Rent a road trip: Outdoorsy is Airbnb for RVs

Dogs are allowed on some Outdoorsy adventures but may require an additional fee. Check before you go. Photo: Lynne Brubaker Dogs are allowed on some Outdoorsy adventures but may require an additional fee. Check before you go. Photo: Lynne Brubaker

If the open road is calling you—or if you’d like to spend a few nights communing with nature without, you know, getting eaten by any part of it—Outdoorsy’s here to help. The online service matches owners willing to rent out their pop-ups, Casitas, trailers, and RVs with road-warrior vacationers. Launched in 2015, the company has received more than $81 million in investment funding, and appears to be riding a trend in DIY adventure travel. Here’s why this new vacation option has piqued our interest.

1. A wide range of prices and vehicles. Though Outdoorsy’s still filling out its roster in the Charlottesville area, your choices hereabouts already range from a $50-a-night mini-trailer to a massive, fully loaded RV for $240 a night.

2. Easy travel for renters. You’ll see a rental’s list of amenities upfront, with all associated charges listed, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Got a question? Ask the owner via Outdoorsy’s messaging system before you rent. Outdoorsy offers add-on trip insurance in case a cancellation-worthy event arises. And you can throw in comprehensive 24/7 roadside assistance, technical support, and concierge service for $15 per day.

3.  No alarms or surprises. Renters and owners walk through the RV before it’s picked up and after it’s returned, jointly signing off on its condition. Both parties can also leave reviews for each other, which helps to steer great renters and owners toward each other and keep everyone honest in the process.

4. Abundant add-on options. Depending on the model and the owner, renters can chip in a little extra for linens, accessories packages for camping, tailgating, or beach trips, or having someone else clean the vehicle for you at the end of your trip. Some rentals even include satellite TV and/or video-game consoles, in case the great outdoors get a little too outdoorsy for you.

If you go:

• Learn the ropes with membership services like Good Sam Club (goodsam.com) and RV Trip Wizard (rvtripwizard.com). Whatever you pay to join, you’re likely to get it back by making your travel more efficient.

• When you calculate the travel time to your destination, account for a 20 percent slower pace than if you were going by car.

• Invest in paper maps. Getting outside cell-service range is part of the point, isn’t it?

• Dogs are allowed on some Outdoorsy adventures but may require an additional fee. Check before you go.