Last February we spoke with Katie Larsen, the vanlifer behind So We Bought a Van. Fast forward to this year and you can now rent Katie’s converted Sprinter van on Outdoorsy. Katie is passionate about travel and the outdoors, and imagining her without her van is almost impossible. After all, they’ve been together for about three years now.
“I first decided to buy a van back in 2016 to complete a DIY-conversion and hit the road to travel,” Katie tells us. “I was at a point in life where I was ready to make multiple changes and knew that I had an opportunity to do something drastic. So I bought a van. The conversion took me 6 months total and by June 2017, I was living out of the van full-time. I hit the road and headed straight to the first place I never thought I would be able to visit — Alaska!”
Since then, Larsen and her van have been all over the country, traversing small town back roads and big city highways. “I chose my 2016 Mercedes Sprinter because I wanted a reliable vehicle that will get me safely to the places I want to go,” Katie says, adding that the size of the vehicle is also a great plus as she’s able to stand in the rear of her van.
“I trust my van and its ability to run well, allowing me to truly take my home-on-wheels wherever I’d like to go,” Katie says. “It is large enough to live and travel out of, but compact enough that I can still parallel park it just about anywhere. To me, it’s the best of both worlds and the most functional way that I can travel.”
Still, even the most perfect of travel companions can use some time apart from time to time, and Katie decided to take advantage of an entrepreneurial opportunity by listing her Sprinter on Outdoorsy. “Honestly, I never thought I would rent out my RV,” she says. “The thought kind of stressed me out after all the work and money I put into my rig.”
“But after a few years of living on the road full-time, I started to recognize that there are occasional gaps in the year that I am not using my van: around the holidays, during international trips, etc. So I thought, ‘Why not rent it out to somebody that could use it when I’m not?’”
“I chose Outdoorsy mainly because I trust them,” Larsen explains. “I know a few of the people on the team, and after learning about the rental process, I knew I could trust everything. The online system makes it extremely easy, and the peace of mind knowing insurance is taken care of for me is extremely nice. In fact, I don’t think I would rent my van if it wasn’t for Outdoorsy. The thought of handling renters insurance on my own is just something I don’t want to experience.”
“I also love how much control Outdoorsy gives to the RV owners. I have the final say in all bookings, I choose the pricing, I do the drop-off/pick-up, etc. Instead of it feeling like Outdoorsy is renting my van out, it is extremely clear that I am the one renting my van out, simply using Outdoorsy’s platform.”
As you might imagine, the adorable “Insta-famous” campervan was instant eye candy on Outdoorsy. “Within an hour of first listing my van, I had a rental request,” Katie says. “I was in Colorado this summer when I started renting it out, and that is a hot location for van and RV rentals. There is so much to see, and people associate the area with outdoor adventure and exploration, so I barely had to do any marketing to bring in business. It was also at the very end of the season, which I think made a difference!”
“At this point in time, I have made just shy of $1,500. However, I have two more rentals coming up—including one that is for 30 nights—so that number will increase fairly quickly.”
Katie’s Instagram following isn’t the only reason she has had such instantaneous marketing success. She also has a really great product to offer customers.
“Something that I think makes my van stand out is the fact that I have lived in it for a few years,” Katie explains. “This means that my van isn’t just a vacation van. It has a fully stocked kitchen, including even the smallest things like tiny magnetic measuring spoons that stick together to avoid noise when driving. The van is also built specifically for ease of life, meaning that there isn’t really a set-up/break-down process. My van was built to be able to park and simply start immediately enjoying the outdoors.”
“One of my favorite things of owning my van is just the ability to simply camp. It sounds simple, but there is nothing like finding a wonderful primitive campsite and setting up for the night. Prepping and cooking dinner outside, making your own campfire, waking up to beautiful views — there just isn’t quite a feeling like living in the outdoors.”
When asked what she hopes renters take away from their rental experience, Katie says she hopes that her van is able to provide others with the ability to connect with the outdoors and understand that camping can be extremely doable, even for those that don’t necessarily like camping. “Vans, RVs, and trailers are a great middle ground between staying in a cabin of some sort and tent camping,” she says. “You can still be comfortable and have great food and a good night’s sleep while camping in a van.”
“Being outside and connecting with the outdoors has just changed my life,” Katie adds, “and anything I can do to help provide that for somebody else, I want to do.”
All about Katie Larsen
Favorite morning beverage:
“Pour-over coffee made from freshly ground beans!”
Favorite campsite meal:
“Tacos. You can make so many different kinds of tacos and really put anything on them! Especially when there’s a group present, a taco buffet line is the go-to meal.”
Music you like to play on the radio:
“Anything that is upbeat and makes me feel good.”
Best game to play on the road or at your campsite:
“Fall. Comfortable temperature and weather is great for camping!”
Last photo you took:
“A photo of my boyfriend in the driver’s seat of the van!”
What’s your Outdoorsy spirit animal?
“Any kind of animal that migrates to warmer weather in the winter.”
If you could travel anywhere in an RV (or van), where would you go?
“I would love to explore Europe in a van someday!”