Are you considering taking a recreational vehicle (RV) on your next road trip? Renting an RV is a great way to travel and enjoy the great outdoors while having a comfortable home on wheels.
While there are some things to consider before you book a rig (especially if you’re a first-time renter), doing so online is relatively easy. But as you complete the process, you’ll find that choosing the right type of RV is only half the battle. You also want to ensure you’re getting the best RV insurance.
Here’s everything you need to know about renting an RV, including how the process works, what to consider and how much it costs.
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How does RV rental work?
RVs are expensive, and buying one may not be a worthwhile purchase if you only use it occasionally. Renting one is a more affordable way to take the RV road trip of a lifetime.
Most RV rental companies allow you to book online. The process typically involves choosing your dates, the size or type of RV you want and your add-ons, such as bedding, kitchen tools or insurance.
When it’s time for your vacation, you’ll pick up the RV from the rental company or have it delivered to your desired location. Not all companies offer delivery, but those that do usually service a certain mile radius and charge a delivery fee.
Peer-to-peer RV renting vs. traditional RV renting
There are two types of platforms you can use to rent an RV: a traditional RV rental company or a peer-to-peer RV sharing website.
Traditional RV rental companies typically own a fleet of RVs available to rent online or through a local agency. On the other hand, peer-to-peer RV rental platforms are similar to Airbnb or Turo. The owners list their personal vehicles and trailers for travelers to book.
Peer-to-peer platforms offer more unique options than rental companies. However, much like Turo, your experience can vary based on the owner.
That’s not always bad — many people offer a great experience. Just be sure to read the listing details closely to ensure you know the RV’s condition and what the rental includes. Reading reviews is also helpful to determine if a host is reputable and trustworthy.
Using a traditional RV rental company also has its pros and cons. Although peer-to-peer sites are safe to use, some people may feel they can trust a larger rental company more. A downside is that rental companies typically have limited options with generic RVs that are less personalized.
The process of renting an RV
While you can book an RV quickly and easily online, there are some things to figure out first to get the right one for your vacation.
Plan your road trip logistics
Planning some key details of your RV trip can help you narrow down your options and decide what type of vehicle you need to rent.
Consider the following details:
- Attendees: How many people will travel in the RV? This can help you determine how many beds your RV must have to accommodate everyone comfortably.
- Trip duration: How long will you need the vehicle?
- Location: Where will you pick up your RV, and where are you going? Check for any limitations along your route, e.g., difficult roads, size restrictions, etc.
- Budget: How much do you expect to pay for your RV rental? Create a budget that accounts for the rental and extra expenses, like gas, campsites and insurance.
- Driver preferences: Who will drive the RV, and what size and type of vehicle are they comfortable with? This is an important aspect to consider because renting an RV that you’re not comfortable driving can create unnecessary stress.
- Car: If you want to tow your car with the RV, you’ll need one with the appropriate towing capabilities. Conversely, if you aren’t bringing your car and plan to drive your RV around for sightseeing, you may want a smaller model that’s easier to maneuver and park.
Decide what type of RV to rent
You can rent a towable RV that you attach to a truck, or a motorized RV that’s a standalone vehicle. If you want a towable trailer, keep in mind you’ll need a truck that can tow the appropriate weight of the trailer you choose.
Here’s a breakdown of the types of RVs that are available.
Travel trailers: Travel trailers come in all sizes, from mini teardrop campers to large 35-foot ones. These are typically towed with a receiver hitch attached at the back of your truck or SUV, near the bumper. Trailer hitch receivers come in different classes that vary based on the weight they can pull.
There are many subcategories of travel trailers. One option is a pop-up trailer. These are more compact when driving but have canvas elements on the sides that pop out when parked to expand the living space inside. Another type is a mini trailer, or teardrop trailer, which is the smallest towable available. It has less living space but is easy to transport.
Fifth wheels: Fifth wheels — also called “fivers” — are large trailers that are towed differently. Instead of a standard trailer hitch attachment, fifth wheels attach to a mechanism in the truck’s bed above the rear axle, allowing you to tow more weight with increased stability. Fifth wheels usually have larger kitchens and living spaces as well as larger capacity water and fuel tanks.
Toy haulers: Toy haulers are most commonly fifth wheels but can also be standalone motorized RVs. These sport utility RVs have both living and garage areas. The garage offers space to store gear, such as ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, kayaks or other things.
Class A motorhomes: Class A recreational vehicles are the largest and most luxurious RVs available, making them very comfortable to live in. These are great for long trips but may face limitations. They are more challenging to drive than other RV models and may not be allowed in some national or state parks. If you’re planning to rent one of these but also have a lot of sightseeing planned, consider towing your car along to use for excursions.
Class B motorhomes: Built on a van body, class B motorhomes are the most compact motorized option. These camper vans are a great choice for solo travelers or couples who plan to move around a lot during their travels. Despite the smaller size, class B recreational vehicles still have kitchenettes, bathrooms and sleeping areas. The bathrooms are usually wet baths, which have a combined toilet and shower area to maximize space. For sleeping areas, seats often convert to beds.
Class C motorhomes: Class C motorhomes are recognizable because of their cab, which resembles a pickup truck with living space that extends over the top of the cab. Class C recreational vehicles are a happy medium between the other two motorized options. They’re smaller and less luxurious than class A motorhomes, but not as confined as class B vehicles.
Choose an RV rental company
Luckily, there are many different rental companies to choose from so you can find the best vehicle for your family. The best way to rent an RV for you will depend on your location and what you want.
RV rental companies to choose from
As previously mentioned, you can use a peer-to-peer or traditional rental company. Here are some of your options.
Peer-to-peer RV rental options
RV rental company options
- Cruise America or Cruise Canada
- Escape Campervans
- El Monte RV
- Local RV rental companies
Before choosing a company, you should research the vehicles it offers. Additionally, compare the pricing and what’s included in the rental cost to find a good deal. Always check reviews of the RV host or rental company to ensure it’s a reputable option.
Determine if you need RV rental insurance
When renting an RV, you must have at least the minimum insurance coverage limits required in the state you’re renting.
Primary car insurance coverage
Your existing car insurance policy may offer some coverage for short-term RV rentals, but there are usually restrictions. Car insurance companies typically limit your RV rental coverage to trips lasting less than one month. Additionally, it may require the RV to be under a certain weight (usually around 12,000 pounds) with no more than four wheels.
Also, your primary car insurance coverage for RV rentals usually only applies to vehicular damage. That means it wouldn’t cover other damages, such as a kitchen fire. Your homeowners insurance may cover your personal items if they are stolen or damaged while in the RV.
RV rental insurance
Many RVs aren’t eligible for the coverage extended by car insurance policies. In such cases, you can purchase temporary RV rental insurance.
Even if the RV you’re renting is eligible for coverage through your car insurance, you may still want RV rental insurance for extra protection and peace of mind. But before purchasing temporary RV coverage, check with your insurance agent to see what your car insurance policy includes.
Most RV rental companies offer RV rental insurance you can add for an extra cost. While the included coverage varies based on the company, it typically includes:
- The minimum liability insurance limits required in your state
- Physical damage protection
- Roadside assistance
- Windshield coverage
Companies may offer different plan tiers, with more expensive options providing more coverage. Some extra coverage options commonly offered as add-ons include trip cancellation or delay coverage, lost or delayed baggage coverage, pet injury coverage or tire and wheel coverage.
Once you have your trip location planned and your RV booked, it’s time to reserve your spot at RV campgrounds.
When researching your options, consider the campgrounds’ limits, especially if you’re renting a large RV. Some have restrictions on what they can accommodate on their property.
You also want to consider the amenities you want. For example, you may want a campsite with a pool or park area. Or, you might prefer one with water or electrical hookups. Something to note is that if you plan on staying in a campground owned by a national park, hookups may not be available.
An alternative is to boondock, which is when you essentially park your RV in the “wild” (i.e., not at an RV park) without access to hookups. Boondocking is free, but make sure you follow local rules and regulations.
How much is an RV rental?
The cost of an RV rental varies based on the RV, company, fees, insurance, location and add-ons you purchase.
RV rental companies and peer-to-peer rental hosts typically charge a nightly rate. Some also charge for mileage, while others include unlimited mileage in the rate. In some cases, a company may include a specific number of miles in the nightly rate and charge for every mile after that.
The table below includes the average nightly RV rental costs, according to peer-to-peer rental company RVshare.
Cost for a model 10+ years old
Cost for a model 0-9 years old
RV rental fees and insurance
You may have to pay fees for certain things. Make sure you understand the extra costs because fees can add up quickly and cut into your budget.
Some common fees include:
- Pet fee
- Cleaning fee
- Delivery fee
- Generator fee
- Service fee
- Fee for kitchen tools
- Fee for bedding and linens
- Equipment add-ons (e.g., awning, grill, etc.)
RV rental insurance is another added cost. It’s typically around $15 to $30 per day, depending on the RV, company and coverage.
RV rental security deposit
Your RV rental company may require you to pay a security deposit when you book. This refundable deposit protects the RV owner or rental company in case of damage or loss to the RV or its contents. Your deposit will be refunded as long as you return the RV in the same condition you received it.
Extra expenses when traveling in an RV
You’ll run into other expenses outside of your rental costs when RVing. Consider the following things when planning your trip:
- Gas and propane
- Water and sewer
- Campsite usage fees
- Road tolls
- Parking fees
- Park entrance fees and other entertainment
Other things to keep in mind when renting an RV
Expect poor gas mileage
Unfortunately, RVs don’t get good gas mileage — usually around 10 miles per gallon, depending on its size. Diesel-powered motorhomes can get much better mileage, but the fuel is more expensive.
Make sure to have extra cushion in your budget to account for fuel, especially if you’re planning on driving a lot.
Know what accessories and tools are included in your rental
The accessories included in an RV rental vary based on the company or host. It’s common to pay extra for kitchen accessories (like pots and pans) or bedding and linens.
When booking your RV, confirm what the rental includes, especially if you’re booking through a peer-to-peer site. In some cases, you may need to bring your own supplies.
Review the company’s rules and regulations
Before you commit to an RV rental, review the company or host’s rules and regulations, including the following:
- Pet policy: If you plan on bringing your pet in your motorhome rental, review the pet policy to ensure it’s pet friendly.
- Refunds and cancellations: The rules around refunds can vary greatly depending on the host or company. Sometimes, you may only receive a partial refund if you cancel your reservation after a specific date.
- Travel restrictions: RV owners may enforce rules regarding where you can take it. Most commonly, hosts and companies don’t allow you to bring them to music festivals.
- Age restrictions: RV renters usually must be at least 25 years old, but some companies rent to individuals as young as 21.
- Pickup and drop off: Much like renting a car, RV rental companies typically have pickup and drop off times as well.
How much is an RV rental per day?
How much does RV rental insurance cost?
RV rental insurance typically costs $15 to $30 per day. The cost can vary based on the RV’s value and the coverage you purchase.
What are the benefits of renting an RV?
What time of year is best to rent an RV?
Spring and fall are some of the best times of the year to rent an RV, though it depends on where you’re going and what you want to do on your vacation. RVs can be more expensive and harder to book during peak summer months.
Summary of Money’s guide on how to rent an RV
Renting your first RV can be intimidating. But, with proper planning and research, your RV adventure can run smoothly.
You can rent an RV from a rental company that owns a fleet of vehicles or from an individual RV owner through a peer-to-peer rental service.
One of the most important things is to make sure you rent the right RV for your traveling group. You must make sure it’s big enough to comfortably accommodate everyone, and that the driver is comfortable behind the wheel.
Another important aspect to consider is RV rental insurance. Your car insurance policy may extend coverage, but there are likely restrictions. You can consider purchasing RV rental insurance through your rental company.