How to Rent an RV
Posted: March 03, 2022
Categories: Travel & Lifestyle
How to Rent an RV
Ready to take that jump into the RV lifestyle? Let’s Go!!
Have you driven past a busy campground in the summer, packed full of RVs and wished you could be camping too? Maybe you are over the struggle of tent camping and vowed you will never wake up wet, hot or mosquito bitten again. It’s a bit overwhelming at first to jump in the RV pool with both feet. Do you want a motorhome or a travel trailer? There is a lot to learn as a newbie RVer and one of the best ways to learn what you like is to rent a motorhome or towable and take a few trips to test out the waters.
There are a few websites that offer a selection of RVs available to rent. Here is an overview of the steps you need to take to begin your fun trip into the world of RVing.
Research the site you wish to use.
1. Most sites are similar to the concept of how Airbnb works.
2. Make sure it is a reputable site. Read reviews and if everything checks out, create an account.
3. Choose the days you are interested in picking up and returning the RV.
4. Choose the radius around the location you are willing to pick up and return the RV. Tip: you can save money and time by renting your RV nearer to your destination. Just make sure you have a plan for where to store your vehicle if you are not bringing it on the duration of your trip.
5. Some sites will filter your selection by asking you how many people are planning to stay in the RV with you. This will help narrow down the size of the RV you will need to rent.
6. Start browsing! This is the fun part, go through pictures, read owner bios and reviews from previous renters. Maybe you have a specific brand of RV you are interested in. Go for it!
It really is that simple! But, if you were thinking there is a little more to it — um, fine print — then you are absolutely right. To help us understand all of the advanced details involved in renting an RV, we reached out to Jen Young, Co-Founder and CMO of the RV rental site, Outdoorsy for some clarification. Here is what she had to say:
What does the process look like for someone who would like to rent an RV?
“The rental process is intuitive and works like many car and hotel reservation sites. Start by visiting outdoorsy.com and entering the desired location and dates.
Browse your RV options on the results page and use the filters to refine your search. You can view any listing to see available add-ons, amenities, photos and vehicle descriptions. When you’re ready to reserve, make sure you’ve created an account on Outdoorsy, then click on “Request Booking” and tell the owner a little bit about yourself and your travel plans. We suggest submitting 1 or 2 booking requests in case your first rental choice isn’t available.
While waiting for a response, be sure to upload your driver’s license for the driver verification process and complete your profile. Once you receive a confirmation, you’ll need to log back into Outdoorsy to finalize and pay the reservation deposit. This is a good time to look over all the fine print (i.e. restrictions, cancellation policies, etc.) so there are no surprises.
Stay in touch with the owner leading up to your departure to coordinate a good pickup or delivery time. They’ll be your best resource for any RV questions and trip suggestions.
Do you have to carry insurance on the rented RV?
We invented episodic insurance for RV rentals. And then took this new marketplace insurance for peer-to-peer recreational vehicles global – which makes us the only RV rental company with an insure-tech layered on top.
The way insurance works on our platform: an owner has their own personal policy for their vehicle which covers it when it’s not being rented. Then we provide the episodic coverage for when it is out on a rental since personal policies don’t typically cover rental drivers.
Each of our rentals includes industry-leading insurance coverage, 24/7 live support and free roadside assistance. The insurance is mandatory so that we can ensure both our renters and owners are protected, but renters have a choice in which tier of insurance package they choose for their trip – we have several tiers of coverage available depending on how many additional protections you or the owner would like added in and what deductibles you’d like.
Depending on the tier of coverage the renter selects for their RV rental, the renter would be responsible for the cost of the deductible — ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 depending on the level of a protection — if an incident were to happen.
Within these tiers, prices range depending on the vehicle you’re in and whether you’ll be driving/towing the vehicle or having it delivered (we just created a fourth tier of episodic insurance for delivery rentals that's even more affordable since you won’t be moving the vehicle).
Regardless of which tier package you choose, you’ll be protected with physical damage protection and the state minimum liability insurance protection.
This insurance is embedded in the rental process with no additional premiums or monthly fees for owners. Outdoorsy’s protection is fully integrated and requires no additional effort outside of basic vehicle information from the owner and a renter background check for each rental. Outdoorsy’s coverage extends to all states (except New York), as well as vehicles traveling into Canada. (Our insurance does not extend into Mexico).
What is the price range for renting RVs?
RV rental prices average between $50 and $275 a night, depending on the class type of the RV. Remember, though, that RV rental rates can fluctuate based on location, season, and added amenities. With that being said, below we’ve listed some average rental RV prices, so you have a better idea of what to expect.
Pop Up Trailer: $50 to $100 per night Travel Trailer: $50 to $125 per night Fifth Wheel: $60 to $150 per night Class A: $175 to $275 per night Class B: $100 to $200 per night Class C: $150 to $200 per night.
What types of RVs can you rent?
If you're unfamiliar RVing, begin by researching the different types of RVs that are available. Think about the needs of you and your crew, and be sure to choose an RV that best suits your lifestyle.
Phoenix, Arizona. Highlights include an always-sunny climate, hiking among towering cacti at Saguaro National Park, and camping in the Superstition Mountains. Not to mention, the Grand Canyon is just a 3-hour drive away.
At $199/night, this creatively compact campervan (with its own indoor shower) can get you where you want to go
Los Angeles, California. Ditch the city dwellers and give yourself some space with a daytrip to the ethereal landscape of Joshua Tree or the desert oasis of Palm Springs. Whether you choose to bask poolside at a spa or soak in the sunset on a hike, stoic scenery abounds.
At $159/night, this renovated Coachmen Leprechaun just might inspire you to take this whole vanlife thing full-time
Salt Lake City, Utah. Highlights include scenic sunsets over the Great Salt Lake, picnicking in the Wasatch Forest and hitting the slopes in nearby Park City. Not to mention, you’re within a 5-hour drive of 5 epic national parks.
At $250/night, this lovely campervan named Luxury can get you where you want to go
How long can you rent an RV?
You can rent for as long (or as little) as you like, but most RV owners will have a 2-night or 3-night minimum on their RV rentals, and most will offer a discount on longer rentals — some might offer up to 10% off for weeklong rentals.
Are all RVs privately owned or are some owned by dealers on a rent to own program?
Approximately 90% of the RVs, campervans and trailers listed for rent on Outdoorsy are owned by individual RV owners, with the other 10% owned by a mixture of RV dealers and what we call “Pros” — or RV owners who rent out 3 or more vehicles on Outdoorsy.
Unlike the Cruise Americas of the world, Outdoorsy does not own our own fleet or inventory of vehicles. Outdoorsy isn’t about the cookie-cutter RV lifestyle (although we’ll gladly take a cookie). Renters can find a vehicle that fits their personal style, personality, and travel needs — anything from Sprinter vans with wood-paneled interiors and solar-paneled roofs, teardrop trailers that can be towed by a Prius, Instagrammable airstreams, and drivable Class B campers.
What does someone need to know before they rent an RV? (How to drive/tow etc?)
Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a special license to drive an RV.
60 percent of Outdoorsy owners offer delivery for those who want to get outdoors on a trip, but don’t want to actually drive an RV. Owners will deliver the RV to your campsite and get everything set up for your arrival, meaning it’s a contact-free key exchange and you can spend less time setting up camp and more time on what matters most: spending free time with family, friends, or your furry friend.
Make reservations: You should always make reservations at an RV park you want to stay at. Yes, you can just show up sometimes and get lucky, but we strongly recommend against doing this. The sooner you’re able to secure a campground reservation, the better!
RV parks: When you travel, you’re most likely going to be staying at an RV park of some kind. There are a great many of them all over the country and you’re likely to find them anywhere you need them. Doing a Google search — or utilizing apps like The Dyrt, Roadtrippers, or searching on websites like RVontheGo.com and Harvest Hosts — for RV parks in the area you want to visit will turn up lots of options for you. Be sure to read reviews though because park quality can vary widely.
Hookups: This refers to the utilities that the RV park offers. Full hookups mean they have water, electricity, and sewer. Some will have partial hookups and will say which of these they offer. Some will have none. Occasionally there will be a cable TV hookup as well. Electricity will be measured in AMPS: 20, 30, or 50. You need to know what Amperage your trailer is supposed to hook up to. If there are no hookups, this is often called “Boondocking.”
Length: You need to know how long your RV is when making reservations. If you have a trailer, you want trailer length without the tow vehicle. Not every park can accommodate every RV.
Pull-through or backup: A pull-through site lets you come in one side and leave through the other. It’s nice and easy. A backup site requires you to back the RV up into the site. As a first timer, a pull-through is easier for you. Travel trailers are especially tricky to back up with and take a fair bit of practice. Class A’s are easier than you might imagine as they generally include a backup camera.
Read the rules: When you get to the campground, read the rules sheet they give you. Following camp rules will make your stay much nicer and make all your neighbors much happier.
Driving: Overall, driving an RV is not especially difficult. The size can make it unfamiliar and nerve-wracking at first, but you’ll be a pro in no time with a little bit of practice.
Why rent instead of buying an RV?
Buying an RV can be an overwhelming experience. There’s so much to research, understand and ask. While browsing RVs in person at a dealership can help narrow your purchase, it won’t show you what it’s like to actually sleep, shower and cook in your dream RV or campervan. The only thing that can truly increase your confidence in your RV purchase is to spend time driving one (and camping in one) firsthand.
The beauty of renting an RV on Outdoorsy is that you can try on all shapes and sizes of vehicles before making a commitment to the cost of owning one. The majority of RV and campervan owners only use their rigs for two weeks out of the year, which leaves 50 weeks of paying for a place to store your RV or watching it sit idle in the driveaway. Whether you choose to take a solo trip to Big Bend National Park in an airstream or take your family to the beach in a fifth wheeler, Outdoorsy offers 40,000-plus options to match your personal style.
The cost of renting an RV is also more budget-friendly than staying in a hotel when you travel. In fact, there’s data to back this up: A 2018 report from RVIA found that a four-person travel party could save anywhere from 21 to 64 percent when traveling in an RV versus air, while a two-person travel party could save 8 to 53 percent, depending on factors such as the type of RV and type of vacation.”
Additional Fees Explained
There are some additional fees that can accrue when renting an RV. From optional upgrades to deposits or penalties for breaking the rules, here are some of the most common from multiple RV rental sites. All the prices are approximate and are listed to give a general idea of the average price range.
- Add on a generator for boondocking, $20/night
- Leave the water tank dumping to the owner $50
- Add on a portable grill $75
- Need a bike rack? $50
- Early pick up $50
- Kitchen or bathroom package $100
- Parking for your vehicle at the pickup site $10/day
- Refundable security deposit $1,000
- Excess mileage >100 miles per day/$0.50 a mile
- Upgraded rental insurance $18 a day
Taxes vary depending on the state where you are renting the RV. Service fees vary and should be agreed upon at the time of booking so there are no surprises. Post-trip fees can be added after your trip and can include mile overages, generator overages, tolls, damage, excessive cleaning, traffic violations, late fees, pet fees, refueling fees, propane overage, abandonment fee, late return, lost keys.
Common Rules when Renting an RV
- No smoking
- No pets/pet friendly
- Pickup 3pm/Drop off 12pm
- No music festivals/festival friendly
- No tailgating/tailgating friendly
- No climbing or sitting on the roof
- No dirt roads unless on the way to campground
- No off-roading
If you're interested in learning more about general camping rules and etiquette, check out our complete list of tips and tricks for beginners.
Final Tips on Renting Your First Camper
Make sure you investigate the owners and the sites cancellation policy so there are no surprises or expectations should you need to cancel or should the owner of the coach need to cancel your reservation.
Motorhomes tend to be more expensive than towables to rent. The location, time of year, type of RV and length of time all contribute to price fluctuations.
Some owners offer instant booking. This means you do not need to wait for the owner to approve your reservation. You can book right now and reserve this RV.
Many owners offer delivery. This is very helpful if you do not have a tow vehicle and would like the travel trailer delivered to a campground of your choice. This varies as it is set by the owner, but a random look revealed this to be about $200 round trip for the first 50 miles plus $2 a mile up to 120 miles.
Want to rent out your RV?
Create your listing on your chosen platform. Add photos, a description and location of your RV. Decide your rules and restrictions as well as offers and upgrades. Once your listing goes live, visit your dashboard and manage all your booking requests. Once you book your first renter, meet them and give them the rundown on your RV and some tips for traveling.
Most sites say you can expect money in your bank account within 24 hours of a returned rental. They also advertise that you can make $40k-$50K per year just by renting your RV but that will vary based on your RV type, how often it is rented, where you are located and other circumstances. Expect the rental site to charge an average of 20-25% of your fees.
For more information, look for our future blog post on How to Rent Out Your RV.