18 Holiday Gift Ideas For the Camper, Traveler, and Adventurer

For a traveler, adventurer, or camper, few gifts make your heart sing quite as much as new gear! Today we’re sharing our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: 18 Gift Ideas For the Camper, Traveler, and Adventurer. These are mostly items we have and love, along with a few that are making an appearance on our own Christmas lists this year!

2016 Holiday Gift Guilde

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Gifts for the Traveler

Gifts for the Traveler 2016 Gift Guide Our Streamlined Life

  • F1 Spacepak Toiletry Bag. Because we spend a lot of time in campground, hotel, and friends’ bathrooms, I’ve been looking for the perfect toiletry bag for almost two years now. Ryan got me this one for my birthday, and it’s perfect. It has a hanging hook, room for large toiletries (not just travel-sized ones), and I can easily carry all my stuff from bathroom to bathroom.
  • Ebags packing cubes. I never check luggage if I can help it, and packing cubes help me fit everything in my carry-on, every time. Ebags’ version come in lots of sizes and lots of colors so you can customize to your needs. (I like the small size cubes, but the mixed packs are great too.)
  • Away Carry-On. I finally retired my carry-on after 10 years of use and abuse, and I’m determined this Away bag is going to be the next one I purchase. It’s a hardshell. It has a built-in charger. It comes in gorgeous colors. I’m obsessed.

Gifts for the Camper

Gifts for the Camper 2016 Gift Guide Our Streamlined Life

  • OuterEQ 8pcs Lightweight Cookware SetThis set is small, but it has just about everything you need for cooking for two on a propane stove. It’s a great size for backpacking and short camping trips (although I rely heavily on it for longer trips, too.) When I bought it I was concerned about the quality, but we’ve had it for a year and it’s still going strong!
  • Lodge L5SK3 Cast Iron Skillet, Pre-Seasoned, 8-inchThis is on my list. Because fire food is the best food. (And this one is a great price point and size.)
  • Coleman Bottle Top Propane Stove. This is meant for backpacking, but I cooked almost exclusively on this guy for about a year with no problems. Upgrade: The Coleman Classic Propane Stove.
  • evrgrn Starry Night 2P Tent. My sister has this tent, and I’m planning how to steal it from her. (Shhhh!) The coolest part about it is seamless mesh moonroof and two large doors. It’s also super easy to setup — always a plus.
  • Wild and Wolf Enamel Mug. I got my enamel camping mug for Christmas last year, and I love it.
  • Kindle Paperwhite E-reader. Hear me out on this one. Of course, camping is a time for disconnecting from electronics. That said, there are few things I love as much as reading a good book in front of the campfire. This one is the best of every world. It’s backlit, so you can see the screen at night. It’s not a tablet, so you won’t be distracted by the wonders of the Internet. And it has built-in 3G, which means in all but the most remote regions, I can always have a new book at my fingertips. (Bonus: my favorite case, the Fintie Smartshell, which has kept my Kindle safe from one end of the country and back.)

Gifts for the Hiker

Gifts for the Hiker 2016 Gift Guide Our Streamlined Life

  • Hiking boots. The avid hiker goes through shoes like crazy. Ryan is on his third pair of Merrell Moabs (they come in a mid-height as well). Rebecca hikes in Brooks Cascadias — technically a trail runner, but super lightweight and sturdy.
  • Waterproof shell. This year we both added nice hiking rain jackets to our wardrobes. Ryan’s is the Merrell Cascadia, and fits like a dream. Rebecca’s is The North Face Venture Jacket. And in orange and sea foam green, respectively, we’re very easy to spot on the mountain.
  • The perfect hiking jacket (for him and for her). Ryan has one. Rebecca has one … on her Christmas list. These jackets are lightweight, warm, and nice enough to cover the transition from the mountain to dinner out.
  • Outdoor Products Vortex Backpack. We’ve been looking for just the right hiking daypack for a while, and this summer we finally found it. This pack fits both of us comfortably, carries snacks, maps, and extra layers without being too big, and comes in lots of colors. It’s also ridiculously inexpensive compared to a lot of the bags we looked at.

Gifts for the Adventurous Homebody

Gifts for the Adventurous Homebody 2016 Gift Guide Our Streamlined Life

Gifts for Adventurous Kids

Gifts for Adventurous Kids 2016 Gift Guide Our Streamlined Life

(I couldn’t do a gift guide without adding books … but this time, it’s my picks for the little ones!)

Our Visit to Pipestem State Park

pipestem

After another awesome weekend rafting the Gauley and spending time with friends, we left Fayetteville again and headed toward a new destination that Rebecca in particular was very excited about — Pipestem Resort State Park in West Virginia. Way back, before she was even a twinkle in her parents’ eyes, they had honeymooned at one of the park’s two lodges. They had always told her about how beautiful it was, and we were excited to check it out!

Turns out that if anything, they undersold it. This place was phenomenal. Trails and interesting things to see all over, and everywhere you turned, another gorgeous vista! We got in mid-afternoon, and were immediately impressed with how quiet and pretty the campground was, and with how nice the bathrooms were! We picked a great spot, set up, and decided to do some quick exploration before it got dark.

The first thing we went to see was the Bolar Lookout Tower. Only a 5 minute walk up a mostly-paved path from the parking lot right inside the park entrance, the tower commanded some amazing vistas.

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Seriously amazing. We could see for dozens of miles in just about every direction.

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From there, we gave ourselves the driving tour of the park, stopping to check out some of the sites and attractions. Probably the most amazing was this gorgeous overlook, right across from the gorgeous rental cabins that we’re totally going to come back and visit one day. It was the kind of place you could stay all day with a book and maybe some binoculars.

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Unfortunately, I woke up the next morning fighting some kind of illness, so we spent the next 2 days pretty well inert. Rebecca used it as an opportunity to get ahead on work, and I did a lot of sleeping and reading.

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By the second afternoon, however, I was getting antsy, so we decided to go take advantage of one of the highlights of Pipestem — the tram down to the valley resort!
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This part of the resort was where Rebecca’s parents had stayed on their honeymoon, and it was easy to see why. The lodge had a beautiful dining room with 20 foot windows looking at the river and up the mountain (which you can see below on the left).

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The river was very beautiful, and seemed very tame after our time on the Gauley!

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Tame enough that the Yoga Queen was at it again.

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After we finished exploring and took the tram back up, we decided to end the day with a hike out to Heritage Point, a beautiful overlook less than a mile’s steep hike from the Canyon Rim Center parking lot. It was a beautiful and challenging hike, and we were rewarded with even more tremendous views.

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Overall, we spent four days in Pipestem, and loved our time there!

Have you ever been to Pipestem Resort State Park? What did you love about it? Let us know in the comments!

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

Christmas can be a tricky time of year for minimalists. Every year my mom says to me in exasperation, “I’m not getting you anything for Christmas! You just throw everything away!” And it’s true — since we live in a small space, I have pretty high standards when it comes to keeping only the things I truly need and love (even if it was a gift).

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

While it’s easy to equate gift giving and receiving with materialism, I personally love the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with both giving and receiving a thoughtful gift. The best way to ensure the minimalist in your life loves your gift is to keep it small and make it thoughtful! (That doesn’t have to mean inexpensive, although it certainly can.) Keep reading for my picks for great gifts for minimalists  — these work for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, too!

This post contains affiliate links, which help support the blog and our travels! We appreciate your support, and only share products we find useful, lovely, and occasionally astonishing. You can also support us by starting all your holiday shopping on Amazon here; your shopping experience is the same and we earn a small affiliate fee on the purchases you make. Thank you!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of Less

Minimalists are constantly looking for ways to simplifying and streamline their lives. Technology is one of the easiest ways to do so, but gadgets can feel splurgey when you’re watching your budget. That makes them the perfect gift!

  1. I firmly believe a Kindle is one of the best gifts you can buy a minimalist (or anyone else, for that matter). I love mine — the paperwhite version, which is just a reader, not a tablet, and includes a backlight and 3G wifi service — but there are several options to choose from at a variety of price points. And just think: once you’ve bought your minimalist a Kindle, your future gift-giving woes are solved … just get them Amazon gift cards or books that will deliver straight to their Kindle!
  2. Along the same lines, an Audible membership gives the gift of stories in a super-minimalist way. I’m currently obsessed with Audible, Amazon’s audio book subscription service. It makes an ideal gift for anyone who travels a lot, has a long commute, or spends a lot of time at the gym. And it takes up absolutely zero space!
  3. Amazon Prime is another no-brainer gift for minimalists — because let’s be real: everyone orders from Amazon (minimalist or otherwise). When you give the gift of Prime you’re giving a full year of free two-day shipping, unlimited TV and movie streaming with Prime Video, and more!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of a Delicious Splurge

Let’s say you have a minimalist in your life, and they’ve told you about ten times now, “We just don’t have any more room for stuff! Please don’t get us anything this year.” But you still secretly want to see their face light up when you hand them a beautifully wrapped gift. The best advice I have to offer you is to get them something consumable — food or drink they will thoroughly enjoy, then use up. The key to this kind of gift is to make it just a little bit splurgey — we’re not talking about getting them a jar of Folgers coffee here. 😉 

  1. If you have a coffee-lover in your life, a few bags of nice coffee are a great way to make sure they think of you fondly at the beginning of every day. A favorite of ours is Parker’s Maple Barn’s maple cinnamon coffee, but your personal favorite or something from a local coffee producer feels fancy. (Resist the urge to pair your gift with cutesy coffee mugs, but fancy sugar cubes make a charming addition.)
  2. Wine is another gift that will be sure to spark fond thoughts when your gift-receiver ends up enjoying it. (And you can know for sure that it won’t get pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.) Visit a local winery for a fun twist on this kind of gift, or give a bottle or two of your personal favorite!
  3. Chocolate is always a crowd pleaser — but make it special to avoid looking like you just grabbed a box of chocolate from your local drugstore on your way to exchanging gifts. Hands-down the best chocolate I had this year was the bourbon pecan chocolates from Woodford Reserve distillery in Kentucky, and you’re in luck; they’re available on Amazon!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of an Experience

Most of the minimalists I know value experiences over stuff. 

  1.  My personal favorite experiential gift is receiving gift cards that fuel my love of travel — like a gift card for hotelsairlines, or even Airbnb! I promise, if your minimalist is anything like me, he or she will love the gift that takes her somewhere new!
  2. Another fun option is the gift of a class. Whether it’s a one-time paint-and-sip class or a recurring photography class, you’ll be giving both a fun night out and a new skill that they’ll remember forever! Start by brainstorming ideas your gift-receiver would love. Painting, guitar, sewing, craft, cooking, craft brewing, blogging — the opportunities are endless! Then search for classes in their local area. Sites like Living Social are good places to start; you could even check non-credit courses at their community college.
  3. Last but certainly not least, the gift of an adventure. In New England, the gift of a season pass to a ski mountain is never a bad idea. If you live in the south, consider giving the gift of snorkeling or surfing. And adventures don’t have to be extreme; did you know many state parks offer camping gift cards? (We love KOAs, too, and they also offer gift cards.)

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of a Book

A great book on minimalism makes a wonderful gift for anyone who’s trying to live a more simple life. (For bonus points, give them the Kindle version! You can schedule it to deliver by email, or you can get a gift code that you can print out and put in a stocking or stick in a card.) These are the books I recommend to anyone looking to streamline their life!

  1. The Joy of Less was the very first book I ever read on minimalism and it totally changed my life and my perspective on stuff. It starts philosophically and moves on to the practical, and is a great resource no matter where you are in your minimalist journey.
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a perfect gift to give going into the new year. Author Marie Kondo doesn’t believe that all stuff holds you back, just the wrong stuff, and she offers hands-on ways to pinpoint and get rid of it.
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Living Full Time in an RV, Airstream or Motorhome is a brand new book by Melanie Gnau. Her radical life change and gorgeous Airstream home were a huge inspiration to us in our journey, and I know they will be to you, too. If you are interested in learning more about full time life in a camper, I’d highly recommend you checking out her book (and her blog!).

That’s our definitive 2016 holiday gift guide for minimalists! We’ve been at this a while, so we have a pretty good idea what we like to receive as part of a “simple” Christmas — but we’d love to hear from you, too! Tell us in the comments: what are your favorite minimalist Christmas gifts?

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

Books and Burritos in West Virginia’s Capital City

After enjoying beer and hiking in Morgantown and a wild weekend rafting the Gauley River, we had another important stop to make in West Virginia: the capitol city, Charleston. (I should mention that when trying to plan things to do in Charleston, you must always specify “Charleston West Virginia,” or you’ll just get a bunch of results about Charleston South Carolina, and then you’ll be just a little sad you aren’t going there instead. Actually, sometimes that happens even when you do specify West Virginia. But I digress.)

I should mention before I get started that this post will be a tad light on pictures. That’s not because we didn’t enjoy our time in Charleston; quite the contrary! We were surprised by how much the city had to offer and how much we found to do there. Instead, it’s because we spent a good part of our time in Charleston doing this:

Taylor Books Charleston West Virginia Our Streamlined Life

After a week of fun, it was time to get caught up on some work — and we spent a good part of each day we were in Charleston in front of the computer. Unfortunately our campground, despite being just 20 min outside the city, had absolutely zero cell service — which meant no Internet for us, either. So each day we’d pack up our bags, head into town, get some work done, then wander the streets. It ended up being a pretty pleasant way to explore the city.

I should back up to give you the timeline for this trip. We headed to Charleston on Sunday evening. It was a pleasant two-ish hour drive from Fayetteville, and we arrived at our campground in Kanawha State Forest in plenty of time to get set up before dark. On Monday morning we dropped Ryan’s cousin Barry off at Charleston’s teeny-tiny airport, and set off to explore downtown.

The one piece of the trip we did manage to photograph extensively: the West Virginia state capitol building.

West Virginia Capitol Building 3 Our Streamlined Life

Constructed from 1924-1932 from buff Indiana limestone, the building’s magnificent 293- foot gold dome is five feet higher than the dome of the U.S. Capitol!

West Virginia Capitol Building 2 Our Streamlined Life

And two-thirds of the interior is marble. The building features classical styling throughout — it was absolutely gorgeous. It reminded us a lot of the Utah state capitol building in Salt Lake City.

West Virginia Capitol Building 1 Our Streamlined Life

Like I said, that’s where our photographing ended … but it’s certainly not where the fun ended! Charleston blew us away with its delicious food, awesome riverfront downtown, and welcoming atmosphere. The highlights of our stay include:

  • Taylor Books, an independent bookstore and cafe on Capitol Street in downtown. We loved Taylor Books and it’s where we ended up going for wifi (and coffee!) every day. The bookstore was terrific and had a welcoming, laid back vibe.
  • Black Sheep Burrito & Brews was so delicious that I’m not ashamed to admit we went there two days in a row. I can’t even express to you how delicious the Tempura-Fried Fresh Avocado tacos (topped with chipotle-orange mayo) were … and then there were the spicy pineapple margaritas. Perfection.
  • Haddad Riverfront Park offers gorgeous views of the Kanawha River, and some pretty terrific waterfront homes, too. (I have to admit, Charleston low prices and friendly, small-southern-city vibe had us looking up real estate listings like crazy.) It would make a great spot for running and also hosts frequent events.

Our final verdict on Charleston was that it was a great place to visit … and it seemed like it could also be a good place to live. The downtown was bustling with young professionals, and it looked like there were plenty of cool apartments over shops available, which reminded us of our darling downtown apartment in Leesburg, Virginia. And we have plenty to go back for: Ellen’s Ice Cream, Brick + Salt, and Capitol Market were all spots we didn’t get to visit (apparently we were too busy eating flights of tacos!).

Do any of our readers know and love Charleston, West Virginia? What are your must-see sights? 

Gauley Season Kickoff Weekend: Let’s Go RAFTING!!!

Having enjoyed our time in Morgantown, we made our way down to Fayetteville, West Virginia, and prepared for a weekend of Gauley River Rafting Goodness!!

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46 weekends out of the year, the Gauley River is a pretty average boating experience. In the fall, however, everything changes. For six weekends (beginning the weekend after Labor Day) the Army Corps of Engineers provides a series of twenty-two controlled dam releases for the express purpose of downriver recreation. And for those six weekends –known as Gauley Season — the Gauley River one of the premier whitewater runs in the world.

It’s an epic experience every boater longs to participate in, and attracts over 60,000 adventurers every year! The Upper Gauley offers tremendous class III to V+ drops in steep, turbulent chutes, and rocky routes that demand constant maneuvering. It’s a constant thrill ride and definitely not for the faint of heart!

We were meeting a number of people there to boat with, including three HFAC raft guides. The first was Teakwood, a longtime Gauley and Shenandoah raft guide who had been one of my trainers when I started rafting. He had graciously agreed to spend the weekend taking us down the river, and brought his awesome family along to join in the fun!

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Teakwood and Co!

Also joining us was my buddy Ian, a great young guide who has taught me much about the water. Ian was also my “Bro-day Brew-day” buddy over the summer and we spent a lot of time together exploring local breweries. Ian brought his girlfriend Erin, another good friend and fellow raft and zip guide. Ian and Erin are two of our favorite HFAC people, and we were super excited they made it down with us.

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Also joining us was my world-exploring cousin Barry, who was actually part of our inspiration to live our mobile lifestyle. Barry has traveled the world, rafted the Zambezi River in Africa and other big rivers overseas, and was eager to try out the Gauley. Rebecca and I arrived in Fayettevillle on Thursday, and Barry flew in midday on Friday. My wife was kind enough to go get him from the airport, allowing me to run the Lower Gauley (class IV and below) with Teakwood, his family, Ian, and Erin. And we had an awesome time.

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After a summer of dropping water levels on the ‘Doah, these raft guides were thrilled to finally be on some real water. The temperatures, both air and water were incredibly comfortable, and we had a great day. On top of the rafting we did, we got to watch Ian playing on down the river in his kayak, which was a lot of fun.

Rebecca, not one to waste time or opportunity, picked up my cousin and took him exploring around Fayetteville, checking out the New River Gorge Bridge, famous for the annual Bridge Day Fest, which we ended up attending a few weeks later.

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We all met up back at our base camp for the weekend — the campground at Cantrell Ultimate Rafting. Our group enjoyed a great dinner and a bonfire, and talked about the next day.

Morning dawned clear and bright, and we loaded up for a Teakwood-guided customer trip. Teakwood has been working at Cantrell’s for years, and we spent several weekends this trip camping and rafting with them. It’s a family-owned outfitter, and we had a great experience with them. The showers are awesome, there’s a very convenient camp kitchen, they have both RV and tent sites, and a very popular bar with live music right one site! They even let us do laundry in an empty cabin on a few occasions.

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One of the Cantrell family, Adam, was the guide of the other boat in our two-boat trip, and we had an awesome day on the river. Rebecca, who was a bit nervous, fell out almost immediately, ending up under the boat and popping up right next to me. While not at the top of her priority list, she was glad to get her first swim over with and get on with enjoying the rest of the trip.

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Although I haven’t spent much time with my cousin Barry since we were both pretty young, we got along famously, and had a great time both in and out of the boat. Our group took a lunch break up on Postage Due, a rock overlooking Sweet’s Falls, and enjoyed watching boats of all sizes and shapes shooting the falls.

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We made it safely to the end with only a minimal amount of swimming, and the next day, got up and did it all again! We had a tremendous weekend, and were very grateful for Teakwood showing us a great time on the Gauley River.