best small laptop tablet

Our Top Travel Finds – 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

Turkey Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all those other crazy holiday shopping days are a little too much for us. I mean really, who needs to get into a fist fight for a TV, sleep in a parking-lot line for a coffee maker, or watch a bidding war online for 8 hours just to get a Christmas present? I’d much rather order on Amazon while sipping a cup of coffee and two days later the UPS guy knocks on my door (where ever that might be) with the holidays in hand!

travel gift giving guide

Each year we scour the internet, the RV shows, the outdoor outfitters and online magazines for cool new toys that make our lives on the road a little easier.  Let’s face it, when you live on the road full-time getting and giving gifts can be difficult, or downright impossible, so to spark your holiday gift giving we’ve packed all our favorite new gear from our 2014 travels into this Travel Friendly Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

Folding Bikes

best folding bikes

This year we gave away our Mountain bikes and sold the fancy bike rack (its a really long story) and made the decision we could simply walk everywhere. Two months later we decided last minute to go to Burning Man where bicycles are a necessity. Dang! So we did two days of online research because we couldn’t find a location to test drive a folding bike, and we bit the bullet with rush shipping so we could have the bikes in time. All those hours spent online paid off, we are 100% happy with our new folding bikes, and to say they survived a week at Burning Man is a testament to their quality. Nikki wanted the cute Citizen cruiser and I opted for the sexy Mobic speed demon, both different brands, both folding bikes, both USA companies and both have satisfied our need. Plus they fit in our storage bays no problem and they tuck nicely into the “trunk” of our smart car! I researched and seriously considered the Hasa Folding Bike Shimano 18 Speed 20 Inch, the MOBIC Life X7 Folding Bike, the Dahon Mariner D7 Folding Bike and the GOTHAM7 Citizen Bike 20″ 7-Speed Folding Bike but ultimately I decided to purchase based on price, components and style. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with any of these brands, but here are our exact models: Nikki – BARCELONA Citizen Bike (sadly, it’s not sold on Amazon) and mine is the Mobic here in our store.


best inflatable sup

Space in an RV is crazy limited…the space in our Smart car trunk is even more limited. We always enjoy a good paddle but hated the idea of carrying a giant Stand Up Paddleboard in the RV. When we first found the iSUP (inflatable stand up paddle board) we thought “perfect” but after researching and seeing a few different ones firsthand we decided they were crap and they’d fall apart quickly with the way we beat things up. Let me introduce you to the “baddest assest” iSUP on the market! The Fisher Blowfish. What makes this one different is the owner Jeff worked with the Navy Seals to design this board to Military Grade specs. Sure it may be double the price of some of the cheapies out there but it rides as well as any fiberglass board we’ve been on. It inflates in a few minutes to a very stable 11′ tall x 32″ wide x 4.125″ thin, yet packs up small enough to fit in our storage bay and our Smart car trunk. Oh, and don’t forget the sidewalls are made of super think Kevlar so in case you come across a bullet skipping across the water this iSUP could save your life*. *not actually proven so don’t try this at home


Dyson Air Blade

dyson air blade

Dual purpose products are PERFECT for RVing. Currently we have 2 space heaters and 2 fans in our rig that we swap depending on season, the issue: The fan in my heater isn’t powerful enough to move cool air, our regular fan makes the air feel colder so it doesn’t work in the winter. The Dyson Air Blade has a powerful fan AND a space heater built into one device. This means we can get ditch 2 extra things we’re consistently moving, storing and carrying around the country. We were so blown away with the performance of our vacuum we can’t stop thinking about purchasing this fan (and we did), despite the price we think it’ll be worth every penny…plus it looks pretty cool.

Zero Hour Flashlight

best rugged flashlight

While we’re on the dual purpose kick I may as well talk about our new favorite flashlight. We found this nifty gadget and met the creators recently at the Pomona RV Show (were suckers for fellow young entrepreneurs).  Sure it’s a really, really bright flashlight but the cool part is in the details: 1) The batteries are rechargeable so there’s no more buying an 8 pack of D batteries that are useless for any other tool. 2) It’s waterproof and built like a tank so you don’t have to worry about dropping it. 3) It has 2 USB ports at 2 different outputs so you can charge a cell phone or a tablet. 4) With the rapid flash you can use it to blind an intruder (or scare away an animal) then use it as a weapon in an emergency situation. If that’s not enough it also comes with a carrying bag 🙂

Burr Grinder

coffee grinder

Contrary to my old assumptions: the Magic Bullet is not a “burr grinder” nor is the $20 grocery store version of a coffee grinder. This year I finally educated myself on why a burr grinder for premium coffee is a must and I purchased my first real grinder. I figure we’re purchasing craft, small batch coffee beans that cost a small fortune so I may as well get the most flavor out of these beans! Right!?! The most popular burr grinder at craft coffee roasters is the Baratza Virtuoso – Conical Burr Coffee Grinder but I felt the price was a little steep for my intro to better grinders, so I chose to go with the slightly more affordable, equally as well ranked and somewhat more sexy Bodum Bistro Conical Burr Grinder in White. It’s held up great for me and I swear the flavors of the coffee come out ten-fold in comparison to my old cheap single blade grinder (or maybe it’s just in my head…nah!).

Dyson Ball

dyson rv vac

What a waste of money! Who needs a $400 vacuum cleaner?” I fought it for years, with every fiber of my wallet! A few months back Nikki got fed up with that stupid built-in Dirt Devil RV vacuum so we threw it away! We purchased the new Shark then returned it. Then we bit the bullet and purchased The Dyson Animal because we knew in our hearts it was the perfect vacuum. We didn’t return it, we use it weekly and it works like a champ (we shot some video and will share the dirty details in due time)! Here’s the short of it: the Best RV vacuum we’ve ever used. If your a hopeless romantic then who doesn’t love a good dust buster for Christmas?!? P.S. if your spouse punches you for buying a cleaning tool for Christmas don’t blame us 🙂

Central Oven

central oven

At the beginning of the year we were walking through Macy’s and Nikki stumbled upon this device in the clearance section. The Cuisinart Central Oven. I remember my exact words “not another cooking toy that you won’t use and we’ll end up donating”…boy did I ever eat my words on this one! This little device has worked wonders over the year and has easily become our favorite go-to cooking gadget.

Hybrid Water Purifier


We’ve always been a fan of our distiller however it uses a lot of juice and takes 5 hours to make a gallon. We came across a new product called the Waterlogic Firewall Hybrid that instantly creates 99.9999% pure water while using very little electricity. We just received it last week so we’ve been testing it while plugged in and while dry camping. So far so good, and a testament to the quality of this device: It fell off the counter and came crashing down on the floor while we were driving Thursday and so far it’s still working! I think this might make our Top Boondocking Gadgets in the near future.

4g Cellular Booster

cell data booster

We’ve been singing the praises of this new device since it was launched a few months back. It works well for wild camping or anytime you need a couple extra bars on your cell service. If you want to read more about it check out our Stay Connected article:

Microsoft Surface 3

best small laptop tablet

As most of you know we’re not Mac people, so when Windows launched the Surface we were stoked! Nikki’s had the Surface Pro 2 128GB for about a year now and she loves it. It’s the size of a tablet but powerful enough to run Lightroom, Photoshop, Word, Outlook, etc. For 2014 they’ve added an option for an i7 Intel processor, a larger screen, more SSD space and a host of other things that make this tablet a laptop killer. Nikki has a little “3” envy, but she’s gonna hold out a little longer.

Ninja Masterprep


It’s a blender, it’s a food processor, it’s a storage container, no its a Ninja! Haha. We use this thing for salsa, guacamole, smoothies, curry sweet potato soup and most importantly Bourbon Margaritas! Its RV sized, its multi-functional and its under $40…kind of a no-brainer!

Kleen Kanteen


We have 2 of the 16oz size drinking vessels and we’ve come to love them this year. If you see us out and about we’ll probably have one in our hands. It keeps coffee warm for hours and it keeps beer cold for hours! Do you need anymore reasons? Make sure you get the cafe cap too and if you want to go all out the S-Beaner.

I think that pretty much sums up the new and cool gadgets we’ve discovered this year. If you didn’t find what you’re looking for then an Amazon Prime Membership or an Amazon Gift Card always works well for travelers.
I realize some of these items are crazy expensive, and others will likely get you socked if you purchase for a loved one (because nothing says I love you like a new vacuum), and we’re not saying you should purchase these gadgets for your 10 year old nephew…what we’re trying to say is treat yourself to something special this holiday.  If these things don’t tickle your fancy then never fear, we have other gift giving guides that are perfectly relevant for RVers and travelers alike…we just didn’t want to duplicate anything from previous years.

As is our norm, nobody paid to be included on this list, these are actually things we use and love and that’s why they are on this list.  The images are links to Amazon, if you purchase any of these items by following the links we get a small percent and you pay the same…so thanks in advance for the support. If you think we missed something tell us in the comments below.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (24)

  • Paul Johnson

    Sorry for off-piste comment but I can’t find your recommended lumbar back support?

  • Joyce Vallance

    Jason, I came to this section based on your response to a comment in the general section. My question was about the bikes you use. But in the discussion here in the gift guide you give info on Nikki’s bike (Barcelona Citizen Bike) but at the end of the article it states : “and here’s Jason’s:” and then nothing but blank space. ????

  • Kathy Parker

    I went back to a post with older Xmas lists and purchased the Rand McNally GPS. Hubby loves it! I will too if it keeps us from being lost! Lol. I’m also looking for a Dyson. I have one in the house, but it’s too big to travel. I was thinking of the rechargeable… But maybe your idea of keeping it in a bay is better. Wishing both of you the warmest of holidays… Just love your posts!

  • Andrea Lawson

    Hey guys, great list. We are getting ready to go FT next year. I have been looking at Dyson’s and, thanks to you, have purchased the perfect and right vacuum for our RV. One question though, where do you store it when not in use?

    • I break it down (super easy) and store it our smallest basement bay. It’s easy to get out, use and then put away again. When I update our vacuum post I will make sure to include that! Thanks for the reminder!

  • Great list. We went with the Dyson DC59 Stick (pet) and so far it’s worked great. We swear by Dyson now after having one for several years and purchased one for each of our daughters.

    We also just purchased the Dyson blade and are interested in how well it works.

    The Surface looks interesting, but does it run Adobe Premier Pro & other video editing software? Once we full-time we will require a laptop that will be able to do some heavy duty photo and video editing. I have not checked recently, but I would be curious to know your video editing setup.

    Thanks a million again for all your posts. You inspire us novice bloggers to contribute to the community too.

  • Mary Van

    Where should I ship that Dyson heat unit? I wonder if Amazon does Cyber Monday?

  • Ola Otto

    Thanks for your terrific ideas! My husband will be retiring next year after almost 45 years with the same company. Our plan is to become 3/4 timers – spending about a week a month back at our “home base”. This will allow us to take care of medical appointments and other stuff like that. I’ve been following you two for over a year now and my hubby has been too, for about 3 months. It’s exciting to see where you have been, all that you have learned, all the suggestions, etc.
    We are really looking forward to RV’ing it!!! Thanks for all of your posts.

    Blessings, and have a happy Thanksgiving!
    Ola and Roger Otto

    • Thanks so much for the kind words! It’s always so encouraging to hear that you have found some useful info and even better to hear you will have the chance to put some of it to good use on your own travels!!! Especially after 45 years of hard work, you deserve some fantastic travel adventures. Thanks so much for the kind words and hope to see you out on the road!

  • Great article! We’re learning our fellow full timers are a wealth of wisdom. After my own research, though, I bought the Kleen Kanteen for myself. (DH says he’s a camel so he refuses to carry a drink,) I didn’t see the S clip. How does that work? We backpack a lot, so Id love to hook it on-is that the point?

    • You got it! Attach the clip through the loop on the lid, then onto a backpack, belt pack or just about anywhere you want to! Those clips come in handy for all kinds of extra stuff. Even if it’s just a place to clip your keys to your water bottle so you don’t loose them.

  • Kim Salter

    Thank you so much for the information on the Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Coffee Grinder. I think I will add that to my “Santa” list. I love fresh coffee and I would recommend to you the FreshRoast SR500 Automatic Coffee Bean Roaster. It is wonderful; you can roast a batch of beans in less than 10 minutes and adjust the darkness of the beans to your taste. The machine is small and would travel well. I like to order my green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s and you can choose from many different countries to see what you like. Safe travels! Would love to meet you one day.

    • So glad to hear from a fellow coffee lover. I hadn’t even considered roasting my own beans but that could be a lot of fun! I will definitely look into that little machine and thanks so much for the great suggestion!

  • Jen

    Hey wynns, I am curious to know why you choose to use the mini oven instead of your convection oven? Isn’t it just one more thing to take up room? – thanks!

    • Very legit and good question! I can’t use my convection oven when wild camping. It pulls too much power for too long. This little oven however heats up crazy fast and cooks very efficiently. I can have muffins in just 17 min. verses 15 min of preheat and 15 min of bake time. You can read a little more about why I love that machine here:

  • Daddy DLux

    Great read!!! Thank you for taking the time to share.

  • Mary

    Love the photo of you with your folding bikes!

    Great gift ideas!

    • It’s hard not to take awesome pics at Burning Man. It’s like a giant art studio!

  • Mary

    Love the photographs of you with your folding bikes.

    Lots of great things to consider for the holidays!


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