Photo: LIAL/Shutterstock

How This Couple Turned a Free Cactus Into a Vanlife Rental Business

Road Trips
by Matador Creators Jun 15, 2023

Many of us are probably familiar with the concept of trading up. Find a good furniture deal on Craigslist, refurbish it, sell it for a profit. You know how it goes. Well, this couple took trading up to a whole new level when they turned a cactus into a sprinter van.

In 2019, Deanna and James saw a free cactus tree on Facebook Marketplace. Sensing an opportunity, they cut down all the branches and re-potted them for resale, which ended up netting them about $1,000. Not content to simply take their profits and run, they kept doing it, took the resulting $3,000, and – pivoting from the cactus industry – bought a vintage camper van.

@deannatdunn You can grab a free copy of our “Rental Roadmap” on my page that shows you how we started and passively run our van rentals by only working a few MINUTES a week! 🙌 . We could have never imagined back in 2019, that we would have a fully paid-off van that we turned into a passive business! 🤯 . Taking a few small steps today can change I everything ❤️ . #vanlifers #rvrental #rvtravel #passiveincometips #shorttermrentals #airbnbtips ♬ original sound – Deanna Dunn | Van Life | DIY

Though it took time, plenty of work, and an additional $1,000, the van was road ready and they started going on road trips. For many would-be flippers, the story might end there. But after taking the van on some trips, Deanna and James sold it for $12,000, took $6,000, and bought an old sprinter van. The other $6,000 they used to renovate it and traveled across the country. And what happened after that? You guessed it. They sold this van too, this time for $37,000.

Then, at the outset of COVID-19 In March 2020, the couple decided to enter the rental game, paying $20,000 for a second van, renovating it, and renting it out during quarantine. They couldn’t have picked a more perfect time to capitalize on the road trip market. Wisely, they sold this van for $85,000, used half of the profits to renovate a second van, and now, when they’re not using it, rent it out for $4,00-$7,000 per month.

The lesson here isn’t that cactuses are goldmines. But with a little ingenuity, luck, impeccable timing, and enough wanderlust, a seemingly small find could potentially lead to an epic travel experience.

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