Everything you need to know about renting an RV

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Traveling and even living in a recreational vehicle (RV) has exploded in popularity over the past few years.

While RVing has been popular for a while, the pandemic kicked RVing into high gear. A survey by the RV Industry Association in 2020 reported that 20% of respondents became more interested in RVing due to the pandemic. With travel shut down or restricted, people turned to camping and traveling in RVs as a way to get out while remaining socially distanced.

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Although the interest in RVing is high, not everyone can afford to purchase their RV. Especially when you add in the cost of maintaining an RV, pulling one, and potentially storing one, RV ownership isn’t feasible for most.

The good news is, nowadays, you can rent just about anything, and RVs are no different. Just like short-term vacation homes and cars, you can also rent an RV and get the best of both worlds.

Read on for an overview of everything you need to know to rent an RV, including the types, cost to rent an RV, where you can rent an RV, and when you should consider renting an RV.

Types of RVs 

The first question you may have regarding RVs is whether you need a special license to drive/tow one.

Luckily, the general rule is that you do not need a special license to drive/tow an RV weighing less than 26,000 pounds or less than 40 feet. Even better, most RVs fall under that weight and length, especially RVs that you’d be potentially renting.

Any restrictions or special license requirements will be disclosed during the rental process when you rent an RV, so you shouldn’t have to worry. However, if you’re concerned or traveling out of state, you can check with the state DMV for special licensing requirements.

The second question you may have when renting an RV is what the different types are? Generally speaking, there are two types of RVs: drivable and towable. Each is discussed in detail below.

Drivable (Motorhomes) 

The first type of RV is drivable, more commonly known as motorhomes. There are three different classes of drivable RVs: Class A, B, and C.

Class A

A Class A motorhome is the largest drivable RV. They resemble a bus and are typically 30 to 40 feet long. They are also considered top-of-the-line amongst RVs and typically feature full bathrooms, entertainment centers, and spacious living areas.

Class A motorhomes are popular for retirees or others who travel long-term or live in an RV instead of a permanent residence. However, they come at a hefty price of well over $100,000.

Class B 

Class B motorhomes are more commonly known as van campers because these RVs are built on a van chassis with a raised roof. Class Bs are typically the smallest drivable RV but still have a bathroom, convertible bed, and basic kitchen necessities.

What Class B lacks in size, it makes up for in mobility. They can be parked almost anywhere and are great for those who enjoy a minimalist lifestyle. They are also more fuel-efficient and come at a more reasonable price tag, with most falling between $40,000 and $70,000.

Class C 

Finally, the Class C motorhome is what most think of when they think of a drivable RV. These motorhomes fall between Class B and A in terms of space and size.  Typically, they build them on a truck chassis with a cab overhang.

These motorhomes are a great compromise of space and amenities for families or those who want to spread out without paying a fortune. Depending on size and amenities, a new Class C will cost between $50,000 and $90,000.

Towable 

In addition to drivable RVs, there are several options for towable RVs that will require the use of a truck or SUV.

Fifth Wheels 

Fifth wheels are the largest of the towable RVs and can range from 25 to 45 feet. There is a vast range of styles and floorplans, but most feature multiple slide-outs and bi-level living space with full kitchens and bathrooms.

You’ll need a truck with gooseneck towing capacity to tow a fifth-wheel trailer, and they’ll also cost you more with an average range from $20,000 to $50,000.

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular RV option, combining affordability and flexibility. They range from 10 to 35 feet, have almost unlimited layout and amenity options, and can be towed by a range of vehicles depending on size.

Travel trailers range from $10,000 to $40,000 on average, depending on size, layout, and options.

Folding/Popup Trailers

A popup trailer combines tent camping and RVing in one compact unit. The main body of the RV folds out and up, and slide-outs allow you to create additional space. Beds, a foldable table, and a basic kitchen are typical features, but upgrades include bathrooms and other amenities.

Popup trailers can be easily towed with an SUV, stored in a driveway, and are affordable at between $9,000 and $20,000.

Campers 

A camper is the smallest RV option and is economical for a couple or small family to travel. Campers are designed to be mounted on the bed of a truck and are highly compact. Most only include the basics. However, what you lack in size, you’ll make up with flexibility, as you could also tow a trailer or boat behind the truck.

A camper is also the cheapest option, with average prices ranging from $5,000 to $18,000.

Best Places to Rent an RV 

Options to rent an RV have grown over the past decade, and there are now both peer-to-peer and company options.

Peer-to-Peer 

The best peer-to-peer options for renting an RV are RVshare and Outdoorsy.

RVshare 

RVshare is like the Airbnb of RVs and allows you to search available RVs in each state across the U.S. If you’re looking to rent an RV, search by city or state, as well as the type of RV you’re looking for. You’ll see a range of options based on your specifications, and you can rent based on what best meets your needs.

Insurance is included in the fees, and both owners and renters have up to $1,000,000 liability coverage and up to $300,000 comprehensive coverage. You can learn more about the insurance offered by RVshare here.

Outdoorsy 

Outdoorsy has a very similar business model to RVshare and is also an option for international renters. Listings are arranged by city, and owners and renters are offered similar roadside assistance and insurance coverage.

Rent an RV from a Company 

If you’d prefer working with a business and not private owners, then there are plenty of options for renting an RV directly from a company. The three best options for renting an RV with a company are Cruise America, El Monte RV, and Camper Travel Bookings.

Cruise America 

Cruise America is probably the most well-known place to rent an RV. You’ve likely seen several Cruise America RVs on the road as they’re hard to miss with their advertising painted on the side of the vehicle.

While the most popular company option, Cruise America has limitations in that they only offer Class C RV and camper rentals, but they provide a range of options within that class. However, with 129 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, you’re sure to find a location near you or your destination.

El Monte RV 

El Monte RV is similar to Cruise America but has fewer locations throughout the U.S. Additionally. They are limited in that they only rent Class A and C RVs. However, El Monte RV also offers one-way rentals along with short and long-term temporary housing solutions, which may appeal to some looking to rent an RV.

Camper Travel Bookings 

The last place to rent an RV on this list is Camper Travel Bookings, which is included due to its international travel destination rental options. Renters can choose a motorhome or campervan in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or Europe.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent an RV? 

Now that you know your options for renting an RV and where you can get started renting, you’re likely wondering how much it costs to rent an RV.

Like anything, the rental cost will depend on size, amenities, and time of year/location, as well as whether you’re renting from a private party or company. While you’ll need to research rental costs based on your budget and desired RV type, some general guidelines on the price to rent an RV are found below.

  • Class A: $175 to $275 per night
  • Class B: $100 to $200 per night
  • Class C: $150 to $200 per night
  • Fifth Wheel: $60 to $150 per night
  • Travel Trailer: $50 to $125 per night
  • Pop Up Trailer: $50 to $100 per night

Along with the nightly cost to rent an RV, be prepared to factor in other expenses such as a pay-per-mile charge and gas, taxes, and cleaning fees. Sometimes these fees are included in the rental, but other times they may not be.

Some Helpful RVing Apps 

As you can see, while renting an RV is generally cheaper than buying your own or paying for other accommodations, there are a lot of additional costs that can quickly add up.

If you’re thinking about RVing, renting, or not, check out these apps to help you save a bit of money.

Gasbuddy 

Gasbuddy is a free app that shows local gas prices in the U.S. and Canada. Using the app, you can find the cheapest gas in the area you’re traveling in and save some moneyon gas. You can even filter your search by brand and type of gas.

FreeRoam 

FreeRoam is an app containing information on free and paid RV camping locations and overnight parking throughout the U.S. The app also provides reviews and ratings on various metrics such as cell reception and safety.

Boondockers Welcome

This membership app allows you to find and stay at thousands of host locations across the country. Pay the $50 yearly membership, and you’ll have access to thousands of people willing to let you park your RV on their property for free.

Speedcheck 

The Speedcheck app lets you test internet speed as well as offers the closest open Wi-Fi connections.

National Park Service

If you’re into RVing, then you’re probably also into National and State Parks. One of the best apps for preparing to explore our nation’s natural wonders is the National Park Service app. The app contains everything you need to know about the over 420 National Parks and Monuments across the country.

When Does It Make Sense to Rent an RV?

Now that you know all the basics for renting an RV, let’s talk about when it makes sense to rent an RV.

First, renting an RV is perfect for those who don’t have the funds to purchase an RV or don’t have a place to store one.

Even if you do have the money to buy your RV, and while it may be tempting to do so, the reality is that most RVs sit largely unused throughout the year. Thus, another reason to rent an RV is if you only want to use it intermittently or if you’re not sure how much you’ll use it. If you find you love the RV life and want to do it often or for extended periods, you can always purchase your own down the line.

The last primary reason to consider renting rather than buying is to take certain types of trips. For example, RVs are great for hunting trips or traveling to National Parks that don’t have other forms of accommodations nearby.

Final Thoughts 

You can rent almost anything nowadays, and RVs are no different.

If you’re interested in traveling in an RV, or possibly even living in one, consider renting an RV instead of buying to save money and experience all that road trips have to offer.

Where will your adventures take you next?

This article originally appeared in Savoteur and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

More from MediaFeed:

Want to retire in an RV? Read this first

Want to retire in an RV? Read this first

Karen and Paul Soares once earned a combined income of $300,000, which they needed to maintain two homes and several vehicles. Now the couple travels the country, earning wages as musicians and living full-time in a 37-foot 2000 Winnebago.

Their address in July: Parked next to a blueberry farm somewhere in western Oregon. 

If that lifestyle sounds idyllic, don’t quit your job and start shopping for a recreational vehicle (RV) just yet. First, you’ll need to examine your feelings about cramped quarters, other people’s judgments, and watching nearly every possession you own disappear in the rear-view mirror. 

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Around 10 million U.S. households own an RV, with a majority of these spending on average three to four weeks traveling, according to the RV Industry Association (RVIA).

However, an estimated 500,000 to one million people choose to live in their RVs full-time, says Kevin Broom, director of media relations at the RVIA.

Karen and Paul’s idea to live full-time in a RV sprang from an epiphany that Karen, 53, had after she turned 50. Karen and Paul, 56, both earned six-figure incomes in the IT field, but saw each other only on the weekends due to Karen’s work schedule.

“I realized I spent most of my time looking at the life behind me instead of what was in front,” says Karen. “I was always working and exhausted from having to maintain all our stuff. One day I just said, ‘This isn’t how I want to go out.’” 

On weekends, the Soares set up guitars on a stretch of beach near their home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where they performed before an audience of sunbathers and seagulls. Both longed to quit their jobs and earn a living playing music. But how would they afford to live? Eventually, they figured it out. 

In 2016, after three years of downsizing, Paul and Karen quit their jobs, sold both houses and bought a Winnebago from a friend. They would earn a living playing music at wineries, distilleries and special events as they traveled.

But first, the couple lived in a long-term RV park for a year to get a feel for full-time RV life. Then they rolled off to a simpler life.

“Once we downsized, we no longer needed high salaries to support ourselves,” says Karen. “We found more value in being able to spend time together writing, composing and performing music.” 

Pekic

Bruce and Pam Westra, both in their sixties, sold their chiropractic and wellness practice and 5,000-square-foot home in Spring Lake, Michigan, in 2008, bought a 34-foot 2009 Holiday Rambler Admiral, and set off to live full-time in the RV while exploring the United States.

“Once we got rid of it all, a huge weight came off,” says Pam. That fall, the couple headed toward Florida and warmer weather. The Westras traveled for seven years, eventually setting the parking brake in Portland, Oregon, where they founded the Tiny Digs Hotel, a themed tiny house hotel.  

“We were living in a tiny space (around 300 square feet), so it wasn’t a big leap to imagine living in a tiny house,” says Bruce. Pam and Bruce still live in the RV they bought new in 2008, renting a spot in a long-term RV park. 

“We have no time to devote to a sticks-and-bricks home while we build this business nor the desire to take care of anything bigger than our RV,” says Pam.

Full-time RV living: Is it for you?

Thinking about hitting the road in an RV full-time? Here are some tips from those who’ve cruised the road less traveled.

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Living together in a 300-square-foot home 24/7 isn’t for everyone. “Living in close quarters tests our relationship on a regular basis,” says Karen. “You have to have a friendship and be compatible.”

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RVs don’t have walk-in closets, a basement or an attic. “When you’re on the road, your stuff isn’t the main thing,” says Bruce. “It’s the experience of the travel, the people you meet and the things you see.”

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You’ll need to make campground reservations well in advance, schedule RV maintenance and make sure you have enough supplies. “Everything is self-contained in an RV,” says Paul. “It’s like taking a ship out to sea.”

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There is only so much water for the toilet, and electrical usage may require negotiation. “A lot of times, the only power available is 30 or 50 amps, so we may not be able to turn on the hair dryer and the coffee pot at the same time,” says Paul.

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Before you make the decision to RV full-time, visit online RV websitesforums and Facebook groups to learn all about full-time RV life and how to shop for an RV. 

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Annual maintenance on an RV can run around $2,000 annually. Spring and fall require a sealant inspection for moisture leaks, and other costs could include brakes and bearings or repairs. 

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Running errands in a mammoth RV is no fun. The Westras and the Soares each pull motorcycles behind their RVs to ride when the RV is parked. Many people tow a compact car to drive into town.

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Many auto insurance policies won’t cover accidents if you are living in your RV full-time, says Chuck Woodbury, editor at RV travel, an RV news and information website. “People should have a dedicated RV insurance policy and ask their insurance agent if the policy covers them if they live in the RV full-time,” says Woodbury.

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Selling your home and living in a RV full-time shouldn’t be an impulsive decision. Besides, it takes a while to get rid of a lifetime of possessions. Still, if you love camping, traveling and living in tight spaces, the full-time RV life has its benefits.

“The best thing is getting rid of all that stress and feeling like I have meaning in my life,” says Karen. “I am a totally different person now. My body is healthier, and I just feel so much better.”

Read more:

This article originally appeared on Considerable.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Featured Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.

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