First of all, those of you that have been reading a long time know that I'm a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to the Christmas tradition of gift exchange. My personal opinion is it causes way more stress than necessary, people tend to overspend to keep up the tradition, and the gift receivers often end up with something they don't need or want and either have to exchange it or get rid of it in their next yard sale.
For fans of the TV show "The Big Bang Theory", I tend to take the Sheldon Cooper view of gift giving. Here are a couple of examples.
Sheldon Cooper: Wait! You bought me a present?
Sheldon Cooper: Why would you do such a thing?
Penny: I don't know. 'Cause its Christmas?
Sheldon Cooper: Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift. You've given me an obligation.
Howard Wolowitz: Don't feel bad, Penny, it's a classic rookie mistake. My first Hanukkah with Sheldon, he yelled at me for eight nights.
Penny: Now, hey, it's okay. You don't have to get me anything in return.
Sheldon Cooper: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you've given me. It's no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.
Sheldon Cooper: The entire institution of gift giving make no sense. Let's say that I go out, and I spend 50 dollars on you, it's a laborious activity, because I have to imagine what you need, where as you know what you need. Now I could simplify things, just give you the 50 dollars directly, and you could give me 50 dollars on my birthday, and so on, until one of us dies, leaving the other one old and 50 dollars richer. And I ask, is it worth it?
I know, for someone with a pretty positive outlook on life in general, I don't have the most positive attitude regarding the whole gift-giving tradition. You see, it's not the giving part that bothers me when it's a sheer act of kindness, it's the perceived obligation on the part of the gift receiver to reciprocate, AND the fact that this obligation often results in a gift presentation that is then often followed by the response "Oh, you shouldn't have, you really shouldn't have". :)
However, I also understand that I'm in the minority on this issue, and I thought I would try to offer a little help for those friends and family members that struggle with what to get RVers, the nomads with little space to spare.
Let's start with small, light, and practical - gift cards. Now, I generally don't subscribe to the whole gift card thing because 1) it's one step removed from the exchange of cash (as noted by Sheldon above), and 2) it seems quite impersonal without a lot of thought put in (if I embrace gift exchange, it seems there at least should be an attempt to consider what would be a special, meaningful gift).
However, for RVers, gift cards can be quite thoughtful. They don't weigh anything, they don't take up space, and they are a very practical gift, assuming that the gift giver has at least taken the time to ensure the RVer actually travels to areas where the gift card can be used. Many of us RVers, especially full-timers, are on budgets to some extent, and anything that reduces our costs is much appreciated.
- Fuel Cards - Make sure stations are readily available and accessible to RVs
- Grocery Cards - Many grocery stores are regional, so make sure to get correct card for area of travel
- Restaurant Cards - Even chain restaurants can be regional, so make sure these can be used in the area of travel
- Camping World Cards
- Amazon eGift Card - No physical card required, and the receiver can use it for anything Amazon offers
- Movie Cards - Again, not all theaters are located in all parts of the country
- Prepaid Credit Cards - The most impersonal, but also the most practical as there are few limitations
Or there are lots of annual memberships that RVers can use and that are easy for family members to cover. This can take a lot of stress out of shopping year after year. A family member (or group of family members) can just commit to paying the annual membership fee each year and be done with it. It's a practical, inexpensive, weightless, non-space-consuming option that RVers would welcome.
- Good Sam/Camping World - 10% off at 2,100+ RV parks, Camping World discounts, Flying J Pilot fuel discounts, and much more
- Escapees RV Club/Xscapers RV Club - Great club for full-time RVers and includes access to Escapees RV parks, discounts on other RV parks, a member forum, an RVer Jobs Board, and more (Click on RV Dreams in the drop down on the "Referred By" box)
- Family Motor Coach Association - For motorhome owners, discounts at RV parks, & great discounts on Michelin tires
- Workamper News Gold - The premier membership for those RVers looking for work on the road; On the Check Out page, enter Promo Code payn3619 for two additional months free
- Passport America - For $44/year, you can get a 50% discount off the nightly rate at almost 1,900 campgrounds
- Boondocker's Welcome - Click on the link for a special offer good through the end of December; Stay at private properties of RV hosts for free
- Harvest Hosts - Stay overnight at wineries, farms, and agri-tourism sites for free
- KOA - 10% discount at KOAs
- Mobile Internet Aficionados - For those where "Mobile Internet Is An Integral Part Of Your RVing Lifestyle"
- Wholesale Clubs (i.e. Costco, BJ's Wholesale Club, Sam's Club) - Best for those that are stationary for awhile in an area where these clubs exist and where bulk goods may be split with other RVers, but beneficial for many RVers that travel near club locations
- America The Beautiful Passes - Annual National Park Passes plus lifetime Senior and Access Passes
- Amazon Prime - Free two-day shipping (great for RVers on the move) and much more; You can try it for free by clicking the banner below
Products For The New Full-time (or Part-time Full-time) RVer
The following are great products for the RVer that travels full-time or at least months at a time. I've included safety items, practical items, communication items, and fun items that the RVer may not want to spend the money on themselves.
- Tire Pressure Monitoring System - We prefer either PressurePro or TST (Truck System Technologies)
- Air Compressor - We like, have, and recommend this one: PORTER-CABLE CMB15 150 PSI 1.5 Gallon Oil-Free Fully Shrouded Compressor, but we also recommend getting a heavier duty hose for it
- Cellular Booster
- Wi-Fi Booster
- Inflatable Boats - We have three Sea Eagle inflatable boats and love them; We work with Sea Eagle's largest dealer InflatableBoats4Less.com - Tim (a fellow RVer) can guide you toward the best boat for you given your budget, space, and intended use
- Satellite TV Antenna - We have this one TRAV'LER DIRECTV SWM Slimline Automatic Multi-Satellite TV Antenna and love it, but there are many other options for both DirecTV and DISH; Note the less expensive, portable dome-type antennas do NOT provide HD programming on DirecTV but they do on DISH (HD on DirecTV requires the more traditional dish-type antenna whether it is a portable or an automatic rooftop)
- E-Reader or Tablet - For those that love to read, these devices cut down on the weight and storage space required for books
- Binoculars - We just purchased these: Atlas Optics Radian 8 X 42 - Great binoculars for the money (on sale right now for $99), and they are the ones I used this Fall at our bird-counting volunteer position in Maine
- RV-Dreams Educational Rally - Not a product, but it's a great gift for anyone exploring full-time RVing
Simply said, it's hard to go wrong with food and beverages. Anything that can be consumed rather than placed on a shelf is a good idea for RVers.
- Wine or other favorite beverages
- Baked goods
- Favorite food items that might be a little pricey for the every day budget
Presence Rather Than Presents
For many of us, all we want for Christmas is the presence of family and friends. Perhaps we can visit you for the holidays or perhaps you can visit us somewhere warm and beautiful. It doesn't have to be complicated, lengthy, or even in person (Skype, FaceTime, etc.). We just want a little time to know what's going on in your life and to have meaningful conversations without the distractions of every day work and schedules.
Of course there are many, many more items that would be great, but, hopefully, this will help the friends and families of RVers who struggle with gift options when weight and space are considerations and when traditional gift choices just won't do. And perhaps it will help some newer RVers that don't know what to say when asked "What do you want for Christmas?".
And with that, I'll wrap this up and put a bow on it. Please don't feel obligated to reciprocate. :)