How the sharing economy has prompted us all to say “book it!”
Got the camping bug, but no camper? No problem. There’s a wide array of options to get things rolling, whether you’re an experienced trailer tower or you don’t know your hitch from your wheel chock.
Of course, full-tilt glamping is always a possibility. Stay in vintage Airstreams at Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles, or check out Hipcamp to find a teepee tent in the remote California Valley. If you want to join the ultimate in-crowd, see if you can snag a date for the Mushroom Dome Cabin near Aptos — reportedly the most popular Airbnb booking in the world.
But, if you’re looking for an experience where rubber actually hits the road, consider renting a recreational vehicle (RV).
Sharing the Wheels
RV rental is certainly nothing new, as evidenced by those hundreds of campers with the perky golden retriever image in the window or those fleets of boldly decorated vans. However, this concept has taken on an entirely new dimension with the advent of the “sharing economy” — matching an owned asset to someone who wants to use the asset. Just think vacation rental, but on wheels.
Craig Hanson applied this idea to his own RV over 10 years ago, and before long he was also managing the rentals of his friends’ rigs. In 2009, he launched Get Away RV Rentals in Templeton, which now boasts the most extensive fleet of travel trailers on the Central Coast. Though he offers a range of services, much of his business is renting trailers for people to tow using their own vehicle. Clients have to pre-qualify in terms of having towing skills and adequate insurance, Craig explains, but after that, “there’s no limit on how far you can tow.”
He adds that RV rental can go beyond camping, such as an option for special events. “We can work with group gatherings of any size, and we’ve delivered up to 40 trailers to one site.” And if towing a trailer isn’t for you — and granted, it requires a specific skill set — look into renting what’s often called a driveable through a company such as RVshare, a nationwide peer-to-peer platform akin to Airbnb or VRBO. These rigs range from large tour bus style, to cab/truck combos, to decked-out camping vans. Even though you’ll still need to figure out how the vehicle’s infrastructure works, the learning curve for driving these rentals is far more manageable.
Leave the Driving to Someone Else
If you want absolutely no part of towing or driving an RV of any sort, Get Away RV Rentals also offers delivery and setup. You make the campground reservation, arrange the trailer rental and arrive at your campsite to an already set-up rig. [Note: currently, California state parks do not allow rental camping vehicles to be delivered.]
Another local providing a similar service is RV Plus You, based in Nipomo. Again, much like a vacation rental website, this business is another peer-to-peer online platform that connects RV owners with wannabe renters. You still need to make the appropriate reservation, but after that, the RV owner drives their rig to the site and sets it up.
“Owners don’t have the liability and risk of having their rig damaged by inexperienced drivers,” notes Russ Lovell, co-founder and co-owner of RV Plus You. Additionally, renters don’t have to pack up the trailer afterwards, and yes, that often means not having to do the dreaded “pump out.”
Like most of the sharing economy models, this type of arrangement is a win-win for owner and renter. In this case, it’s arguably good for the environment as well. You can stay in a locally based RV instead of using the gas to haul a rig mile upon mile, from Point A to Point B.
All the Comforts of Home
As with fixed vacation rentals, the features offered with rolling rentals vary widely. First to consider are those you’ll want as part of your rig, and if you haven’t peeked inside an RV lately, you’re in for a surprise. The luxury touches in modern models can include everything from flat screen televisions to Bluetooth connections, from stainless steel appliances to electric fireplaces, from outdoor kitchens to a full-sized master bedroom. [Note: Many amenities in RVs and trailers require full electric hookups.]
As for other amenities, most rentals come with the basics, such as kitchen utensils, outdoor chairs and tables, etc. Clients are typically expected to provide their own bedding and towels. Some owners provide more for their renters, but don’t expect all of them to be as thoughtful as Danelle Wineman, who rents out her family’s 40-foot-long, two-bedroom, two-bath fifth wheel trailer through RV Plus You.
“Guests just need personal items such as clothes and food,” Danelle states. “I keep [the trailer] completely 100% stocked with linens, kitchen items and spices — right down to the salt and pepper.”
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