Love camping in the Great Outdoors? If you like the idea of a Western US road trip in something between an RV and a tent, consider renting a JUCY campervan. The JUCY brand was born in New Zealand and is a household name in Australasia. JUCY is best known for its range of custom-made campervans and mini RVs that offer an affordable alternative to RV camping.
In the United States, JUCY rentals are available at three locations: San Francisco (Oakland Airport), Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
An example of a JUCY campervan might be a Dodge RV converted to a campervan with four berths. Rates are typically $70-$120 per day for a vehicle that serves as a camper and simultaneously eliminates the need for a rental car.
Insurance for a JUCY Campervan
Insurance is where the JUCY proposition gets tricky. Insurance on any rental vehicle is an important consideration and a JUCY campervan is not a car.
Why is this important? Most personal auto insurance and credit card coverage that would cover rental cars explicitly exclude RVs and campervans—even if they are actually converted minivans.
If your own insurance benefits don't include buses, campers, or RVs, JUCY offers insurance options at the time of checkout.
Documentation When Renting a JUCY Campervan
To say that JUCY is not as buttoned-up as a traditional rental car company is a colossal understatement. If you decline its insurance and get a $1,500 bond authorization, you don't get a receipt. You might have to ask for a copy of the rental terms? There might be no inspection form to record nicks or scratches you find on the vehicle before you drive off. When you return the vehicle, you may have to double check that the mileage calculation is accurate.
Be sure to calculate how many miles you will need for your trip. There will be an allotment of miles and a fee for each mile over the allotment.
Add-Ons When Renting a JUCY Campervan
JUCY can also provide camping equipment—;at a cost, of course—but you'll save a significant amount of money if you can bring at least some of your own supplies such as bedding and other comforts.
What to Expect in a JUCY Campervan
When I rented a JUCY campervan, my vehicle was a converted Dodge Caravan with over 140,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicle was also heavy, with a high center of gravity and a horrendous amount of drag due to the penthouse sleeper compartment for two that sits on top of the vehicle.
There's a DVD player for passengers in the backseat but for the driver and navigator, there's solely AM/FM radio and a CD player.
The front seats are custom built and re-tracked slightly forward to allow the lower bed to fold out. For a tall driver, this may mean sitting very close to the steering wheel with a rolled-up privacy curtain hitting the top of your head.
The middle bench seat is removed and there are seats in the rear. There are three seatbelts on this bench, so the vehicle technically seats five but sleeps four.
Mid-cabin, there's another bench for seating when the vehicle is stationary, a little forward of where the first row of seats would be on a normal minivan. This bench hides the components to make the in-van camp table and also forms the bulk of the lower bed. There's also some storage under this bench.
The main cabin has a dome light with a switch for those sleeping in the bottom bunk, two touch lights for those sleeping in the top bunk penthouse. The 12-volt adapters (for charging phones and MiFis) work all the time; the mini fridge also runs off the 12-volt. If you're going to be stationary for an extended period of time, the folks at JUCY advise to run the vehicle for at least 30 minutes per day if the fridge is being used.
There's even a very basic kitchen in a JUCY campervan comprised of a five-gallon water tank, sink, two butane stove burners, some dishes, utensils, cutting board, and pans. There's also a tiny fridge with a valve to release gray water. Of course, the trade-off for the kitchen is that there's no storage in the back.
The bench downstairs folds out to create a bed. There are privacy shades all around and options for cross ventilation in the passenger compartment. The sliding doors have windows that roll down for some air flow even if the doors are closed and the privacy shades are pulled. However, it's still a parked vehicle when the heat outside gets excessive.
The most comfortable place to sleep is upstairs in the penthouse, where there are two end vents, the entranceway, and a vent fan. The only way up is with a ladder. The ladder is vertical and about a foot outside the frame of the vehicle. I am 6 ft. 2 in. tall and easily a foot to spare when lying down upstairs on the passenger side of the van. The driver's side was slightly more cramped due to the mechanism that raised the penthouse but still comfortable.