Unfortunately, many people who would otherwise enjoy the experience of RVing are turned away from the prospect of renting an RV solely on the basis of projected costs. The reality, however, is that RVing is more affordable than ever before for those who are concerned about bloated trip budgets and excessive rental fees. The RV rental market has expanded a great deal in recent years, and alongside this growth has come an increase in the diversity of rental offerings, particularly with regard to budget offerings.
Of course, keeping your RV rental and trip budget under control does not require you to make grand sacrifices in comfort and usability. In today’s RV world, most models come equipped with a core set of amenities and features that ensure your trip will be somewhat private, comfortable, and cohesive — in previous decades, these “budget” load-outs would have been considered “premium”!
Curious about the true cost of renting an RV, and whether you can make your trip affordable enough to fit your budget? Let’s take a look at the market.
RV Types and Price — Cost of Renting an RV
There are numerous RV types, within the motorhome and towable trailer subcategories. Be aware, however, that while motorhomes are more expensive on the surface (compared to similarly-equipped towable trailers), the overall cost may actually be lower if you have to rent a separate tow vehicle to pull your trailer.
The following are baseline daily rental rates, listed as a range (from low-end rates to high-end rates). Rates can vary significantly, particularly on peer-to-peer rental platforms where individual owners often list their RVs at below-market prices.
- Class A motorhome rental: $150-$400+
- Class B motorhome rental: $70-$200+
- Class C motorhome rental: $100-$300+
- Fifth wheel trailer rental: $120-$350+
- Travel trailer rental: $80-$250+
- Pop-up camper rental: $50-$125+
- Teardrop trailer rental: $30-$80+
Renting an RV — Hidden Costs
There are several hidden or otherwise non-obvious costs related to renting an RV and going on a trip. Be careful not to let these costs add up, as it can quickly eat into your overall trip budget!
Such costs include, but are not necessarily limited to…
Depending on your rental, you will most likely be given unlimited free miles or limited free miles. If your rental comes with limited free miles, you will be charged a per-mile fee for every mile driven in excess of the free amount. For example, if your rental comes with 500 free miles, and you surpass that number, then you will be charged a fee for every additional mile above 500. These fees can add up quickly, as some rental listings charge fees of up to $0.40 or more per excess mile driven.
Most rentals that include on-board generators charge a per-hour fee for using the generator. Though sometimes such fees cannot be avoided (for example, if you are boondocking and have no access to an outside generator hookup), you can mostly avoid using the generator if you stay at campgrounds and RV resorts that include free generator hookups.
The cost of lodging at RV campgrounds is often ignored by prospective renters just beginning to browse RV rentals online. Campground costs vary significantly, depending on the location, quality, and supplementary activities and services. Some campgrounds cost as little as $30 per night, for example, while others charge as much as $80+ per night. Plan carefully to avoid overspending.
If you are on a particularly tight budget, you may want to consider reserving ahead of time at a low-cost or free public campground. Public campgrounds “sell out” early and quickly, so make sure that you plan your trip and book your reservations well in advance.
RV fuel efficiency is quite lacking, on average, though some models struggle more than others. Fuel efficiency tracks size fairly well. You’ll generally get better fuel efficiency with a compact Class B motorhome built on a van chassis, for example, than a much larger Class A motorhome built on a bus chassis. Over the course of a long trip, better-than-average fuel efficiency can save you hundreds of dollars, so it’s absolutely worth considering when you browse for “budget” rentals.
Tips for Reducing the Cost of a Rental
There are many different strategies that a prospective renter can use to help reduce the cost of their rental. Consider the following.
Change the Rental Duration
The greater the length of the rental, the lower the daily rental rate will be (as the owner/dealership does not have to spend time, effort, and money on finding a new customer to fill in the gaps). The following discounts are projections based on estimates found online.
- Renting an RV for a week: 10-20% discount on the daily rental rate
- Renting an RV for 2 weeks: 20-30% discount on the daily rental rate
- Renting an RV for a month: 30-40% discount on the daily rental rate
Instead of going on multiple short trips, you can consolidate your vacation time to allow for one, longer trip to save money on your rental.
Rent an Older RV
Renting an older RV is a great way to access significant savings. When renting an older RV, however, make sure to check customer feedback (and perhaps request a run-through of the vehicle beforehand) to confirm that the vehicle is in good condition for your trip. Maintenance issues can be costly and difficult to deal with as a new RVer.
Rent from a Peer-to-Peer Platform
Peer-to-peer rental platforms play host to some of the cheapest RV rentals in the industry. On such platforms, individual RV owners post their RVs for rent. Prospective renters are then free to browse, compare, and reserve these listings. Rental rates tend to be significantly cheaper on peer-to-peer RV rental platforms, in part because individual owners are not excessively concerned with earning the maximum amount of money possible and playing the market (most are simply trying to earn some extra personal income on the side), and in part because it costs very little for an owner to post their RV for rent on a peer-to-peer platform.