COVID Note: We always recommend shopping locally and opting for second-hand and DIY gifting. However, these are unprecedented times, and we cannot advise you to go out in public any more than you have to. So we recommend buying directly from the brand’s website. This will ensure the majority of the profits go directly to the brand. However, we also recognize the convenience of shopping with Amazon (I mean, free 2-day shipping is hard to beat) so we’ve also included an Amazon link if available along with each gift recommendation.
Affiliate note: If you choose to buy from Amazon, we’d appreciate it if you do so via our links below. This will allow us to get a tiny commission and it won’t cost you an extra cent. And trust us, Amazon won’t miss it.
For the Van Chef
One place we never skimp in our van is the kitchen. And having the right gear can make all the difference. These vanlife kitchen favorites can transform a cluttered tiny kitchen into an efficient space that any chef will enjoy.
Non-stick cookware has been shown to leach dangerous toxins at high heat. And while stainless steel is a good alternative, nothing cooks like cast iron. Plus, cast iron cookware is virtually indestructible, which is perfect for life on the road. The 10” skillet is the perfect size for a van stove – not too big and not too small.
Karibe (pronounced kari-bay) is a Black-owned cookware company that launched in 2019, offering quality cookware at an affordable price, while also sharing the Karibe culture. According to owner Vernon Williams, “Our goal is to bring the African-Caribbean culture into households.” Be sure to check out the recipe page on their website for a taste of Karibe Culture.
Bonus: Karibe’s van-sized black walnut cutting board will add a touch of taste to any van kitchen.
Pro tip: Pair your cast iron skillet with a silicone handle and chain mail scrubber.
Say goodbye to ziplock bags. These silicone alternatives are versatile, reusable and durable. We use them in our van for storing everything from leftovers to toiletries to loose screws & bolts. They’re super sturdy and easy to clean, just turn ’em inside-out and wash with soap and water.
What’s even cooler, Stasher was founded by a female BIPOC. Kat Nouri is an Iranian-American immigrant who’s founded two companies – Stasher and Modern Twist.
These BPA-free, stackable, reusable food containers are perfect for vanlife. They double (triple?) as a plate, bowl, and storage container.
This Black-owned company was started by three friends and student entrepreneurs – Chris, Jerry & Johny. The idea for Lock-It Plates took off after the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 when Johny went home to volunteer as an interpreter for the Red Cross. That’s where he realized that the lockable plate idea would be extremely useful for distributing food to the victims, who were dealing with unsanitary conditions and needed a way to minimize food contamination. Lock It Plates is an eco-friendly product that leaves a positive impact in the world.
For the Homebody
If your vanlife loved one is anything like us, the outdoors is their muse. But finding comfort and convenience when you’re home in your van is always a must.
Our number one rule: no shoes in the van. These incredibly comfy and cozy Lamu Mules from Ubuntu Life have us breaking that rule. These high-quality sandals are hand-made in Africa and ready to hit the streets or the campsite. And you can slide ‘em on and off with ease, if you’re into playing by the rules.
Proceeds for these incredible sandals and everything else they make go towards the Ubuntu Life Foundation, which strives to provide “pediatric health and special needs education across the region,” according to their website.
For the Digital Nomad
2020 was the year of the pandemic, 2021 will be the year of the digital nomad. Get your favorite working traveler a gift that will enhance their productivity and keep them powered wherever the road or the trail may take them.
Renogy Solar is a major player in the vanlife world, and for good reason. They make high-quality solar panels and components at an affordable price-point. But did you know that Renogy is also BIPOC Woman-owned? Yi Li, Renogy’s founder, and CEO, began building the foundation of her company in her mid-20’s while working on her doctorate at Louisiana State University.
Fun fact: Yi Li and I graduated from LSU at the same time.
Renogy’s Phoenix 300 Power Station is one of the smallest and lightest rechargeable AC power supplies in its class. It’s a workhorse that allows you to keep charging even when you’re off grid.
And if you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer, Renogy’s E.Power Portable Solar Charger is a solar power bank that will ensure your favorite traveler will never run out of juice.
For a comprehensive list of digital nomad gear, check out Irie to Aurora’s guide to Essential Digital Nomad Gear for the Overland Traveler.
For the Menstruator
Many vanlifers do not have a bathroom in their van, making the need to frequently change a tampon or pad difficult and inconvenient. The Femly Cup is a perfect menstrual option for anyone who wants an alternative to tampons. It’s made from 100% Medical Grade Silicone and is BPA & Dioxin-free. And Femly was founded by a Black woman who started the company after being diagnosed with a cervical tumor that was linked to chemicals in popular period products.
For the Vanlifer with a Green Thumb
A garden is one of the things Noami and I miss most since leaving behind our stationary home. Noami had a killer herb garden that we left behind in New Orleans. We’ve been looking for a way to grow one in the van, with no luck, until now…
This mason jar herb garden starter set is perfect for the van. All it needs is water, sunlight and love. Coco and Seed has three kits to choose from: Cocktail, Pizza, and our favorite Superfoods. Each kit comes with glass mason jars, non-GMO seeds, and a grow pod.
Coco and Seed is a Black-owned, Woman-owned company based in Arizona. Founder Tishana Richards started the shop after her own research and trial and error led her to discover a great way to grow herbs indoors using mason jars.
For the Coffee Lover
Founded in 2014 by renowned artist and food entrepreneur Keba Konte, this Black-owned coffee company sources its beans from ethical coffee growers around the world. Red Bay Coffee is focused not only on high-quality, sustainable coffee production but also on ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusivity in everything they do. The Motherland Holiday Gift Box contains a trio of their favorite coffee varieties.
There’s nothing quite like a backcountry adventure – waking up in your sleeping bag to the smell of fresh mountain air. And if you’re anything like me, the best way to enjoy a backcountry sunrise is with a good cup of coffee.
Copper Cow Vietnamese Coffee kits come with everything you need, including the milk and sugar. Just bring your own cup. BIPOC Woman-owned, Copper Cow makes high-quality, delicious, and easily portable coffee. It’s perfect for any adventure or for just enjoying the comfort of your van.
For The Van Dog
If you’re anything like us, you can’t imagine what life was like without a four-legged travel companion. So don’t forget to give your pup some holiday love this year.
This soft, snuggly hoodie will leave your pup feeling the love and you can customize it with your pup’s name or any word you like. This soft, lightweight fleece made with a cotton/poly blend will keep your co-pilot cozy and warm all winter.
This Black-owned small business has a beautiful line of high-quality, sustainably-made dog products. Shop on Amazon
For the Connoisseur
Vanlife is often synonymous with minimalism. But just because we vanlifers live a minimalist lifestyle, doesn’t mean we can’t have a taste for the finer things.
Uncle Nearest award-winning whiskey honors the first African American master distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green. Uncle Nearest is credited with perfecting the Lincoln County Process, which distinguishes Kentucky Bourbon from Tennessee Whiskey. This smooth sipping whiskey is sure to bring joy to your favorite road-tripping connoisseur.
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you’re now armed with all the information you need to get your favorite road traveler a gift they’re sure to love, while supporting a BIPOC-owned business in the process. And I’m sure you’ve also noticed that most of the things on this list will make great gifts for anyone. So go wild, stay safe, wear a mask, and support BIPOC businesses.
For even more vanlife gift ideas, check out Irie to Aurora’s blog 37 Gift Ideas Eco-Conscious Nomads Will Love in 2021.
A note about affiliate links, shopping on Amazon, and minimizing packaging:
Some of these items contain affiliate links to Amazon.com (so if you click and make a purchase we get a teeny-tiny commission, and you get our sincere gratitude). If you want to take your eco-conscious shopping game to the next level, check out this guide How to Reduce Amazon Packaging, including the only way to tell Amazon to lay off the plastic fillers.
Like this post? Check out our blog post about Nomad-Owned Business’