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GoCamp makes for easy adventuring by van

Portland, Ore.-based company connects owners of about 125 camper vans — anything from vintage Vanagons to new Dodge Sprinters — with travelers

GoCamp, a Portland, Ore.-based van-sharing company, connect the owners of about 125 camper vans with renters in nearly a dozen major cities out west, from Denver and Las Vegas to Seattle. Pictured: Pippa, a Dodge Ram ProMaster based in Portland, that has red cedar paneling, butcher block counters, and an outdoor shower.
GoCamp, a Portland, Ore.-based van-sharing company, connect the owners of about 125 camper vans with renters in nearly a dozen major cities out west, from Denver and Las Vegas to Seattle. Pictured: Pippa, a Dodge Ram ProMaster based in Portland, that has red cedar paneling, butcher block counters, and an outdoor shower.TARINA WESTLUND

If you’re heading west and want a no-fuss way to camp in style and take your fun on the road, consider renting a van through GoCamp. This Portland, Ore.-based company connects owners of about 125 camper vans — anything from vintage Vanagons to new Dodge Sprinters — with travelers. Most van owners live near six western cities — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Denver — but you’ll also find GoCamp rentals around Salt Lake City, Reno, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff, Ariz.

We rented a 21-foot Mercedes-Benz Sprinter named “Lyra” for a week’s camping trip in Oregon. It came with two queen-size beds with comfy bedding, a camping stove, a powered fridge that kept things cold 24/7, a mini sink, and all the camping accessories we would need (not to mention an owner who responded quickly to our first-timer questions). With our accommodations, meals, and off-road transportation all in one, we could jump in bed for a nap anytime, grill hot dogs for lunch on the side of Mount Hood, and take our home on wheels anywhere we wanted to go.

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Deborah Kane, a mother of two, launched GoCamp in 2017 after leaving behind a high-profile government job in the food and agriculture industry. Her aim: to make camping easy for families (and get more people exploring the outdoors in comfort) while helping van owners make better use of vehicles sitting unused for part of the year. GoCamp carefully selects which owners become part of its van-sharing program to ensure the highest standards.

“We have a conversation with each owner to make sure their vehicle is well maintained and routinely serviced, and that they understand our expectations for customer service,” says Kane.

These are people’s well-loved and well-cared-for personal vans, not part of a big rental fleet. That means, from an owner’s perspective, “there’s terror when you drive away,” says Kane.

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We loved the comfort of Lyra (each bed was equipped with movable phone stands and reading lights) and how easy it made travel — just grab groceries and go. We didn’t have to worry about navigating a massive RV or bringing a second car for ice cream runs and other around-town trips.

Van travel works well for family trips, honeymoon adventures, girlfriend getaways, and even grandparents and grandkids outings. The only downside: It doesn’t take long before you’re plotting how to buy your own van.

Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at travelwriter@karib.us.


Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at travelwriter@karib.us.