Gift ideas for grey nomads

By Vickie Tibbett -

Travelling during December is often a memorable experience. People are happy preparing for the holiday season; decorations adorn the streets of country towns, main roads are shut for town celebrations and the local Christmas markets begin.  The mood is festive.

For the traveller, there is no better time to visit a country pub or club, enjoy a few lemonades, chat with the local folk and partake in the annual Christmas ham raffles. Who can resist buying a few tickets? You can’t help but feel relaxed, sitting in the ‘local’, soaking up the country atmosphere and enjoying the festivities. Walking back to the van with a ham is always a bonus!

Christmas is a great time to see towns putting on their best display.


Christmas is family time for us, so we like to arrive home in time to organise the tree, buy some seafood and prepare for our children, their partners and sometimes their friends, to join us for the festive season. Luckily, for them, we have been on-the-road tirelessly searching for the ‘ultimate’ present.

Where do you go to find such a gift?

Markets, markets, any market! We have discovered country markets to be the best place to find unique, handmade gifts created by some amazingly creative people. No need to spend a bucket of money, there are some absolute bargains to be had. You just need to spend some time walking around, having a good look at the items on sale. 

Local markets are where you often find original hand-made gifts.


Great presents often have a story behind them.

We chat with the stall owners who often create the merchandise on display. We listen to their story, how they made it, the materials used, and it makes the purchase all that more exciting and the gift much more special.

Our children have come to expect a range of unusual items in their Christmas stockings – from jewellery created by Tanami Tim (Alice Springs), homemade cakes from the Country Women's Association (CWA), the world’s hottest chilli peanuts, various jams and chutneys, or beautifully crafted bowls made from Australian timber.

You never know what you will find, and I very much enjoy the looking process – much to my husband’s frustration, although he does enjoy looking for the world’s most useless gift for his brother! A competition of sorts, which is hotly contested each year.

We enjoy giving treats to family and friends, especially locally made gifts, they’re special.

Plus markets are chilled-out places where you'll meet a few locals.


Sometimes the little things are best, especially when you are lucky enough to live on the road for a few months at a time.

Our engineer daughter keeps reminding us to pack items which have multiple uses! The old, high utility, less space principle. We were previously applying the ‘Tetris’ principle!  

But what do you buy the constant road-tripper for Xmas?


Consequently, our daughter gave us a dish drying mat for Christmas one year.

These mats are made from micro-fibre (fully padded) and will absorb four times their weight in water. 

There is limited drying space in a van – especially for large items (pots and pans), and these drying mats are also machine washable and fold up between uses, making them easy to store.

I also find it very useful for padding during a trip – we don’t want the wine bottles to break, do we? Two uses, tick!

I have since purchased these drying mats for other family members who love to caravan. We even use the drying mats at home now. Three uses, awesome! 

Happiness is a full set of these.


We use these soft tubs to carry laundry, shoes, recycling and collect water.

They are inexpensive, found in a number of outlets and have a vast range of uses when travelling.

Being soft and pliable is a significant benefit. When we’re ‘on the move’, we place the tubs in the shower cubicle on non-slip matting which keeps the tubs from bouncing around. In the tubs we place larger items, like our coffee maker and SodaStream.

Tubs available in various sizes.

We don't use our tubs for this, but they're pretty handy.


These sensor lights velcro onto the side of the van, under the awning, and come on as someone approaches. 

Light is an excellent deterrent to those ‘less honest’ visitors and can be very helpful for those trying to find the door handle after an extended happy hour!

They are great for safety and security, and we have been using them for years.

Available from Bunnings for about $20 (not including AAA batteries).  

Silver saviours: light sensors are worth every penny.


We keep a spare van key in this secure lock which we fit to a secret area on our van.

Great if you return to the van without a key. Just saying!

Available from a variety of outlets and most surf shops for around $60.

This gift will solve your spare key conundrums.


We found this ingenious cord at a market, of course.

It has a multi-purpose quick lock and release cord system which can be operated with one hand.

No more stretchy cords with baubles, or ‘ocky’ straps flinging back in your face. 

We use the Shocklocs to secure our hose, drainage pipe and power cords.

The Shockloc keeps them neat and tidy, ready for our next stopover.

So epic, and so inexpensive.


I am yet to meet a Grey Nomad who doesn't appreciate a good bottle of wine! 

We look forward to exploring more places in the New Year and hope you all have an enjoyable and relaxed time over the Christmas period.

Stay safe and enjoy the break with your family and friends.

Listen up, no-one ever complains about getting wine for Xmas.

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