#VanLife Too Big of a Commitment? Rent the Lifestyle Instead

For those who are ready to hit the road without giving up their home, new start-up Cabana has camper vans for hire.
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Rising gas prices added new challenges to #vanlife—but that’s not stopping one company from helping people explore roads less traveled.  Cabana, a Seattle-based start-up that calls itself a "mobile hospitality company," is renting high-end camper vans to anyone interested in a vacation beyond the walls of a hotel room or Airbnb.

And the company’s founder, Scott Kubly, would know a thing or two about hotel rooms. "I spent more than 200 nights in hotels in 2018 alone," he says.

Cabana rents Ford Transit and Mercedes camper vans, allowing travelers to explore with comfort, peace, and privacy.

Kubly was the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation before joining LimeBike as its chief program officer, where he flew around the world to meet with local government. It was on a work trip to Australia and New Zealand when the idea for a camper van rental company dawned on him.

"I joined friends for dinner at their home, and after a great meal, a few glasses of wine, and a lot of jet lag, I said I wished my hotel was right outside their house," says Kubly. "We spent the rest of that evening tossing ideas back and forth about what it would look like to build a mobile hotel room, and Cabana was born."

Cabana’s larger Mercedes Sprinter camper van, the Cabana Quad, accommodates as many as four people.

The idea isn’t brand new. Escape has been renting camper vans since 2009, and Los Angeles company Texino started as a van share program, though its focus shifted during the pandemic. But whereas these companies hand you the keys and send you on your way, Cabana takes a white-glove approach to hitting the road.

"A guest might want a full seven-day road trip charted out for them, complete with excursion ideas, must-stop scenic lookout points, and campsites booked for each night," Kubly says. "Or they might just need suggested places to stop near Big Sur." Whether you’re looking for a long list of recommendations, or the freedom to chart your own route, the company’s services are completely free, says Kubly.

The Quad also features an indoor kitchen.

A pop-up with a bed is an ideal place for kids, or to just relax.

So what are you paying for?

Every van includes a bedroom, bathroom, and shower, as well as gear storage and television with streaming capabilities. But customers can choose between two different models depending on more specific needs. The Cabana Classic, a Ford Transit that accommodates two travelers, features an outdoor kitchen, while the Cabana Quad, a 170-inch Mercedes Sprinter that will be available starting 2023, has room for four passengers and comes with an indoor kitchen and extra storage. "The Quad is the largest and most versatile van in the fleet," Kubly says.

Cabana camper vans offer an alternative to hotels or vacation rentals.

To date, Cabana’s turnkey operation has largely attracted first-timers in Seattle and Los Angeles, where the rentals are currently available. Kubly says that 70 percent of its customers have never used a camper van or RV before, and that they’ve been attracting an audience that’s young, and young at heart. "Our guests tend to be 55 and older, or range in age from 25 to 35," he says.

The company puts an emphasis on time spent outdoors rather than inside of four walls.

The vans are outfitted with at least one queen-size bed, a bathroom, a shower, and a kitchen.

When asked why it’s a good time to be getting a business like Cabana off the ground, Kubly points to the conditions of the pandemic. "It changed the way we live and has massively impacted the way we travel," he says. "It reignited passion for the road trip. With Cabana, you can get out there and explore in a safe way."

Learn more about Cabana and how to book at the company’s website.

Related Reading:

This New Camper Van Service Is Like Airbnb for #VanLifers

This Book Covers Everything You Need to Know About Retrofitting a Camper Van

Project Credits:

Design & Construction: Cabana/@cabanavans

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