Wandering gypsies have always known about the joys of taking your house wherever you roam. Today, two craftsmen are revamping these nomad’s “vardo” structures into luxury gypsy wagon getaways.
RVs are more luxurious than ever before. But one old fashioned design is making a comeback too.
The elaborate horse-drawn gypsy wagon “vardo” caravans were one popular in the late 1800s by the nomadic British Romani people.
Woodworkers and the general public consider these decorated wooden wagons masterpieces. Over the last century, however, they faded from the public eye.
Today two west coast woodworkers are bringing vardo wagons back from the brink. Gypsy Getaway Wagons in Reno, Nevada and Sauna Surround You of Arcata, California are designing custom wooden works of art for an offbeat RVing experience.
Not your typical Burning Man RV
“It is meant to give people a way to bring art and nature into their much too frazzled lives,” says Gypsy Getaway Wagon’s founder, Jeff Deming.
Each year his gypsy wagon RV rentals stand out among the hundreds of conventional RVs at Burning Man, the annual art festival in the Nevada desert.
Deming is a former hospitality industry executive who today collaborates with three other artisans to create the unforgettable, funky gypsy wagon RV structures.
“I have been approached regarding high end western themed wagons. I have been approached with all kinds of themes actually, some of which are not fit for print! The design process is fun and we will do most any theme someone can envision. Each one is unique,” he explains.
A custom glamping wagon of your own starts at $18,800. But if you’re short on cash, you can rent one for as low as $69 per night or up to $149 per night on a summer weekend.
“Rates vary by season just as a hotel room would,” says Deming. He tows his gypsy wagon RV rentals all over the west for customers seeking a different kind of glamping experience.
Feedback from Deming’s customers is all positive. “The only complaint that I occasionally do get is that people can’t have a quiet drink at the end of the day if they are in a campground as everyone else in the campground wants to take a look inside!” he says.
Relax in nature with a wood fired rental sauna
Early gypsy wagon builders could never imagine that today, these rolling masterpieces would house luxuries like a mobile sauna. But the sky’s the limit for modern builders like Jeremy Chapman of Sauna Surround You. His mobile wood-fired dry saunas go everywhere from private events in the Northern California redwood forests to music festivals, art gatherings and even overseas.
The Arcata-based master carpenter builds every mobile sauna with Western red cedar and other high end materials. He started with one in 2014 and today builds at least a dozen each year. They coast about $275 a day for renters or as much as $15,000 for a custom-built creations.
If you rent one of his wood or propane fired portable saunas, extra luxuries are available. “We also offer ‘Sauna Tenders’ that help to create the perfect healing ambiance while sauna bathers use the sauna providing eucalyptus oils and towels. They also keep the sauna fire lit and the sauna comfortable and inviting,” Chapman explains.
When creating custom saunas, Chapman strives to match his clients’ design wishes with their values, passions and personalities.
“For instance choosing stained glass or colors to bring their sauna into alignment with their particular interests.
I work one on one with my clients to ensure they receive a unique and carefully crafted piece of functional and purposeful art that (although) built by me, reflects their own inner nature,” he explains.
Builders like Deming and Chapman are two innovative builders proving that RV glamping is so much more than just a cozy place to sleep—it’s an experience.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.