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Chelsea Gonzales
by Chelsea Gonzales
Posted January 13, 2021

“I had dreamed of owning a van for years but was hesitant to make such a big financial commitment,” Outdoorsy owner Celeste explains as we dive into our interview. “When one of our friends told us about Outdoorsy, Casey ran the numbers and realized that we could own a van and have it pay for itself through rentals.”

With this new knowledge, Casey and Celeste decide to take a chance and finally buy a campervan—but first, they had to do some research. “Casey spent a lot of time reading blogs and running financial models to find our dream vehicle,” Celeste tells us. “We decided to prioritize 4×4 since we knew this van would need to go into snowy mountains and across rugged BLM land. We also wanted a vehicle that had accessible repair options; we didn’t want to be in a rural area and have to wait on special-order parts.”

“After a lot of research, we decided on a used 2008 Ford Sportsmobile 4×4 with solar power and propane heating.”

After choosing the perfect van, the next step was listing it for rent. This is when the couple turned to Outdoorsy. “Outdoorsy has a great brand and reasonable fees for owners,” Celeste says when asked why they chose our platform. “We get the benefit of Outdoorsy’s constant renter demand without having to invest heavily in marketing for our van!”

As it turns out, that constant renter demand was even more powerful than Celeste and Casey realized. “We thought we would get maybe one rental a month,” Celeste recalls. “It took a few weeks to get our first rental, but after that it was non-stop requests!”

How did they bring in so many rental requests so quickly? Well, according to Celeste, they didn’t have to do much of anything. “Our van sold itself,” she says. “Compared to a standard RV, the Sportsmobile was designed with boondocking in mind. We let our renters decide how they want to explore. Some have decided to sleep in parking lots, while others have used campsites and BLM land.

“We have found that many of our renters are in the market to buy a Sportsmobile, and they want to ‘try before they buy’ by renting ours out. We also let our renters bring their furry friends!”

Of course, with a lot of customers comes a lot of work. “I would be lying if I said it was easy,” Celeste remarks. “The hardest part about constant rentals is keeping the van in pristine mechanical shape. We have two great mechanics that are on standby for last-minute repairs and short-turnaround tuneups. We pre-order parts that are nearing the end of their useful life and make proactive repairs.”

Another thing that isn’t easy when you have a bunch of rentals back to back? Squeezing in time to enjoy your own RV. When the couple did finally get to take a trip of their own, they realized turning down a rental request now and then to experience their own rig could actually be good for business. “After we opened the flood-gates and renters started pouring in, we became heads down and focused on just cleaning and tuning-up the van between rentals,” Celeste tells us. “We finally blocked a weekend for us, and it was eye-opening!

“Taking on the mindset of a renter, we found lots of different ways to improve the van, such as upgrading to better lighting, adding more detail to our how-to book, and cleaning in obscured areas. More importantly, we headed off a major repair by noticing signs before it broke, saving us from having to rebook or providing a sub-par experience for our renters! I was really surprised by how much I wanted to fix after our weekend in the rental; our renters were always so positive that we forgot to keep looking for improvements!”

All About Celeste

Favorite morning beverage: “Coffee.”

Favorite campsite meal: “Beans!”

Music you like to play on the radio: “Bach.”

Best game to play on the road or at your campsite: “Spot the roadkill (ekkk!)”

Favorite season: “Winter.”

Last photo you took: “Penguins at the zoo.”

What’s your Outdoorsy spirit animal? “Moose.”

If you could travel anywhere in an RV, where would you go? “Banff.”

Chelsea Gonzales


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