How to Rent an RV for a Dollar a Day

Written by Megan

So, you’re thinking about renting an RV? It’s a great choice. Whether you’re researching RVs for a vacation, a temporary home, or something else, renting an RV is convenient and affordable.

There’s no experience quite like staying in an RV. You have the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want. With all the comforts of home right there in your vehicle, there’s no end to the possibilities of where you can go.

Renting an RV isn’t anything new; rental companies have been around since the 1960s. Buying and maintaining an RV is an expensive investment, one which many people can’t (or don’t want to) afford. Luckily, RV Rentals give consumers like yourself the benefits of RV travel without having to own an RV.

Take Your Dream Vacation for Just a Dollar a Day

RV rentals have come a long way since the start of the “American driving vacation” nearly 60 years ago. Manufacturers are shipping out new RV units left and right. In fact, RV shipments are expected to surpass 400,000 this year! That means dealerships all over the country will be buying new RVs to sell and rent.

In rare cases, they’ll rent RVs out as one-way, “factory delivery specials”

when big dealerships order a new shipment of RVs. If you’re looking for a one-way trip, that means you might be able to save BIG. Sometimes, dealerships will rent factory delivery specials for just a dollar a day.

Unfortunately, factory delivery specials aren’t for everyone. Most RV renters want to save on their whole RV trip – not just one leg of it. If that’s the case and you’re looking for affordable, round-trip rentals, you should check out peer to peer rentals for as little as $10 per day.

Looking for Something Other Than a One-Way Trip?

Factory delivery specials offer significant discounts on one-way trips. That’s great if you plan on flying home, if you’re moving, or if you’ll be staying at your destination for a while. But it doesn’t work so well if you want to return in your RV as well. Fortunately, if you’re looking for a round trip RV rental, there are several other ways to rent (and still save money). A peer to peer rental through a site like RVshare might be your best option for an affordable round trip rental. Let’s take a closer look.

Renting a Home on Wheels – How RV Rentals Work

At first, most people think that renting an RV is a complicated process. Is it like renting a house, or is it more like renting a car? What about insurance?

These are some of the questions first-time renters have, and they’re understandable. However, renting an RV is actually a simple process. There are three ways to rent:

  1. Rent from a RV rental marketplace like RVshare. This is the most popular way to rent an RV and has many benefits over the other two options. Here’s how it works: private RV owners and small local RV dealers will list their RVs for rent and compete for your business (similar to eBay, VRBO, or Airbnb). Renting through a marketplace you’ll find the best deals, the nicest RVs, and you’ll end up getting better customer service. RVshare.com is the largest and most trusted RV rental marketplace and it’s where I suggest you rent your RV if you want to get the best deal and the nicest RV.
  1. Rent from a large dealership like Cruise America. They have many locations throughout the United States but I would only recommend renting from a large dealer if you are taking a one way trip across the country. This is a great option if you are looking to pick up an RV in New York and drop it off in California. If you’re not doing a one way rental I would stay away from the big dealerships. With big dealerships you have to be careful – they normally have a lot of hidden fees and their RVs aren’t always the nicest or cleanest. If you are doing a one way rental renting from a big dealership may be your only option.
  1. Rent from a small, local RV rental business or dealership. Renting from a small local business is great but I would always suggest renting from them through a trusted third party marketplace like RVshare instead of renting directly. By renting through a marketplace you get extra benefits like 24/7 roadside assistance and you’re more protected because the marketplace holds your payment in escrow and doesn’t pay the rental business until after you’ve picked up the RV and you’re satisfied with everything. Having the marketplace as a third party protects you more during and after the rental.

Regardless of where you rent, you’ll start out by searching for available RVs during your travel dates. There are a lot of RV rental websites but I’ve found RVshare.com to be the easiest to use.

You don’t need any special type of license to drive a motorhome, but you will need to get auto insurance through the rental service or your own provider. Not all companies offer RV rental insurance which is another reason why you’ll want to use a marketplace like RVshare because it offers rental insurance for all it’s rentals.

Once you find the RV you want you’ll put down a security deposit to hold the RV. Before you pick up the RV you’ll also put down a damage deposit, which you’ll get back when you return the RV clean and undamaged. When you pick up the RV, you’ll get a quick tour of the unit and a demonstration of how to use it. Then, you’ll get the keys and hit the road!

Some factors may vary slightly depending on the rental service you use, but the process is generally the same across the board. Up next, we’ll take a look at peer-to-peer RV rentals and how you can save money on them.

How Can Peer-to-Peer RV Rentals Save Me Money?

More than nine million families own RVs, and the numbers continue to increase. Unfortunately, the majority of family-owned RVs sit unused for most of the year.

On top of RV payments, families also have to pay for RV maintenance, winterization, and storage. That’s a lot of money for something you only use occasionally. RV owners needed a solution, and they got it in the form of peer-to-peer websites (marketplace’s like RVshare).

Peer-to-peer sites started with the likes of Airbnb, VRBO, and Uber. These platforms let people purchase goods and services from one another directly, without having to go through a middleman provider. Peer-to-peer RV rental sites like RVshare are the fix that RV owners were looking for. However, they’re not the only ones that benefit from this service.

Everyone Leaves Happy – Why Peer-to-Peer RV Rentals Are Your Best Option

The Peer-to-Peer RV marketplace has been growing exponentially over the last several years, with members numbering in the millions. The reason for this is because peer-to-peer rentals offer a slew of benefits for both RV owners and renters:

  • Owners can rent out their RVs when they’re not using them, making a profit on what would otherwise be an expense.
  • Renters can find better lower rates and larger inventories than they would at chain rental companies.
  • Both owners and renters have liability insurance while they’re traveling, which protects them from third party claims.
  • Renters can negotiate pricing and rental terms through the online messaging platform – you won’t find that with big dealerships!
  • Both owners and renters benefit from working directly with one another, which leads to better, more personalized experiences.
  • Renters can read reviews of the owner right in the listing, so they’re comfortable with the process right from the start.
  • Both owners and renters can relax knowing they have access to 24/7 roadside assistance.

With peer-to-peer rentals, everyone comes out a winner. It’s the best of both worlds; you get big-chain features, like liability insurance and roadside assistance, with the prices and customer service you’d get from a small business.

How to Rent an RV Through a Peer-to-Peer Marketplace

We’ve already talked about how renting an RV is a simple, straightforward process, and renting from a peer-to-peer site is no different! In fact, it’s even easier than working with a chain rental service. Here’s what you can expect:

  • You’ll enter your travel dates and location to pull up a list of available rentals. You’ll see RVs of all shapes and sizes, from tiny trailers to huge motorhomes (and everything in between).
  • Read the listing for information on the RV, rates, and rental terms. You’ll see things like security and damage deposit rates, mileage and generator fees, and maximum capacities. You may also be surprised to see that the owner offers a discount for longer trips or off-season rentals!
  • When you’re ready to book, you’ll submit a reservation request through the online form or send the owner a message with any questions you have.
  • When the big day arrives, you’ll meet with the owner to check out the RV. They’ll give you a tour and show you how to use all the systems. If you’ve never vacationed in an RV before, don’t worry! Owners love showing off their rigs and helping first-timers feel more comfortable.
  • If you book through a marketplace like RVshare you’ll have comprehensive insurance coverage and roadside assistance throughout your whole trip.
  • After your trip, just clean the RV, fill the gas tanks, and return the rig. Make sure you follow any additional guidelines that were in the listing (some owners may want you to dump the holding tanks). Don’t forget to leave a review!

Saving Money On Your RV Rental

Vacationing in an RV and saving money go hand-in-hand. After all, traveling in an RV is more affordable than flying and staying in hotels! Naturally, you want to save as much money as you can, so you can put it towards activities and entertainment. We’ve gathered some expert tips for saving money on every aspect of your vacation.

Before You Rent – Getting the Lowest Rates

  • Book your rental as far in advance as you can. Renting an RV is like booking a hotel or plane ticket – if you do it early, you might lock in a low rate.
  • Look for discounts on longer trips. RV owners often give discounts if you rent for more than a week. You’ll also find discounts on monthly rentals.
  • If you’re using a peer-to-peer marketplace, you can sort and filter the listings by price, eliminating the temptation to splurge on an RV that’s out of your budget!
  • RV rental marketplaces have a messaging feature in each listing. Feel free to try negotiating a deal with the owner. If you ask for a discount most of the time owners will give you one. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Make sure you know what RV is best for your family’s needs. Try to find a middle ground between space, amenities, and price.
  • If you book through a marketplace like RVshare you’ll automatically get 5% cash back rewards towards any future rentals when you book.

Travel Hacks and Tips to Save Money on the Road

  • Plan your route ahead of time, and plan it thoroughly. The less time you spend navigating (or getting lost), the more money you’ll save on gas.
  • Check with all the campgrounds along your route to see if they offer discounts. Don’t be afraid to call them – there might be a discount that wasn’t listed on their website!
  • Set out on longer drives during off-peak hours so you don’t waste gas sitting in traffic.
  • Pack lightly; carrying too much weight in the RV will use more gas.
  • Check your tire pressure every day since it can fluctuate with temperature changes. Underinflated tires waste a significant amount of fuel.
  • Bring along a bicycle or walk into town for errands.
  • Learn how to dry camp (camping without hookups) and do it as often as you can; campground fees with hookups are expensive.
  • Try to use your generator as little as possible. Not only is it noisy; it also burns through fuel quickly.
  • Look for places where camping is free or very cheap. State parks, national parks, and national forests often have low rates for primitive camping.
  • If you have an AAA card, keep it on hand. You can get discounts on food and entertainment, but only if you remember to use it!
  • Try not to use your air conditioner – it consumes a lot of fuel. Instead, soak a cloth in cold water, put it in the freezer for a few hours, then hang it on the vent fan and switch it to “in.”
  • Likewise, try not to use your heat if you get cold. Use portable ceramic heaters, which run off of electricity instead.
  • Use cruise control when you can. Cruising at a steady speed conserves gas. Try to stay around 55mph.
  • Visit the chamber of commerce or welcome center when you go into town. They’ll have plenty of information on inexpensive and free activities and events.
  • If you want to visit a museum, check the local library for museum passes. Some libraries offer passes, even if you’re not a resident or member.

Eatin’ Well and Stashin’ Cash

  • Avoid using your microwave, as it runs on the generator. Bring along a portable hot plate that won’t use as much electricity.
  • Cook over a campfire whenever possible. It’s good to stock up on tin foil to make cooking vegetables and marinated meats over a fire easier. Plus, you won’t have to do as many dishes, which conserves water.
  • Figure out your meals ahead of time. You might want to make a weekly meal plan. Be sure to include foods that don’t require a lot of energy to cook.
  • Plan your shopping trips accordingly. You’ll save time and gas if you only have to go into town once, instead of picking up ingredients two or three times a week.
  • Pack snacks for the road, so you’re not tempted to stop at fast-food restaurants or convenience stores.
  • Brew your own coffee or tea. Like your coffee or tea iced? Make it ahead of time, let it cool, and store in the fridge.
  • Cook more food than you need and freeze the rest for later.
  • Try to buy mostly non-perishables that don’t require a lot of energy to cook. Canned soup, pasta, and beans are all good options.
  • Buy a few jugs of water; they’re cheaper than buying individual bottles. You’ll also conserve fresh water in your tanks so you can dry camp more often.
  • Instead of buying juice and/or Gatorade, buy the powdered mix and make the drinks yourself.
  • Crockpots are great for RVing. They use little electricity, and you can leave your food cooking while you’re out hiking or exploring the town.
  • Shop at local farmer’s markets; you’ll get locally-grown food for great prices!

Must-Have Apps and Resources Frugal RVers

  • Use Roadtrippers to plan your routes ahead of time. You can also find things to do and interesting places to see.
  • Download the Gasbuddy app, which shows you where to get the cheapest gas in the area.
  • For discounts on campsites, supplies, gas, and more, check out Good Sam Club.
  • Allstays has information on more than 29,000 campgrounds nationwide.
  • Reserve America is a great resource for finding campgrounds and making reservations.
  • Passport America can save you up to 50% on campsites throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
  • GoRVing has a collection of RV-friendly recipes for the road. They have other resources as well, like educational articles and blog posts.
  • Workamper is a great website if you’re traveling for a long time and want to find odd jobs on the road. The listings include campground hosting and other temporary work.
  • Escapees is another RV club that offers discounts on campgrounds.
  • Boondockers Welcome is a huge database of free camping sites, whether privately-hosted or otherwise.
  • Ultimate Campgrounds is an app that shows you public campgrounds in the U.S. There’s a separate app for Canadian campgrounds.
  • State Lines shows you information on laws, regulations, taxes, and more for each state. Know the rules before you cross state lines, so you don’t end up with fines or tickets!
  • Track your mileage and gas usage during your trip with Fuel Log. It’ll help you identify and improve your driving habits to save on gas.

RVing 101: General Tips for First-Time RVers

Camping in an RV is a memorable, affordable way to vacation; but it can also seem overwhelming for beginners. It’s important to do some preliminary research before renting an RV. Aside from deciding where to rent and where to go, you’ll also want to prepare yourself for life in an RV (at least temporarily). We’ve compiled some beginner tips to help you feel more comfortable with your RV:

  • Planning is the cornerstone of a successful RV trip. It’s true that spontaneity is a part of RV life, but planning your route, meals, and budget is imperative. You don’t want to end up lost, hungry, and broke.
  • Figure out what type of RV you want to rent. Class C RVs are good for beginners because driving one is like driving a big truck. Class A RVs drive more like buses; you’ll need to understand how backswing works.
  • Make sure you ask how much amperage the breaker can handle. That way, you can keep an eye on your electricity usage and prevent blowing a fuse.
  • Know your weight limits. RVs are heavy as it is; overloading it with too much luggage will waste gas and cause transmission problems.
  • Bring a homeowners tool kit with you. You’ll want it in case little things break on the road.
  • Bring along plastic containers and tubs of varying sizes. They’re great for storing food and loose items, so they don’t fly around the RV when you’re driving.
  • Pack the heaviest items first on the bottom. It’ll stabilize the vehicle and keep the rest of your luggage from moving around.
  • Always check with a campground before reserving a site. Some campgrounds have regulations on RV length and age. Make sure they’ll take your rig before you get there.
  • Get to the campsite as early as possible, especially when you’re first starting out. Give yourself plenty of time to park, level, and set up your RV.
  • Backing into a site in an RV is tricky, so have someone help you. Make sure you can see them at all times and use your cell phones so you can hear one another.

Tutorials for New RVers

Thanks to the internet, you can find video tutorials on just about anything these days! What better way to familiarize yourself with RVing than watching some online videos? Get out your smartphone or tablet – here are some of the best RV tutorials and resources from the web:

  • The Fun Times Guide has a great article on driving large Class A motorhomes. Their blog features tons of articles and videos for RV newbies.
  • Here’s a YouTube “confidence course” for driving a motorhome.
  • This YouTube video shows you what to pack in your RV (and how to pack it).
  • Here’s an excellent tutorial for dumping and cleaning your black tank.
  • This video shows you how to back up a towable RV.
  • Here’s a tutorial for setting up your RV when you arrive at the campsite. It has some great tips that apply to both towable and motorized RVs.
  • This video shows you how the electrical systems in RVs work. Here’s one about how the water systems work. Even though you won’t be doing maintenance on the systems, it’s good to have a general understanding of how it all works.
  • Boondocking saves you a ton of money and lets you camp in beautiful, remote locations. However, it can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. This video is full of tips and tricks for beginners.
  • Lastly, here’s a tutorial for hooking up your RV at a campsite.

Adventure Awaits You…

Hopefully, this guide has dispelled any qualms you may have had about renting an RV! Whether you rent from a large dealership or a peer-to-peer marketplace, there are plenty of ways to save money on your rental and on the road. If you’re a beginner, research and planning will be your best friends. Be sure to check out the resources, tools, and tutorials we’ve included in this guide. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro RVer! Safe travels and happy camping!

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