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The Ultimate Gift Guide for Your Van Life Dad This Father’s Day


If your dad is a van adventurer, you might be wondering how to show your appreciation this Father’s Day. You want to find a thoughtful gift that will make his heart melt. At the same time, you need to choose a gift he can actually use in his unconventional lifestyle. 

It’s important to acknowledge that the best gifts for van dwellers can often be determined by asking them what they need. If you’d rather keep it a surprise and need some ideas, we’re sharing ten clever gifts that van dwelling dads will love. 

Whether your pops is more practical or sentimental, you’ll find the perfect present for him on this list. We’re sharing gifts in all price ranges, from sweet gestures to generous splurges. No matter your budget, your dad is sure to feel special when you take his lifestyle and interests into account.

Photo By StoryTellerOverland

For Outdoorsy Dads

Camp Chair

$  –  There’s nothing like kicking back and enjoying retirement in the great outdoors. Treat your dad to relaxation with this comfortable camp chair from REI. It folds down into a convenient carrying case, has a mesh backrest so your dad can stay cool even on the most sweltering of summer fishing trips, and has designated areas to put drinks and cell phones. If that doesn’t sell you on this option, the blue colorway is also currently on sale for 40% off.

Power Lantern

$$  –  Two-in-one products are always a plus for space-conscious van lifers. Items that fold down into small packages are also a boon. This innovative solar light and phone charger from LuminAID boasts both capabilities. If your dad enjoys boondocking, he’ll love having a solar-powered light to brighten up evenings at the campsite. Backpacking enthusiasts will also appreciate the chance to charge phones, cameras, and other devices using only the infinite power of the sun. Choose between three options: the cozy golden Firefly, the popular cool white Max, or the ultra powerful Titan. 

Sand-Free Mat

$$  –  Whether your dad prefers forest campgrounds or beach vacations, he’ll appreciate an outdoor mat. Rugs help extend the living space outside the van by making it more comfortable to lounge and walk barefoot outdoors. This REI mat in particular is also great for the beach because the woven structure allows sand to fall through it, while preventing the particles from coming up from below. It is also lightweight and resists water absorption. With this gift, your dad is guaranteed easy and comfortable summer days ahead.

Photo By StoryTellerOverland

For Practical Dads

Gas Gift Card

$-$$$  –  If your pops is the kind of person who never wants gifts, choose the practical route and get him something you know he will use. Giving the gift of gas will allow your dad to travel further and explore new places. Most gas stations offer gift cards; just be sure to buy one from a chain with plenty of locations in the regions he tends to visit. If you want to make this pragmatic gift a bit more sentimental, make a cute road trip-themed card with a phrase like, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

Storage Bins

$  –  Does your dad struggle to stay organized? Or is he the parent who taught you that everything should have its designated place? Either way, he’ll appreciate these storage bins from Home Depot for stowing tools and gear. They are rugged enough for the outdoors, snap closed for secure storage even while driving on bumpy roads, and are made to last. They also come in multiple sizes that nest when empty to save space. While this may not be the most exciting present, it is certainly something that will be put to good use in a van.

Photo By StoryTellerOverland

For Sentimental Dads

Surprise Visit

$$-$$$  –  One of the hard parts of having a van-dwelling family member is that they are on the road often. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your dad, the most meaningful present you could give might be quality time. Find out where your dad plans to be on Father’s Day, sneakily book a ticket or plan a road trip, and surprise him on the special day. For bonus points, come prepared with ingredients to cook his favorite meal together. You’ll both remember this year’s celebrations for the rest of your lives. 

Van Life Event Tickets

$-$$$  –  For another experiential gift, consider buying your dad tickets to a van life event. Which event, you ask? There are many types of gatherings catering to van adventurers, from the groovy Van Nationals event in Ohio to the outdoor activity heaven that is Descend on Bend in Oregon. Some are closer to free-spirited music festivals, while others focus more on educational seminars. Whatever vanning niche your dad fits into, he’ll appreciate the opportunity to connect with his community and make memories.

Photo Book

$-$$  –  If your dad is into documenting his travels, consider creating a custom book of his photography. Whether you envision a glossy coffee table book or a sweet mini book, Blurb has you covered. The service offers tons of options for eye-catching photography books at a reasonable price. Plus, they provide a free user-friendly design tool so you can put the book together without a hitch, even if you don’t have any experience with layout design.


For Active Dads


$$$  –  If you’re looking to spoil your father, consider a gift that will open him up to an entirely new hobby. Surfing is a great pastime for dads in their prime because it requires and builds physical fitness but is also relaxing and fun. As a van lifer, your dad will also be able to hit the road in search of the best waves. With a little luck, you might just introduce your loved one to a hobby he’ll enjoy for decades to come. However, since a surfboard is a big gift–both in terms of size and investment–you should float the idea by your dad first.

Trekking Poles

$  –  On the other hand, you might be looking to give your fitness-focused dad a gift that is smaller in terms of both physical size and price. Enter these Solstice Trekking Poles. If he’s a fan of hiking, chances are he’ll love these well designed poles. They are height-adjustable, lightweight, and collapsible so he can pack them in his backpack when not in use. Molded foam or cork grips (your choice) ensure comfort. A range of included pole attachments come in handy in snowy and muddy conditions. With the gift of a pair of trekking poles, your dad will be able to take on more challenging terrain with ease.

Looking for more on van life? Our blog covers everything from road trip guides to interview with fellow vanlifers, top campgrounds throughout the country and so much more. Click here to explore.