Start your RV travels today, with or without a recreational vehicle.
It can be intimidating to get into RV travel for the first time. Between all of the vehicle options to choose from and the costs associated with them, there can be a lot to consider. The good news is that you don’t have to jump into buying a camper right away to get into RV travel — all it takes is a little resourcefulness and knowing where to look. If you’re looking to get on the road this summer but aren’t sure where to get started, take a look at these options we rounded up for you and get prepared for the road trip of your dreams!
Turn the Vehicle You Already Have into a Camper
The best vehicle for RV travel is the one you already have access to. Here are a few ways you can turn the vehicle you already have into a camper.
Use a Few Pieces of Wood
Building a platform bed is possible in the majority of sedans, and the best part is that it’s affordable, effective, and relatively easy for even the most novice of woodworkers! A plywood base, 4x4s for legs, and some basic screws will get you a simple setup that you can use to sleep on and store all your gear underneath. Some of the benefits of approaching RV travel with this method are that the platform can typically be built for around $200 and that it’s removable if you ever need to convert your car back to its original state. This makes it a great entry point for a lot of folks who are getting into RV travel for the first time!
Try an Inflatable Car Mattress for Your Back Seat
If you don’t have the time or interest in building a wood platform, there are other options to create a comfortable bed in the back of your vehicle. With a simple online search, you can find inflatable backseat car mattresses to install behind your front seat so when you lower your back row of seats, you’ll be able to have a full bed. The best inflatable back seat car mattresses will have a way to fill in the gap between your front seat and back to maximize sleeping space. The most significant benefit to choosing this method is that it’s the fastest and least expensive, but because your bed isn’t elevated, you will need to get a little more creative when it comes to addressing storage solutions. That said, for a short trip, this is a reliable option for travelers!
Get Some Simple Storage
One of the things that makes RV travel more sustainable is having a system to keep everything organized. Even though you probably won’t be traveling with much, your space is also incredibly limited so you’ll want to have a plan to keep things in order. Depending on the bed setup you have, you might have room for large plastic tubs to put under your wood platform, or you might be better off using packing cubes and bags so that they can fit into smaller spaces. Getting creative with magnets and hooks also could help!
Borrow Your Friend’s Camper
If you don’t have a vehicle that you can turn into a camper, you can still get into RV travel! Your network is a valuable resource, and it’s incredibly likely that someone you know has an RV or camper that isn’t used nearly as often as it could be. Try reaching out and ask if you can borrow their vehicle. You’d be surprised at how many people will be stoked to have you take their adventure vehicle on a trip!
Some tips to be a respectful camper borrower:
- Send a postcard to your friend while you’re on your trip.
- Return the vehicle clean and with a full tank of gas.
- Pick up some special snacks or drinks on your trip as a thank you.
- If anything breaks, let them know and if you can’t get it fixed while you’re away, make sure you help resolve the issue when you return home.
- Come back with photos to share!
- If you’re going to be traveling more than 5,000 miles, make sure you ask them about their preferences with oil changes in advance and have the vehicle serviced while you’re on the road.
Rent a Campervan for Your Next Trip
There are plenty of good rental options to start your RV travel, which means that if you’re not ready to own an RV, but you want to hit the road with more than a sedan, you can! Campervan rental businesses are becoming increasingly common, so they can shop around before choosing the best option for you.
Some considerations to take into account when choosing your camper rental services:
Pick-up and Drop-off Locations
Some camper rental businesses will allow you to take 1-way trips because they have multiple depots around the country, so if you want to travel further with your vacation time, you might want to explore this option.
Check out the policies for each and see how your own vehicle and travel insurance plans cover rentals.
Try Something You Might Want to Drive in the Future
Renting is an excellent opportunity to not just go on a trip, but also to see what a vehicle you might want to buy later on could be like to travel in on a longer-term basis. You can rent almost every kind of RV and trailer out there, so look for something that is not only fun, but practical as a potential future purchase.
Start Your Online Search for Your Campervan
It’s entirely possible that you know you want to buy a vehicle made for RV travel and want to start thinking about taking the leap now. If that’s the case, there are a few key things you might want to consider as you begin your search.
Learn What RV is the Best Fit for You
How often you plan on traveling, where you like to camp, who you hit the road with, and what you do when you get out there all play a role in determining what vehicle you’ll need for your RV travel. Making decisions around what vehicle to purchase can seem daunting, but fortunately, you will learn with time what works best for you and your lifestyle. Fortunately, there are free online resources to help you research motorhomes and trailers currently out there to see what listings you might want to start keeping an eye out for.
Look for Online Resources
If you’re going to renovate or fully convert a vehicle into an RV, see what online resources are available to you. Because of the popularity of road travel, many people who convert their vehicles into campers document their DIY conversions in blogs, YouTube videos, and other online content. While you can always find a way to convert a vehicle into the RV you want, you will probably feel more excited and confident in your ability to convert the vehicle you purchase if you know that there are easily accessible resources available to you to help guide your process.
Hire Someone to Convert Your Vehicle into a Camper
While it can seem more affordable to DIY your own camper build, depending on what you want to create and how much experience or tools you have at your disposal, it may actually be more effective to hire someone else to do part or all of it for you. More and more camper conversion companies have started to hone in on the best way to build out different vehicles, which is ultimately bringing down their cost of service. Do some research to see if hiring out would be more useful for you before committing to the DIY build.
Don’t Let Shopping Slow Your Roll
Remember that you can search for your future camper while still traveling around in the vehicle you have now. This is an often-overlooked piece of advice but one that is so important for travelers to practice often. Getting into road travel, especially if you are down the path of acquiring and outfitting your own vehicle, can be overwhelming and take up the majority of your spare time and financial resources in the short-term, but has incredible long-term benefits. Hitting the road as often as possible, even while your dreams of RV travel are not at their most ideal state, is crucial to recalling why you want to keep working at your campervan in the first place.