Local educators Steve and Mary Rappleyea, along with one of their three children, Alec Rappleyea, have turned one of their greatest passions — traveling in an RV to some of the nation’s most iconic and off-the-beaten-trail spots — that they decided to turn it into a business.
Friends, families, couples or even a lone wolf can rent one of the Rappleyeas’ three RVs (Freeda, Treme and Artemis) for various motor journeys that they’ve dreamed of going on, but never had a motorhome at their disposal. Not only that, but the Rappleyeas will use their decades of knowledge to help people plan a route and get accustomed to driving a vehicle of that size, as well as add on customized items that might fit their travel plans, including bikes, electric bikes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
“We’ve been traveling with the kids since they were little, and we’ve been to 49 states together,” said Steve. “This weekend we’re meeting up in Hawaii, which will be our 50th state. It’s a weird accomplishment, but it’s a milepost and speaks to how fond we are of traveling and spending time together and in nature. It’s restorative. I call it a way to live small inside so that you can live big outside. It’s similar to the tiny house movement. You live with less so that you can do more.”
Mary, a retired New Paltz High School art teacher, concurred. “It’s like a little cottage industry. We’re just looking at new ways of using an existing space.”
Mary traveled as a child across the country with her parents in 1975 and said it was one of her favorite memories. “It was so exciting to recreate that with my own children, and one time there were our three and some of my nephews and there were seven kids in a wagon pulling a trailer. It was extraordinary to see places that were both sublime and mundane and just to be in the moment and excited to turn around every corner.”
Alec, who is a digital nomad as a technical engineer manager, currently based in Singapore, also recalled his time growing up and various cross-country adventures with his family, and how he loved it so much that he recently bought an RV of his own. “Some of my favorite moments were just traveling with my family and hanging out with my cousins and exploring a river or a new campground or hiking through the woods, trying to body-surf in an ocean,” he said. “We didn’t need any water parks or arcades or fancy attractions. We were just excited to be together and be exploring whatever new place we were in – having a campfire, climbing a tree, having rock-skipping contests, jumping in a new river and seeing who could last the longest in the cold water.”
Mary pointed out that an RV is very much like an Airbnb on wheels. “People often think of traveling across country as this iconic American rite of passage, which it is; but Europeans also love to travel by RV. We’ve rented one in Spain and had an amazing trip.” She noted that, while it’s a great thing to do with a young family – as she did when she was a child and then was able to do with her own children dozens of times – it’s also a way to bring different generations together. “We’ve done many trips with my parents, who are in their 90s,” she said. “It’s such a comfortable way for them to travel. We’ve done trips with aunts and uncles and cousins and friends. You can just combine the family you have in the moment and go.”
Although they rented their RV privately to people when it was not in use, this decision to expand and professionalize their business has been a family affair. Alec is definitely on the technology side of the business and has made their website user-friendly and interactive and easy to navigate. Mary is the one who gets people excited about all of the opportunities that are out there and helps them to customize their trip. Steve comforts them about learning to drive the RV and evaluating the various sizes of the vehicles to determine which one may best suit their needs.
“We’ve had best girlfriends and their kids rent an RV to go on a road trip to Philadelphia, and we’ve had military buddies get together and plan a Halloween route that would take them to spooky sights and haunted places, and siblings who wanted to take their father on a bucket-list adventure,” recounted Steve. He said that he wishes “people would come to us sooner in the planning process, because we’ve had so much experience and we can help them avoid pitfalls or plan routes that will really provide them with the specific trip or adventure they’re looking for.”
He also noted that it’s one thing to see a place through a hotel window that doesn’t move, but “an entirely different thing to see a place from a moving window and then to get out and explore it by foot. It’s really about being where your feet are.”
Alec concurred. “We started out hiking and backpacking and camping when I was younger, and then we got a pop-up camper and eventually an RV, and it gave us so much exposure to different places and just this sense of eagerness and adventure that’s really infectious.”
Not everyone has the ability or desire to own an RV or experience one, and this gives them a chance to test it out, get a feel for living on the road. It can take them to places that they might not otherwise get to. To learn more about Drive Home Rentals and the family-owned-and-operated business, go to https://drivehomerv.com/?fbclid=IwAR278stC8bLzWX1nbT63MCxWVKdoferZ1lakB738q8QY9bQ84xIHcPGDXgo.