By Nina Silberstein
When you want to avoid crowds and busy airports, many people find nothing better than exploring the outdoors in a fully-stocked camper van.
For Christian Jurinka, his wife, Lisa, and their kids, Isabelle and Jesse, stopping to enjoy a place and then easily picking up and traveling to another has been a great experience for them.
The first time they cooked dinner inside a camper van, in the heart of a national park with the waves crashing a few feet from the van, they were hooked.
“We have always been big campers,” Jurinka explained.
“Once we discovered camper vans, we realized we could have the same joy and connectedness with the outdoors as camping, but with greater ease and comfort.”
Now that they’ve embraced the idea of glamping (glamorous camping) they’re offering others the same opportunity for an unforgettable experience.
The Jurinkas started USA CamperVan about a year ago after they rented out their van on another rental platform.
They learned that, while it’s easy to put your van up for rent online, there are many conversations with prospective renters that have to happen first before someone actually makes a reservation.
“That aspect of renting your van out can be exhausting,” he said. “We thought there should be a better and easier way.”
USA CamperVan takes away the headache for camper van owners, handling all the marketing, renter communication, etc.
They assist owners in crafting their listings to attract as many renters as possible, as well as connecting owners with photographers to have their vans professionally shot for maximum affect.
Owners are responsible for keeping their calendars up to date. USA CamperVan connects owners with renters via its website and owners can list their vans on the site for free.
Each vehicle is required to be well-maintained mechanically and stocked for cooking, sleeping and lounging. Amenities cover everything including camping chairs, bedding, cookware, kitchen essentials, coffee, sunscreen, bug spray, travel books, games and more.
All owners are screened to ensure their vehicles are road- and comfort-ready. “All renters must pass DMV background checks, be over 25, and in either case, both owners and renters are screened for maximum fit,” Jurinka said.
While most renters hail from within the community, van renters have come from as far away as Europe, the East and West Coasts, Austin, Texas, and Miami, Florida, to fulfill a desire to explore the Pacific Northwest.
Camper vans available include Sprinter Vans, VW Camper Vans and other similar vehicles. The average nightly rate is $140-$160 in the off-season; $175-$250 during high season.
“Business has been very good,” Jurinka said. “Many of our vehicles are already booked solid for the season and we keep adding new vehicles to account for demand. We are on the hunt for more owners. Know anyone?”
The Jurinkas have lived in Colonial Heights for the past four years and had traveled extensively up to Portland over the last 15.
Christian and his wife first visited on their honeymoon as part of a 16-day road trip. “We loved it and vowed to move back within a year,” Jurinka said. “It took about 10 years to finally move up.”
During that time, his mom moved to Portland from Florida and his brother arrived from California.
USA CamperVan is dedicated to the environment and protecting the great outdoors. It continues to seek out partnerships with organizations that promote these values such as Leave No Trace, currently a partner.
“We hope to announce in the summer/fall time period fundraising efforts to support these organizations more directly,” he said.
Additionally, USA Campervan’s commitment to our neighborhoods and the communities it serves continues to evolve and grow. “We have contributed to local school fundraisers and want to do this moving forward, including #vanlife free/community events, talks, walks and other partnerships,” Christian says.
“For the future, we will continue to deepen our roots in Portland and throughout Oregon, while testing the waters to support community development in other parts of the country, too.”