How to Rent an RV, Your Ultimate Guide to RV Rentals

Class C Motorhome at sand dunes with night sky

When you rent an RV, you’re not only taking along the kitchen sink…you’re taking along the fridge, oven, dining table, sofa, shower, toilet, and bed too. Ahh…all the comforts of home, while doing 65 down the highway (although I don’t recommend doing 65 while using all these features, but you get the idea!). Your home is wherever the road takes it!

“RV rentals are booming – and with good reason. With RVing, you control your own time, where you go, where you stay – and the price is right.”

Peter Greenberg, renowned travel expert

Topics I’ll cover in this article include:

  • Reasons to Rent an RV
  • 12 Tips to Renting an RV
  • Types of RVs you can Rent
  • RV Rental Insurance
  • One-Way RV Rentals
  • RV Boondocking features to look for
  • RV Vacation Ideas
  • Where to Rent an RV

So, without further ado, here’s your guide to a taste of the good life…

Class C Motorhome on Hwy with beautiful red rock
Roadbear RV camper rental on Hwy 89 near Page, Arizona

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Why Rent an RV?

The reasons to rent an RV are endless. Here are a few…

  • Total Freedom: cook, sleep, shower, watch TV, relax on the sofa, or use the restroom whenever, or wherever you wish.
  • Change the scenery out your living room window as often, or as little as you like.
  • You’ve got a “Home on Wheels”! Getting there can’t get any more comfortable than that! Enjoy the journey!
  • Want to eat out? Great. Want to cook a gourmet meal onboard? It’s all about freedom!
  • Camp where you wish: In a campground with full hookups or rely on your onboard systems and go RV Boondocking.

Flying VS. RVing. When you Rent an RV…

  • Your luggage is always with you
  • No waiting in lines at the airport
  • No airline fees for luggage, fuel surcharges, meals, or extra legroom
  • No flight delays to stall you
  • You can bring just about anything onboard the RV, and you’ll have plenty of room for souvenirs

Planning to Purchase an RV? Try Before You Buy…

Renting is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the various types and find out what works best for you.

It’s also a good way to see if the RV lifestyle is your cup of tea before laying out your hard earned cash on a purchase.

Renting VS. Owning. When you rent…

  • No long term purchase commitment
  • No long term insurance expenses
  • No need to worry about where to store it and the costs of storage
  • No maintenance to perform
  • No financial loss due to depreciation
  • If the RV is only used for a fraction of the year, renting makes more cents!

Reconnect with Your Family…

What better way to enjoy time with your family than RV camping in the great outdoors. And having all the comforts of home with you can make the trip a breeze for you and the kids!

Do you own an RV and wish you could share the joys of RVing with family or friends who are “RVless”? Have them rent an RV and join you for a family reunion of outdoor fun and exploration!

Save Money…

The costs of flying, renting a car, staying in hotels, and eating out can put you in the poorhouse. When renting an RV you can save up to 50% or more on vacation costs. RV Rental prices vary depending on the season, location, and size of the unit. The costs can range from $100-$250 per day.

Go “Green”…

By Renting an RV, instead of taking the typical airline/car rental/hotel vacation, you will be using less resources and will leave a smaller carbon footprint.

Family at campsite by lake in forest, with travel trailer

12 Tips to Renting a RV

  1. Prices can vary by season, location, and availability. Ask about any rental discounts during the year and plan your vacation around those dates to save money.
  2. In general, the earlier you book, the lower the price.
  3. No special endorsement is needed on your driver’s license to drive a motorhome or pull a trailer.
  4. You will need to provide your own bed sheets, towels, and cookware (these may be provided by the rental company for a fee).
  5. Pets are typically allowed for an additional fee or deposit.
  6. Towing a car or trailer behind a motorhome may be possible with some rental companies (an additional fee may apply).
  7. An orientation will be provided so you’ll know how to operate all of the equipment on the RV.
  8. Travel restrictions may apply (such as travel to Mexico or to Death Valley during July & August).
  9. If you rent an RV in winter, be aware that the unit will be winterized in areas where freezing is possible. This means that the sinks, toilet, and shower cannot be used unless procedures are followed to de-winterize the unit (ask the owner for instruction).
  10. Before signing on the dotted line, look the RV over to see that it’s in good shape and the sleeping areas will accommodate everyone in your group.
  11. While on your vacation, don’t try to “See It All” in one week! Remember, the less time spent driving, the more time you’ll have for recreation.
  12. Don’t forget to pack any outdoor gear you plan to use: chairs, table, grill, lantern, flashlights, and bicycles. Also, remember to bring maps, GPS, campground directories, toiletries, towels, and food.

Class C Motorhome on paved road in forest

Which Type of RV to Rent?

From a luxurious bus sized Class A motorhome to a small pop-up camper, you’ll have to decide which best fits your family’s needs.

If you haven’t driven anything larger than a 4-door sedan, and you’d like to rent a motorhome, you may want to start with something like a smaller Class C (mini-motorhome).

Also, find one that sleeps all members of your family -and for motorhome rentals, make sure there’s a seatbelt for each passenger.

Class A Motorhomes

Class A Motorhomes can be “mansions on wheels” and are the most expensive to rent and operate. They can range from 24 to 40 feet in length and look and feel like a bus. An advantage is that you’ll have an excellent view of the road and the scenery through the expansive front windshield. However, this is a “Big Rig” and maneuvering the beast can take some practice.

Class C Motorhomes (Mini-Motorhomes)

Class C Motorhomes are smaller and easier to drive than a Class A. They are built on a van or truck chassis and typically have a bed over the cab area. These can be less expensive to rent and operate than a Class A. The length can be from 19 to 32 feet.

Class B Motorhomes (Camper Vans)

Class B Motorhomes are the most compact motorhomes and usually sleep 2 to 4 people. They are not well suited for RV Boondocking (camping without hookups) as the freshwater and holding tanks are small – In addition these typically do not have full bathroom facilities. And you won’t be cooking gourmet with the limited kitchen space!

However, they can be great for short trips. Also, if you can drive a van, you can easily cruise in one of these.

Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels

Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels will require a heavy duty tow vehicle. Trailers are best when camped in one spot for extended periods as the tow vehicle can be used for sightseeing.

Sizes can range from 13 to over 35 feet for some Fifth Wheels. The larger Fifth Wheels can be quite luxurious with multiple slide outs and more space than an apartment.

If you need a stationary dwelling, delivery of the trailer can often be provided by the rental company.

Sport Utility RV (SURV, Toy Haulers)

Are you the type that just can’t go camping without bringing the “garage” along with you? Then a Sport Utility RV, commonly called a Toy Hauler, is the one for you. With this type of RV, the back end is the “garage door” where you can load up your ATV, motorcycle, snowmobile, golf cart, kayak, canoe, bicycles, or possibly even a small car. You will also have full living facilities onboard.

The Sport Utility RV can be found as a motorhome, travel trailer, or fifth wheel.

Family unloading ATVs from Toy Hauler RV

Pop-Up Camper (Folding Camper Trailer, Tent Camper)

A Pop-Up Camper is a lightweight trailer that can be towed by many passenger vehicles. Once setup these can sleep up to eight people. This is the least costly RV to rent.

They are not well suited for extended RV boondocking (camping without hookups) as the freshwater and holding tanks are small – In addition these typically do not have full bathroom facilities.

With their low profile and short length they are very easy to tow. And if you’re looking for a small RV that can go just about anywhere, a pop-up camper rental may be your ticket.

A-Frame Pop-Up Camper at Campsite
A-Frame pop-up camper

RV Rental Insurance

When you rent an RV, the rental company will offer you an insurance policy similar to that offered by a car rental. However, if you own a car and have insurance, check with your insurance company to see if RV rental insurance is included in your policy. If not, ask about the cost to insure an RV rental under your existing plan.

If RV rental insurance is already included under your existing plan, you can skip buying additional insurance from the RV rental company. If not, you will want to compare the cost of adding RV rental insurance through your car insurance provider verses the RV rental company.

One-Way RV Rentals

Choosing a One-Way RV Rental means that you can rent an RV in Maine and drop it off in California. RVing across the country and flying home is a great way to save time.

Check with the rental company as some offer deep discounts at certain times of the year. Typically the companies need RVs moved north in the spring and south in the fall and you may find some great bargains at these times.

RV Boondocking (no hookups, self-contained)

If the RV lifestyle is all about freedom, then RV boondocking is the pinnacle of RVing. Cutting the cords will set you free!

There are many campgrounds in the US, especially on public land, where limited or no hookups are available. You will be relying on the RV’s onboard systems. You will still be able to use all the systems on the RV – however, having the right equipment will allow you to camp for longer periods without campground hookups.

Things to consider before you rent an RV

  • Is there a Generator or Solar Panel for charging the batteries?

    If not, you may have to drive the RV every couple of days to let the alternator charge the batteries. If using a generator to charge the batteries, a generator fee may apply. Be conservative with your electrical usage and recharge the RV’s batteries each day if possible.
  • What are the Freshwater/Wastewater Holding Tank capacities?

    The larger the better as these tanks will eventually need to be filled/emptied. Being conservative with your water use will allow you to boondock for longer periods without having to fill/empty the tanks.
  • Smaller may be Better

    When you rent an RV, think small if you plan to camp in areas such as National Forest Campgrounds, where spaces are tight (some have length restrictions of 20-25 feet).
Family at campsite in forest with Class A Motorhome

Epic Ideas for your Ultimate RV Vacation!

  • Got a big game coming up or a concert at the stadium? Rent an RV and miss out on the traffic by hosting a pre and post event tailgate party! Stock the kitchen, bring the BBQ, and you’re all set!
  • Leave the crowds behind and take the road less travelled while enjoying the country fresh air and scenery of America’s outback.
  • Bring your fishing pole and head to the nearest body of water. Prepare your catch right there in the RV’s kitchen for the freshest fish you’ve ever tasted!
  • Dream of living by the seaside? Pull your RV right up to the beach, and when night falls, let the sound of the ocean lull you to sleep.
  • Surround yourself with wilderness and visit a National Forest. Experience the wonders of nature while staying in your “cabin on wheels”.
  • Fly to a different part of the country, rent an RV (instead of a car), and explore the area in depth, without having to drive back to a hotel each day.
  • Attend outdoor festivals like Burning Man, the annual art event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert – or head to Quartzsite, Arizona where thousands of RVers go RV boondocking each winter and attend the RV show, gem show, car show & more. There are also hundreds of vendors selling all sorts of items, especially rocks, lots and lots of rocks.

Other Uses for a Rental RV

Temporary Housing

Moving out, but not yet moving into your new place? Or perhaps you need a place to live while building or remodeling your home. Rent an RV to use as temporary housing. Some RVs can make for very comfortable living, as many full time RVers (those who live in their RV year-round) have found.

Business Use

The entertainment industry has used RVs as mobile offices and “mobile palaces” for the “stars” for years. an RV can make the perfect off site housing unit or office. Need an office at a construction site, housing for an outdoor event, or a comfortable vehicle for your traveling sales team? Consider a recreational vehicle rental for your business needs.

Family preparing salad in RV kitchen

Where to Rent an RV

Ready to make your RV dreams a reality? Only one step left, finding a place to rent an RV.

Here is a list of RV rental companies where you can search for RV rentals by type and location. Also, check local RV dealers and auto rentals. Some of them may have a rental program or can refer you to an RV rental company. And for private owner rentals, you can also try the popular free classified ad website Craigslist.

Cruise America

Cruise America is the largest RV rental company in the US. They also have rental locations in Canada.

El Monte RV

Whether your looking to rent a Mini-Motorhome or a Luxurious Class A you’ll find it at El Monte RV.

USA RV Rentals

Rent an RV from several rental locations across the USA here.

Allstar Coaches

Travel 1st class with a luxury motorhome from Allstar Coaches.

Go RVing

You can search for RV rentals by location from the Go RVing website.

More RV Rental Articles

  • Rent a Motorhome, Travel Like a King – Before you rent a motorhome learn what features to look for, how to choose a motorhome rental type & size, and what’s best for RV boondocking.

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