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RVs at Campground.

How to Rent an RV (Tips from a Renter + Rentee)

Whether you're sick of tent camping or you're tired of crowded hotels and want to branch out, renting an RV is a great way to vacation. Luckily, these days booking an RV is as easy as renting a hotel (and often cheaper). It's also a great way to experience RV life without dropping major money on a rig of your own (although renting is also a great way to try before you buy!). I've personally rented campers myself and gone on trips with other renters, and while it's a little nerve-racking to drive someone else's set of wheels down the highway, overall these have been positive experiences that I'd 100% do again. I also spoke to a coworker of mine who rents out her RV to vacationers, to get some perspective from the other side of the fence (thanks, Katie!). Here's what I've learned from renting, what Katie wishes all renters knew, and what you should know before you embark on your own vacation. In this article:

What Does it Cost to Rent an RV?

The good news is that there are campers available for almost any budget. If you want to keep costs down, you can usually rent a pop-up camper or small travel trailer for around $70-$100 per night. If you want to go with a little more luxury, you can spring for a drivable motorhome (usually around $200-$300 per night).
Average RV Rental Costs
RV TypeRV TypeAvg Per Night (Outdoorsy)Avg Per Night (RV Share)
Class A Motorhome Illustration.
Class A Motorhome $273 $308
Class B Van Illustration.
Class B Motorhome $311 $284
Class C Motorhome Illustration.
Class C Motorhome $183 $209
Travel Trailer Illustration.
Travel Trailer $100 $116
Fifth Wheel Camper Illustration.
5th Wheel $154 $169
Toy Hauler Illustration.
Toy Hauler $125 $139
Pop-Up Camper Illustration.
Pop Up $69 $78
Not sure where to start or which type is right for you? Check out our article on the differences between camper classes.
Don't forget to factor in additional expenses for your trip. Here are some of the costs associated with camping trips you may or may not have thought of:
Campsite RentalsThe average RV campground price is around $30 - $100 per night, and this depends in large part on when you go (camping off-season is generally less expensive) and what type of amenities you're looking for. For instance, sites with electric and water hookups cost more than "primitive camping" sites. Fuel PricesObviously, fuel prices vary by area. But for reference, a Class A can hold about 150 gallons of fuel (some models are gas, and others are diesel). These drivable campers get around 6-10 mpg (for gas) or 8-14 mpg (diesel). You won't have to fuel up a towable camper, but it will affect the fuel economy of your vehicle by at least a few mpg. GroceriesYes, you have to buy food anyway. But often when preparing for a camping trip, you're stocking up and buying things you might normally forgo, like those extra-large marshmallows or that 6-pack of beer.
None of this is meant to scare you off renting a camper. Quite the opposite — RV camping can actually be cheaper than renting a hotel, and you'll have way more freedom in a camper than in a stuffy room. It's just important to be prepared and map out your expenses ahead of time for the best possible trip.

RV Rental Companies vs Peer-to-Peer Renting

The first choice you'll need to make is choosing who you will rent your RV from: an individual or a company. Think of this like choosing between a hotel or an Airbnb—there are perks and pitfalls to each. Some popular peer-to-peer websites include Rvshare, Outdoorsy, and Rvezy, while Cruise America and El Monte are popular corporate rental sites. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll say here that I've personally only rented from peer-to-peer sites, so my experience is based off those instances. Also, this isn't a review of RV rental sites, so I won't go in depth comparing each one. But in general, here are a few things to consider when choosing between rental options:
R-Pod Rental Camper.
Pictured: The adorable R-Pod I rented from RVshare a few years back
Pros of Renting Peer to Peer
  • Flexibility - Individuals are not bound by company policies, so they are more likely to offer flexible cancellation policies, delivery locations, amenities, etc.
  • Extra amenities - RV owners will often include daily necessities like bedding and cookware at no additional charge. Since you're renting their personal RV, you might also find rigs with other fun extras. For instance, I've seen rentals that include everything from an X-Box to fishing gear.
  • Knowledgeable Owners - The people renting out these campers know them better than anyone and are usually very helpful in their walkthroughs. (For instance, the owner of the R-Pod pictured above shared tips for extending the tricky awning.)
  • Variety - Why not try out a vintage teardrop or a fifth wheel with the perfect bunkhouse? Your options are more limited when renting from a company, but there are endless options when renting peer to peer.
Cons of Renting Peer to Peer
  • Conditions may vary - You're renting from an individual, so maintenance and cleanliness will be up to the owner. You'll want to check reviews of an RV owner before you rent from them. Most want to keep their units in top shape (they're generating revenue from them, after all), but there's always that chance the unit doesn't look like its photos. (Kind of like my last Tinder date—kidding.)
  • Fees - Depending on the person renting out the RV, you may run into extra fees ("cleaning fees" are becoming more common). However, sometimes these are included in the base price.
Travel Trailer Hooked Up to Truck.
Pros of Renting from a Company
  • One-way and long-term options - An RV owner isn't going to let you drive cross country and drop off their RV in another state. Most major rental companies offer this option, however. Sometimes these companies even offer heavily discounted one-way specials.
  • Consistently Clean - Companies typically offer newer RV models, and you can usually rest assured the unit will be clean.
Cons of Renting From an Company
  • Bare Necessities Cost Extra - Cookware and bedding often cost extra. For instance, Cruise America charges $75 for a "personal kit" that includes towels and bedding and $125 for a "vehicle provisioning kit" that includes cookware. Often these are included with peer-to-peer renting.
  • Less variety - You likely won't find that unique, boho-themed vintage teardrop someone is renting out on Rvshare. Most commercial RV rentals are new, but generic.
Other Rental Policies
Regardless of which rental type you choose, there are a few policies you'll want to look into.
  • Location - Does the rental site provide RVs in your location? Will you have to pick up the RV, or is delivery an option? How much does delivery cost? If campers in your budget aren't available in your area, you might find a good option by expanding your search radius. You might also consider driving or flying to your destination, then renting an RV there. Depending on the location, this can cut down on driving, delivery, and rental costs.
  • What insurance and roadside assistance packages are offered? - Many rental sites include insurance. For instance, RVshare includes insurance in all their rental prices and also offers additional protection packages for purchase.
  • Does your rental come with unlimited mileage? If not, how many travel miles are allowed, and what's the fee per mile for going over? (It's typically around 25 - 75 cents per extra mile.)
  • Do you need a pet-friendly RV? If so, make sure your unit allows furry friends.
  • What is the cancellation policy? Stuff happens, after all.

What to Bring To Your RV Pickup

To make sure the pickup process runs smoothly, make sure to show up with any necessary equipment for towing (provided you're renting a towable rather than a drivable rig). It's a good idea to double-check with the person you're renting from to make sure you have everything you need and see what they provide. To tow a camper, you'll generally need:
  • A vehicle rated to tow the camper - Check out our guide here to learn more about determining your vehicle's tow capacity.
  • A hitch on your vehicle.
  • A brake controller - This is a small electronic device that syncs the camper's brakes with your vehicle's brakes, so that when you hit the brake pedal, both stop together. Brake controllers are required in many states.If your vehicle doesn't have a built-in factory brake controller, you can install one. Alternatively, if you have a 7-way plug on your vehicle, you can use a portable controller like the Curt Echo. The Echo is easy to recalibrate to different tow vehicles and trailers, which is why I like it.
Make sure to talk to the RV owner about any other equipment you might need.
Travel Trailer at Campsite.

What to Ask About During Your RV Pickup

Make sure you know how to operate everything before driving off. The RV owner or company rep should go over the ins and outs of the RV with you, and some even send how-to videos ahead of time. Here are some of the main things you should ask about:
  • How to dump the tanks (+ where the hoses are)
  • How to turn on the propane
  • How to turn on the water heater, stove, and fridge
  • How to pull out awnings and slideouts
  • How to level and stabilize the camper
Recommended reading: Check out these tips for first-time RVers, where we cover the basics like hooking up and setting up the camper for the first time.
Rented R-Pod Camper.
What An RV Owner Wishes Renters Knew
I mentioned my coworker Katie, who (along with her husband) rents out two campers through peer-to-peer sites. I asked them a few questions about their RV renting experience, what they wish people knew, and why RV renting has become such a hit. Here's what they had to say:
Katie J.
Katie J., RV Owner
Q: How prepared are most renters in terms of knowledge, equipment, etc?A: Most of the time renters do not understand the equipment involved. I have made it mandatory now that all renters have a brake controller installed prior to departure and most times I have to explain why. However, over the course of renting, I have acquired pretty much all the equipment (hitches, leveling equipment, weight management, etc.) that a renter will need during their trip to make this easier. I’ve also put together some videos and instruction sheets that help educate people with any level of experience about my specific units.Q: Is there anything you wish people knew or asked about prior to starting the rental process?A: A big thing for me is just a common knowledge of campers in general. Common issues that may happen with the fridge, water heater, A/C, furnace, hooking up and dropping off. I get a lot of people who get easily frustrated at something going wrong when it is a simple fix most of the time. The other big thing is how to properly dump a camper. Just recently I wrote out all of the steps in detail about how to dump the tanks and refill the black tanks. Most people do not know that the black tank needs to have a significant amount of water in it before use to operate correctly. Q: Why do you think people choose to rent from individuals rather than commercial renter sites?A: I think that it is a big trend towards the “Airbnb local” style of renting. For one, you get a very wide range of trailers to pick from on these sites and a hopefully very knowledgeable owner about that specific unit. I think there is also the feeling of having a more unique experience and getting the freedom to do what they want!

Other Burning Questions

Can You Rent an RV One Way?

Yes, many rental companies allow you to rent an RV for a one-way trip. Some even offer discounts or incentives for one-way travel because the companies actually need people to transport their RVs from one place to another. (Of course, this is typically seen with commercial RV rentals rather than peer-to-peer rentals.)

Can You Rent an RV Long Term?

Yes. Commercial RV companies often offer long-term rental options. Depending on where you rent your RV, you may need additional insurance coverage for a long-term rental.

How Old Do You Need to Be to Rent an RV?

Every RV rental company I've seen requires drivers to be at least 21. Others require you to be 25. Some charge supplemental fees if you're between 21 and 24 because you're considered a higher-risk renter.

Do I Need a Special License to Rent an RV?

In the vast majority of cases, you don't need any license beyond a valid US driver's license to rent an RV. There are a few exceptions. Some states require you to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) if your rig is over 26,000 lbs or over 40 feet long. Most rigs come in far below this, so this probably won't be an issue for you. But if you're looking at a larger RV, check the requirements for your state and any state you plan to travel through.

Conclusion

Overall, I've very much enjoyed my rental experiences and would highly recommend RV renting to anyone considering it. It's a great way to go somewhere new while keeping the comforts of home. If you have questions I missed or want to share your own renting experience, let me know in the comments. Happy camping!Related ContentRelated ProductsWritten by: Amber S.Updated on: 3/2/23

Mark T.

4/7/2023

RVShare and Outdoorsy both have insanely outrageous insurance fees. When I was looking at a 9 day motorhome rental in Alaska they wanted $800 just for insurance. I just check on a trailer locally and they want $235 for a week of insurance. I don't even pay that much for an entire year of insurance for my trailer! It is a ripoff plain and simple.

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.

4/8/2023

@MarkT Just like purchasing any other insurance, shop around as much as you can. Will your auto insurance carrier not cover that rental for you?

Mark T.

4/10/2023

@MikeL What I discovered about Auto insurance, as well as most all the credit cards, is that they do not cover insurance for any vehicles with more than 4 wheels. And many have exclusions these days for recreational vehicles as well, so even a 4 wheel RV rental is likely excluded. So neither my auto insurance nor credit cards were going to work for the motorhome in Alaska. I did find a couple rental companies in Alaska that either include insurance, or make it available at a reasonable rate. These options come out cheaper than RVShare because of the $800 insurance adder (which is not optional). I searched hard for a company that would just provide short term RV Rental insurance and found nothing.


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