What better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region, explore hidden corners and appreciate the natural nuances of a place while enjoying the benefits and enormous satisfaction of traveling on your own? These are on-the-road experiences that you can’t get behind the wheel of a sedan, or on a train or sightseeing bus. Active travel is, at its heart, a way to more authentically connect with the outdoors while not sacrificing the comfort and luxury amenities of indoor accommodation. These local services bring the fleeting and adventurous side of the trip to you so you can experience the great open road, or the campground, on your own and in style. Planes and hotels continue to take a step back (pun intended); we plan to continue to get closer to nature not only by seeing it, but by living in it.
Photos courtesy of Suncoast Vans
Nomadic couple Rob and Stephanie Jaramillo quit their unsatisfying 9-5 jobs to help others fully embrace the ‘van life’. Making the decision to custom build a sustainable mobile home for their own road travel adventure – taking a total of three and a half months – they learned the ins and outs of building and designing this unique space on wheels. “These months have been filled with ups and downs as we face new challenges every day, putting our heart and soul into the business,” says Stephanie. “Once finished, we hit the road and traveled across the country. This expedition gave us so many privileged moments and lessons. Along the way, we met various creative, like-minded builders who shared the same desire for sustainable living and ignited our passion for building vans. After having so much fun creating their first home together, the couple decided to help the others start their own adventures with custom-built vans, designed for their personality, lifestyle, and planned trips. Rob and Stephanie get the vans for you and generally work with Ford Transits and Ram ProMasters. On average, a Suncoast Van takes about six to eight weeks to complete, with all the work done in their local store. The features of high-end custom cabinets, extensive solar and electrical systems, professional plumbing and everything in between are all tailor-made for each different van. “Our customers love our modern style farm buildings and this is a style that is most requested of us,” explains Stéphanie. “They use these vans for weekend adventures and national parks across the country.” Full for 2021, but now accepting applications for 2022. suncoastvans.com, @suncoastvans.
Photo courtesy of Sarasota Glamping
Our Van Quest / Sarasota Glamping
Camping is cool and all, but take it to the next level with a glampout on a campground at these luxury tent facilities. Sarasota Glamping makes set-up and take-down simple with their 13ft canvas tents which they stage with stylish furnishings and decor including queen-size bed and linens, bohemian design elements including rugs , fresh flowers, end tables with lighting and a comfortable seating area. After Gianna returned to Sarasota after building and living on the road with her husband and children in their converted sprinter van, then a school bus converted into a small house on wheels, the family decided to help others to living nomadically through the individual and family coaching from home life to life on the road. ourvanquest.com, @ourvanquest.
In addition, Gianna recently added another trendy outdoor sector to her repertoire, this one less mobile and more stationary. Now taking fall bookings, her new business, Sarasota Glamping, designs and creates a memorable outdoor experience for adventurers like her, but those seeking the comfy amenities that come with the luxury comforts of home or a hotel. Just book the campsite or the green space and she will take care of the rest. By setting up a giant canvas bell tent, Gianna will fill the yurt-like space with furniture, linens and decor reminiscent of Joshua Tree or Sedona. a real night under the stars. Official launch scheduled for November 2021. sarasotaglamping.com, @sarasotaglamping.
Photo taken by Wyatt Kostygan
Playing with bohemian decor, fringed umbrellas, woven rugs, comfy cushions, cane serving platters, rattan lantern stands, jute ottomans, fresh flowers, and wooden farmhouse tables covered with colored covered, Sarasota Alfresco engages the environmental communities of our region through ephemeral picnics in store. Using what’s already on-the-go along the rugged Suncoast coast, find the Sarasota Alfresco setups displayed on secluded bay-side frames, idyllic outdoor parks, campsites, and Sarasota-Manatee’s many beaches. Founder, event planner and creative director Jessica Chapman combines outdoor feng shui with luxurious comfort. Taking advantage of the natural depths of the Gulf, she then elevates the place with a dream setting and all the catering accessories for an unforgettable outing. “We take care of the details so you can relax on velor pillows and watch the sunset with your loved ones,” says Jessica. Each package includes decor design and delivery: stacked rugs, seat cushions, candles / lanterns, fully decorated wooden coffee table (s) with crockery, cutlery, glassware for dining ‘water and wine, linen napkins, a tablecloth and / or table runners, a wooden board with your personalized message, still or sparkling water, dried flowers for a touch of color and a fragrant touch of baby’s breath and eucalyptus for the centerpiece. A la carte additions take your event to a whole new level with upgrades such as fresh fruit platters and grazing boards from Lakewood Ranch Cheese & Deli, gourmet cakes from Morton’s Gourmet Market, a bar cart in rattan for sparkling BYOB, personalized handcrafted cocktail service and personal bartender, a personal photographer, a private yoga session, a vintage lace tee-pee and more. sarasotaalfresco.com, @sarasotaalfresco.
Photo courtesy of GuestWings.
With a list of gorgeous county, state, and private campgrounds in the Tampa Bay area, experience glamping in an iconic Airstream trailer. GuestWings is an airline delivery service providing chrome units 24 feet long, 8 feet wide and 10 feet high. Each airflow is fully equipped inside with a premium queen size bed ready to sleep, full bathroom, towels, linens, TV, digital thermostat, power outlets, USB chargers, microwave, and coffeemaker, which means you and your business can get a tight night’s sleep in a modern draft for a thrifty hotel alternative. GuestWings will deliver to campsites within a 75 mile radius of St. Pete, including Ft. DeSoto, Hillsborough River State Park, Myakka State Park or Little Manatee River State Park. They do towing, recoil and complete assembly. gwestwings.com, @guestwingsfl.
In partnership with Florida State Parks, Fancy Camps offers luxury campsites and camping packages along the Florida Gulf Coast and throughout the Sunshine State. Topsail Hill State Park hosts permanent Fancy Camps sites that can be booked, but if campers have other Florida state park destinations in mind, that’s a problem. Each package includes a 16ft bell tent, queen bed with linens, rugs, end table and pads, heater / cooler unit, outdoor lighting, additional outlets for charging small electronics, chairs wooden folding seats for outside seating, picnic table and fire ring. Additions like firewood, a camping stove, charcuterie boards, an entrance garland and a bouquet of wildflowers can be arranged to make it a very special experience to blow your SO’s hiking socks off. fantaisiecamps.com, @fancycamps.