‘Van life' is becoming increasingly popular with couples and small families that want the flexibility of a car and the convenience of an RV.
The JUCY Mini RV is a great way to bridge the gap between tent camping and the full RV experience, but you'll need to know exactly what the JUCY is – and is not.
Guest author Shannon Entin shares the JUCY mini RV camping tips to know before you go.
What is a JUCY Mini RV?
Created from a Dodge Caravan minivan, the JUCY Mini RV provides sleeping and cooking accommodations. It offers the following JUCY van camping essentials:
- Sleeping space for 4 people.
- Fold-able cushions that convert the backseat of the van into a bed to sleep two people.
- Pop-up, waterproof tent (called “The Penthouse”) with full size cushion to sleep two people on top of the van.
- Small storage space under the bed cushions.
- Collapsible table for use inside the vehicle.
- Kitchen in the back of the van with refrigerator, stove, sink, and storage for dishes, pots, pans, and utensils.
- Interior lights, USB plugs, and 12V power outlets (no household outlets).
JUCY was founded in New Zealand and is well-established there and in Australia. If you want JUCY van camping in North America, you'll find locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Vancouver, Canada.
VanLife in a Jucy Mini RV
You need to be prepared when van camping in a JUCY Mini RV. After all, it's a minivan, so it's important to pack light and be aware of the following JUCY van camping tips that will help you travel and sleep comfortably.
Sleeping in the JUCY Mini RV
The JUCY Trailblazer (which we drove) sleeps two people inside the van and two people in the “Penthouse” on top of the van.
JUCY also offers the Wavefarer, which sleeps two people and doesn’t have the “Penthouse” pop-up tent.
Cranking up the Penthouse takes about two minutes. Cranking it back down might take three minutes because you need to tuck in the fabric to make sure you get a tight seal. It's super easy.
After initially making the bed, we were able to leave our sheets and comforter up in the Penthouse. We had no problem closing and locking down the tent for driving. At the end of the day, we simply cranked the tent open, grabbed our pillows, climbed up the ladder (which stores in the Penthouse while driving), and went to sleep.
My husband and I LOVED sleeping in the Penthouse. There's a thick, comfortable mattress, screened openings on all four sides for ventilation, and convenient storage to hold keys, phones, flashlights, or sweaters.
Setting up the sleeping area inside the car is more of a chore. It's not difficult, but there is a process of moving things around every night and every morning:
- Move the driver and front passenger seats all the way forward.
- Move luggage, food, bedding, etc. into the front seats and on top of the dashboard.
- Fold down the bed cushion and put on the sheets and blankets.
- Put suction-cup shades on all the windows.
My daughter was comfortable sleeping inside the van, but lack of ventilation was an issue. If she was too hot, she had to open the windows. And then? Bugs in the car. This is something to keep in mind if you'll be camping in very hot weather or in an area with lots of mosquitoes.
Be aware that if your child needs a car seat or booster, there is very limited space to store it when the bed is down. With the front seats pushed all the way forward, your luggage, food, etc, is piled up in the front and it would be a challenge to find space to store a child safety seat.
JUCY Van Camping Essentials
The most important essential for JUCY van camping in the USA is to bring your own sleeping bags! JUCY will rent you a bedding set for $50 that includes two towels, two sheets, two pillows, and a big, heavy comforter. But it's huge and takes up way too much space in the car. Since we had three people, we rented two sets and half our backseat was filled with bedding while we were driving. If you can pack your own sleeping bag, pillow, and towel, it will free up a lot of space in the van!
You should rent JUCY's kitchen kit, though. It includes cups, bowls, plates, and cutlery for four, plus cooking utensils, a tea kettle, and pots/pans. These items are more cumbersome to pack yourself, and at a flat fee of $115, they're worth renting.
Speaking of the JUCY kitchen, we loved it! The refrigerator can easily store enough food for two to three meals. We stored a quart of milk, bottle of wine, grapes, apples, peaches, two sandwiches, broccoli, chicken, and a bag or M&Ms.
The JUCY comes with two stove tops and a wood cutting board for food prep. It's a flip of a switch to light the butane stove, and I found the cooking experience to be simple and convenient.
There is also a sink in the JUCY! You fill the tanks with water, pump the faucet, and wash dishes or prep food. The used water drains into a holding tank that you can empty to waste in an appropriate area.
Other van camping conveniences you can rent with your JUCY include:
- Camping chair: $10
- Camping table: $20
- Solar shower: $20
- Winter camping options, such as snow chains for tires, heater, sub-zero sleeping bag, and more.
- Child safety seats, additional butane gas cans for the stove, AUX cables, USB cables, or a GPS.
JUCY Mini RV Camping Tips
- Check with your campground about the size of their sites. Most campgrounds we stayed in could accommodate the JUCY minivan on a tent site, but one did require we pay for a larger RV site.
- Storage space inside the van is minimal. Pack in small, soft bags if possible. Large duffel bags or hardshell suitcases won't fit in the storage space and will be piled up in the seating area of the van.
- If possible, bring your own sleeping bags, pillows & towels instead of renting bedding through JUCY.
- There are no bathroom facilities in the JUCY.
- Pets are not allowed in JUCY vehicles.
- Depending on the time of year and location, the cost and minimum hire period will vary. The Trailblazer ranges from $75 - $125 per night. Considering you are getting a rental car and accommodations in one package, it's great deal!
- There is additional cost for mileage. You can pay per mile, buy a pre-paid package of 100, 500, or purchase unlimited miles for a flat fee. Optional insurance coverage is also available.
I recommend the JUCY Mini RV Trailblazer for two to three people max. If you are low-maintenance or taking a short trip, four people may be do-able. And if you want a super comfortable van camping experience, stick with two people and sleep up in the Penthouse!
The JUCY Mini RV is a fun, capable option for a couple or small family interested in trying the vanlife.
If you can bring your own bedding/sleeping bags, camping chairs, and maybe kitchen utensils, you'll save a lot of money.
But even if you fly into L.A., San Fran, Las Vegas, or Vancouver and rent all the amenities from JUCY, it's still a relatively inexpensive way to take an epic road trip and enjoy the camping experience!
Would you try camping in a JUCY Mini RV?
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