This month, I had the pleasure of chatting all things RV rental -- from unexpected destinations to the benefits of different types of rigs -- with RVshare CEO Jon Gray. I enjoyed many a summer RV trip in Alaska during my young childhood, sometimes traveling as part of a full-on caravan. Multiple RVs filled with family and family friends would follow one another along Alaska’s state highways and sometimes even down breathtakingly beautiful unpaved roads as we ventured toward remote campsites and only-in-Alaska sightseeing spots.
Of course, these memories remind me that however cold it still is in the Midwest (and Alaska, no doubt), in the States, summer is on the horizon. And it is the most popular season for RV rentals. Considering that RVshare is the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace (think Airbnb for campers and motorhomes), I had to ask Jon, “When is the best time to plan an RV getaway?”
We got his answer, a bit of RV rental advice, and some touching RV stories, too.
Don’t Put It Off To Hone A Bunch Of Specific Skills
If you’re considering renting an RV in 2020, Jon wants you to know you don’t need a bunch of specific skills. RV is a broad term that covers everything from Class B rigs, which are the size of vans to stupendously large Class A motorhomes, which look like tour buses. In between, you have your Class C motorhomes, which Jon likens to driving a U-Haul truck, plus campers that can be towed or even dropped off by their owners in the location of your choice.
Jon’s advice on the topic of which rig to pick: Book a rig you’re comfortable with from a driving perspective. Just because you’d never say yes to a semi doesn’t mean an RV vacation isn’t for you. In fact, some of our favorite motorhomes and campers on our list of 15 luxury RVs to inspire your next road trip are the tiniest. Airstream small enough to tow with an SUV, anyone?
Do Have A Budget In Mind Before You Book
Lots of us map out financial goals at the end of one year or the beginning of the next. By early spring, odds are you know what your vacation budget is for the year, and this will be tremendously helpful in booking an RV. Jon reminded me that your RV rental budget isn’t a fixed price, that is, it’s not equal to your reservation fee, no matter who you’re renting from. It could involve overage of miles. It will involve gas. You should also purchase insurance and roadside assistance if they aren’t provided for by the business you’re booking through or your own car insurance, homeowner’s policy, or credit card perks.
Once you have a budget in mind, start shopping on a trusted site, and be mindful that you’ll wind up spending more during your vacation than the upfront rental price.
Make Time To Browse (And Beyond)
For many travelers, shopping for the right place to stay -- or the right RV to rent -- is half the fun of vacationing. The possibilities! The anticipation! It’s a process. Look at pictures, review RV listings, and skim the ratings. Know that renting an RV costs $200 a night on average. On RVshare, you’ll find everything from luxe buses with granite countertops to tiny teardrop campers you can tow behind your own car. And the cost per night varies accordingly.
Once you have your sights set on the rental you really want and know it’s in your budget, Jon says it’s time to speak to the owner. Renting an RV isn’t like rolling up and checking into a hotel. A good relationship and communication are the foundation of a positive rental and cruising experience.
Sites like RVshare contribute to the development of trust between RV renters and RV owners by verifying everyone’s ID (you’ll literally submit a photo of yourself holding your government-issued ID, and can rest assured that the RV owner has done the same).
Commit By The End Of March
RVing is popular around the country all summer long, and Jon told me RVs stationed out West (think Las Vegas, Salt Lake, Phoenix, and Los Angeles) are in high demand in the summer as folks snap up rentals that are in close proximity to Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the Mighty Five national parks in Utah. Traveling to these places or other popular destinations, like Disney’s Fort Wilderness, music festivals, or even the beach, in an RV means you’ll have the comforts of home and the feel of a hotel room wherever you want to be.
At Fort Wilderness (or any other campsite), an RV is a great middle ground between ground/tent camping and booking at a resort. At a music festival, it means you can stay up late without having to worry about getting back to a hotel or rental home safely. At the beach -- well, you can literally step out your RV door and feel the wind in your hair, and you’ll probably hear the waves both in and outside of your rig as (in some places) you can pull close to the shore and park for the night.
But none of this is possible if you can’t secure an RV that’ll accommodate your group, budget, and comfort zone when it comes to driving. Booking by the end of March means more options and no contending with last-minute summer vacation planners.
Consider These Unexpected Destinations
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of contending with a bunch of other summer RVers, or an RV trip is on your bucket list, but you don’t have your heart set on a specific destination, Jon said he and the RVshare team have noticed some interested off-the-beaten-path destinations emerge from RVshare’s booking data. Ginnie Springs, Florida, about an hour outside of Gainesville, is a beloved destination that doesn’t see the throngs of the national parks. You could also consider the beautiful lakes of Wisconsin or Michigan, or draw inspiration from our RV experts’ accounts of their travels coast to coast.
Know That You’re In For A Memorable Experience
Wherever you decide to go, and whenever you get your RV booked, you are in for genuine, unscripted memory making. During a recent RV trip with his family, Jon realized just how liberating boon docking, or dry camping (which our expert Robyne Stevenson writes about here), can be. One night in Big Bend National Park in Texas, he was holding his young daughter and singing to her when he was overwhelmed by “the sense of quiet you get when you are that far away from everything.” At first, the night sky seems completely black. Then you can see all the stars. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” took on a new meaning for him that night.
Ready to book your trip? Do it by March 31 and keep Jon’s suggestions in mind!
RVshare is the world's first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace. With thousands of satisfied customers and a broad inventory ranging from travel trailers to luxury motorhomes, RVshare has the perfect RV for your vacation, tailgate, or temporary lodging needs.