Vanlife is a status symbol for many outdoorsy millennials, a freewheeling, bohemian lifestyle worthy of Anais Nin or Jack Kerouac with solar panels and a smartphone, of course. But what if you aren’t ready to drop $80k on the rig of your dreams or simply want to escape for a week-long getaway?
These five van rental companies are well equipped to let road trippin’ travelers dive head first into a big adventure. Whether you’re looking for a good night’s sleep beneath Yosemite’s granite walls or a rig to explore the heart of the Rockies, they’ve got you covered.
Founded by Rob Mewton, an intrepid surfer out of New Zealand, Escape Campervans are perhaps best known for the funky, original artwork that’s plastered all over each van. The goal is to give the vehicles their own, groovy personalities so that explorers feel like they’re part of the family.
Escape has three van layouts to choose from: the tiny, fuel-efficient Santa Cruz, kitchen-friendly Mavericks, and ultra-roomy Big Sur. The company is expanding quickly and currently rents in Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, New York, Atlanta, Miami and New Zealand.
Pros: Tons of locations, 24/7 roadside assistance, great winter pricing, one-way trips available
Cons: High pricing in summer/fall, linens and kitchen kits cost extra, must pay for extra miles
JUCY RV Rentals
Most Californians are familiar with the infamous royal purple and leaf green paint that decorates each JUCY camper van. But, look beyond the bright, logo-centric paint job, and travelers will find a surprisingly robust set of features, all crammed into a standard issue minivan that’s great on fuel efficiency and fits into a standard parking space.
For now, JUCY only offers two van options: the 2-person Wavefarer and the 4-person Trailblazer, complete with pop-up rooftop tent. JUCY RV Rentals started in New Zealand and is a thriving international company to this day with locations in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
Pros: Loads of locations in Australia and New Zealand, great summer pricing, fridge, stove, and internal table included, one-way trips available
Cons: Linens and kitchen kit cost extra, interior hang out space is small, must pay for extra miles
Road trip inspiration: Channel your inner sense of adventure and explore California’s National Parks. Start in Los Angeles and create a loop up to Death Valley, cut across Yosemite’s famed Tioga Road, and cruise down through the towering Sequoia trees before landing back where you started.
This Sydney-based camper rental company is new to the US scene and already making a big splash with their free, unlimited miles. Travellers Autobarn currently offer simple minivans for rent, as well as two campervan models: the Hitop and the Kuga.
Hitops feature slightly older build-outs and are priced more economically, while Kugas come stacked with newer interiors and a solar panel to keep the fridge and lights on all night. Travellers currently rents out of San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Auckland, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth and Darwin.
Pros: Free unlimited miles, tall vans easier to cook in, affordable summer pricing
Cons: Hitop and Kuga have poor fuel efficiency, only available in the western United States
Road trip inspiration: Retrace Edward Abbey’s footsteps in Utah’s fabled National Parks. Start in Las Vegas, spend a night in Sin City, and then zoom across the southwest, stopping at Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands.
Campervan North America
While most van rental companies are located on the west coast, Campervan North America serves up more central vans for travelers looking to explore America’s heartland. They currently offer a wide variety of van sizes and sleeping arrangements, making them an excellent choice for families or large groups of friends looking to escape the city for a few days. The Edelweiss is a budget-friendly 2-person minivan, while larger rigs like the Bunkhouse and the Clanhauler are specially designed for the adventuresome family on-the-go. Locations include Denver, Bozeman, Las Vegas, and Seattle.
Pros: Great options for large groups, mileage and one-way specials, great winter and shoulder-season rates
Cons: Expensive during high season, linens and kitchen kit cost extra, minimum five-night rental
Road trip inspiration: Start in Bozeman, MT and search for moose, bison and elusive grizzly bears from the comfort of your vehicle on a northern escape across Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks.
Often touted as the “Airbnb of RV rentals,” Outdoorsy allows ordinary people to rent out their adventuremobiles for visiting travelers looking to get their road trip fix. The website features everything from hearty 4WD Jeeps with rooftop tents to massive RVs larger than many apartments. And, yes, Outdoorsy is a great place to find a unique campervan rental on a budget. Because Outdoorsy aggregates users from across the United States, pick-up locations are available nearly everywhere.
Pros: Affordable, tons of vehicle options, insurance available, thousands of pick-up locations
Cons: Private vehicles may be unreliable, pricing and mileage extremely variable
Road trip inspiration: Watch as autumn paints the trees with shades of amber, marigold, and deep crimson. Start in Nashville and check out the country music scene before heading down the highway to Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks. Cap off the journey with a drive through Daniel Boone National Forest.