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Van Life Rental with Cabana | Trying Out Vanlife

campervan parked at desert campground

Have you ever thought about vanlife but would feel a lot more comfortable trying it out before making the investment? Before making the commitment you can “try out” vanlife and rent a conversion van. I recently had my experience at vanlife with Cabana and it was such a great way to test out life on the road. If you’re thinking about purchasing your own van start with a van life rental. Here’s what you need to know about Cabana.

van life rental with cabana campervan

I recently partnered with Cabana, a luxury van rental company, and took one of their vans on a trip to Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree, California. This is my experience and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click my link, I make a small percentage (at no extra cost to you). This helps me keep the travel blog running. 

Van Life Rental with Cabana | Trying Out Vanlife

The term “van life” has become so much more popular in recent years and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Many of us may dream of living on the road while others just want to try it out for a while. Let’s talk basics and answer some common questions.

ford campervan with doors open

What You Need to Know Before You Pick Up Your Luxury Van Rental

The process for renting a campervan is simple. Cabana breaks everything down on their website so you really just need to choose your dates, pickup location, and any add-ons if you so choose. Cabana also offers contactless pick-ups so all you need to do is download their app to unlock their van. There are a few requirements for renting listed below.


What You Need For Van Life Rentals with Cabana

  • Must have a valid US Driver’s License or a valid International Driver’s License
  • You must be 25 years of age or older
  • Must pass the Motor Vehicle Report Check required by insurance
  • You must have a valid reservation

vanlife rental van at joshua tree california desert

What to Pack for Your Van Life Rental

  • Food (unless you plan on eating out but at the very least have some snacks for the drives)
  • Cooking Basics (oil, salt, pepper, dish soap, sponge, knife, wine opener, etc)
  • Drinking Water
  • Water bottle
  • Clothes (take something comfy for the drive and lounging, clothes to hike in, and day clothes all while keeping the weather for each location in mind)
  • Hiking Gear (boots, trekking poles if needed, daypack, etc)
  • Swimsuit (for the beach, hot springs, etc)
  • Toiletries 
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Chargers
  • Flashlight
  • Entertainment (book, board games, download some movies to Netflix)

camper van rental at desertThings You Can Buy Along the Way

  • Groceries (food is mentioned above but you can always replenish on the road before you head to more remote locations)
  • Drinking Water (take what you need then restock when you make stops
  • Firewood (buy it where you burn it)

What Does The Luxury Van Rentals Include

Each Cabana van comes with all the essentials, including bedding, indoor showers, an outdoor shower (convenient if you need to rinse off from a beach day), plenty of storage, any add-ons, and more. For a full list of what’s inside of a Cabana click here. 

The water (for your shower, toilet, and sink) is already filled and you’ll only need to refill it if you end up using a lot of water or you’re taking a longer trip. And you don’t have to worry about the toilet unless you’re taking a trip that’s longer than five days. Cabana’s detailed FAQs page walks you through everything. 

Cabana also has a concierge service that’s complimentary. More on that below. 

getting ready inside van life rental

Van Layout Design

The layout of the Cabana is simple and functional. The bed is located in the back of the van and is horizontal. This worked well for myself and my boyfriend. He’s just under 6 feet and had room. And I loved that there was a smart TV was just above the bed. This mirrors to your phone so you can stream from your own device.

The shower and toilet are combined and although it’s a small space in comparison to an apartment or hotel it was spacious for a campervan rental. There’s a closet and slide-out storage where our duffle bags and backpacks fit perfectly. And there’s a sink just outside the toilet which was convenient for washing hands, brushing teeth, and cleaning up when we stopped to snack.

There’s a small 30-liter drawer refrigerator (this is similar to what you would see on watercraft) at the steps that lead to the bed. It was on the smaller size since we planned on cooking most of our meals and did bring a lot of food. However, there was more than enough storage so we brought two coolers, one for the rest of the food that didn’t fit in the fridge and the other for wine. 

I loved that the passenger seat easily swiveled around so that it faces the pull-out chair that’s under the sink. There was a tabletop that you can place perfectly between the two seats where you can comfortably sit with the back sliding door open or closed.

We had an add-on kitchen that pulled out in the back of the van. It included a two-burner stovetop and sink. The back has sufficient storage and was perfect for bigger/bulky items like a cooler and firewood.

woman inside van life rental

Cabana Amenities

Every Cabana comes with a coffee machine with Storyville Coffee pods and insulated coffee mugs you can use. This was great for keeping our coffee hot while we made breakfast and got ready for the day.

We also had a kitchen add-on (as mentioned above) that came with bamboo plates, bowls, and cutlery that we could use. We were able to make meals including a steak dinner. One thing to keep in mind before you park and making meals is to position the van so that the wind isn’t blowing against the back. Since we were in the desert and it was windy there was a lot of dirt blowing everywhere. 

Other amenities included Beekman 1802 shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel, and Cloud Paper toilet paper. Cabana does a great job with these small touches. Quality products like the ones mentioned are so much more appreciated when you’re in a luxury van for rent.

I also felt so much more at ease knowing the van had unlimited miles. This makes a huge difference when choosing a van life rental company.

What is Cabana Concierge and What Does it Include

Cabana Concierge is a personalized trip planning service, it curates an itinerary based on your travel style and trip goals. All you do is fill out a questionnaire and you’ll have a custom itinerary made just for you. You can relax while your route is being planned and your campsites are being booked. Cabana Concierge makes van life so easy. The trip planning service takes the stress out of road trip planning that way you get to enjoy your trip.

I filled out the questionnaire and based on the type of location I was interested in, how long I wanted to drive each day, and other factors I was given an amazing itinerary with times, campsites reservations, activity suggestions, and more. The hikes that were suggested were spot-on. I absolutely loved that Cabana Concierge suggested the Palm Canyon Oasis and The Slot hikes in Anza Borrego. These were fun hikes and the highlight of Anza Borrego State Park and one of my favorite things to do during the van life rental trip.

Advice If It’s Your First Time With a Camper Van Rental

If this is your first time renting a campervan remember to take it slow and understand the vehicle. It’s a Ford campervan that drives somewhat like an SUV but it’s lower to the ground, similar to a compact car/sedan style car. It’s also a bit longer than an average SUV. However parallel parking is pretty easy with the rear camera. 

Be sure to check out the extensive FAQs page and if anything comes up refer back to it. If there’s anything that isn’t answered or urgent the front desk is available to help.

driving a campervan desert california


Before you type “campervan rental near me” check out Cabana, they’re currently in Los Angeles and Seattle and expanding to San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, and Portland very soon.

Have an amazing time on your road trip. Van rental with Cabana is easy and so much fun! With Cabana’s luxe campervans, you can test drive #vanlife. You don’t need ANY RV or van experience to get in a Cabana and go.

Use code EXPLORER50 for $50 off any Cabana booking made through the end of May!

woman eating inside ford campervan

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