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How Vanlifers Can Give Back this Holiday Season


‘Tis the season of giving! And what better way is there to spread some holiday cheer than by giving back to the communities we come across along the open road? Whether you’re looking to donate your time and efforts to local land or bring a touch of magic to individuals in need, there are a number of ways you can make this the season of paying it forward. From small gestures to big charity plans, read on to discover the best ways you can brighten the world over the holidays.

Shop Local

This is something everyone can do as we prep for our holiday festivities. Skip out on the chain grocery stores and take your grocery list to your local farmers market. It’s a simple way to give right back to the communities you love, even if you’re celebrating away from home in your RV. If you’re planning to eat out, search for local mom-and-pop restaurants to explore. Looking for gifts? Seek out local art, flora, and souvenirs to gift to your loved ones. Every time you make a purchase, take your money directly to the community with local shopping. It’s that simple! When in doubt of where to go, search the internet for family-owned shops, restaurants, and cafes near you.

Plant Trees While You Holiday Shop on the Web 

Yes, that’s absolutely possible. As you browse the web for gift ideas, search for prices, and open tabs to compare options, every search you make can impact the cause for conservation. Replace your current browser with Ecosia and the search engine profits you contribute to will go directly into planting trees across the world. All you have to do is carry on with your browsing! Over 139 million trees have been planted with Ecosia, and their statistics share that it takes approximately 1.3 seconds for users to plant a tree. You can add Ecosia to your phone too! Unlike most other search engines, Ecosia keeps your data safe and doesn’t sell user data to advertisers or third-party trackers. Click here to learn more about this amazing organization and to share it with all of your friends and family. This is a cause you can carry through the new year and on. You can watch your impact grow as a counter at the top of the search engine page keeps track of your virtual contributions.

Adopt a Shelter Animal 

If you’re thinking of surprising the kids or your partner with a furry best friend for the holidays, why not make your opt for adoption twice the blessing by rescuing a shelter pet? Whether you’re looking for an adventure-pal to take along on your RV travels or seeking a fluffy companion to keep you company while you work remotely from your recreation vehicle there are plenty of cats and pups in need of a forever home. Take your family to a local shelter and you’re sure to fall in love with one of the many pets available for adoption. If you’re not quite ready to take in a fur baby, you can also donate to help animal rescue continue its efforts to save abused and abandoned animals. Visit the Humane Society to assist animals in emergency situations with a dollar amount of your choice! Red Rover is also a great resource for those who wish to get hands-on with volunteer work.

Take Your Van to a Food or Gift Drive

Speaking of the ample storage space found in motorhomes, you’ve got the opportunity to tow along plenty of non-perishable food and/or gifts to families in need. Seek out a local food bank or gift drive and pack up some goodies you’ve collected along your travels! If you have a network of campers you can get in touch with, or are currently traveling with a caravan, you can host your own food drive too! Visit Feeding America to connect with a local food bank of your choice and to set the dates of your own drive. If you have more RVing friends across the country, you can set up for a virtual food drive too! You’ll be pleased to see how much you can collect with the friends you’ve made along your travels.

Give an Alternative Gift 

One passion all campers have in common is our love for mother earth. If you’re stuck on deciding what to give an outdoorsy buddy or family member, why not give back to their favorite cause? Alternative Gifts is an organization that allows you to pick a cause by location and goal to donate in the name of a loved one. From planting trees and economic development to hunger relief, education, and more, you can personalize your gift of charity as you wish. You already know what your friends and family members are most passionate about! An e-card will be sent on the day of your donation, with the option to print as a card insert too. Go crazy on the presentation of your gift and craft something to show your shared passion to better the world.

Contributing to conservation? Gift the card with a potted plant or a set of seeds to nurture and grow. Feeding the hungry? Create a recipe card (samples are always encouraged!) of your favorite dish to share with friends on the road. Funding education? Include an educational book from your local National Park and present the charity card as a bookmark! There are plenty of ways you can make your donation an unforgettable one to give.

What ways will you be giving back this season? Let us know in the comment section!