Travel & Culture

The Great RV Escape

September 8, 2020

When it comes to sloughing off the stress of isolation and—dare we say it?—travelling during a pandemic, the safest place to be is outside. As the weather turns crisp, RV-rental companies like Outdoorsy are making it that much easier to plan an open-road adventure, lodging in tow.

A head-turner on the highway, Goldie is a creamy beige, wide-bodied 1988 Dodge Islander Goldstream RV. She’s full of vintage personality and kept in perfect working order by two devoted owners. But, for a few sun-drenched days, Goldie is our mobile isolation bubble, booked through peer-to-peer rental platform Outdoorsy.

My husband and I are en route to Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park on Galiano Island, with a fully stocked fridge, cosy queen bed, propane stove—even a flat-screen TV. A forest of firs surrounds us on all sides as Goldie zips us along the two-lane road that cuts the island. Eighties tunes blare from the speakers, and it’s the freest we’ve felt in months.

Local trips take on the guise of grandiose escapes in these anxious times, especially as many have no plans to hop on a plane or train any time soon. But, an RV? Absolutely. Before Covid-19 struck, renting an RV had never crossed my mind; I’m not alone. From late March to June 2020, Outdoorsy saw a 4,500 per cent-plus growth. Founded by Jeff Cavins and Jen Young, Outdoorsy is based in Texas, though its roots are British Columbian: the idea was hatched while the duo was visiting North Van. Today, the platform operates across 14 countries, serving up everything from glitzy new motorhomes to bohemian campervans, trailers and more. There is also a deliverable option, where the owner will fully set up the vehicle at your chosen destination.

Prior to hitting the road, Goldie’s owners meet us to go through her amenities and ensure we’re completely comfortable behind the wheel. All parties are masked up, and they point out hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and liquid soaps for our use on-board. Naturally, Outdoorsy has a full pandemic plan in place, and has always been known for fully vetting owners and renters for mutual peace of mind. The booking verification process is thorough; for instance, the driver must upload three photos to ensure they are the person in their driver’s licence. Outdoorsy also sets itself apart by providing up to $1 million in episodic insurance coverage per trip, and free 24-7 roadside assistance.

As for our Gulf Island excursion, it’s nothing but bliss: plucking wild sea asparagus by day and traipsing our hands through salty phosphorescence under the Perseid meteor shower at night. The natural salve of the outdoors is punctuated by reading and cooking in the comfy microcosm of Goldie. With a flick of a switch, water runs from the taps, and a lighter ignites our propane burner for Philly cheesesteak snacks and ravioli dinners.

On our final early-morning drive to the Sturdies Bay ferry terminal, low-lying fog lingers over fields dotted with deer. Once onboard, we take advantage of new BC Ferries’ regulations allowing passengers to stay inside vehicles, and pull out Goldie’s bed. Lying supine, watching the horizon for orcas, we fall asleep to the lull of the ocean cloaked in a bubble of freedom we won’t soon forget. —Katie Nanton


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