If you are a beginner RV renter and are looking to rent an RV for a simple weekend vacation or a cross country trip then you should review the following 18 factors before you consider renting an RV. They not only outline what aspects to consider for your RV rental trip but also provide a bird’s eye view of which RV rental company to choose.
1. RV Peak Season – Summer School Holidays
The first factor to consider before you rent an RV is the RV peak season. Summer school holidays, major holiday weekends, and major events are the key factors that drive availability and prices.
If you are a beginner RV renter and just want to rent an RV for a simple weekend vacation then you should avoid peak season and perhaps plan your RV rental trip before or after school holidays (June-Sep).
This will not only provide you with more RVs to choose from but will also help you in negotiating with the RV owner and perhaps get a lower price or some freebies.
2. Cost – Start with CruiseAmerica and negotiate with others
There are a lot of options to choose from when renting an RV. The cost that the rental companies charge is an important factor to consider before you rent an RV.
Read through our article on the cost of an RV rental trip to know which is the least expensive rental company out there.
Generally, Cruise America has the lowest cost of all RV rentals.
Tip – Outdoorsy and RVShare owners may be open to negotiation, refer to this article for more details :
3. Newer and Wider selection of RVs – Outdoorsy and RVShare.com
RVShare.com and Outdoorsy.com provide a wide range of RVs to select from. This is because they are peer to peer rental companies that allow private RV owners to rent their RVs. Private RV owners have all kinds of RVs ranging from simple trailers to large buses.
CruiseAmerica and ELMonteRV have a standard fleet with limited selection. This makes business sense as a limited fleet reduces maintenance and repair costs.
If you are one of the RV renters who need a rear bunk bed for your kids or slide-outs and awning then you should start with RVShare and Outdoorsy.
Note – Perhaps it is reasonable to assume that a newer RV with fewer miles is much more reliable than an older RV with more miles. If you are traveling for an important event (e.g. your friend’s marriage) then RV reliability should be at the top of your list and you should consider renting a newer RV.
Related article: Should I rent an old or new RV?
4. Cancellation Flexibility
If you feel that there is a good chance that you may change or cancel your RV trip then perhaps you should start with CruiseAmerica and EL Monte RV as their cancellation policies are better than others. RVShare and Outdoorsy do not have any set cancellation policy. It is determined by the respective RV owners, who generally are not very flexible.
CruiseAmerica has the best cancellation policy. In most cases, you can cancel 1 week before the RV pickup with minimal cancellation charges. On the other extreme, some RVShare and Outdoorsy RV owners have strict policies wherein you lose the entire amount should you cancel less than 30 days of your RV pickup date.
For more details, please refer to the following article:
4.2 Cancellation Risk At The Last Minute
Imagine a situation where the bunk bed RV that you booked gets damaged by the previous renter and cannot be rented out to you. With Outdoorsy and RVShare.com you are dealing with private owners who have no option but to cancel at the last minute. With CruiseAmerica and El Monte RV rentals also you may end up getting your reservation canceled if all their RVs are booked.
In such situations, your local RV dealer may be the best option as they are likely to have some ‘spare’ RV that they may be able to rent to you.
Note: RVShare and Outdoorsy customer support may help you find alternate RVs. However, if it is peak summer season or peak weekend then even they may not have many options.
You may wonder that if car rental companies can always find a car for you, why can’t RV rental companies do the same! A somewhat simplistic answer to this is that the car rental industry is mature with lots of competition that forces them to have spare capacity and focus on customer satisfaction. On the other hand, the RV rental industry does not have enough competition to bring about such innovations and customer service.
Perhaps RVShare and Outdoorsy should consider having some ‘reserve’ rental RVs that they keep only for such emergencies during the peak holiday season. Many RV owners may be happy to get a modest payment just to be on call should there be a need for an emergency RV rental.
Please refer to the following article to get more details:
5. RV Reservation Down Payment
The total RV rental trip cost can range from $1000-$3000 depending on the number of nights and miles driven. At the time of booking, you need to make an initial down-payment. CruiseAmerica has the best policy that requires an initial payment of only $300. El Monte RV states a down payment of only $250 but they do block your credit card for $1000 which effectively adds up to $1,250.
RVShare.com and Outdoorsy.com owners may set their own policies but for a 7-night rental, you may have to make an initial down-payment of about $1000.
Tip – If you have all your holiday funds available upfront then this is not an issue. However, if your holiday funds will be available at the time of your RV rental then you should go with a low down-payment option.
6. Touch & Feel the RV Before you rent – Go with traditional RV rental companies.
If you prefer to look and feel the RV before you rent it then you may be better off going with a local RV rental company, El Monte RV, or CruiseAmerica.com. They are traditional brick & mortar companies that will give you a walkthrough and let you check out the RV before you rent.
On the other hand, Outdoorsy.com and RVShare.com RV owners are private owners who may be able to show you the RV during non-business hours after they finish their day job.
Note: Even though CruiseAmerica and El Monte RV may show you an RV model that you booked, it may not necessarily be the exact RV that you pick up for your rental trip. On the other hand, local RV rental companies may be more reliable and may walk you through the exact RV that you will get for your rental.
7. Reviews of The RV That You Will Rent
With Outdoorsy and RvShare, you get a detailed review of not only the RV owner but also of each RV. If there are enough recent reviews then you will get a very good feel of what kind of RV it is. On the other hand, with CruiseAmerica, El Monte RV, and local RV rental companies you do not get RV specific reviews.
8. Pet Policy – Most rental RVs are pet friendly
Most RV rental companies are pet friendly and you should not have any issue as long as you clean the RV before you return it. However, with RvShare.com and Outdoorsy.com you will need to check if the RV you wish to rent allows pets.
RVShare and Outdoorsy search have filters that you can use to search only pet friendly RVs.
Note: If you have pet allergies and can only rent an RV that does not allow pets then perhaps you should rent from RVShare and Outdoorsy the RVs that do not allow pets. You can also double-check with the RV owner that no pets have traveled in the rental RV.
Most traditional RV rental companies allow towing at an extra charge. For example, CruiseAmerica allows cars up to $2,500 to be towed at an extra charge of $25/night of rental.
RVShare.com detailed RV listing shows that towing charge typically begins at about $100. Outdoorsy detailed RV listing does not list towing and you will need to check with each RV owner.
10. RV Insurance
Insurance has two aspects, cost and customer service. The cost of insurance at Outdoorsy and RVShare can range from $30-$50 depending on the age and value of the RV. El Monte RV and CruiseAmerica provide basic insurance as part of RV rental with options to buy additional supplemental insurance.
In most cases, insurance is provided by a third-party company that is different from the RV rental company. These are by and large professional companies and are likely to provide you reasonable quality of service should any accident happen during your RV rental trip.
11. RV Orientation & Driving Lesson
With traditional RV rental companies, you are dealing with employees for whom RV orientation is a job/chore that they need to undergo every day. Unless you tip them nicely before the orientation they do not have much incentive to spend more time with you giving an RV orientation.
On the other hand with RVShare and Outdoorsy, you are dealing with a private RV owner who has a vested interest that you drive and operate the RV safely and therefore will try to answer all your questions and provide you a thorough RV orientation.
Note: I’ve tried to explain to you the business incentives here. You may always find an RVShare or Outdoorsy owner who is unconcerned and a traditional RV rental company employee who may be passionate about RV orientations.
12. Surprise Charges At The Time of RV Return
Local RV rental companies and CruiseAmerica have spotty records and there have been instances where naive renters get surprise cleaning and damage charges at the end of the RV rental.
With Outdoorsy.com and RVShjare.com you get to read reviews of the owner before you rent an RV. At the end of your rental, you get to leave a review of the RV owner. This acts as a deterrent that the private RV owner does not charge you incorrect fees.
13. One Way RV Rentals – Go with traditional RV Rental Companies
If you desire to take a one-way RV rental from New York to Los Angeles then your best bet is CruiseAmerica or El Monte RV that have rental offices at both locations.
Please refer to the following articles for more details of one way RV rentals:
14. Bicycle Racks – Most RVs have a hitch!
Most RVs have a standard hitch that can be used with any standard bike stand therefore this is not a differentiator that you need to worry about selecting an RV rental company.
15. Gas Mileage – Usually not an issue
If you are traveling less than 1500-2000 miles then this should not be an important factor. However, if you are traveling cross country then it may be a factor to consider before you rent an RV. Even then, our suggestion is to look for an RV rental company that suits your needs. Safety while driving an RV may be a more important factor and thereby a smaller RV may also help you save on fuel costs.
Plan your RV trip and do not let gas mileage be a deterrent in the planning. Instead, you should focus more on driving the RV, and planning the whole RV trip – what all you are going to see and the fun activities you are going to do with your family i.e. focus on the more positive aspects.
16. Roadside Assistance – Outsourced therefore pretty much the same
In almost all cases, roadside assistance is outsourced to external companies that provide nationwide coverage. There isn’t anything that differentiates the roadside assistance.
17. Weekend and Holiday Pickup and Drop-Offs – Outdoorsy and RVShare owners may be more flexible
With Rvshare and Outdoorsy, you are dealing with private RV owners who may be renting from their home or nearby storage. They may be much more amenable to let you pick up on Saturday and return on Sunday. Traditional RV companies are likely to be closed on weekends and major holidays.
RVShare and Outdoorsy RV owners may be more flexible on their prices and in allowing you early pickups and late drop-offs. Traditional RV rental companies are usually very rigid and almost always charge you for every additional aspect.
18. 24*7 Availability to answer RV questions – RVShare and Outdoorsy may be better!
The last factor to consider before you rent an RV is the speed with which you can get your queries resolved. With RVShare and Outdoorsy, you may be dealing with private RV owners who may be much more prompt to respond to your questions and concerns. With traditional RV rental companies, you are dealing with employees who may not be available after hours.
Hope this article provides you a good overview of all factors to consider before you rent an RV and also guides you on how various RV rental companies perform on these aspects.
Now shortlist the top 3-5 factors important for your trip and then check out the RV rental companies. Even if you are keen on one rental company, do not try to negotiate with another RV company/owner who may be open to getting your business.
And if you need any further assistance regarding any factor before you consider to rent an RV, reach out to us with your queries at email@example.com. We’ll get back to you in the shortest possible time.