So you’ve seen all the beautiful photos of #vanlife on Instagram and you want to embrace life on the road? Cool! But wait one second. Why not rent a van first to find out if it’s all it’s cracked up to be?
The ability to travel and live out of a campervan is undeniably cool. Road trips are a great way to see more, discover the unexpected, and reconnect with nature by camping along the way. Until your 1986 GMC Vandura breaks down on the side of a remote mountain in Montana for the second time in two days and you don’t have cell service to call a tow.
The truth is, owning a campervan or a converted van can be a pain in the butt. And it’s a big commitment. Sure, you can hit the road on a whim and not worry about booking hotels or campgrounds, but you’ll likely dump a bunch of money into your van, especially if you buy an old one like I did. (Never again will I be swayed by the draw of “vintage charm.”)
Alternatively, RENTING a van frees you from the responsibility of maintenance and repairs, and allows you to embrace the thrill of short-term road trips.
Let’s explore the options for renting a van in the Pacific Northwest, where mountain passes, coastal drives, and moss-covered forests are just begging to be explored via #vanlife road trip.
These Campervan Rental Companies Are Perfect for a PNW Road Trip
Each of these Pacific Northwest van rental companies offers something a little different. Take a cruise through their websites to find one that’s right for you.
Location: Portland, OR and Bay Area, California
Rent here for: Van shares with personality. You rent directly from owners, like AirBnB.
GoCamp just appeared on the van rental scene this year, but they’re already bringing van owners together with van dreamers for some epic camping trips. GoCamp is a van sharing platform; think AirBnB for little homes on wheels. It’s free to list, and interested renters can choose from a variety of van options, from new Sprinters to vintage VW buses. Since all of the vans are owned by individuals, they each come with an individual personality, adding some flavor to your PNW road trip.
2. Peace Vans Rentals
Location: Seattle, WA
Rent here for: VW campervans and people who specialize in them.
VW Camper Vans are undeniably groovy. And since Peace Vans Rentals only rents out this one iconic brand, you know they know their stuff when it comes to Volkswagens; Peace Vans Rentals are actually serviced by the largest Vanagon/Eurovan shop in the U.S. In addition to getting to sleep in these awesome vans, Peace Vans offers access to secret camping spots (Peace Vans Camps) and detailed itineraries that will help you discover some of the best road trip routes in the region.
3. Road Trip Oregon
Location: Portland, OR
Rent here for: Lots of options.
Road Trip Oregon wants you to explore the many sides of this diverse state, and beyond. Their rentals include Sprinters, Eurovans, and Land Rovers, and each comes fully stocked with bedding, kitchenware, and basic groceries like coffee and sugar. (The essentials!) You can add a bike rack, a tent, and even an inflatable SUP at additional costs.
4. Escape Campervans
Location: Seattle, WA (plus nine other cities)
Rent here for: Beautifully hand-painted vans.
Escape Campervans is the largest campervan rental company in the country, with locations in Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Vancouver, Phoenix, Denver, Atlanta, New York, and Miami. Their Maverick and Ventura models are both big enough to get comfortable and small enough to reach those trickier destinations, like remote campgrounds, where RV’s wouldn’t fit. Escape Campervans are also hand-painted by artists in Los Angeles, so you’re sure to turn some heads on the road!
Location: Boise, ID and Salt Lake City, UT
Rent here for: Ford Transit vans.
Wandervans rents “boutique” Ford Transits, which is a pretty new van to the United States, but has been a popular road trip vehicle in Europe for years. With locations in Boise and Salt Lake City, you’re able to explore cool cities and the incredible outdoor opportunities that surround them. Their website offers lots of fun road trip ideas from both locations.
Ready to hit the road? Bon voyage! And if you see me broken down on the side of the road with my clunker of a van, I accept free snacks while waiting for tows.