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posted on June 3rd, 2019

Best campervan alternatives for your next adventure

When you’re setting out into the unpredictable wilderness to camp for more than a weekend, it may seem like a fully loaded RV or a tricked out campervan is the only reasonable choice, but they’re not the only options for the avid outdoor adventurer.

From Jeeps to station wagons, full-size pickup trucks to minivans, there are tons of campervan alternatives that will make your camping trip outrageously good. So whether it’s taking on America’s last frontier in the Alaskan wilderness, or driving the winding roads of California’s central coast for a weekend of surfing, Turo is where you’ll find some of the best car rental alternatives to get you even closer to nature and the Van Life. Tick off your car camping checklist and hit the road in these campervan alternatives.

Tackle the wilderness in a Jeep Wrangler

The Jeep Wrangler is the perfect ride for exploring the most beautiful, untouched parts of the country. Be sure to stick to paved roads though, as offroading violates the Turo Terms of Service.

In a Jeep, you can muscle down those far-flung roads, and with a quick game of Tetris, pack in all of your camping gear with you. This stylish campervan alternative will have you ready and rearing for your next car camping adventure.  

The Jeep Wrangler is a fantastic everyday car to transform into a campervan alternative because it’s already meant to get outdoors. There are a lot of “Jeepers” sharing their Jeep Wranglers on Turo, including Carlos from Central California, an expert adventurer. 

Take Carlos’ Jeep Wrangler Rubicon anywhere, from the coastal roads of Pismo Beach to sunbathing on the shores of Lake Tahoe. He’s also ready to throw in Extras like beach towels and an ice chest, so you’re prepared for whatever the adventure brings. 

Take the high road in a Subaru Forester or Outback 

Driving a small station wagon like the Subaru Outback or Forester on your next camping trip makes the driving easy and fun. Subarus are smaller and more powerful than a camper van or RV, so they can breeze through winding mountain roads, narrow rock canyons, and thick forests better than larger vehicles — which makes them excellent campervan alternatives. Both the Outback and Forester are roomy in the back, so you can save yourself the time and effort of pitching a tent by folding down the backseats to make a bed.

The popularity of the Subaru Outback and Forester have inspired a number of DIY blogs that offer tips for van lifers looking to embrace life on the road with their Subaru.

In outdoorsy cities like Anchorage, AK, where there is great camping around every bend, book David’s Subaru Outback on Turo, so you can get to out-of-the way fishing spots and pitch camp wherever the view is right. David’s Outback also comes with a handy rooftop tent, so you’ll have even more room to stretch your legs after a day of fishing, and you’ll sleep just a touch closer to the stars. 

Overland like a pro in a Toyota 4Runner 

If you want a little more room for all you camping gear and goodies — yes, you do need all those Pendleton blankets — the Toyota 4Runner will give you a run for your money.  Plus, with the rear seats folded down, you can even fit a rather luxurious air mattress in the back for a seriously comfortable overlanding adventure.

When the journey is the destination, you want a campervan alternative that gives you ease and performance. The 4Runner is essentially a nice truck with a large interior that rivals the comfort of a basement rec room — which means it can handle the Hana Highway and your original songs on acoustic guitar. 

For your next glamping adventure, explore the Hawaiian island, Maui, in Michael’s 4Runner  or wander off into the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco, for a camping weekend in Basil’s 4Runner.

Stay tough in a Ford F-150

If your idea of adventure is tossing your gear in the back and finding a hideaway off the beaten path, the Ford F-150 is the campervan alternative for you. The light-duty, full-size truck is primed for road trips, where your phone will likely lose service, the bathroom is wherever you decide, and you might want to bring a hatchet just in case. The F-150’s size makes it easy to lug around your camping gear, plus all the fun extras, like bikes and surfboards.

Keep your cool in a Toyota Tacoma

A reliable campervan alternative for commuters and adventure seekers, the versatile Toyota Tacoma is perfect for Van Life. With plenty of power and agility, the Tacoma will get you out to the middle of nowhere with all of your camping gear stowed safely in the back. But the real magic happens when you add a few choice accessories to the Tacoma, like a topper shell or a lightweight pop-top truck camper, which quickly transforms this truck from commuter to a home on wheels.

The Tacoma is great for the solo traveler who just needs enough space to sleep and store camping gear. In cities like Seattle, WA, where adventures await both in and outside the city, take Jose’s Toyota Tacoma to Costco, on a quick run to the record store, or into the wild.

Bring the whole family or squad in a minivan

Before it was a perfectly normal, social media-approved choice to pack up your life and live on the road, minivans roamed America’s roads, ferrying families and friends on group road trips and into the outdoors. Summer wasn’t complete until your family packed into the van, argued over the radio, and annoyed each other until you finally arrived at the campsite.

Minivans are still a great campervan alternative for the occasional camper. You can often reconfigure minivan seats for whatever your adventure needs — fewer seats leaves room for a table! Minivans can fit up to seven passengers, which means you can even bring your dog, and fit all your camping gear. Plus they’re fuel-efficient campervan alternatives for a budget-friendly weekend getaway. It’s why minivans like the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan, or Volkswagen Routan are popular for families on vacation.

Some minivans on Turo, like Shell’s eight-passenger Sienna, are also equipped with roof racks so you can fill the seats and then head into the stunning Utah to camp at Camp Maple Dell – Payson Canyon or Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

So what’ll it be? With all the car-camping-without-a-campervan options on Turo, you can try a different campervan alternative until you find the one that’s right for you. Just don’t forget to stick to paved roads and avoid offroading to keep with the Turo terms of service.  

Set your camping destination, and book your next adventure!