Grown Locally: Sleep Outside Tonight offers a van camping experience.

May 3, 2022

Grown Locally: Sleep Outside Tonight offers a van camping experience.

Grown Locally is presented by House of Flavors Restaurant of Ludington and features locally owned businesses and locally produced products.

By Katie Provenzano, MCP Correspondent

LUDINGTON – Melissa Alvarado did not grow up camping. She embraced the culture as an adult, even tent camping alone in winter weather. “That’s when I fell in love with being outside,” Alvarado said, adding that tent camping solo isn’t for everyone. Alvarado started a van rental business, Sleep Outside Tonight, providing a way for others to experience the joy of outdoors with the safety and convenience of traveling in a van.

Alvarado found Paulie, her 2006 Freightliner Sprinter, on a used van website in November of 2021. Paulie was in Utah and required a plane ride out and a drive back to Ludington. This trip was a chance for Alvarado and Paulie to be acquainted.

With the help of interior designer Tammy Gerber, Alvarado gave Paulie functional and aesthetic upgrades. The folded queen mattress was replaced with three separate mattress cushions that serve as a couch when the bed frame is pushed back. Decorative pillows are filled with blankets and bedsheets for easy access at bedtime. The small kitchen houses a Keurig coffee maker, cookware, dishes, silverware, and a small oven with a gas range. Alvarado insulated Paulie with New Zealand wool keeping the interior warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

The van’s electricity including lights, outlets, and heat are all solar-powered. Even a small fridge hidden under the bench at the kitchen table is powered by the sun.

Alvarado has learned a lot about RV rentals since purchasing Paulie. From 2019 to 2021, campers booking on peer-to-peer websites has increased from 6% to 10%.

Camping and glamping enthusiasts can book Paulie on ( and ( Search for Ludington and look for Paulie. Alvarado will deliver Paulie as far as the Grand Rapids airport. Paulie is equipped with two seat belts and sleeps two adults in her queen bed. Don’t leave your furry friends at home; dogs are welcome to join in on the adventure!

Grown Locally is presented by House of Flavors Restaurant, 402 W. Ludington Ave., owned locally by the Neal family for over 70 years; 231.845.5785; Facebook.  

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