While dating, Doug and Becky Dempsey experienced the outdoors through primitive camping — finding open ground in a campsite and setting up their gear to make homebase. However, once they were married and with children, they knew there had to be a more convenient way to maintain their adventurous spirit. Enter the purchase of their first travel trailer.
After taking their babies on a few camping trips in their new trailer, however, Doug and Becky realized camping with children wasn’t as easy as expected — getting a two-month-old and one-year-old to sleep away from home was just too much work. Now they have and love a new camper loaded with incredible features [an outdoor kitchen and entertainment center, mood lighting and modern aesthetics, just to name a few], underused and sitting in their drive.
Becky suggested to Doug the idea of searching for a way to rent out their trailer until their boys are big enough to enjoy all that camping offers. This is when they found RVshare, which Becky says, “100%, RVshare has changed our lives.”
Not only is this couple enjoying all of the perks the additional income has offered, they’ve met new friends, found new parks and campsites to enjoy, and feel like they “are on the precipice of something bigger” — like a new home with more land for more RVs.
Here is the first of a four-part series, detailing the evolution of the Dempsey’s journey from young primitive campers to a family business in development.
Can you talk about your history as an RVer?
Doug: We actually had free tickets to a local RV show in Cleveland, and we went, looked at a bunch of travel trailers, Class A, Class B, Class C — just any kind of travel trailer and RV you can think of. And we remember walking around and just looking at all the different trailers and options, and we were just blown away with just how nice they are and all the amenities that come with them. That actually planted the seed. We didn’t buy anything at the show, but it definitely planted a seed. Then over the course of another year, that festered into our desire to definitely go out and want to buy one.
Becky: [When Doug and I were dating], we really had a great time camping and having some adventures together. We went primitive camping one year; we took the dogs, and it was great — we had a wonderful time. After we had kids, we thought, there’s no way we could take these kids primitive camping and still enjoy ourselves. So we decided to start checking out RVs.
Doug had always brought them up, and I had no information about them. I didn’t know anything about them. So we went to an RV show and I was amazed, completely blown away, by what you could get inside an RV. My perception was that they were like the old school 1980’s orange and yellow interiors you couldn’t really do much with; when I walked into them I thought, “Oh my gosh, these are like little hotel rooms on wheels! This is beautiful.”
So we threw the idea around for awhile, about a year. Then last year, when I was on maternity leave with my second child, we said, “Let’s go start looking and see if we can find anything.” And the minute we walked on the lot we said, “Okay, this is definitely something we’re gonna do.”
What about this camper made it “the one”?
Doug: We hit all the local RV stores, which were three or four of them. Literally, looked at hundreds of different models — anything you can think of they have, whether you want a toy hauler, a people mover or whether you want to sleep 10 people or two people — there are so many different floor plans and configurations. It was truly amazing, so we took our time.
We saw many, many different travel trailers and in the end, we decided on this Forest River Cherokee.
We specifically chose this model because of the sleeping arrangement and the fact that it was modern. It had all the modern looks, the nice dark mocha wood, the wood bar and floors. It really appealed to us — wonderful dinette seating, so we could seat the entire family and have a nice meal; the television with the full rock [wall]; and the couch that folds out into a bed — Just everything. It’s a 32-foot long trailer, and it fits into most camping spaces beautifully. Some state parks and private campgrounds have a length limit, so we couldn’t go too big, and we didn’t want to be too small, because we want to be able to bring family and friends with us. This particular travel trailer allows us to do all of those things. It suits all of our needs, so it was just perfect. We are so glad we chose this model, and we just absolutely love it and are 100% hooked.
Becky: We probably looked at, I don’t even know, hundreds of RVs. We went to all the local stores and looked at so many different models. And because of the price and with the capabilities of his truck, we were able to find a trailer, which aren’t as expensive as the full Class A or Class C, so a little bit more affordable for us and because we had a truck we were able to tow it. So that’s why ended up going with a trailer.
They have so many different layouts available that your head starts to spin. But one of the biggest things we loved about this camper was the way that the couch was situated with the entertainment system. So many times you’ll see the TVs by the master bedroom door, which is really uncomfortable. When we saw this layout, we thought, “This is perfect.”
Also, we have a big dinette. A lot of times, the dinettes are just little half booths, or even now they have one that has chairs, actually dining room chairs in it, which is nice, but for us and our family, we liked the U-shaped booth idea. Knowing that [the table] could transfer into a full-size bed and the way the couch is in the middle of the camper with the TV across from it, [were] the biggest reasons we picked this. And the bunk beds, we really wanted [those] for the boys.
We ended up driving to Toledo to get [this camper]. We had looked at everything locally. We saw this layout, but we just couldn’t find a store that could offer it with the pricing that we were looking for, and we found a really great wholesale superstore out in Toledo. We called, we did everything over the phone. We went out two days later, picked it up and brought it home.
Tell us about how you’ve used your camper to travel.
Doug: Mostly to our state parks, which have a lot of amenities and activities for the family. The campsites are pretty private, and we can get a full hookup campsite in most of these locations. A full hook up means we have electricity, water and sewer, so we can run everything that we have on this RV, including air conditioning. We can take showers and for our children, we can give them baths right in the bathroom.
Becky: After we bought the RV, we said, “Alright, we’re gonna get out there and we’re gonna go camping.” So we took our two-month-old baby and our one-year-old toddler and off we went to a state park, because we figured we’d start with state parks, and then just kind of explore and see what we liked best. It was a great experience for us in the sense that we were able to get out and start using the RV. But at the same time, we realized that toddlers and a baby were so much work — not only at home in our regular environment but ten times worse when you’re in a camper.
The toddler, Grayson, just ran to the fire every time we’d start [one]. So we thought, “All right, we can’t have campfires anymore.” Getting him to go to sleep in a new space and a new environment he wasn’t used to after a long day of hiking [was hard]; it was easy for him to fall asleep but then getting him to stay asleep. And with the two-month-old baby, thankfully he was still in his bassinet, so we were actually able to set him up on the dinette. He just kind of snuggled into his bassinet; he did okay once he got asleep, but getting him to sleep was terrible. We would be up in the stroller walking him like 9 or 10:00 at night, just trying to get him to settle down and go to bed. And small things like cooking, doing dishes — things like that — trying to keep them contained at a campsite was so much work and so difficult.
How did your RVing evolve from taking your own trips to finding and using RVshare?
Becky: So we got home from our first camping trip, and we said, “Oh my gosh, we bought this RV way too soon.” We had all these great ideas that we were gonna go camping and it was gonna be amazing and the boys are gonna have all these adventures, but they were two months old and a year old. So we took one other trip with the grandparents for some help, and that was a huge success. Sleeping issues still kind of remained but at least we had a little bit of help.
So the season was over, we put it in storage and said, “Okay, what are we gonna do next year? We have this huge toy sitting in our yard. What are we gonna do? We can’t just let this sit here all year.” So I Googled, maybe, “Can you rent an RV out?” And I came across RVshare, and as I looked into it, I came home and I said, “Doug, we gotta try this. We have to see what’s gonna happen with this. Maybe we could rent the RV out over the summer. We won’t be using it that often, and we can make a little bit of money. It won’t be sitting in our driveway. We’ll see what happens.”
Doug: When we originally got this travel trailer, we wanted to go camping literally every weekend. That’s how we envisioned ourselves using this travel trailer — going for weekends, going for week-long vacations, and then we quickly realized the kids were a little too young for what we wanted. We might have been a little overambitious, so we brought the travel trailer home after our first camping trip, contemplated about going again, and realized that the boys just weren’t quite old enough. So now we have this 32-foot long travel trailer sitting in our driveway. Looks beautiful, but we thought, “What are we gonna do with this thing now other than just sit here and look at it?”
We came upon RVshare and from everything we read it seemed like the perfect fit for us, because instead of just sitting here doing nothing and costing us money, we figured, “Why not rent this thing out?” Try to make a little extra money, not only to offset the cost of owning the RV, but to even give us a little extra income to do with as we pleased, and so that’s what led us to this point and why we’re here today.