When we heard that friends of ours were launching the first van rental company available in Montreal, we knew we had to reach out to them and learn more about their adventure rigs. Here are Catherine, David, Lysanne, and Olivier to tell us more about Vanlife MTL!
Why did you want to start a van rental company?
When I think back, I might say that there were two significant moments related to Vanlife. The first one was when I was 18. I bought an old Ford E250 Econoline that I transformed into a very funky mobile house. It was blue and we painted green waves on the side, built a terrace on top of it, and covered the inside with hairy, grey rug. I’m not sure that my taste for decoration was at its best at that time, but we definitely caught the attention of people on the streets whenever we would driving around. This truck gave me the freedom I was looking for as a young man. It made me travel all around Quebec, discover beautiful places, and meet so many nice people. It also gave me the opportunity to go on spontaneous trips with my friends. Nothing but great memories come to mind when I look back at that truck.
The second significant moment was when I met Naima, my partner in crime. Not only did she love travelling, but she also understood very well my hunger for road trips, as she experienced it in the very early years of her life. Her parents used to live in a converted bus with their kids while they travelled all around the world. We both wanted to relive this great experience together and decided to build a van for our next trips. As soon as we started the project we noticed how much people were interested in it, how many people were asking if they could rent our van at some point, or even if we would consider selling it. That’s when we realized this project was meant to be more than a personal one.
Can you talk about travels or specific road trips that changed your life?
I consider myself very lucky because I had the chance to do various types of trips since I was young, from going camping in Sand Banks with my parents and sister, to backpacking in Thailand with my boys, and even spending a week in a Mexican resort. All of those trips were unique and special in their own ways, but I think I can honestly say that the most memorable ones were always the spontaneous ones, the trips that aren’t planned from A to Z. The ones that are decided on a whim and that bring you surprises every day. For example, I went to Trinidad and Tobago a few years ago. It was a decision made totally out of the blue and we arrived without a defined plan. We rented a van and drove all around the island. We surfed for days and slept in the truck at night. It was amazing. I can only imagine how crazy it would have been having the Vanlife setup!
What kind of vans are you renting? Who built them?
Our vans are 2018 brand new models. And they are all designed and built by my team and me. We have two models…
A Dodge Promaster 2500 V6 3.6L 2018
Seating and bed for 4 people
To travel with family or friends, our four-seater model is perfect! This model has been designed to offer you comfort, storage and autonomy. Equipped with a kitchenette, cartridge toilet, solar panels, and electrical outlet, you will have everything you need to explore freely.
A Dodge Promaster 2500 V6 3.6L 2018
Seating and bed for 2 people
The ideal model for a trip for two! Equipped with a kitchenette, a cartridge toilet, solar panels and electrical outlets, our compact model gives you great autonomy for more comfort and pleasure. Easy to drive, this vehicle will allow you to live your adventure in simplicity.
Both models are fully equipped, comfortable and secure. Since I now have a team of brilliant women to help me design the interior, I can assure you that the inside of our vans are as beautiful as they are practical. With no hairy grey rug covering the walls!
Can you talk about cool features of the vans?
I would say that the best features of our 2018 ProMaster van are their overall designs. The vans are easy to maneuver. You can park them in town or close to hidden gems. We have created the vans that we dreamed of. We’ve designed them to make sure we have a lot of storage and are able to stock all of the essentials! This includes stuff for the kids, equipment to practice our favorite activities, enough space in the fridge and on the counter to cook great meals…. Spacious and comfortable enough to even enjoy rainy days.
Solar Panel, comfy beds, movable tables, sink and water pumps, renters are good to go for an amazing adventure. For a more “modern” adventure there are also options such as a heated shower, toilet and WIFI!
So how does it work once people get to the shop to pick up their van? What’s included? Insurance?
Once the renters arrive to our office in Montréal, the process is simple. We show people the basics of vanning, if needed, and how to use the “facilities”. We make sure to answer all their questions, fill paperwork out with them, then they are ready to go! Basic insurance is included, 200 km per day, and our vans are fully equipped to assure comfort and security. We also have a list of complementary items you can rent to enhance your adventure.
Last but not least, we are also very happy to suggest great spots to visit, beautiful roads to take, and even to refer some of our friends and partners that our clients could visit during their adventure!
Do you recommend any routes? Can you take the vans to the US?
It would be a crime not to mention all the gorgeous places we have nearby. The roads to get to Gaspésie or to Iles de la Madeleine are simply breath taking. There are so many beautiful landscapes to see right outside of Montreal that you don’t have to go very far to feel the thrill of being disoriented. Also, you must remember that all of the Vanlife team is very passionate about travelling (obviously) and we take a lot of pleasure in thinking about great places to visit. We work really hard to develop new partnerships with other cool companies, such as Go-Van and to get our Vanlife travellers to learn more about new options.
For example, we just ended a contest organized in collaboration with the Mont SUTTON a few weeks ago, where we were offering our Facebook friends the opportunity to win a day of skiing and a night for two in one of our Vans at the bottom of the mountain. And yes, it is totally possible for our clients to drive down to the US and find some warmer spots!
How many vans are you planning to have at the end of the year?
We have 3 vans available for rent at this moment but our goal would be to double that number before 2019. The interest and the curiosity of people towards our services, and the excitement that we feel coming from our clients, allow us to believe that this is just the beginning of a great adventure.