If you’re thinking of renting a JUCY Campervan to undertake your next epic road trip adventure, but are intimidated because you’ve never done the RV/campervan thing before, don’t worry: this article is for you.
Disclaimer: I was provided the JUCY Trailblazer at a steeply comped price in order to review it for this post; however, all thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
Written by someone who knows less about the camping or RV life than anyone, yet still somehow managed to have a fun, successful JUCY Campervan trip, this post is here to assure you that no matter how city-based or wilderness-ignorant you are, you can easily make this work, and JUCY is here to help!
First off, there are a few great things about renting a campervan rather than an RV. The JUCY Campervans are mostly converted minivans, so you don’t need to worry about handling a much larger, slower vehicle than you are used to, and there are no in-car bathrooms, so you also don’t need to worry about emptying out sewage. You’re welcome.
Extras to Rent With Your JUCY Campervan
To start with, when you pick up and drop off your JUCY campervan, make sure you arrive within your pick up and drop off hours to avoid any late fees.
Insurance/Rental Tips for JUCY:
- Check in at the JUCY location on Yelp to get an extra (free) 100 miles for your trip. You get a free 100 miles a day included in your rental, and for every mile, you go over your overall limit, you get charged $0.25/mile.
- Purchase the offered travel insurance. I never ended up using it, but when it comes to trips and insurance, I ALWAYS err on the side of caution. You don’t want to end up responsible for thousands of dollars of damage from an accident or other mishaps.
Extra JUCY Kits to Rent:
Generally, JUCY makes packing a bit easier by providing several rental packages for campervan items, two of which I highly recommend you get:
- Kitchen Kit: includes cutlery, dinnerware, frying pan and saucepan, kettle, can/bottle opener, kitchen utensils, and a dish towel.
- Bedding Kit: Linen, pillow, duvet, towel
- Optional: If you really need the security of having GPS available at all times, you can also rent a GPS for your vehicle, as it does not come equipped with it. I used my phone GPS, but be warned, going on a US road trip often means there are long stretches, especially within National Parks, where you will lose all signal and be unable to get precise directions. However, if you have a general idea of the direction you’re going, or start the route while you still have signal, you should be fine.
When you pick up your JUCY, you also have the option of purchasing a $5 cable (if you don’t already have one) to connect your phone to your car and play music.
How to Pack For Your JUCY Campervan Trip
Pack everything you think you need for camping/a road trip, and then take about 30% out. I packed very lightly for this campervan adventure, and still packed quite a few things I never ended up using.
You want to have as much space available in your van as possible since you will basically be living there for the duration of your trip, so I would say aim for one small suitcase, with perhaps one backpack for your camera equipment/other personal effects.
Items to Pack for a California Campervan Road Trip:
- Two pairs of athletic/hiking shoes.
- Baby wipes, deodorant, toiletry kit. You may not have access to showers as often as you’d like, so pack what you want to feel clean. Also, wipes are great for helping you clean up the interior of the van from dust or spills.
- Comfortable, practical clothes, including some long-sleeved shirts and pants. I’ll allow you TWO cute/dressy outfits if you’re making city stops. Realistically, it’s just going to end up taking up space.
- Mosquito repellent – absolutely necessary for a summer road trip in California – check my bite-covered legs to see why.
- Solar-powered chargers – you can charge our phone and some other devices in the JUCY campervan, but if you have something like a laptop or camera that can’t be plugged into a car charger, you will need another option.
- A decent mirrorless or DSLR camera (and tripod, if you want)
- Comfortable hoodie or jacket
- Plenty of bottled water
- Optional: Thermal shirt and leggings – even in summer, mountainous areas like Yosemite get pretty cold at night. Dressing warmly under the covers can make the difference between getting a good night’s sleep and shivering throughout the night.
This is all in addition to any personal items or garments you would normally pack for visiting the locations you’ve picked for your road trip, so you can make the best of your campervan experience!
Items NOT to Pack for a California Campervan Road Trip:
- Anything smelling unnecessarily strong and fruity, even personal hygiene products, as there is a good chance you will sometimes be staying in areas with bears. If something smells like food, it will attract them; you can place the items in bear lockers, but it’s just easier to not take them in the first place unless they’re necessary.
JUCY Trailblazer Basics
The JUCY Trailblazer sleeps four people and can fit five for driving during the day. The campervan is 17 feet long, and can therefore easily fit in all campground spots with space to spare.
JUCY Trailblazer Pros:
- Surprisingly fuel efficient. I was shocked by how far I could go on one tank of gas.
- Easy set up. On the first night, it took me almost ten minutes to set up the pop-up Penthouse I slept in and fold out the interior bed. However, from the second day onwards I could do the whole nighttime set up in under two minutes.
- Built-in kitchen in the trunk. This helps save even more money, as you can cook several of your meals instead of eating out.
- Large enough to sleep, small enough to drive. I felt very comfortable sleeping in the vehicle, as it is smartly laid out to accommodate passengers, and was simultaneously happy I didn’t have to maneuver a bulky RV on some of the more intimidating mountain roads.
- Internal pop-up table for eating/working.
Jucy Trailblazer Cons:
- Would be a tight fit for four people. I would not recommend sleeping four people in the trailblazer, especially if your group is on the taller side. It would have been a little tight to fit any more than three.
Where Can You Stay With Your JUCY Campervan?
California has strict rules about where you are allowed to park your JUCY Campervan for the night. National Parks will not let you park your campervan just anywhere; you will need to rent a space in a campground to stay the night in your vehicle.
The good news is, such spaces are relatively cheap (definitely way, WAY cheaper than staying at a hotel). The bad news is, the closer your trip is to the high tourist summer season, the earlier you will need to rent a campground space to assure a spot. I booked the last available campground spot in all of Yosemite Valley for my JUCY Trailblazer, and that was six days before arrival.
Places to Park Your Campervan For the Night:
- Campgrounds (in California National Parks you MUST park in a designated campground)
- RV parks
- Parking lots of many major retailers (Walmart, Costco, Kmart, etc. – check with the chain store nearest you to make sure)
- Truck stops
- Casino parking lots
Most of the campground spots I booked ran around $10-$20 per night; the fact that we saved quite a bit of money by cooking a lot of our meals and
What to Look For In a Campground Before Booking:
- Showers on-premises
- Wi-Fi connectivity (if you want it)
- Distance from campground spot to exit
- Closest grocery stores/restaurants
Budgeting & Final Tips For a Trip With JUCY Campervan
As you are traveling through the grand California wilderness, remember that the old, cliche adage applies doubly here: “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”. Or tire tracks, but you get my drift.
- Use JUCY Perks to get discounts on campgrounds during your trip. Though most campgrounds only run $10 – $20 a night, you can get great discounts through JUCY for Kampgrounds of America, some Resort RV Parks, and other destinations.
- Use the kitchen to cook homemade meals as much as possible, as opposed to eating on the road.
- Be extra careful with campfires you set up and with your JUCY stove in forests
- In areas with bears, lock up all food (or anything that smells like food) in designated bear lockers. All campgrounds provide bear lockers.
- Start or download the directions to your next destination before you start driving. Even if you lose signal, you won’t need to rely on your GPS updating.
- There are two sets of outlets, one that affects the car battery and one that doesn’t. Make sure you use the outlets that DON’T drain the car battery to charge your phone and other devices overnight.
Overall Impressions of my JUCY Campervan Trip
This was my first ever experience in a campervan, or with any kind of long-term camping life in general. Even though it’s not usually “my thing”, traveling in the JUCY Campervan was an unforgettable experience. Besides a few instances I later learned from – including being eaten alive by mosquitoes one evening and forgetting to check for on-premise showers on one campground – I loved almost every minute of this trip.
Staying in the middle of the alpine forests of Yosemite, or on the shores of Lake Tahoe, without good (or any) connectivity was relaxing and rejuvenating in a way none of my other road trips have been to date. There is also something very adventurous about setting out on the road in a campervan, feeling the freedom to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. We sometimes decided on last-minute itinerary changes on the way. I also found it very immersing to sleep in the same wilderness we were exploring throughout the day.
The JUCY Trailblazer became my home for those eight days, in a very real, heartfelt way; I honestly felt quite sad when I dropped it back off at the JUCY rental location. By that point, the campervan had become another character on our trip. I felt like the three of us – me, my friend Vicky, and the car itself – had been on this amazing journey together, and by giving the van back, we were leaving one of our friends behind after so many eye-opening, exciting, and just plain old fun experiences together.
Overall, if you’re looking for a perfect trip to take with a friend this year, there is no better bonding experience than traveling with JUCY. I still remember stumbling our way through setting up the campervan for the first night, going up adrenaline-inducing cliff-drop mountain roads together, and repeating the most guilty pleasure playlists imaginable while traveling through a shocking range of some of the best landscapes the US has to offer.
Even if camping isn’t your thing, or if you believe you are a city girl through and through, from one city girl to another, trust me: take at least one road trip in a JUCY campervan and explore the US and its wilderness in a whole new way.
Have you ever traveled in a campervan or RV? How was your experience?
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