Stay on a Farm, Ranch, or Winery. Possible?

Scottie Founder, Executive Director Alsea, Oregon
Scottie Founder, Executive Director Alsea, Oregon

I found a great site the other day while searching for “unique properties” for our customers. Had to share it, even though not all of these locations will accommodate an RV.

We’re always on the lookout for cool spots where we can match up location owner, RV owner, and renter for a delivered and set up RV. Wouldn’t that be cool if you could check in on a Friday, and by Saturday morning you and your kids are milking a cow? After a hearty lunch, you’re harvesting radishes and then that evening you and your family are star gazing from an open alfalfa field.

Here’s a great example for a unique weekend getaway, and it won’t break the bank either: Edna Valley Ranch.

U. S. Farm Stay Association (aka Farm Stay U.S.) founder Scottie Jones and her husband Greg raise grass-fed lamb at Leaping Lamb Farm in the green hills of Oregon’s Coast Range.  Since 2006 they have also operated a thriving farm stay, where they’ve hosted guests from near and far.

Lamb picThe idea behind Farm Stay is that by staying at one of these small family farms or wineries, you help support this shrinking national treasure. Most of these locations are working properties; vegetable farms, ranches, wineries, etc. Most have accommodations, as in B&B, and some will allow you to park your RV on their property.

We know the small family farm used to be where most of our food was produced. Now, as Scottie points out, 90% of our food is produced by large farming corporations gobbling up land and ushering in the decline of the family farm.

Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo CA.
Edna Valley, San Luis Obispo CA.

The story of Farm Stays and how it all started is a great counterbalance to what is happening with our food supply and one very creative strategy that some small farms are using to hold on.

Using technology in the new peer to peer, “Shared Economy”, Scottie and her pals are thinking outside the box. I encourage you to take a look and support their work.

RV Rental Advice on TripAdvisor – Does it hit the mark?

CampfireCropI recently ran across a very helpful article on TripAdvisor, you can see the link here:California: RV rental – Is it right for us?” 

The article goes into great detail about the pros and cons of renting an RV and hitting the road; a very romantic idea and no doubt a vacation that many families have on their bucket list.

The opening statement simply points out that RV’s are not for everyone, and then goes into detail about cost, livability, and drive-ability.

I think this article does hit the mark, but there is more to the story. It should not just end with the facts. While this article can be very helpful to folks considering this option for visiting various national parks and campgrounds around the country, it doesn’t provide a solution.

As I read, my initial thought was, “wow, this doesn’t sound too appealing”. Why is this on my bucket list? After all, it is expensive and it can be a major drag driving, setting up, taking down, etc. A quick trip to the store, or a local restaurant, winery, etc. involves tearing down camp each time. That gets old for sure, but what is the answer?

If you’ve taken the time to search information about RV rentals, and read up on the pros and cons of renting an RV, then this kind of camping trip really is on your bucket list, and it should be. Everyone remembers their camping trips so this article is very valuable, but you need the rest of the story.

So, how does one get the best of all worlds; camping without the hassle, without the white knuckle experience, easy to drive, good gas mileage, inexpensive, and overall one of the best and most memorable of all vacations in the history of family vacations?

As you may have guessed, the answer came to me in a flash: Delivered and set up RV rental. What an idea! Drive up and start camping. I don’t think you can find a better answer to the downsides of RV rentals, and of course I have to throw a plug in here for RVPlusYou.

There are millions of RV’s sitting in storage, and millions of families who want the “great outdoors, camping experience”, but without the expense or hassle. This website simply aims to put those two parties together.

Of course there are many RV rental companies who will deliver an RV rental for you, about 450 in the US alone to be exact. 450 independent owners, 450 different websites, and 450 different markets and reservation lines to call and investigate.

The very cool thing about the RVPlusYou concept is that each of these RV rental companies can list on the site and sell their rental. Every one of these idle RV’s, whether in a rental yard or in a driveway, is located near a really cool campground, and each RV owner or rental company knows where that campground is. By sharing their RV and their experience on where to go in their local area, a real value proposition has been created and both parties benefit.

Motorhome woods CropAnother cool aspect of this concept is that our planet benefits as well by simply limiting the driving of big RV gas hogs. Use your fuel efficient car rental for the road trip, but still camp when you reach your destination. Spend a week in the big city at a fancy hotel, but still have the ability to camp and experience the great outdoors for the next leg of your journey.

Below is the closing summary in the article. As you read, ask yourself if RVPlusYou.com provides the rest of the story.

“RVs tend to work better when one is driving less and staying more.

RVing is a great way to see the countryside and to interact with people.  Folks staying in campgrounds and RV parks tend to interact more than those who “hide” themselves away in a hotel room. You can have wonderful times with your RV parked in the woods or alongside a lake, sitting around a warm campfire roasting marshmallows and enjoying family and friends.

However, if your plans call for a night here, a night there, with quickly covering many miles in-between, RVing may not be right for you. If you desire to spend time in large cities dining at exotic restaurants, staying in hotels will be more practical.”

California Travel Article on TripAdvisor

The smart way to upgrade, or purchase your next RV…

Kim's Airstream Rental, Palm Springs CA.
Kim’s Airstream Rental, Palm Springs CA.

You can fund your next upgrade or brand new RV without taxing the family budget. How is this possible? We all know how expensive it is to purchase, own and operate an RV-monthly payments, insurance, storage, fuel cost, maintenance and repairs. The list goes on, so how in the world can you upgrade or even buy a new RV without breaking the bank?

Answer: By sharing your RV with other families, for a fee, you can finance your next dream coach and all the associated costs that go with it.

Kim's typical party set up for his guests.
Kim’s typical party set up for his guests.

To be sure, it’s not for everyone. In fact only about 1 in 10 RV owners would actually consider renting their “baby” but without a doubt it is the smart way to purchase your next rig. And it’s not as hard as you think.

Peer to peer markets are blooming all over the world, and sharing your RV is just one way to make this happen. Example; RVPlusYou offers a turn-key solution for earning extra income from your RV, and it’s safe; your renters don’t drive or tow your RV!

In a recent blog post I outline the 5 key reasons why every family should own an RV. The first three reasons are a no brainer, and no doubt this audience already knows the benefits. However, reasons number 4 and 5 may surprise you: income, and tax benefits. I highly recommend that you read this post, and then visit RVPlusYou to learn more.

What about the RV rental business? The biggest difference between renting an RV from a private party on RVPlusYou, and renting from one of the big 3 RV rental companies (besides price) is amenities and service.

The big RV rental companies will find it difficult to compete with you on either price or amenities. So, do it right and you’ll be able to rent your rig all season long, or if you prefer, just a few times a year. Earn enough for your next trip, your next mortgage payment, or enough to cover your kid’s living expenses for college next month. Just make sure you do it right. After all, this is a well established, professional industry so treat your business as such and get the details right.

Speaking of details, nothing is more important than getting the details right when renting your RV to someone, especially a novice camper. By including those little things such as coffee, sugar, paper plates, or trash bags, you have just set yourself apart from all the other rental companies out there.

Kim's rental delivered, ready for check-in
Kim’s rental delivered, ready for check-in

By truly hosting your guests with an RV rental that is delivered and setup in advance of arrival, you not only greatly reduce the risk of damage, you create the opportunity for new RV’ers to get outdoors!

RVPlusYou has great information and a checklist that will help you think about what to include with your RV rental. Remember, it’s the experience that you are providing and the amenities that you include may make all the difference between just an okay experience for your guest and a truly fantastic one.

Attention to detail, impeccable service
Attention to detail, impeccable service

What does a great listing look like? One of our newer RV Hosts, Kim, recently posted this listing. From profile, to pictures, description and details, Kim knows what it takes to satisfy his guests. There is complete support from the team at RVPlusYou along with helpful hints and their RV Rental Playbook.

Want to rent, earn extra income, reap tax benefits but don’t want to do the work? RVPlusYou has a solution for you: Concierge Service Providers (CSPs). All across North America folks who have experience as hosts are learning about the opportunity to become CSP’s, individuals who, for a fee, will deliver your RV rental, check in your guests, provide maintenance/cleaning, etc.

A turn-key solution to your next RV upgrade or new RV purchase is out there, and who knows, a new business opportunity may be born from your passion and willingness to explore more than just the open road.

America, land of the free… Are we really free?

freedom_quoteI recently read a blog post that inspired this one: True independence – Does it exist? The author poses a good question which I applied to my own long held opinion that freedom rings a bit hollow if you’re saddled with a mountain of debt. I’m not bagging on capitalism by any means. A free market system is an absolute requirement for any hope at freedom anywhere, and there is no better role model to the world, or place to live, than the United States. I’m simply asking how free can one be if we are working like a dog night and day just to pay the bills each month?

My major was business economics so my perspective on freedom tends to come from a financial viewpoint, which I believe drives most of the major decisions we make in life. At the age of 18 I made my first credit card payment for a motorcycle that I couldn’t afford? What in the world was I thinking? Why didn’t I know better? Why didn’t someone stop me? Oh yeah, I didn’t know better and I was free to make that dumb decision.

That was then and I’ve since recovered from youth, learning along the way, observing our nation’s debt pile up and incomes stagnate. Not only is our national debt growing out of control, each citizen owes an estimated $56,660 (1) thanks to our free spending representatives, but families too have racked up so much personal debt that a dual income home is now a requirement just to eek by. Whew, what a downer and I haven’t even gotten to the student loans!

Speaking of student loans, WHAT THE!!!!? The ave household owes $32,264 (2) in student loans and this figure is growing out of control. So, question: Should we as a nation be encouraging this much debt for our kids, many of whom haven’t even settled on what the want to do? Our government makes it so easy to take out enormous student loans, over $1 Trillion (3), more and more to acquire low level or unmarketable degrees. Are we asking any tough questions here?

I’m not knocking education, or even questioning the value of getting your degree, but I am questioning the cost/benefit equation and why we make it so simple for kids to borrow and sometimes party their way through their college years only to end up with a near worthless degree, a mountain of debt, and a low paying job to facilitate the monthly payments? Where is our government? Where is our education system? Parents? Why is society encouraging this behavior? Shouldn’t we be teaching some basics on finances, interest rates, predatory lending, late payment fees, etc? Shouldn’t we be teaching economics 101 to our kids in high school and demand that they graduate with some basic understanding of the way money works, how credit works, and how they stand the best chance to maintain financial control of their lives?

But here we are. The hole has been dug and we find ourselves or our kids or both of us in it. We must stop digging. We must stop borrowing. We must stop buying crap that we don’t need. No matter how deep we find ourselves into that hole of debt, realize that we are all free to stop digging. We are free to make decisions that will one day free us from the the bonds of debt.

Never before has there been so much opportunity to create, to grow, to learn, to change, to improve. Technology has completely changed the old paradigms of capitalism and given each of us the ability to create value from our time, from our skills, from our assets, and from our minds. Conversely, we have the ability to buy only that which we need; a ride to the store, a neighbors help assembling an Ikea desk, or even an RV camping trip. It’s time that we look for ways out of the race.

Knowing that you're actually in it is half the battle.
Knowing that you’re actually in it is half the battle…

A new ‘Shared Economy‘ is evolving and developing right before our eyes and it may very well hold the answer to how we all truly regain our financial freedom. RVPlusYou is but one of many possible exit plans, Uber is another. You can even make extra income doing some side work or by renting your stuff. A great way to explore options is at Peers.

I believe that we have to start educating our kids and ourselves about money and how it works. We must talk about what credit is for and how we can use it responsibly to better our lives, not enslave ourselves to it. We must demand that our government do a better job asking questions about how a student loan will be used in terms of cost/benefit, not borrow/benefit I deserve it now.

We recently had a new customer named Jason sign up and list his brand new 30 foot Coachman Freelander for rent in Sonoma Valley and Bodega Bay campgrounds. Jason is a young professional, in the tech industry, has a wife and two kids. He and his wife decided that camping was the family activity for them, but they didn’t just run out and buy this $60,000 rig without thinking it through. Jason worked out a business plan that included renting this new family activity. He researched his options, looked at insurance requirements, and foretasted revenues and expenses before he pulled the trigger.

Jason did it right and now has a tax write off against his income producing asset. He runs a legitimate RV rental business and enjoys the outdoors with his family when his schedule allows.

I say, way to go Jason, and to you I say go explore…. find the exit!

Do you know Peer to Peer? Time for an introduction.

Why is peer to peer marketing and the shared economy important for us to understand? Why is this concept exploding right in front of us and how will it impact our lives?

peer-to-peer

The ‘Peer to Peer’ marketing concept encourages customers to market to each other. Instead of the norm, or established ‘top down corporate approach’ of company selling to consumer, peer to peer sidesteps production, advertising, and distribution and gets straight to the point. I have an RV, you want to camp, let’s do a deal. In this shared economy, efficiency rules and the savings is passed between the peers. I love it! There is no greater disruptive market condition going on right now than this, which is why you need to know about it and understand how to take advantage of it.

This Peer to Peer article about Airbnb does a great job of explaining the pros and cons of this recent market dynamic. I encourage you to take a look because it’s not going away. Technology is exploding and with it comes opportunity. Recent advances in tech; broadband, wireless, software, apps, smart phones, etc. all enable peer to to peer: I have an RV, want to use it this weekend? I have a car, need a ride? I’m not using my lawnmower today, want to mow your grass neighbor, please? I have time this week, want me to watch your dogs?

Of course I’m biased. My partners and I have launched RVPlusYou; a peer to peer RV lending site, and it works great because we target those campers who really don’t want to drive it, they just want to camp in it or they want the extra space parked at their house for the big family reunion this weekend.

RV rental set up: Avila Beach, CA
RV rental set up: Avila Beach, CA

So start thinking about what you need and what you have to share, then go online and find the application or website (technology) that will facilitate some savings, or extra income. It’s not going away and it can make a huge difference in your life!

The responsible and professional RV rental

Okay, you’ve secured your first booking and your guest is just days away from arriving. What should you be thinking about to insure a smooth rental and a happy guest?

The biggest difference between renting an RV from a private party, and renting from one of the big 3 RV rental companies (besides price) has to be the amenities that come with the RV. You know, those little things like salt and pepper, a trash can, a decent knife that will actually cut through a tomato!

Nothing is more important that getting the details right when renting your RV to someone, especially a novice camper who may not think about bringing the beach chairs. By including those little things such as coffee, sugar, paper plates, or trash bags, you have just set yourself apart from all the other rental companies out there. If you really want to set yourself apart, why not include your BBQ? You’ve made your guest’s vacation that much easier when you share some of your stuff, which translates to, “Wow, we had a blast and we’ll be back soon!”. You’ve just stacked the deck against your competition.

Avila Beach listing at RVPlusYou.com
Avila Beach listing at RVPlusYou.com

RVPlusYou has great information and a checklist that will help you think about what to include with your RV. Remember, it’s the experience that you are providing and the amenities that you include may make all the difference between just an okay experience for your guest and a truly fantastic one.

As your check in date approaches and you’re preparing your RV to accommodate your guests think about the following:

  • Is your RV clean and in complete working condition? A/C, furnace, lights, batteries, smoke alarm, appliances, shower, toilet, etc.
  • Are your tanks ready? Emptied the grey and black tanks? Are the water and propane tanks full?
  • Are the locks working properly?
  • Any repairs or maintenance needed?
  • Smoke, propane, and Carbon Monoxide alarms working? Batteries fresh?

Remember that in many cases you’ll be renting to a novice camper. Think about all of the things that they might forget and anticipate their needs. You’ll be glad you did!

Share your stuff

So, my wife and I decided to share our stuff. More precisely, our camping stuff and our RV. We rented it to a stranger who is now a friend. It was a strange road we traveled to this point where we began sharing our stuff, but as I look back on the journey I’m really glad we did it. So many positives and tangible benefits for us as well as our community.

What am I talking about? Well, in a picture, this is our stuff that we share and this is but one of the places we share it; a beach campground in California.

IMG_3209

Those tangible benefits? Well, the first tangible is some extra income. Not just a few bucks but the worthwhile kind that can really make a difference. Example: We rented this set up 3 times, 3 days each just before our trip across the country all in the month of July. We netted over $1,250 tangible dollars! That’s the kind that helps pay the mortgage, or tuition, or helps you say yes to the lobster instead of the chicken. It can make a real difference.

The second is less tangible but more powerful because it will stay with you forever. When a dad says, “Hey, thank you. No, really, thanks. Never will I ever own an RV or all this camping gear and “stuff”. I just won’t, but you renting us your ‘stuff’ made it possible for me and my family to have an unforgettable experience; my daughter saw dolphin every morning, we cooked fresh fish on the BBQ, campfire under the stars. Thank you”. Okay, enough said on that. You get the point.

By sharing what would otherwise be sitting in storage, you not only make a few bucks and keep your RV’s water pump from corroding, you can make a difference in the lives of others by providing a cost effective vacation. That guy and his family from San Francisco didn’t have to go out and buy and bunch of stuff to get that experience. They drove 5 hours in their fuel efficient car and used our stuff, then went home and shared pics of the dolphins. Very cool.

So, instead of letting your RV sit and rot in your driveway, think about sharing it and make the world a better place. Oh, and make a deposit in your kids college fund too while your at it.