You can go online and rent a house in a faraway city, or hitch a ride on Lyft or Uber.
Now a Valparaiso-based firm is bringing the sharing economy to recreation vehicles.
Ernst Lamothe and Edward Lareau have launched RV There Yet, a website that lets people rent RVs and campers from local RV owners in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago south suburbs.
Users can rent an RV for a trip or camping for as little as $100 a night, and RV owners can use the service to generate extra income for when they're not on the road. Lamothe and Lareau hope the service will prove popular for people visiting the Indiana Dunes, just looking for a weekend getaway outdoors or who are unable to find reasonable lodging at big events like Lollapalooza in Grant Park.
"We love to travel, and love to be outdoors," Lamothe said. "Car dealers let customers do test drives. We asked ourselves why people can't try out RVs before decided to buy and came up with this idea."
At first, RV There Yet will be locally focused on Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs, but the owners eventually hope to expand it across the country.
"Businesses can sometimes fail quickly if they expand too fast," Lamothe said. "That's why in the beginning, we're focusing locally in Northwest Indiana and the suburbs. We're going to improve the business model and offer excellent customer service before we grow."
The RV owners set the price and list what weekends their RVs are available for rental, and the service will connect them with renters after doing extensive Bureau of Motor Vehicles and criminal records checks. The renters can get insurance either through the owner's policy or by purchasing their own.
Prices will vary depending on the size of the RV, and whether the rental is on busy travel weekends like Memorial Day or Labor Day. Users can choose to start charging extra if the driver travels more than 50 or 100 miles a day, or uses the generator for more than five hours, Lamothe said. The RV owners set all the rules, such as whether pets or smoking is allowed.
"For owners, they're only using their RVs for 20 percent of the time, so this makes them money while the RV would just be sitting at home," Lamothe said. "It helps pay for the RV, for the insurance and fuel. Renters can embrace the RV life while saving money. It's an inexpensive way of spending time with family and friends that's a lot cheaper than staying in hotels. It's a chance to see new places, visit friends and make memories."
Renters can go to pick up the RV or have it delivered by a third party to them at a campsite.
RV There Yet is in the middle of a soft opening and will officially launch around Memorial Day. The owners plan to do marketing at chamber of commerce events across Northwest Indiana and donate to charities, such as the Indiana School of the Blind or the South Suburban Humane Society.
They're hoping their service will persuade more people to embrace the RV lifestyle.
"It's the freedom to go wherever we want, to be able to take my dog," Lareau said. "You can pick up and go whenever you want, with all the amenities of home. You can get off the grid, and get away from people."