RV life is like playing a never-ending game of Tetris. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, someone gifts you a set of golf clubs. Or a lava lamp. Or a 1000-piece puzzle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.
If you’ve ever lived in an RV (or know someone who does), you’re aware that space comes at a premium. Imagine fitting your entire life into an area smaller than most studio apartments.
So before you rush off to buy that adorable figurine or bestselling novel, hold up. Gifting your full-time RV friends and family isn’t just about thoughtfulness — it’s about practicality, too.
If you’re thinking of gifting your RVing buddies something this holiday season, here are some gifts that seem great but aren’t a fit for people who live in a small space. (And my suggestions for things to buy instead!)
What Not to Gift
I love to read, but my motorhome isn’t exactly the Library of Congress.
A stack of books is just a leaning tower of “nope” when you live in an RV. Not only do they take up too much room, but their weight is a problem, too.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the person who tips the RV scales because of your Stephen King collection. How do I know? Because I donated half my book collection to make room for essentials like clothing.
Bulky Kitchen Appliances
A KitchenAid mixer might be a dream gift for someone with a spacious farmhouse kitchen, but in an RV, it’s a nightmare.
Not only is our counter space limited, but in many RVs, cabinet space is at a premium as well. And don’t forget about power consumption. Many of these appliances are energy hogs, and when you’re boondocking or relying on solar power, energy efficiency is a must.
Also, noise is a factor. Appliances like blenders or food processors are loud, and when you’re living in a confined space or close to other people in an RV park, noise pollution becomes a real issue.
Unless it’s the ultimate multitasker, large kitchen gadgets are better left on the shelf.
While a potted plant might seem like a fun way to green up a small space, in an RV, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. One sharp turn, and you’ve got soil in cracks and crevices you didn’t even know existed.
Water is a precious commodity in RV life, especially for those who like to boondock away from amenities. The last thing anyone wants is to ration their water supply between making dinner and keeping a fern alive.
Sure, a cactus or snake plant might seem like a no-fuss option. But when you’ve got limited space, even “easy-care” plants can become just another thing to worry about.
Those charming trinkets and souvenirs might rack up likes on social media, but in an RV, they’re just space invaders.
In the confined quarters of a home on wheels, every item needs to earn its keep. So unless that decorative item can also tell time, measure rainfall, or even make coffee (hey, a girl can dream), it’s not coming through my narrow front door.
What to Gift Instead
Whether for fuel, groceries, or a Netflix subscription, gift cards are always the right size and color.
Plus, they give the recipient the freedom to choose exactly what they need. For an extra personal touch, consider gift cards to their favorite local spots or online stores specializing in RV or camping gear.
E-Books or Audiobooks
For the book lover, digital is the way to go. They take up zero space, and you can listen to them while driving to your next destination.
With platforms like Audible or Kindle, you can gift specific titles you know they’ll love or even a subscription for endless reading or listening. It’s like handing them a whole library that fits in their pocket.
Collapsible or Multi-Use Items
Think collapsible bowls, foldable chairs, or portable items. If it can be folded, collapsed, or serve multiple purposes, it’s a home run in the RV world.
These are the kinds of gifts that make us do a happy dance because they fit perfectly into our tiny home lifestyle.
Everyone knows free food tastes better. Gifts like snack boxes, gourmet coffee, or a nice bottle of a favorite adult beverage are always welcome.
Just make sure it’s something that won’t spoil if the RV fridge decides to take a vacation day.
In the RV lifestyle, the way to the heart is definitely through the stomach. But only if it fits in the pantry.
The full-time RV lifestyle often stems from a desire to declutter our lives and focus on what truly matters.
For many of us, that means prioritizing experiences over material possessions. We’re not just downsizing our living space; we’re upsizing our lives.
Things like a national park pass or concert tickets can be thoughtful, clutter-free gifts. The gift of an experience makes memories, and those take up zero space but fill the heart to the brim.
They’re the gifts that don’t need wrapping but will be remembered long after the holiday season has passed.
The RV lifestyle is all about minimalism and maximizing what you have.
Ultimately, every RV and person is different. What I’m willing to make room for might be someone else’s small space kryptonite.
While I hope this guide gave you some ideas, if in doubt, ask your RV-loving friends what gifts they’d like and have room for. It might ruin the surprise, but it’s better to ask than assume and end up gifting something that’ll end up in a donation bin.
Because the best gifts enrich your loved one’s life, not just take up space.
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