RV travel, or as I call it land cruising, offers a convenient way to see the country at your own pace.
These vehicles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and layouts -- from opulent and massive to simple and cozy -- and they can be a perfect option for retirees who have a lot of free time to travel.
Costs can be prohibitive, however, for the average traveler who might not get the optimal use out of owning an RV. You know the story of people who make the splurge on a recreational vehicle only to use it once a year (if that much). What seemed like a great idea ends up being a big money pit for those who are not yet retired and can't get as much use out of the big purchase as they want.
A company called Outdoorsy offers a wonderful alternative. It's an RV sharing service. You can think of it as the Airbnb of campers and RVs. The service is available through the website or the Outdoorsy app.
The service works on the concept of the sharing economy. Owners of RVs offer their vehicles for rent to those who are looking to enjoy a road trip but who aren't looking to own their own vehicles.
The Outdoorsy network has 15,000-plus owners listing all kinds of vehicles across the United States and even in select cities around the world. You can find campervans, motorhomes, travel trailers, pop-ups and fifth wheels on the website.
We've never taken an RV trip, but this looks like the way to give it a try. Colleen and I have a plan to travel around the world now but do more road trips in the U.S. when we get a little older. And RV travel will definitely be a part of that plan, especially when we can use services like Outdoorsy to do it in a low-risk and cost-effective way.
The company offers delivery, setup and 24/7 roadside assistance plans. This service seems like a good way for RV-curious travelers to give this travel style a try and for RV owners to make a little extra money when they aren't using their own vehicles.
As an added value for your travel plans, Outdoorsy also features a broad menu of bookable experiences that you can work into your itinerary. Check out these top tours and activities you can reserve on the site so that you can enjoy a fulfilling time during you visit to some of the most iconic destinations around the country.
Muir Woods Tour and Golden Gate Seaplane Flight in San Francisco: Visiting Muir Woods and Sausalito in one day usually leaves room for little else on your itinerary. This tour stops at both with a walk among redwood trees and free time in Sausalito while adding ultimate views of the San Francisco Bay to the mix with a seaplane flight. Upgrade to end the tour with a ferry ride back to San Francisco from Sausalito.
Napa Valley Hot Air Balloon Ride with Sparkling Wine Brunch: Experience Napa Valley's world-famous wine country from the air on a sunrise balloon ride. Start the day off with coffee and pastries at the renowned Domaine Chandon Winery, and then climb into a basket to take to the skies as day breaks across the valley. Enjoy a bird's-eye perspective of Napa's rolling hills, expansive vineyards and elegant estates during this one-hour flight. Once back on solid ground, indulge in a hot breakfast buffet with sparkling wine back at Domaine Chandon.
Guided Kayaking Tour on the Niagara River: Experience the beauty of the Niagara River on this guided, three-hour kayaking tour, departing from Grand Island on the American side. Paddle along the river that forms part of the border between the U.S. and Canada while taking in the scenery of the Upper Niagara River islands, including the River Lea Farmhouse, a famous Victorian farmhouse where President Grover Cleveland once worked. Along the journey, wildlife abounds, from eagles to beavers and mink. A single or double kayak, light snack, and bottled water are included.
Molokini and Turtle Arches Snorkeling Trip in Hawaii: Get off the beaten path to explore the wild side of Molokini on this five-hour adventure from Maui. The small, crescent-shaped island of Molokini is an extinct volcanic crater with a thriving coral reef, home to more than 250 species of fish and 38 species of coral. Hop aboard a 54-foot, single-deck catamaran and jump in the water for a snorkel at the Turtle Arches reef. Then, cruise around Molokini's rugged, red rock back wall, home to a variety of seabirds. Snorkeling equipment plus a continental breakfast, buffet lunch and refreshments are included.
Yosemite National Park Tour from San Francisco: Visit Yosemite National Park on this day trip from San Francisco. Upon arrival in the state's most famous national park have lunch (own expense) or head straight to the park to begin exploring. Follow your guide on a walking tour of the area or discover the park's charms on your own during your visit.
Boston Whale-Watching Cruise: Experience the best of New England's marine wildlife on this guided whale-watching cruise around the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Hop on a high-speed catamaran to view humpback and fin whales, plus Atlantic white-sided dolphins and harbour porpoises -- with the help of a naturalist guide. The onboard galley offers food and beverages for purchase during the trip.
Grand Canyon All-American Helicopter Tour: Departing from the Las Vegas Strip, see America's most iconic natural wonder, the Grand Canyon. Enjoy a 45-minute flight to the West Rim, flying over Hoover Dam, and then land on a canyon bluff for a glass of Champagne and snacks. On the return flight, zoom over the Las Vegas Strip for an aerial view of the city skyline. Heading there and back in just a few hours leaves plenty of time to enjoy Las Vegas for the rest of the day.
Fenway Park Game Day Tour with On-Field Access for Team Warm-Ups in Boston: Uniquely nestled in the city of Boston, Fenway Park is dubbed "America's Most Beloved Ballpark." Be part of the pre-game excitement, visit Pesky's Pole and sit atop the world-famous Green Monster, which stands 37 feet 2 inches high overlooking left field. Experienced tour guides provide a thrilling 50-minute walking tour of Fenway Park before the game. All areas are subject to availability and weather.
New Orleans Airboat Ride: Experience New Orleans' wild bayou country on an exciting, family friendly airboat ride. This boat tour winds through the mossy cypress swamp close to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, named for the 19thâcentury pirate and smuggler. While onboard, enjoy lively commentary from a native guide as you admire lush, forested shoreline and spot local wildlife.
West River Rafting Trip in Vermont: Rafters are put in at Ball Mountain Dam, where water is released for the trip. Your first taste of big whitewater comes as you head into Landslide rapid. Several miles of continuous rapids later is the biggest challenge at the Dumplings where negotiating the river's natural S-turn pushes paddling skills to the limit. Stop by the riverside for a brief snack and have opportunities for swimming before taking out below the Route 100 Bridge. Back at Stratton Mountain, a hearty meal of barbecue chicken and a slide show of the trip provide a fitting finale to this unique adventure. Participants on West River trips should be prepared for a fairly strenuous walk down a steep rocky trail at the beginning of the trip. Participants on this trip may be required to swim aggressively in rocky, fast whitewater.
Many of these excursions sound perfect to us.
In The Loop Travel: How can the Outdoorsy platform help bolster the travel experience? That is, what benefits does it offer to users?
Jen Young: Outdoorsy is reinventing the way people experience the outdoors. One of the ways we do that is by connecting people with the 18 million RVs in the US.. and 54 million RVs globally to ensure everyone has the access, choice and opportunity to safely enjoy outdoor experiences and empower RV owners to realize life-changing financial benefits.
We offer everything from large Class As, travel trailers and campervans to SUVs with rooftop tents. With a rapidly expanding global fleet of unique outdoor vehicles and experiences, we're here so users can get the most out of their time outside. Outdoorsy recently launched its Vehicle Purchase Program, an internet sales and distribution model, which provides technology that enables consumers to easily purchase campervans and RVs online through Outdoorsy at their convenience without replacing the dealer and the outfitters. Outdoorsy also expanded its platform with the ability for travelers to book experiences alongside their recreational vehicle to help create the perfect custom outdoor experience.
ITLT: How do the new bookable experiences work? How can users of the site find them and add them to their travel itineraries?
Young: The new platform gives travelers the ability to easily book experiences alongside their recreational vehicle to help create the perfect, custom outdoor trip. When plotting their pickup location and final destination, the site captures the customers' travel route and activity interests upfront, instantly presenting a range of unique, curated outdoor experience options to add to their journey. This provides travelers with a more interactive, user-friendly booking process.
ITLT: What do you think is most attractive about at RV trip? (I see that younger and younger people are giving it a try.)
Young: There's a huge demand for outdoor travel experiences, and this is a thriving time for experiential road travel as the world embraces campervan and RV travel. RV travel offers value and unscripted experiences that are cost-effective. Millennials in particular are looking for ways to connect, disconnect to reconnect/unplug, freedom, get outdoors without expense, time, hassle, and perceived risk of far-flung travel. They want to experience more about their environment around them and not just the tourist attractions. They want to connect with things that matter to them and RV travel is the perfect solution (vehicle gets you from one point to another, but to discover and connect along the way.) In fact, millennials now account for up to 38 percent of all recreational vehicle use in North America. More and more, we're seeing a growing experiential travel trend and desire for unique, meaningful experiences -- especially from millennials.
Do you have an RV or have you considered a road trip using a recreational vehicle? What do you think of the Outdoorsy platform?
Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading.