Do you want to take an RV road trip, but don’t know how much it will cost?
The freedom and flexibility of seeing the country in a camper is something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.
Whether you choose to visit a favorite location or explore parts unknown, an RV can provide the comforts of home while on the road that you will not find in a hotel room or tent.
Renting a recreational vehicle is a great way to stretch your vacation budget, but it does come with an array of concerns you should take into consideration before you book an RV trip.
For many people, they have no idea of the price of renting an RV or even where to find an RV rental location. Others may worry a recreational vehicle will be hard to drive, or that they won’t have enough room for their family and belongings.
I’m here to help you understand what renting an RV entails. In this guide, I will discuss what goes into renting an RV, from daily cost, extras like gas and mileage fees, the rental process and locations, what to expect while on the road, and the pros and cons of RV travel.
Come along as I break down every step of the RV rental process so that you can plan your next vacation!
Average RV Rental Prices
Studies have shown that renting an RV can save you over 50 percent on travel expenses when you compare it to average vacation costs.
An RV eliminates the need for airline tickets, hotel stays, car rental, restaurant meals, and high per-night accommodation costs at a resort or condo. You can even rent a pet-friendly RV so you can bring along your dogs or cats and avoid boarding charges and separation anxiety.
For those who only want to use an RV sporadically, it makes more sense to rent than to purchase a camper. When you own an RV, you can expect to spend around $700 on month it, between financing, insurance, and maintenance, before ever leaving your driveway.
So how much should you budget for rental expenses for your RV trip?
Just like any vacation, you can spend a little or spend a lot. The size and type of the recreational vehicle you choose to rent will impact price, as well as the length of the rental period, mileage, and any extras not in the base rental charge.
Because there are many variables when it comes to pricing an RV rental, there’s no set number that will cover everyone’s needs. But, with the information below and a few phone calls on your own, you can closely estimate what your rental will cost, which makes budgeting for your trip that much easier.
#1 – How Much Is It to Rent an RV for One Night?
From scouring RV rental sites and making some calls, I found average RV rental price ranges for these different types of campers:
- Class A Motorhome: $150-$450/night
- Class B Motorhome: $100-$325/night
- Class C Motorhome: $100-$400/night
- Fifth Wheel: $60-$325/night
- Travel Trailer: $50-$220/night
- Pop Up Trailer $50-$100/night
Again, the range in price depends so much on camper style, size, and age. Virtually no two recreational vehicles are the same because there are so many models, upgrades, features, and layouts available.
As a general rule, RV rentals have a per night charge. You can quickly calculate your base rental cost by taking the rate of the camper and multiply it by how many nights you’ll have the RV. For example, you wish to rent a Class A motorhome at $160 a night, for a two-week trip your base rental fee will be $2240.
#2 – How Much Is It to Rent an RV for a Week? Or Longer?
Well, as observed above, it depends on the type of RV, but using the above calculations as a guide, it could be as low as $350 dollars per week (e.g. Pop Up Trailer) or as high as $3,150 per week (e.g. Class A Motorhome). The good news is that many rental agencies offer discounts for longer rentals.
#3 – Discounts Off Rental R
Don’t fear if your initial RV rental cost estimate seems a bit high for your budget. Many rental agencies and private owners offer discounts on normal rates like a percentage off of the whole trip or one night free on a weekly rental.
The longer your rental period, the more discounts are possible, so speak up and ask about what offers your agent has available.
Remember that a rental agent has expenses when turning over an RV, like cleaning (interior and exterior), a maintenance check, or a restocking of linen or kitchen packages, that they won’t incur if you keep the RV for a whole month. Use this to your advantage when negotiating a discount on your rental.
Another way to lower your overall rental cost is to look for a company like RVshare that will bundle extras onto your base price like free roadside assistance and a cashback of 5 percent towards your next vacation every time you rent with them.
Saving money is a great reason to choose an RV rental from any one of these following sources. While motorhomes make up the largest segment of RV rentals, you can find campers, fifth-wheels, small trailers like teardrops and pop-ups, even truck campers for rent at reasonable rates.
How to Rent an RV: Nationwide and Regional RV Rental C
There are numerous RV rental companies with years of expertise in helping people have a unique RV vacation experience.
Below are some of the better known national recreational vehicle rental companies, with more details about what they offer, so you can start your search to locate the ideal camper for your next trip.
Not near a national RV dealer’s location? No sweat! You can also do a local RV rental search online and find many regional and private dealers who have fantastic deals and units from which to choose. Type “RV rentals” and your zip code into the search bar to find camper rentals conveniently near you.
#1 – Cruise America
CruiseAmerica is the country’s largest RV rental dealer. You’ve probably seen their eye-catching campers while driving on the highway.
They offer a massive selection of different size RVs that you can pick up from numerous rental outlets across the nation. Their website is informative and easy to navigate when selecting and pricing an RV rental.
If you have flexibility when scheduling your trip, look into their rental deals, where you can “relocate” an RV from one location to another for as low as $9 a night! This option can be a steal if you live close to one of their relocation hubs. With the money you save, you can grab a car rental or buy a plane ticket to get home when you complete your trip.
As an example, let me walk you through a “full-cost” rental scenario for a family of 6 through the Cruise America website to give you a better idea of what to expect.
I found a large RV that sleeps seven for two weeks that cost $1750.00. This charge includes $490 for a base mileage usage of 1400 miles and free supplemental liability insurance.
I chose to add a linens package for six passengers at the cost of $330 since I didn’t want to bring along sheets, blankets, and towels and have to wash them when I return from my vacation.
I had to pay an additional $5 environmental fee, and tax of $47. I also had to pay a $500 damage deposit that the company will refund after I return the RV and all is well. The total upfront cost will be $2632.00, with me putting down a $300 deposit to hold my reservation.
As long as the kids don’t spill kool-aid all over the carpet, I can expect my final cost for the rental to be $2132 for the two weeks, but of course, I must allow extra money for gas, food, campgrounds, souvenirs, attraction entrance fees, and keep within the 1400 mile allotment.
I find this cost to rent the RV to be pretty reasonable if I compare that to the price of the two hotel rooms I would need each night to fit my family of 6.
But if I can get any additional rental discount, it would help offset the extra money I’ll need for other travel expenses, so I would never blindly make this reservation without asking about available discounts.
RVshare rents recreational vehicles from all classes of motorhomes to pull-behind trailers, fifth wheels, pop-up and truck campers. They offer pet-friendly units and can also arrange to deliver your camper of choice straight to your home or campground.
Although many of the rental units are coming from a dealer, many private owners use RVShare to rent out their camper when they are not using it, which can lead to some very low rates. This company includes roadside assistance in their rental rates which gives peace of mind for those new to RVing.
You can peruse their user-friendly website and choose from standard campers up to luxury motorhomes. See prices and pictures of the available units near you, then filter your search further to find a camper that fits your specific needs.
Once you select the RV, you send the owner an email with a booking request. When the dealer accepts the offer, you finalize all the details and arrange to pick up the keys. At that time you’ll receive a tutorial about your rental RV’s features, so you feel confident embarking on your trip.
#3 – RV Plus You
RV Plus You is a new company that is spreading quickly across the USA due to extras that improve customer service. While the basic premise behind this RV rental company is similar to RVShare, RV Plus You will deliver and set up the camper before you arrive.
Anyone with RV experience knows that set-up and tear-down are the least pleasant tasks about camping. Having a company that handles it for you will start your trip off on the right foot!
Another plus is not having to worry about a tow vehicle if you want to rent a fifth wheel or another pull-behind trailer. Drive to your location, enjoy nearby attractions without having to drive the motorhome or use a large truck, then drive home again. Bring your clothes and camping supplies; everything else will be ready to go.
For those who want the camping experience yet are uncomfortable driving or towing a large RV, this is a wonderful way to rent. Sign up on their website, peruse the campers available at the location you desire, contact the owner, ask questions, arrange your booking, and pay.
When you arrange your booking and pay through the RV Plus You website you will have access to a Rental Protection Policy insurance plan, a secure payment system, and other features that protect both the renter and owner of the RV.
#4 – El Monte RV
El Monte RV is another well-known RV rental company that offer Class A and Class C motorhomes, and fifth-wheel RVs.
El Monte rents recreation vehicles long-term for instances where temporary housing is necessary. The company also offers motorhome renters free use of the generator, which is fantastic to keep things running when you’re away from an electrical power source, like when you stop at the beach for a few hours.
El Monte RV has 45 years of experience in the RV rental world, and they know the must-see attractions around the country. Even if you don’t rent your camper through El Monte, check out their website for travel tips and ideas.
#5 – Private RV Rentals
Do you have a friend with a camper you’d like to use, or see a listing on Craigslist for a private RV rental?
Many people do rent their campers out to strangers, but finding them can be difficult. Once you do find them, you could have a spectacular vacation for as little as $20 a night for the rental rate, with plenty of extras thrown in.
But, you could find yourself in a heap of trouble when you have an accident, and no proper insurance coverage or a contract is in place. I’m not saying to avoid private rentals. I am stating you should view this as a serious transaction.
Have a written contract that clearly states what you can and can’t do with the RV. Know beforehand if your automobile insurance policy will cover possible damage to the rental RV, if the owner will take on the risk, or if you’ll need to buy an extra renter’s policy.
When I was a child, my first RV trips were in a camper my father would rent from an acquaintance. The whole family would pile in and hit the road.
I remember quite distinctly the day a rock shattered the cab-over front window as we were traveling down a Texas highway.
We spent two nights, with no power, behind a local mechanic’s shop until they could put in the replacement window. My mom was happy she could whip up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep us fed straight from the RV cupboards.
I have no idea what the new window cost, but the responsibility to replace the window was on my father because covering any such damage, intentional or accidental, was in the contract.
Private rentals require attention to the details, so everyone knows what to expect if issues arise. Thankfully most rental arrangements go off without a hitch!
RV Rental Extras
Every RV rental transaction handles fees for extraneous items differently. Expect most companies to charge extra for:
- Excessive mileage
- Generator use
- Propane use
- Roadside assistance
- Linen/Kitchen Packages
You may find a company who’ll include most of these into your rental rate if you push for a deal and they are desperate for the sale. If you don’t see information about these fees on their website, make a phone call and inquire before you sign off on a contract.
No one wants to be blindsided by a monstrous charge because they didn’t know they would have to pay extra to run the generator, or when they ran over their mileage limit. Due diligence is critical when booking an RV rental.
An RV needs fuel to run and RV gas tanks are enormous! Most fuel tanks are between 30-55 gallons, with many RV that have dual gas tanks.
When you typically spend $30 to fill your automobile’s 12-gallon gas tank, it comes as quite a shocker to pay $75-$160 to fill up an RV. If you’re taking a long road trip, gas expenses add up fast.
Ask the dealer about the fuel tank size of the RV you’ll be renting, and the approximate MPG it gets, so you can plot out your journey and estimate the cost to cover your fuel needs.
WARNING! Dealers and private owners of RVs are notorious for overstating gas mileage numbers.
My 24-foot Class C motorhome gets 8 MPG in perfect conditions, even though the seller told us it gets 10-11 MPG. Add in a head-wind, and it gets closer to 6 MPG. Do yourself a favor when figuring out your fuel budget and subtract 2-3 MPG from any number a rental agent tells you.
RV Rental Tip: Book Early
The best way to have a stressfree RV rental and vacation experience is to prep as far in advance as possible. Take time to read up on how an RV functions and camping etiquette rules.
People with experience book their RV rental months in advance.
Why? Because camping locations during the summer months, major holidays, and school breaks will fill up quickly. Book your RV and your campsites as early as possible.
If you can afford it, a good trick is to reserve your pick-up date just before the start of a holiday or busy time to snag the RV you want. The extra time will allow you to pack at a leisurely pace, let your kids fight out which bed they get to sleep in and acclimate yourself to driving the camper.
Another reason booking early is beneficial is because you can research your travel route and make sure the roads you’ll drive are free of low bridges or other restrictions that can ruin your trip.
Make sure the campgrounds you wish to stay at will accommodate the size and type of your camper, and that any attractions you expect to stop at have parking available to RVs.
Some RV rental agents have travel restrictions. If you are out West, rental companies frown on visits to Death Valley in July and August. Ask about any restrictions, so you are not caught off-guard once you’re on the road.
Pros and Cons of RV Rental vs Car/Hotel
As a full-time RVer, I have a soft spot for RV travel, but I also enjoy a nice hotel and all its amenities now and again. Oh, what a luxury a bathtub can be when you have only taken showers for the last year!
I will compare what is positive about RV travel against the typical car or plane trip to a destination like a resort hotel.
Some of these pros and cons are money-saving, while some are just good to know before deciding to rent a camper.
- Motorhome bathrooms eliminate out-of-the-way pit stops for potty breaks
- Food prep and cooking eliminate restaurant expenses
- No packing and unpacking the car between each destination
- Room to stretch out
- Fresh air, stars, and campfires
- Less expensive per nite rate
- Family bonds
- Slower travel times
- Cramped bathroom
- Parking difficulties
- Huge fuel expense
More on the Good Aspects of RV Travel
By eliminating stops for food or bathroom breaks, you save time and money. Even if you’re not in a motorhome, you can pull over your fifth wheel or trailer to use the facilities, make a snack quickly, and get back on the road.
It’s also very nice to sleep in the same bed night after night and have all your belongings close at hand, even your pets.
Kids find RV travel exciting. They like the quirky sleeping arrangements, and they love being able to move about motorhome while the parents are driving.
While you do have close neighbors in some campgrounds, you won’t hear footsteps above you or slamming doors as you do in a hotel room. You can also open the windows in your camper to let fresh air in, grill out on your patio, start up a campfire, and observe the stars every night of your trip.
When you add up a nightly hotel rental rate, the cost of eating out, car expenses like gas and car rental expenses, and possible airfare and pet boarding expenses, it cost less to rent an RV. You also get to work as a team with your traveling companions to set up your campsite, choose places to visit, and cook meals which creates a special bond.
More on RV Travel Negative Aspects
RV travel is slower than in an automobile, which can frustrate some people. It’s safer to drive a large camper at 55-65 MPH, even if the speed limit is 70, so expect to spend your trip in the slow lane.
Pulling in and out of gas stations and parking lots need a lot of concentration so it will take more time. Filling a huge gas tank or getting items inside your camper secure for travel takes more time. If the thought of slowing things down while on vacation irritates you, then an RV rental may not be for you.
Once you add large fuel bills, tiny bathrooms and bedrooms, and some tricky parking scenarios on top of your frustration of taking things slow, you may feel your RV vacation dreams going down the tubes. If a 5-star resort and eating out is your idea of a perfect vacation, spend your money wisely and forgo an RV rental.
With so many places off the beaten path to be seen across the USA, taking a leisurely RV camping trip will give you the freedom to stop whenever something catches your interest. These impromptu encounters are what make special memories and what makes RV trips an experience like no other.
Renting an RV for your next trip can be an affordable way to see the country in a new way, meet friendly fellow campers, slow things down, and get to enjoy outdoor adventures. I hope this guide helps you find an RV rental that fits within your budget or inspires you to try RVing for the first time like you can see in this video where you can learn more about the RV rental experience.
Have you had a good or bad experience with renting an RV? Share your story in the comments below!
Charles Joseph is one of the original authors of Camper Smarts from when it first started.