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Owners of the Week: Courtney and John Achilli

When their Outdoorsy RV rental journey began, Courtney Achilli was an event planner at the American Museum of Natural History and her husband, John, was a high school biology teacher. “In 2014 we rescued our house, called Content, from foreclosure and began a DIY renovation — while working full-time,” Courtney Achilli shares with us. “The house was built in 1884 and needed a lot of love.” 

“About a year into the renovation, the house was a major catalyst for John and I to leave our established careers to explore being small business owners.” 

Their DIY house renovation catapulted the Achillis into a whole new world. “With the house at the center of everything, Content + Company was formed and we now operate a five-star, short-term rental property through Airbnb & VRBO, blog about our DIY-inspired home, have a dedicated Instagram family, woodwork and design for residential clients, and event plan inside/outside of the house,” Achilli says. “We have been self-employed for the past four years.”

With so much going on, you wouldn’t think the duo would want to add much more to their plates. However, this go-getter duo thrives on new projects and most recently took on the project of renovating their campervan, Dolly

“We are naturalists at heart,” Achilli explains. “We love camping and hiking and had considered, for awhile, upping our tent-camping game to an RV. We were also looking for a fun way to ‘live’ outside of Content when we rented the full house and needed to vacate. John started researching RVs and decided early on that he was going to do a campervan conversion where he could use his renovation and woodworking skills.”

The choice to go with a Ford Transit Connect campervan was a well thought out decision. 

“We loved the idea of having a camper, but weren’t so keen on a big rig taking up our limited driveway space, year-round,” Achilli says. “For the conversion, we decided on a Ford Transit Connect because of its petite size (~15 feet long), maneuverability, and great gas mileage.” 

“We love how compact and easy it is to drive on the backroads or in the city. We’re also not limited to RV parking and can pull into any campground or primitive tent site without any issues. All of these attributes have given the RV the cheeky nickname Dolly. She’s adorable, petite, well-endowed and top heavy, like her namesake, Dolly Parton.”

Dolly certainly is the perfect name for this amazing little van, which is so wonderfully designed thanks to the Achillis’ home remodeling experience. “Dolly is our first vehicle remodel, so we honed all the design and technical skills we’ve used in our home and client remodels for this project,” Achilli says. “Working on a camper was a new platform for us, but the fundamentals were the same [as a home].”

“We always try to achieve functionality through great design. We achieved this by utilizing every last inch of space in the buildout, adding lots of specialized clothing and kitchen storage on the interior, and utilizing a roof rack for bulk equipment.” 

“Our favorite thing about the remodel is the simplicity,” Achilli says. “We focused on basic needs and let those key elements drive the design. Though we added many comforts of home — like a queen-sized bed and reading lights — we like the idea of getting back to nature and allowing the RV to facilitate a memorable experience.”

Courtney fondly reminisced about Dolly’s first foray on the road. “Dolly’s inaugural trip was to Smoky Mountain National Park during the height of leaf peeping season. While we were there, it became unseasonably cold and we noticed lots of tent campers packing up early. We were so excited to have Dolly and be able to continue our adventure.” 

“With visitors gone, we were able to enjoy many park trails and experiences by ourselves. One of those experiences was watching a black bear and her two cubs in a field, just off the road. It was incredible!”

Of course, since they were already in the rental business, it only made sense for the couple to rent out their gorgeous custom campervan on Outdoorsy. “We love the idea of working on a project and then sharing it with others,” Achilli says. “Short-term hospitality translates wonderfully into steady income for us. We have enjoyed welcoming guests into our home and knew we would enjoy sharing an RV too. The campervan is simply another extension of the hosting community we love being a part of.”

The duo says they decided to list on Outdoorsy because “the platform is user-friendly for [both] the renter and RV owner.”

“You can easily customize your listing, nightly rates, and separately offer amenities that individuals may find useful like additional mileage and pickup/drop-off locations,” Achilli says. “We also realized that there are not too many RVs for rent on the east coast, and thought we could get a bit ahead of the RV rental trend using a platform with such an established community like Outdoorsy.”

The couple has high hopes for this newest addition to their rental business. “We truly believe that life is best unscripted,” Achilli says. “We hope that guests renting our RV will get back to nature and explore. There is nothing quite like living outside, and we think Dolly is a happy, comfortable, medium between a tent and a cabin.”   

All about Courtney Achilli 

Favorite morning beverage:
“Coffee! Good, strong coffee in the morning and bourbon around the campfire at night.”

Favorite campsite meal:
“Fajitas — and we use the leftovers in our egg scramble the next morning.”

Music you like to play on the radio:
“SiriusXM ‘Road Trip Radio’”

Best game to play on the road or at your campsite:

Favorite season:
“Fall, because the changing leaves in the northeast are spectacular.”

 Last photo you took:
Dolly after a car wash. So fresh and so clean!”

What’s your Outdoorsy spirit animal?
“Well, ‘Dolly’ was also the first cloned mammal, so I guess a sheep for our shared sense of innovation.”

If you could travel anywhere in an RV, where would you go?
“We would love to explore Europe in a van! That’s definitely on the bucket list!”

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