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Roadsurfer Camper Van Ideal for Cruising Southern California



Our trusty Roadsurfer camper van took us all over southern California.
Our trusty Roadsurfer camper van took us all over southern California.

During the pandemic, RV and camper van sales rose to record highs. Yet many of those spur-of-the-moment purchases are now being resold as buyers find other ways to travel. If you’ve always wondered if the camper van lifestyle might be right for you, one of the best ways to find out is to rent one and take it on a road trip.



Another successful day of driving the van, and we’re in for the night.
Another successful day of driving the van, and we’re in for the night.

This past November, three friends (Terri, Michele and Kelly) and I got the opportunity to live in a Roadsurfer camper van for six days, traveling from Los Angeles, CA to Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Julian, CA and Malibu Beach. (More on these cool destinations in future issues.) And while every camping experience is unique, knowing what to expect when you road trip like this can help make it a worthwhile experience.


One of the biggest advantages I found is that unlike a massive RV, the smaller size of a camper van (in our case, it was a 21-foot van, 8.8’ wide and 9.5’ tall) makes it much easier to maneuver in traffic—and trust me, when you’re driving in LA, you want every advantage you can get! It’s also better on gas than a larger vehicle, and fits in a regular-sized parking space, which is wonderful to have when space is at a premium.



One of our stops was in Pioneertown, an ‘Old West’ set where numerous movies were filmed.
One of our stops was in Pioneertown, an ‘Old West’ set where numerous movies were filmed.

When we picked up our camper van in LA, we received a roughly 45-minute tutorial from Roadsurfer staff on where things were located and what we’d need to do before we brought it back. Unfortunately, there is no paper manual for when you forgot what you’ve learned, but most questions can still be answered by using the QR code in the van to get to the electronic manual. The only problem with that is when you’re camping off-grid in a place with no Internet connection…but we’ll get to that challenge later.



Not bad getting to watch a Malibu sunset from the campground.
Not bad getting to watch a Malibu sunset from the campground.

The Roadsurfer crew was very helpful and patient in answering all of our questions and left us feeling fairly confident that we could manage the trip. Roadsurfer is fairly new to the U.S.; after launching in Munich, Germany, the company grew to 14 locations across Europe and now has two locations in California—Los Angeles and San Francisco. They plan to open a new location in Las Vegas this spring. In the U.S., renters can choose from a ‘couple condo’ Sprinter camper van, a 4 x 4 camper van, a Class C RV motorhome or what we chose—the Liberty Lodge, a pop-up Sprinter camper.


Now when you’re putting four women in a camper van for six days, space is at a premium; not only did we have luggage, but also tents and sleeping bags for Kelly and Michele, who planned to camp outside. The good news is that there is a lot of room in these vans, and luggage can be stored at the very back where it is out of the way so you don’t have to continually move it around to make room when you’re inside.


The van itself was roomy with a galley kitchen running along one side, a fold-out full bed in the back, room for two in the pop-up area, and benches for passengers to sit on. The front two swivel captain’s chairs were super comfortable, too!


While it was nice to have a bathroom aboard, it was extremely small, which was my only issue with the layout. As a not-so-small person, it was too claustrophobic for me, so I appreciated staying in campgrounds every night with their own facilities.


The first couple days were a little difficult, as we hadn’t yet gotten in the rhythm of four people moving around in an enclosed space. But by the end of the trip we were experts—it was like a choreographed dance as we made breakfast, made beds, stored camping equipment and got back on the road. This is one reason that I would recommend renting one of these vans before considering a purchase—you do get much better at the van aspect the longer you’re in it! Things that we didn’t understand—like how to get potable water and from where—became second nature to us. Hooking up the electric and stopping at a dump site made us look like we were RVing experts—as opposed to the first couple of days when we more closely resembled the four stooges!


You never know what you’ll find when you travel in a Roadsurfer camper van.
You never know what you’ll find when you travel in a Roadsurfer camper van.

While I had some camping experience (though not in a van), what I didn’t have was California desert experience, so it came as quite a surprise when the nights got so cold. The pop-up section was hugely helpful as our tent campers were able to come inside and sleep where it was warm…once we figured out how to turn on the heat. A word to the wise—figure out all of these controls (even if you don’t think you’ll need them) before you hit the road. Though I had taken notes as we were shown the different aspects of the van, trying to make sense out of them at 3 a.m. when your teeth are chattering is not ideal—better to know that stuff ahead of time! Learn how to work the water, generator, lights, heat and everything else in the daylight!



Amazing views at Jumbo Rocks campground in Joshua Tree National Park.
Amazing views at Jumbo Rocks campground in Joshua Tree National Park.

You also can’t depend on the fact that you’ll have an internet connection in some of the more remote spots, so download the user manual using the QR code in the vehicle—BEFORE realizing you need it.


While our trip planner (Terri) found campgrounds that we loved, Roadsurfer does also offer campers the Roadsurfer Spots service—a booking platform that shares unique camping locations and campsites that you might not otherwise know about if you’re not familiar with an area.


While it did require a bit of a learning curve, we had a wonderful trip and greatly enjoyed the ease of staying in a camper van and the ability it gave us to travel southern California in comfort. It also gave me an in-depth look at the difference that traveling in a small home on wheels can make, and I’m excited to try it again. Now that I’m an expert, maybe… a trip around Europe next year?


Find out more about Roadsurfer and all that they offer at www.roadsurfer.com.

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