We’re spending a lot of time away from our trusty van Red Delicious this year. We went to Australia (where we rented a van) and we’re about to spend a couple months long-distance hiking in both the U.S. and England. This begs the question: What do you do to store your van safely when you’re away?
1. Leave your van with a friend or family member
We’re fortunate that our parents have driveways and, if needed, we can leave our van parked there when we’re away. We did that while in Australia and just made sure to book our flights at the nearby airport. Red Delicious just sat in the driveway, but we left the keys in case she needed to be moved. We plan to leave our van with a friend in Oregon while we hike the Oregon section of the PCT. You can also offer to lend your van to a friend without a car while you’re away.
Pros: It’s free and easy, and you’re leaving your van with someone you trust. They can start your van to make sure the battery doesn’t die.
Cons: You need to be comfortable having your van parked on the street or uncovered (we have no problem with it). You also need to make sure all valuables are cleared out or hidden depending on how frequent break-ins are in the area.
2. Rent public storage
Plenty of people need to store cars, boats or RVs. Why not awesome minivan campers? Given the amount of excess stuff most people have, there is no shortage of public storage options in most cities and communities. Only the smallest of rural towns won’t have some kind of storage unit business. You can rent a space for a car and don’t need to worry about being a burden to friends or family members. Rates are typically monthly.
Pros: It’s widely available and doesn’t rely on favors. Storage is also relatively secure, with access limited to other people renting from the facility. Could be a more convenient location depending on your plans.
Cons: Expensive and not very cost-effective for short periods of time.
3. Short- and long-term public parking lots
Depending on how long you’ll be out of your van, you can also consider paid parking lots. Airports have tons of them and you can get good deals at the off-airport lots. (Always check their websites for coupons!) There are also parking garages in cities that may have a weekly or monthly rate. While we leave Red Delicious with a friend for our hike, we’re leaving my dad’s car (he’s hiking with us) in the parking lot of a lodge for $10/week. It’s more secure than leaving a car parked at a remote trail head, where cars are broken into frequently when parked for long periods of time.
Pros: It’s widely available and doesn’t rely on favors. More convenient for shorter periods.
Cons: It’s less secure than a car storage unit because they’re accessible to the public, but lots are often patrolled. Make sure to remove any valuables or hide them out of sight.
4. Crowdsource it
This is like the Couchsurfing version of finding short-term car storage. It’s a little like #1, but instead of turning to close friends or family, you’re turning to casual travel acquaintances or an online following. For instance, I’ll never forget when the folks at Our Open Road put a call out to folks in southern Brazil on Instagram that they were needing to fly back to Los Angeles and looking for a place to leave their van. I like to think we’re pretty trusting folks, but I thought that was a superior showing of trust. Maybe one day we’ll ask you if we can park our van with you or someone you know!
Pros: It’s free or cheap, you’ll make a new friend, and the location might be more convenient depending on where you need to go.
Cons: You might not be able to find someone trustworthy or in a convenient location.
Any other ideas we’re not thinking of? Let us know in the comments. You might not hear from us for a few weeks since we’ll be hiking. Follow us on Instagram for photos from the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon!