So, you’ve caught the wanderlust bug. You have grand dreams of finding a used RV, fixing it up and hitting the open road for exciting adventures. The problem is, you have no money. Do you abandon your dreams of road tripping in your very own home on wheels? Or is it actually possible to get an RV for free?
Acquiring a recreational vehicle for zero cost may sound like an impossible task, but it is doable if you are willing to put in the extra time and effort. There are a variety of ways to get your hands on a free RV if you follow the tips mentioned below. In fact, many aspiring campers have achieved their RV dreams using these exact techniques.
Why spend tens of thousands of dollars on a brand new RV, when you can get a road-tested and perfectly usable one for nothing? Ready to get your free recreational vehicle? Let’s get started!
Spread the Word That You Are Looking for a Free RV
Chances are you have a friend, a relative or a friend-of-a-friend with an older, neglected RV. It may have been sitting idle for years. Thousands of used recreational vehicles currently languish in driveways, in yards and in RV storage lots. Perhaps the owners have chronic health problems or are no longer able or interested in taking road trips like they once did. Reach out to your circle and let everyone know that you are in the market for a free, livable RV.
Defunct RVs can cost money to store and maintain. On top of that, there may be ongoing registration and insurance costs. Their once fun RV may now just be an annoying eyesore. You may be surprised at how successful you can be using the simple approach of just asking for what you want. There is nothing to lose!
Use RV Relocation to Borrow an RV for Free
Did you know that some RV rental agencies will pay you to help transport their recreational vehicles across the country? Moving an RV is expensive, and it makes more sense for them to find volunteer travelers to do the job for them.
RV relocation benefits vary from company to company. In most cases, you will receive some amount of fuel reimbursement for your travels. Some vehicles may be furnished, while others will require you to bring your own supplies. RV relocation deals are available for cities all around the world, with limitations. iMoova and Jucy are two sites you can visit for more information about RV relocation deals.
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a good driving record
- Hold a driver’s license for a minimum of 2 years
- Be flexible in terms of travel dates and destinations
Connect with a Used RV Dealer
Make friends with the used RV lots in your area. They will be very familiar with the local inventory and may be able to point you to an RV that is free or very cheap. What’s more, they can offer helpful insights into the type of vehicles to look for and avoid. For best results, you will need to invest some of your time and considerable charm establishing the relationship.
Be Willing to Refurbish That Dilapidated RV Yourself
Are you handy with tools? Great! Find an RV owner whose fixer-upper is more trouble than it is worth. A leaky roof, dry rot, dead battery or sun damage? All of these problems and more can be remedied with a little elbow grease.
If you lack experience in RV renovations, take advantage of the thousands of free YouTube how-to videos and DIY articles that are readily available on the Internet. You may discover an exciting new hobby in fixing up – or even flipping – unwanted RVs.
Negotiate a Trade of Time or Goods
Bartering goods or services can be a great way to acquire a free RV. What skills or goods do you have to offer in trade for a new-to-you recreational vehicle? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so bartering is a win-win for everyone involved.
Start with a realistic assessment of how much your desired RV is worth. Then make an offer that provides real value to the owner. Perhaps they are a senior with limited mobility. Can you help with household repairs or yard work? Are you able to provide in-demand professional skills such as computer training, bookkeeping or home organization?
Advertise Online for a Free RV
Place an online advertisement offering to safely remove old, unwanted RVs free of charge. There are likely several people in your immediate area who would welcome this useful service.
Almost all cities have Craigslist, Freecycle or other websites where you can post ads for free. Be sure to respond to inquiries promptly and be persistent with reposting. You may have to go through many uninhabitable RVs before you find one in decent condition. Additionally, check Facebook and other social media and join groups whose goal is to connect people with free or cheap RVs in their area.
Where Can I Park an RV for Free?
Once you’ve succeeded at getting your free RV, the next question may be, “Where can I park this thing?” RV camping and parking spaces are not cheap and we’ve already established that you’re broke. Here are some free, though not luxurious, parking options for your RV:
Walmart and other retail stores: Walmart parking lots are known for being safe, welcoming and RV friendly. Walmart also has the benefit of wi-fi in most locations. Many other retailers will let you park overnight, as long as you ask first and park away from the store entrance. Always ask the store manager for permission to avoid getting ticketed or towed.
Casinos: Many casinos will also offer free overnight parking without hookups (aka “dry camping”). There is generally no requirement that you gamble (they sure hope that you will, though). Be sure to confirm with the management in advance as their designated RV spots can fill up quickly.
Truck stops and public places: Truck stops are viable options for free overnight parking. Some rest stops can attract unsavory characters, so it’s best to keep doors and windows locked and be aware of your surroundings.
Churches, schools and city streets are a temporary option if you are in a pinch. Be aware of city regulations. Always get permission and never sacrifice safety to save a few bucks.
Free campsites: You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of free camping sites with full or partial hookups around the country. These sites allow you to camp for free or for a nominal donation. FreeCampSites.net is a wonderful resource for finding a free place to camp with your RV.
Boondocking membership sites: If you prefer to soak up the local culture, seek out free camping options in the place you are visiting. Fun and interesting options exist, from unique historical sites to breweries and vineyards. There is one catch – you will need to pay a membership fee to gain access to these lists.
RV travel is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the world. Don’t let a tight budget prevent you from enjoying the freedom lifestyle. Put your brain and skills to work and find yourself a free RV.
Additional Related Questions:
Do I Need a Special License to Drive an RV?
No, you do not need a special license. Operating an RV isn’t significantly different than driving a standard vehicle. Almost all recreational vehicles have an automatic transmission and drive similar to a truck. Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may need to get an International license – so check this in advance if you are planning to journey abroad.
What Are Some Hazards to Look out for When Getting a Free RV?
When getting a free RV, you won’t exactly know where it has been. Some older RVs, especially from hurricane or flood zones, may have mold. Mold can cause serious health problems. Check every corner of the vehicle for signs of mold and excess moisture. Be sure that any other health hazards (decomposed flooring, etc.) are fully eliminated before occupying your RV.
Make sure you complete the proper paperwork to transfer ownership of your RV. Bring any registration fees up to date. This will protect both you and the previous owner from future liability. After pouring resources and sweat equity into your new vehicle, you will want to use it rather than leaving it parked due to legal issues.
If My RV Doesn’t Have Running Water, Where Do I Shower and Use the Toilet?
Depending on your RV and water situation, you may need to use the shower and toilet outside of your vehicle. Fortunately, there are many options for public showers and bathrooms if your vehicle doesn’t have either.
Showers For RV Living
Visitor centers and truck stops often have public shower facilities available for a fee. Many beaches offer free showers for beachgoers. For long term RV living, consider getting a gym membership. Even if you are not technically staying at a campsite, you may still be able to pay for a shower at their facility.
Bathrooms For RV Living
Fortunately, public restrooms can be found just about anywhere. When nature calls, seek out a nearby store, fast food restaurant or gas station. Campgrounds and public parks are great places to find public restrooms.
Composting and dry flush toilets are other options for making it easier to “go” on the road.