While housing was once the prime real estate of peer-to-peer rental services, there’s no shortage of Airbnb-style apps that provide access to everything from RVs and jet skis to a family’s worth of well-vetted camping equipment. Since anyone can host on these sharing platforms, it opens the doors for more options for your family vacation. Thanks to these services, vehicles and family adventures that might have otherwise been out of reach are now in contention, as is equipment you might want to try out before committing to a purchase.
Each of these apps works largely the same. Hosts post their property on the website to rent out, and it becomes available to you if your desired dates are in sync. The services are very easy to use — a streamlined process you’re likely already familiar with if you’ve used Airbnb or Vrbo — without a lot of traditional paperwork. Also, hosts are rated and commented on, so you know what to expect based on previous guests’ comments.
Whether you want to rent a camper van, RV, boat, or backyard pool, here are five great services to get to know.
When browsing around the RV rental app Outdoorsy, it feels familiar; it really is the “Airbnb” of RVs, down to the search function, the navigation map, and the instant booking options. Simply type in your destination (or where you want to pick up an RV), travel dates, and number of guests, and available listings come up. Some even have the option for the owner to bring the RV to you at an additional cost. Depending on the size of your family, you’ll appreciate that it’s not just big RVs; people also post campervans and travel trailers, so you’ve got options. Whatever you decide, know that Outdoorsy provides $1M liability insurance for your rental, 24/7 technical support, and even 24/7 roadside assistance in case you need a jumpstart or accidentally lock yourself out.
Perhaps you don’t need a big RV for your next family outing, but just a bigger car to pack in more than just your pets and kids. Or perhaps your city hybrid sedan just isn’t going to cut it on an off-road excursion. Car rental app Getaround’s host-based system helps you find the ideal vehicle for your needs. There are no membership fees, so all you’ll need is a driver’s license to start choosing from the available inventory from hosts nearby (or wherever you plan on being), which are generally owners’ extra cars that just sit around for periods of time.
Why use Getaround over a standard rental car company? The advantage is that you can try and find a specific make or model outside of the standard corporate options. What’s more, you can toggle to search for vehicles that come with bike racks or roof racks if that’s what you need. As prices are set by the host, they can oftentimes can be cheaper than a rental car company depending on your loan period. Sweetening the deal is the included insurance and the ability to unlock the chosen car with your phone.
Don’t own a boat but want to get out on the water for a family day cruise? No need to venture to the docks of a big commercial boating operation because there’s Boatsetter, one of the peer-to-peer boat rental services recommended by boating advocate Discover Boating. Through the service, boat owners loan out their seafaring vessels for you to use. Some even offer their captain services if you don’t care to drive the vessel yourself or lack a boater’s license.
On the website or app, just set a date and duration of time, filter by the size of vessel, then toggle the captain option if you want one — just make sure you book ahead of time to ensure their availability. Boatsetter also features an “experience” section. Browse through it and you’ll find opportunities for private fishing, sailing, canoeing, party boats, and jet skis. Whatever you decide, rest assured that the boat rental is fully insured when your family is swimming and exploring parts of a lake that they might not have experienced otherwise.
Have you or your kids dreamed of having a pool in the backyard, but it’s just not possible? Thankfully you can get some pool time by renting out someone else’s by the hour with Swimply. Like Airbnb, enter the destination, dates and times, and number of guests, and the website or app will show you what’s available. Chances are, you’ll find an eclectic selection of varied sizes and styles, but you may be amazed at some of the owner’s pictures — some pool decks are fitted with lighting or furniture to make it feel like a resort. There are also options to add on amenities—grills, speakers, or fire pits, for example — for an additional fee at the host’s discretion, of course.
Many companies have tried to be the “Airbnb of Outdoor Gear” with a similar peer-to-peer network of members offering items for others to rent. However, when it comes to recreational gear, used and unvetted items aren’t so desirable, especially when personal safety is a factor. OutdoorsGeek gets it right. The service lets you rent clean, outdoor gear online, the way Netflix mostly rented out DVDs via mail back in the day, from a centralized location in Denver.
If you want to get your kids into camping but don’t want to commit to buying and storing all that camping equipment, OutdoorsGeek has family rental packages of varied group sizes with everything you need for shelter and cooking. For example, $364 gets you a 6-person tent, four sleeping bags and pads, a two-burner propane stove, camp cookware, a table, towels, and washcloths for up to three days. If your kids end up getting into sleeping in the great outdoors on a long weekend, you’ll be happy to know that you can apply the rental cost towards purchasing gear for your newfound hobby.