We camped out in our Jucy van, and that’s alright with me
Traveling from across the country to Southern California, it would have been impossible or at least vastly expensive to haul all our camping gear with us for a beach camping excursion. Jucy Trailblazer RV was the solution. This tricked-out Dodge Caravan included everything we needed, or almost – for our weekend camping adventure in Malibu.
Despite its small size, this fully equipped camper mini-van amazingly sleeps four: two inside the van, and two “upstairs” in the penthouse. The collapsible tent on top is perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of the Jucy RV. Kids love it because they get to climb a ladder to get in it. Inside it is a spacious sturdy tent, with a ceiling high enough that an average-size person, like myself at 5’5” can sit inside comfortably.
The upstairs pop-up room-with-a view features an amazingly comfortable wall-to-wall mat floor for sleeping on or hanging out, mesh flaps to cover the windows for ventilation and bug control, and canvas curtains that insulate from cold and also offer privacy and block out the sun for late sleepers. The interior also has a number of hanging wall pouches for items like flashlights, eyeglasses, cell phones, and anything else you want to keep nearby that you normally have on a bed stand.
Downstairs is where even more fun happens. The inside of the van has four seats, two upfront and two in the back, and a hidden compartment for storage that converts into a table. When it’s time to sleep, the table planks pull out to support the padded panels that become the bed. Jucy thought of a lot of details, such as window shades that affix to the glass with suction cups to block out the light.
The rear of the van opens up to a kitchenette, complete with two butane-powered stove tops, a cabinet for pots and pans, drawers for dishware and a surprisingly spacious refrigerator drawer. The top counter features a sink and food prep area with a cutting board.
The name of the game with Jucy is a turnkey camping adventure. Literally, you crank the ignition, get rolling and you’re on your way to fun. Though our camping outing was only a couple overnights, we ran into others who had been on the road with their Juicy RVs for over a month.
They were a bit more particular, since they practically lived in their van, and they noted small details that could have made their travels easier, such as dishware that compactly stacked together to save room and pans with shorter handles to save space.
While we were told there is air conditioning in the downstairs quarters, the only AC was the in-dash unit for the van, which did not blow strong unless the van was running. We were instructed that the solar panels fueled the van and that we needed to operate the vehicle at least 30 minutes a day to recharge, but we still found that the AC was not functional as we thought it would be.
Because of this we ended up opening the van windows, which did not have screens. Lucky for us in Southern California there are not that many insects, but for other camping locations, rolling down windows without screens would not be practical.
Other small touches that would improve the camper would include a hanger on the ceiling of the penthouse for a lantern.
But other than these rather nit-picking few things, we were very content with our van. It was easy come, easy go from two sites in two days. We set up and broke down camp within 10 minutes. We were on the road before the RV park could say “late check-out fee,” and the mini-van base drove easily, like a regular car.
We did not even need to bring sleeping bags, because the RV came with optional bedding kits which included a super thick duvet comforter, blankets and two pillows, plus two bath towels. The linens were fresh, fluffy and very clean, in fact, they looked new.
Then comes the best part of all. After our adventure, we drove the van back to the leasing location, and that was that. No hanging out tents and tarps to air out, no deflating air mattresses and re-rolling sleeping bags, no trying to get cookware and gear back into storage boxes and no schlepping gear back on a plane.
It was an easy, breezy, laid-back camping trip, in our Chevy van. It made me recall a groovy Sammy Johns song from the 70s, as I imagine me and my hippy friends rocking and rolling down PCH, like easy riders, ready to park and camp whenever the moment moved us, and that’s alright with me.