- in Van Life
In the January issue of Tiny House Magazine, we give our five predictions for trends in the camping industry in 2021. Out of those five, the idea that camping options will get even smaller is already happening.
Out Van About is a van rental company based in California.
The popularity of compact cargo van conversions can’t be denied. They are less expensive, fuel-friendly, and stealthy as heck. One company that is quickly gathering together these small options for rent is Out Van About. Based in the Bay Area, Out Van About is a family run company that handcrafts converted Nissan NV200 vans for simple, worry-free adventure on the road.
Liz Bernales of Out Van About was so kind to give us some more information on her family’s rental company:
What was the catalyst for starting Out Van About?
My brother, Marques, was interested in building a camper van for himself so he and our dad bought a used Ford Transit Connect and started planning different layouts and seeing what would work. It was definitely something new for them because it was a much smaller space that they had to work with (they’re used to building and remodeling houses and apartments). Once it was built, he decided to rent it for the times he wasn’t using it but then once the van was published on Outdoorsy, he rarely got the chance to use it because of the high demand. After seeing how happy clients were with the build, we decided to buy more vans and build them out. Now we have four camper vans!
What makes Out Van About special or different from other rental companies or services?
Aside from our vans with great build-outs and wonderful use of space, I think what really makes us special is our attention and care for our clients. We really just want our clients to be happy and have the best possible experience from the moment they’re deciding which camper van they want to the moment they return the van. We like to say we go above and beyond to ensure that our clients are happy with our camper vans and our service.
What types of vehicles did you choose and why?
We started with the Ford Transit Connect because it was the more economical option for us at the time. Once we decided to grow our fleet, we wanted to grow with all-new vehicles. After doing some research, we decided to go with the Nissan NV200. It was the more affordable option for a small-sized cargo van and it has great fuel economy.
Who did the buildouts and what do they include?
Marques and our dad did the buildouts for the Transit Connect and our 2018 Nissan, Curiosity. But after learning from and working with our dad, Marques did the majority of the buildouts for both of our 2019 Nissans, Scout and Rover. It was his idea actually, to completely change the layout of Rover. He wanted to experiment with different ways to use the space instead of doing the same buildout.
We’re always improving our builds based on client requests and suggestions, such as the bed lift in our 2019 Nissan, Scout, or small shelving units on the sides. Our main feature is our pull-out kitchen in all of our vans, which is a creation of Marques. It’s an extra long drawer that contains a sink, a two-burner Coleman stove and a drawer to store kitchenware. This allowed us to make room for a 31 Liter Dometic fridge and a small cubby with a pull-out table, all in the rear of the vehicle. Another great thing about our vans is the amount of storage space that we were able to create with such a small space. Apart from the cubby in the rear, there are large drawers on either side underneath the bed, a cubby underneath the head of the bed, and the Thule storage container on the roof.
What has been the response to Out Van About?
Clients love the service we are able to provide for them and have recommended their friends and family members to us, which is great! A lot of them also appreciate that we can deliver to them as well because it’s one less thing they need to worry about before they embark on their adventure. We’ve also had several clients asking us when we’ll begin to buildout larger vans such as the Sprinter or the ProMaster since they love the buildouts of our smaller camper vans.
What types of new or interesting camping trends are you noticing lately?
We’ve definitely noticed a lot more first-time campers and road trippers for 2020. It’s great seeing more and more people interested in visiting and exploring our national parks that have been right there all along. Also, just seeing people wanting to explore the natural environment and seeing what nature has to offer is wonderful! We’ve also noticed people preferring to rent RVs or camper vans because they’re wary of staying in hotels or motels or they need an extra space for family members visiting.