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Austin-based Outdoorsy makes it easy to rent an RV

Kristin Finan
Four-legged friends can also enjoy the RV life. [Contributed by Outdoorsy]

It's a fantasy for many.

Hop in an RV, hit the open road and stop wherever and whenever you please.

Thanks to a recent increase in websites that offer inspired travelers easy access to RV rentals, it's never been easier to indulge your wanderlust.

It can be a cheaper way to travel, too. According to a study by Go RVing and the RV Industry Association, cost savings for RV travel versus traditional travel average between 21 percent and 64 percent for a four-person party.

We recently checked in with Jen Young, co-founder of the Austin-based peer-to-peer RV-sharing website, for her favorite tips and tricks.

Austin American-Statesman: What was your motivation to create Outdoorsy?

Jen Young: Life's best moments are spent outside. The world would be a better place if we could all get out into nature. My partner (Jeff Cavins) and I thought there has got to be something more to life than just these executive presentations and meetings, and we both really wanted to spend more time outdoors. We wanted to be around mountains and lakes.

Why focus on RVs?

There are 18 million RVs in North America that sit in driveways 350 days a year. That's a pretty massive market. We thought we had an idea, but we weren't really sure if it would scale.

How did you test out your idea?

We sold our houses, bought a 27-foot Airstream and spent the first eight months crisscrossing small towns, national parks and state parks. We interviewed travelers and built our first website. We had a rocky beginning, but the business just took off. We started to see a massive amount of rentals and 400 percent year-over-year growth. Everyone is interested in the outdoors. There’s a resurgence of travel outdoors. Our Outdoorsy owners and renters have logged almost 60 million miles of travel since we started.

How did you like spending eight months in an RV?

I loved it. It physically and emotionally took you back to the basics in life and what really matters. In the world, we can get (loaded) down with all of the extra stuff that creates more stress and anxiety. Being in an RV, whether it’s a long weekend or a road trip for eight months, it clears your mind, it allows you to recharge and relax.

What surprises people about RV travel?  

Half of our customer base is under 40. We are continuing to educate people around how this can be a cool way and a rewarding way for travel and open up everyone’s eyes. It’s a big message.

Why do you encourage people to try an RV trip? 

It’s so easy. A platform like Outdoorsy is providing access to so much choice and selection. It's as easy as driving a minivan or a big souped-up RV with TV screens and king-size beds. It’s a new, easy experience. That’s the No. 1 reason. Hotels and airplanes, they get you to urban centers and city centers. I think road travel, traveling in RVs, really gets you to the best locations.

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