But what’s the best way to rent an RV? How much will one cost? And do you need to satisfy any requirements before you rent one of these vehicles? This guide will answer those questions and more to help you identify the best way to rent an RV for your upcoming vacation.
Can you rent an RV?
Whether you’re able to rent an RV depends on where you wish to do so, along with how old you are and, potentially, how good your credit is. You need to consider the laws, if any, in the state in which you will rent, specifically around renting RVs.
In most states, you need to be at least 21 years old to qualify to rent an RV – and often any other vehicle, too. However, some states have set their age limit at 25 years old. Also, some RV rental agencies have a 25-year-old limit, even when the state allows 21-year-olds to rent these vehicles.
If you satisfy all relevant age requirements, the next step is proving you have a valid driver’s license, and possibly of the right kind. While most RVs can be driven with a regular license, some states require a special endorsement to drive RVs that are especially long (40+ feet) and/or heavy (26,000+ pounds), or if you will be towing a trailer or additional car that may mean you exceed those limits.
Lastly, as with a car rental, you will likely be asked to provide a major credit card to qualify for an RV rental. Companies ask to keep a credit card on file so they have financial recourse available if you cause damage to the RV during your trip.
How to rent an RV
Once you know that you can meet all the requirements for renting an RV, the next step is finding the right company and vehicle for your trip. This section will provide tips and guidance for that process.
Choose a type of RV that is suitable for your type of trip
When deciding on the right RV for your trip, think of the size of vehicle you'll need. You might want to keep your rental costs down by renting a small RV, if your group is small and your trip is on the short side. Or you may prefer a larger recreational vehicle if you're planning a longer adventure, especially with more people on board.
You should also consider the amenities you'll need. If you're planning on having access to restaurants and bathrooms, and will be traveling in nice weather, you may only need sufficient sleeping space. In that case, a simple option such as a small travel trailer might be enough.
However, you may want a kitchen and toilet in addition to somewhere to sleep. In that case, you might opt for a larger (class A or B) motorhome. [https://www.campanda.com/magazine/which-rv-rental-is-right-for-you/]
Research the best RV rental companies
Chances are you will rent your RV from either a commercial rental agency or through sharing sites, such as RVShare.com, that bring together RV owners and would-be renters, rather as Airbnb does for stationary accommodations. Every company (or private owner) will have its own pricing, customer support options and policies, so look into the details and choose the one that best fits your needs.
For example, some companies will charge higher security deposits than others, which might be a barrier for you if your credit limits are low. There may also be differences in areas such as gas mileage allowances and the availability and modes of customer support. As well, some companies will require you to pay the full amount upfront, while others may let you pay the rental cost off over several months.
Review and price the available RVs
Once you've shortlisted one or more RV companies, start researching the various vehicles they offer.
As with booking a car, book in advance for the best selection and, usually, prices. Rental companies recommend booking at least six months in advance if you're planning a trip for summer. You'll probably have a wider selection if you're booking during an off-peak season. [https://www.authentikusa.com/us-en/faq/when-book-rv]
RV rental prices are typically expressed as a nightly rate. That rate will depend on the RV model you choose, the length of your rental, your pickup and drop-off locations and potentially other factors as well. [https://www.cruiseamerica.com/rv-adventures/rv-lifestyle/how-much-to-rent-an-rv]
Inquire about insurance and cancellation options
Some rental prices include RV insurance, while others don't. If a rental you're looking at doesn't come with insurance, your nightly rate should be lower than an option with insurance already included.
If it doesn't, begin your insurance research at the carrier that insures your own car. Some companies extend the coverage on vehicles you own to RVs you rent, at least for shorter rentals.
If you aren’t covered by your own insurance, you may need to buy RV insurance from the rental agency. Even if insurance is included, you may wish to supplement it with additional coverage (see the Tips for Renting an RV section below).
Cancellation policies can impact your choice as well. Consider both the percentage of a rental that can be refunded and how far in advance of your reservation you need to cancel in order to be entitled to that refund. Some companies offer several cancellation options at check-out.
One last thing to consider is your pick-up and drop-off options. Depending on your trip, you may need to drop off the RV at a different location than you picked it up. If not, it will be important to thoroughly research and plan your trip before booking a reservation.
Choose your preferred RV and secure your rental
Whether you’ve decided to rent an RV for a month or a week, all that’s left to do now is book your preferred vehicle. You can typically begin that process online. The company will ask for your driver's license details and may request other information as well. For example, some companies want to see credit and employment references.
You might also need to put down a security deposit upfront. If the RV is damaged during your rental, the cost to fix it (or part thereof) will come out of this deposit.
Some companies may give you the option of paying off your rental over time with monthly payments instead of charging you the full amount upfront. These may be worth looking into if you want to keep your immediate costs as low as possible.
Where to rent an RV
You can find RVs for rent on many different platforms, including local Craigslist and neighborhood-based social media sites like NextDoor. But if you want to give yourself as many options to choose from as possible, RV rental companies are the way to go.
These are businesses that focus exclusively on renting RVs to the public. They often have more options to choose from and may offer greater flexibility than local RV owners who rent their vehicles. Also, with an RV company, you will likely be able to pick up and drop off the RV you rent at different locations.
Some of the most popular RV rental companies include:
- El Monte RV: A traditional RV rental company that offers convenient one-way rental options
- RV Share: Matches RV owners and renters for peer-to-peer rentals, includes offers from professional RV dealerships
- Cruise America: A traditional RV rental company with more than 130 locations across the country, many of which are near popular tourist destinations like major national parks
- Outdoorsy: Matches RV owners and renters, similar to RV Share
- Camper Travel Bookings: A professional RV rental company for international travelers offering rental opportunities in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
All of these companies give you the ability to search for RVs available for rent in your area and reserve them online. But traditional companies like Cruise America and El Monte RV tend to offer delivery to your location as well, whereas peer-to-peer sites like Outdoorsy typically don’t.
Peer-to-peer sites like RV Share and Outdoorsy tend to have more unique offerings than major dealers. For example, you may be able to find vintage and quirky one-of-a-kind RVs that have been heavily customized by owners.
Tips for renting an RV
As you continue zeroing in on the best RV for your trip, it’s worth reviewing some of the most common advice given to new RV renters. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind before embarking on your first adventure in a rental RV.
Drive it before beginning your trip
You typically don’t need any special licenses to rent an RV in the United States. That’s convenient, but it also means you may not get any practice driving a recreational vehicle before your trip begins.
That’s why it can be a smart idea to spend the first day with your RV rental driving around an empty parking lot or country roads with minimal traffic.
Another aspect of getting comfortable with your RV is practicing using its sewage and electrical hookups. You should start by locating the locations of those on the vehicle. Then, if possible, practice attaching and detaching the hookups, which you may be able to do at the RV rental facility or at a local RV park. If that's not realistic, you will likely be able to find YouTube videos showing people attaching and detaching hookups for the RV model you're renting.
Don't forget to reserve a spot on an RV campground
If you’re planning an extended stay, make sure that you book a spot at the RV campground you're interested in. Spots can fill up fast, especially during peak travel times in the spring and summer. Try to book at least six months in advance if you're planning a trip for the busier summer months.
There are a variety of factors you may want to consider while choosing an RV campground, including:
- Affordability: Prices at RV parks often change by season. If you’re able to travel during fall or winter, you may be able to save some money
- Availability of electrical and sewage hookups: You may need these to access the full benefits of your RV, depending on the type you choose
- Proximity to your travel route: If you'll be doing a road trip, you may not want to drive too far away from your intended route to stay at an RV campground
- Nearby attractions: If you're interested in sightseeing, look for RV parks that are close to beaches, national parks or other attractions that you and your fellow travelers are interested in
- User reviews: Consider how previous travelers felt about their time in the campgrounds you’re looking at. Their experiences can inform your expectations for your own trip
Consider purchasing supplemental RV insurance and roadside assistance
Some insurers and RV rental companies include full insurance coverage in every booking, including protection for collisions, thefts, vandalism, bodily injury liability and damage from bad weather, among other incidents.
You might not need to purchase any supplemental coverage if you're using one of these companies. But if your coverage falls short, you may want to look into standalone coverage options to see how those plans compare to what the rental company or your own car’s insurer provides.
Another supplemental option to consider is a roadside assistance plan. If your RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere, it's usually important to be able to get help. Roadside assistance plans provide this type of support.
Best way to rent an RV FAQs
How much is it to rent an RV?
You may be able to pay a lower per-day rate on an RV rental by renting for a longer amount of time. For example, some companies offer reduced prices for monthly RV rentals.
What is the cheapest way to rent an RV for a month?
How old do you have to be to rent an RV?
Can you rent an RV one way?
Summary of the best way to rent an RV
RV trailers and homes for rent make it possible to take your dream road trip with friends or family without having to purchase a recreational vehicle yourself. But there are plenty of companies and vehicle types to choose from, which is why it’s important to do your research before signing any contracts.
If you want to optimize for affordability, try to rent a small RV during a non-peak travel season. Or if your priority is convenience, renting from a provider that offers online booking and delivery can save you a lot of time. No matter what type of RV holiday you’re interested in, there’s a great chance you will be able to find a rental that meets your needs.