The holidays are here, and for the parents of the RV world, this is a bit scary. No, we aren’t a bunch of Scrooges. In fact, you’ll probably never meet a more festive bunch. We love spending time with loved ones, and finding special outings is what we do year-round, so of course we’re going to find plenty of lights to see and Santas to meet.
The problem lies not in the holidays themselves, but in the piles of presents.
First of all, let’s get something straight: I don’t hate presents. I actually love putting together thoughtful gifts for people I care about, and I know everyone who gives our kiddo a gift is simply showing that they care. I love that he’s so loved. However, when the presents threaten to take over my teeny tiny home, I have a very hard time feeling grateful.
The solution? Finding—and requesting—high quality gifts he’ll actually use time and time again. In some cases, this might mean toys, but in many cases, it means asking for experiences.
Here are some of the very best things we’ve received since hitting the road, and a few gifts that we hope our boy will get this holiday season.
LEGO bricks. I don’t know about your kids, but my child loves these little booby traps, and I definitely have the injured feet to show for it.
Despite my sore feet, I actually love these building blocks as much as my son. They’re small enough to store easily, getting new ones just means adding more to the existing bin, and there are enough different sets to hold his interest. Besides, these things are versatile and a great toy to bring out for a group of kids to enjoy together.
Basically, if you’re a full time RVer and you don’t have LEGOs, get some. Have a younger kid? Try Duplo blocks instead.
Magnatiles or Magformers
Whether you choose Magnatiles or Magformers doesn’t matter. What does matter is that these super fun stick-together building toys will entertain children for hours on end. I know it seems silly to have more than one building toy in your arsenal, but we have purchased a set and are gifting them to our son this year.
After watching our kid play with these things at various libraries and museums across the country, I know we won’t regret it.
Art and Craft Supplies
The ultimate DIY toy kit, an arts and crafts supplies box is the most perfect gift a traveling kid could receive. Just imagine all the boxes that can be turned into cars and submarines with a simple bottle of paint. Collected rocks can be made into masterpieces, pieces of paper can become puppets, and all those gorgeous scenes you get to witness as a full time traveler can be recorded in marker by your kids forever.
Our art supply box is used constantly during our travels, and never fails as a boredom buster on a rainy day. Things we like to include are markers, paper, paint, paint brushes, glue, glitter, googly eyes, and clay.
Yes, I am recommending getting your kids tablets. While I sometimes hate our son’s Kindle for the begging and whining it tends to bring on, I also adore it for the hour or two of peace and quiet it gives us on long travel days. I know this may not be the best parenting method, but I also know that sometimes mama needs a brain break, and the tablet is often the only thing that will allow me that.
I recommend the Kindle Fire Kids Edition tablet specifically, because it has served us well but certainly didn’t break the bank. It comes loaded with Amazon FreeTime, which is free for one year after purchase and around $5 a month from then on. FreeTime has tons of kid-friendly apps and books, meaning we rarely pay for any apps. That said, it is still possible to purchase apps, and we have used this option for some high quality educational games such as Teach Your Monster to Read.
I will warn you that some of the download options on FreeTime are very low quality, meaning you may want to vet what your kids are doing just a bit. We haven’t encountered anything adult, just things that are not quite our style.
This is one we don’t have yet. However, my little brothers had these, and I know from watching them that Playmobil will keep kids entertained.
I adore the little details these figures and playsets include, and they are awesome imagination boosters. Best of all, they’re teeny tiny, meaning that despite all the details and playtime they offer, Playmobil is incredibly easy to store in a plastic bin between uses.
Also, much like the LEGO sets mentioned above, adding more pieces is rarely a problem as they can be tossed into the bin with the others, taking up no more room in your RV.
Play silks are so cool for kids who like to dress up or play imaginative games that require props. What are they, you ask? Honestly, they’re nothing more than flowy pieces of fabric in various solid colors. However, kids like to use them to create dresses to wear, streams on the ground, and blankets for their babies.
I love them because they can be used for so many purposes, removing the need to hold onto dress-up clothes, doll clothes, and other such toys.
Yes, I know, another building toy. However, wooden blocks are a timeless toy that can be used for building as well as imaginative play.
Need play food? Wooden blocks are the perfect shapes to be pizza, orange slices, and a number of other foods. They’re also great pretend tools. I recommend this particular building toy for slightly younger children, while small LEGO bricks are better for older kids.
Sand and Pool Toys
Staying in RV parks offers tons of pool play opportunities, and traveling wherever we please means plenty of beach days. For this reason, sand and water toys such as buckets, shovels, goggles, snorkels, and diving toys are the perfect thing to have on hand. While I will admit I hate storing these bulky items, we do use them all the time, making them worthwhile to lug around.
It’s not small or easy to travel with, but a bicycle provides a number of benefits. It’s something to do outside when there’s no playground around, as well as a mode of transportation when you’re staying in a huge park. Additionally, a bike is great because it helps people know that you have kids, leading to more friendships and fewer grumpy neighbors parked next door.
We love our family bike rides, and I personally think a bicycle is a must-have when traveling.
We have found that an enormous number of kids in the Fulltime Families community are avid Pokémon card collectors. This makes meetups super fun for the kids because they get a chance to trade cards and battle their Pokémon.
For this reason, our son has jumped into the world of Pokémon, going so far as to earn his own money for an awesome starter set. He will definitely be getting some Pokémon cards for Christmas. Shh! Don’t tell him.
Consumable items that you would purchase anyway can make great gifts, and they don’t have to be boring at all. A special flavored toothpaste or fun shampoo would make an awesome stocking stuffer, and since you need those things anyway, they won’t be taking up any extra space in your tiny home.
Digital Movies and Books
We love books, and will even be asking for some physical books for our book-loving son for the holidays. That said, books take up a whole lot of space and add a ridiculous amount of weight when you put enough of them together. Therefore, we try to stick to digital books and movies when we can in order to cut back on the amount of weight we are adding to our rig.
If your kid has been eyeing a specific book series or if they love a certain kind of movie, I highly recommend asking for a digital copy. These things will be priceless when you’re traveling long distances, and the fact that they are digital makes them super easy to access.
Classes and Camps
If your child is interested in learning something in particular, why not make it a gift? Everything from piano lessons to Irish dance lessons can be found online, and when you’re in an area long enough, a week-long day camp is always fun.
If you like this idea but want more ideas for how to get your kids into extracurricular activities on the road, check out this post.
Our favorite and most used gifts that we ask for every single year are reciprocal memberships. There are tons of options for memberships that offer reciprocity, and they are perfect because they allow you to visit attractions all over the country.
We like to have the Kern County Museum membership, as well as a National Parks Pass and some sort of reciprocal zoo membership. Having all three of these allows us to see a huge percentage of attractions free of charge.
Want to learn more about reciprocal memberships so you can decide which one is right for you? Check out this post!
Show, Event, or Attraction Tickets
Another great experience gift would be tickets to a show, event, or a particular attraction. These kinds of gifts are especially great for older kids, but can work for younger kids as well. Just look for options in the locations you’ll be visiting in the near future, and see what your kids would love to do. From concerts and plays to festivals and theme parks, there’s always something awesome to see or do.
If your child wants one particularly expensive item, asking everyone to chip in by giving Amazon gift cards is an excellent option. Gift cards for chain restaurants, movie theater chains, and other fun places that can be found all over the country are also great options. These add no extra stuff to the RV, but are still fun to open and even more fun to use.
An Outing with a Loved One
Finally, if you’ll be near loved ones this holiday season, you might simply ask for a bit of their time rather than a physical gift. Kids love baking cookies with grandma, going on picnics with grandpa, and having movie nights with aunts and uncles. None of these things have to cost a lot of money, but the memories made will be treasured for years.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing through our links you will help support Wonder Wherever We Wander.