My kids get excited and jealous every single time they seen an RV on the road or at a campsite. I’ve never been quite as tempted by RV rental.
“Just look at it,” they swoon. “It probably has a microwave and a bathroom!”
At the risk of being predictable, the fact that we don’t have a microwave and a bathroom when we camp is exactly what I like about camping. I don’t need to backpack into the wilderness or anything like that, but I don’t want too many conveniences when I go car camping.
Plus, I’m kind of afraid to drive a vehicle that’s bigger than my first apartment.
Last weekend, I got a chance to both test-drive and test-sleep a camping vehicle that was more my size than an RV rental — the Jucy Champ, which is made by a New Zealand campervan rental company that’s expanding into a few U.S. markets.
What we liked about our campervan-sized RV rental
With its tents, sleeping pads, stoves, and ice chests, tent camping is a little… gear intensive. My rule of thumb is that it takes a full day to prepare and a full day to unpack, and that’s on top of any days spent camping.
The Jucy has a lot of gear on board. You’ll still have to pack marshmallows, sleeping bags, and flashlights (among many other things), but here are a few of the conveniences we found on board:
- A small fridge, powered by an auxiliary battery that stayed cold for two days. The battery recharges itself off the car’s main battery when it’s running.
- Ditto reading lights, and in the “upstairs” loft, a fan to keep sleepers cool.
- Two propane-powered stoves (one that stays in the car, one that can be taken out).
- A pump sink with a 5-gallon water tank.
It drives like a minivan, because that’s what it is. There are seatbelts for five people, and it’s easy to park (as long as you remember not to enter parking garages or attempt fast food drive-thrus). Filling up the gas tank wasn’t a financial hardship either. Finally, although we were comped, I found the rental prices to be reasonable.
The van has two double beds: one below, and one above in the pop-top penthouse. The penthouse bed is not accessible from the lower level, but via a ladder on the outside of the car. Kids love it.
A few considerations
The thing we liked least about our campervan rental was the fact that it was bright green and purple with loud text and their sexy lady (Jucy Lucy) mascot painted on the front and back of the van.
Because I had to leave my own car at the Jucy lot, I had to drive my daughter and her friends to her high school Homecoming football game in the campervan the night before we left on our trip. I wish you could have seen her face.
You can rent a full kit of cutlery and dinnerware for four people, as well as pots and pans, and various kitchen utensils. All this rattles around a fair amount while you’re driving. Paper plates and plastic cutlery would be a lot quieter.
Finally, at night when you’re sleeping, motion upstairs (such as someone rolling over) causes a lot of motion downstairs, and vice versa. Enough to wake you up if you’re a light sleeper. But no one really sleeps all that well when camping, right?
Where to rent
As of now, there are only three locations to rent Jucy campervans: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. If you’ve always kind of coveted a campervan, I encourage you to rent one and give it a try. It was a lot of fun.