How We Started A Camper Van Rental Business and Quit Our Full Time Jobs

Interview by Pat Walls, posted April 2019 on Starter Story

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
START NOW. If you have an idea for a business get started ASAP. The more you know before you start, the more likely you will find a reason to not go for it.

Find something you’re passionate about and look for a way to monetize it. To make a business successful, you have to play the long game, and during that game you will most likely be close to broke, SO YOU MUST LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING TO CARRY YOU THROUGH THOSE HARD TIMES. The ones who press on and don’t quit, are the ones who reap the rewards.
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Maximum Adventure, Minimum PTO

By Sarah Ramm, printed in the Spring 2019 Overland Journal

Being that the Pacific Northwest was our destination, the decision to go with Roamerica was easy. They were highly reviewed online, use Sportsmobiles for their builds, and are based out of Portland, Oregon. Each van is stocked with an extensive list of camping gear, so we wouldn’t have to pack it in our checked bags. As luck would have it, they even had a four-wheel-drive van open for the weekend we wanted.
From my first inquiry about van availability, owners Gretchen and Taylor were prompt and professional. They walked us through the reservation process and even called to talk about our trip goals and plans. Being outdoor enthusiasts, they have a breadth of knowledge about hiking and mountain bike trails, surf spots, and places to camp.
As soon as we landed at the airport and collected our bags, Taylor picked us up in the van we were renting and brought us back to their headquarters for the official check-in. Each van has a unique set of features, and a hands-on demonstration of all the systems is provided. After a few signatures, we sat down with Gretchen and Taylor and marked up a paper map of the state with all of the best coffee shops, 4WD trails, and camping spots along our route.
From the reservation itself to being dropped off back at the airport, everything went flawlessly on our trip. Renting a van from Roamerica is like borrowing one from a close friend.
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Roamerica Adventure Vehicle Rentals

Posted February 2019 on Bless This Stuff

Roamerica is a leading camper van rental company based outside of Portland, Oregon. Since 2015, owners Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood have been facilitating amazing Pacific Northwest experiences for their customers with their custom Sportsmobile rentals as well as with destination information, activity suggestions, and adventure ideas. They have a full fleet of Sportsmobile converted adventure vans that are fully-loaded and ready to go — including pop-top campers, kitchenettes, and revamped suspensions designed for off-grid travel. They are also expanding their offerings to include Toyota 4x4s equipped with rooftop tents and full kitchens, which are a bit more all-terrain capable than their vans and guided motorcycle tours around the PNW.
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By Sean Tirman, posted February 2019 on HiConsumption

If money were no issue, we’d have a full fleet of adventure vehicles at our disposal. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Luckily, there are other options. Take, for instance, ROAMERICA — a company that will rent you the off-road-ready truck, van, or motorcycle of your dreams.

Headquartered out of the greater Portland area in Oregon, the brand was started by a couple looking to share their experiences traveling around little-known areas of the Pacific Northwest. Now, they have a full fleet of Sportsmobile converted adventure vans that are fully-loaded and ready to go — including pop-top campers, kitchenettes, and revamped suspensions designed for off-grid travel. What’s even more enticing, however, is that — in 2019 — they’re expanding their offerings to include Toyota 4x4s equipped with rooftop tents and full kitchens, which are a bit more all-terrain capable than their vans and guided motorcycle tours around the PNW. Pricing starts at $190 a night in the off-season with a three-day minimum and $250 a night from June-August with a six-night minimum.
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Photo by Sarah Ramm

Trying the Van Life in Northwest Oregon

By Sarah Ramm, posted October 31st, 2018 on Expedition Portal

Oregon was calling, and I knew it was time for us to go back. The summer heat had been getting the better of us for a few months, and the cool, crisp air of the Pacific Northwest seemed dreamy. As we started to plan our next trip, we wanted to incorporate what we learned from the last time we visited. Primarily, don’t cram 2,800 miles and 49 hours of driving into a five-day trip. That meant we would need to fly, but renting a Corolla and staying in a Motel 6 didn’t seem like the adventure we were looking for. Flying with camp equipment seemed daunting, and most car rental companies don’t exactly love it when you take their vehicles into the backcountry. Then it hit me. Why not rent a campervan for the weekend?

Chris Ramm and I had been talking at length about building out a van or a truck but hadn’t been in enough of them to make a choice on what we wanted. Renting a van would let us experience the lifestyle firsthand and give valuable insight into what features would be important to include in a future build. Since we hadn’t even narrowed it down to a van or a truck, we had a lot to learn.

The research began, and we ended up choosing Roamerica for a few different reasons.
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Go Big or Go Bigger

Dreaming of a radical change of scenery for your family? Try it first.

By Jacob Baynham, Published in the September 2018 issue of Outside Magazine

Thanks to #vanlife, a bevy of business will rent you a tricked-out camper van. But for a family looking to truly drive away from it all, it’s hard to beat Roamerica, in Portland, Oregon. Its Sportsmobile-converted Ford vans are kitted out with sinks, stoves, fridges, pop-to roofs, and bike racks, plus amenities like Rumpl blankets, Helinox camp chairs and beef jerky. For an epic three-week trip, head to Washington’s Olympic Penninsula, catch a ferry from Port Angeles to British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, and drive north to Whistler, then east to Banff and the rugged Canadian Rockies. Take back roads and linger at will.


How to Car-Camp Like Royalty

Here’s your deluxe, all-PNW guide.

By Benjamin Tepler 5/22/2018 at 12:43pm Published in the June 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

Not quite ready to commit to #vanlife? These four Portland-based outfitters will let you try it on for size.
ROAMERICA Owners Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood specialize in Ford Sportsmobile camper vans with “pop-up” roofs, which give a luxurious six feet, eight inches of standing room. They’ll pick you up at the airport for free, and let you take their rigs into Canada.

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Photo by @alec_carrier

The Best Way to Road Trip to the West’s Top Riding? Leave Your Car At Home.



Ever dreamt of road-tripping your way from epic ride to epic ride? Of course you have. What about living the #VanLife, complete with Instagram stardom? Whether you’ll admit it or not, we know we have. So we got to thinking: What if we could do both—galavant around classic mountain bike destinations in tricked-out campervans—without quitting our jobs and buying vehicles the price of houses?

Thanks to a new wave of adventure vehicle rental services located near major metropolitan airports (think: cheap flights), that dream is now an attainable reality. Below, we’ve put together three bucket list mountain bike road trips that explore the redrock canyonlands of Moab, the dark, magical forests of Oregon and Colorado’s rocky high country outside of Denver. Ship your bike out ahead of time (via Bike Flights or, hop on a flight, pick up your van and hit the road—it’s that simple.

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Living the Van Life and Traveling the World with ROAMERICA Rentals.


Gretchen & Taylor’s Wild Idea: To be able to go on an adventure at any moment with minimal planning and packing. To explore the world from a van and start a thriving business around their passion.

Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood are the founders of Roamerica Rentals, a camper van rental company based in Oregon that lets you take their vans all over North America and even to Canada. Their vans are decked out with items like Rumpl blankets, Stanley stainless steel cooking ware and local organic coffee, so all you have to do is show up with clothes and hit the road. Van life is all the rage right now, and it’s definitely a passion for these two – which is why they were so eager to start a business around sharing their love of exploring the great outdoors with the world.

What I love about their story is it’s very real. Starting a new company isn’t always easy, and as fun as a camper van rental company might sound, it comes with challenges, like working day jobs! That’s right – Roamerica is their side hustle. They didn’t let time or stress or some serious health problems hold them back. Gretchen and Taylor have a lot of joy and a huge sense of adventure, and that shines through in everything they do. They share tips for getting through the highs and lows of starting a business, and letting us all in on the true van life essentials so you can get on the road and get going.


  • You want to travel out of a van.
  • You want to see the world.
  • You love the Pacific Northwest.
  • You’re starting a new business.
  • You’re struggling with Lyme Disease.

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Photo by Abbie Barronian

Here’s Your Itinerary for a Perfect Pacific Northwest Road Trip – May 11, 2017

Start planning with these ten destinations—but remember, adventure happens when plans go awry.


Your journey starts in Portland, where you can rent a fully equipped Sportsmobile from ROAMERICA rentals. Pick up some reading material for the days ahead at Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore, grab some killer donuts and coffee (but skip Voodoo, best known in recent years for mind-boggling lines), and hit the road.

Head to Manzanita, Oregon, a tiny coastal town with great car camping, gorgeous, uncrowded beaches, and excellent surfing at nearby Short Sands. Reserve a campsite at Nehalem Bay State Park, and be sure to check out the tiny bioluminescent critters in the water at night if you’re there in late summer.

Drive north up the lush, coastal Highway 101 and visit Westport, Washington. The sleepy fishing town is home to some of the best surfing in Washington, with mellower, messier breaks at the Jetty and cleaner, more consequential surfing in the Groins. If the frigid Pacific Ocean isn’t enough to wake you up, follow your morning session with coffee at Tinderbox Roasters, and follow up your evening session with a big bonfire at camp in Twin Harbors state park.

Head further north to explore the Olympic National Park. Any outdoor person can find their rhythm in the diverse park, which features rainforest, glaciated peaks, and dramatic beaches. Mellow alpine climbing await on Mt. Olympus and the South Brother, the Hoh River offers scenic hiking and fly-fishing, and the coast has stunning beach camping and surfing (hit La Push if you’re looking for waves).

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Photo by @nimbusindpndnt


Photo by @nimbusindpndnt

Portland Business Journal – April 28, 2017

ROAM Expands and Becomes ROAMERICA

Now Offering Rental Usage Throughout the U.S.A and into Canada

Portland, OR (April 28, 2017) – ROAM, the first campervan company for the ultimate road-tripper, is expanding, and is now ROAMERICA.

“People have been loving that you can take our vans anywhere in the U.S.A, and now that you can also take them anywhere in Canada, we wanted a name to reflect that,” says Gretchen Bayless, Co-Founder of ROAM. In addition to the expanded territory, ROAMERICA has also added more vehicles to the fleet, streamlined a process so international travelers from all over the world can also rent their campervans with ease, and opened a brand-new office in NE Portland near the Portland International Airport.

The company, which has been featured everywhere from GQ Magazine to The Adventure Journal, has become the go-to rental company for overland campervans. With self-contained and fully equipped Sportsmobiles, all are designed for rugged Pacific Northwest conditions, with 24/7 roadside assistance.

They are also customized with the adventure traveler in mind, complete with all the camp gear you need and extra benefits like RUMPL blankets, HiBall Energy drinks, Clif Bars, Field Trip Jerky and Helinox Camp Chairs. “The details keep customers coming back,” says Bayless, adding that the company has also partnered with evo to offer trips from their Portland office and soon from Denver and Seattle.

In addition to detailed perks inside each van, customers love the easy-to-use online booking system, as well as the fact that they will transport customers to and from the PDX airport to the ROAMERICA office, free with rental.
While they are booking up fast through the next season, you can go to to find out more and reserve your van for summer.


Founded by Portland couple Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood, who spent years of exploring the gorgeous and little known areas of the Pacific Northwest, ROAMERICA was founded in 2014 to make road trip adventures the “best vacation you have ever had.” In the beginning, it was all about traveling to find empty surf, deep snow, and a major lack of people. Because RVs were too big, and mostly only fit on a highway or in a Walmart parking lot, they customized Sportsmobiles and added in everything they’d ever want for a road trip. Ever since, customers from all over the world are exploring North America in a whole new way.

Photo by Kole Krieger

Photo by @kolekreiger

GQ Magazine – FEBRUARY 8, 2017

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Every Couple Out There


Valentine’s Day might be the worst but romance is not. Here’s how to give a romantic gift – on February 14th or any day of the year – that fuels the fire, instead of igniting a blowout fight. Step one: know which cliches are fair game. Teddy bears are generally a bad idea, chocolates will work just fine, and sex toys are appropriate on a case-by-case basis (if you have to think about it, don’t do it). These gifts should go over exceptionally well; while they’re typical, they’re also the kind of crowd-pleasers that get the job done.

1. Flowers That Don’t Suck
Instead of grabbing an $8.99, cellophane-wrapped bouquet at the bodega or grocery store, upgrade to a real-deal arrangement from an actual florist. It’ll be bigger, more beautiful, and possibly come with a nice vase. It’ll also win you quadruple romance points. To order something that will really blow your partner away, check out these tips from real-life florists. Hint: baby’s breath is to be avoided at all costs.

2. A Serious Piece of Jewelry
If you’re going to go the jewelry route on Valentine’s Day, good for you. Even better if you spend more than $50 and/or buy your partner something you know they really want—like a dope signet ring from David Yurman—instead of whatever sparkly thing the Internet told you to buy. One note: If marriage is on the table, avoid rings altogether. Not proposing on Valentine’s Day is perfectly respectable, but pulling a ring box out of your pocket and having it not be an engagement ring is just cruel.

3. A Getaway That Has Nothing to Do with Valentine\’s Day
An experiential gift is always a good idea, especially since it’s also for yourself. Just try to keep the agenda somewhat romantic. Renting a fully equipped camper van and touring Big Sur is rustic in a good way; a week in the wilderness with nothing but a tent and a flashlight might be taking things too far. If your partner isn’t an outdoorsy person, rent a stylish AirBnB or book a swanky hotel room and plan a city escape. NYC bound? We can help with that.

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Photo by Mike Branscum

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The Best Camper Van Rentals in North America – November 3, 2016

Say hello to van life without the commitment, liability, insurance, maintenance, storage, cost.


We know, you know: Camper vans are everywhere these days. You could argue that two-door campers are the new Subaru Outback, representing an outdoorsy, minimalist lifestyle in their own clunky way. And what better way to get outside than an all-in-one adventure vehicle? A camper van can fly under the radar in the city on a long road trip, keep you warm and dry in a snowstorm, and not require much set-up (after the initial build, that is.)

If you don’t have the time and money to get an old Sprinter van up and running–and trust us, van life is cheap once you’re on the road, but it can be a huge financial undertaking to get started–these rental companies have a solution. Whether you’re in the market for a wildly painted camper van, a rugged teardrop trailer, or a classic white Sprinter, one of these family-run companies will have what you’re looking for. Some of them will even stock the fridge with beer before you get there.

Gretchen Bayless and Taylor Hood were living their dream–a life on the road in the Pacific Northwest, in constant pursuit of snow and surf–when they decided to turn their lifestyle into a business. Their company, ROAM, rents fully equipped Sportsmobiles out of Portland, Oregon, to help customers live their dream, too. The spacious vehicles are outfitted for Pacific Northwest’s notoriously wet weather and come stocked with everything you need for your adventures–Rumpl blankets, kitchen supplies, even headlamps and a deck of cards. Bikes, surfboards, and crag dogs not included. From $175/day.

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