we think these items really do the trick. Insulated and magnetic window coverings. There are many brands to choose from, and you can even make them yourself as our friends Steve and Adra did, you can watch the video if you click on their names.  But having these insulated window coverings will help keep the heat out or the warmth in the van when it’s cold outside.  We love the magnetic vent cover for the Maxair fan, just to keep the light out, but it also works great to keep your heat in during those cold nights.  

If you do store your van for any time without using it, we have found that this water treatment really works well in keeping our water fresh and without taste and smell.

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02/18/2024 01:08 pm GMT
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Van Travel Journal

We created a journal just for Van travelers!

You can purchase a paperback version from Amazon, or opt for our custom six-ring expandable leather binder, which is perfect for extended travel journaling.

Both journals include a 90-day journal, van organization tools, a bucket list, a task list, budgeting resources, and a checklist of National Parks in the US and Canada, among other features.

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About Me

I am an adventure enthusiast that enjoys sharing his experiences and is building the van of his dreams to find and enjoy new adventures.

Strava: Brent Clair

Peloton: 2ndstorycyclist

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