If you tend to opt for long trips to really take time exploring, the hotel, motel or Airbnb bill can be quite daunting. Fortunately, renting an RV will only cost you a fraction of what you would pay for hotel rooms, plus all the perks traveling on the road offers. You will wonder then, how much does it cost to rent an RV?
While RV camping is less expensive, it is much more complicated than renting a regular vehicle. RV renting plus camping fees vary greatly from place to place, between different RV types, within the year and even within campgrounds.
Note that with an RV, you will have to pay for not just the RV itself, but also a number of hidden costs, including setup fees, cancellation fees, gas and mileage, and more. In addition, without knowledge and planning, it is very easy to exceed your budget by a mile, or come back from your trip never wanting to RV camp again.
Sounds intimidating? Read on to equip yourself with handy hassle-free RV renting tips and get ready for a memorable trip.
This comprehensive guide will answer the question “How much does it cost to rent an RV?” by providing an average price range for each type of RV, a list of all hidden fees and optional fees, tips to save money when renting an RV and also bonus RV camping tips from seasoned full-time RVers.
- Renting an RV: What to consider first
- Peer-to-peer RV Rental Cost
- Renting an RV: Other fees
- Pro tips on renting an RV: How to save money
Renting an RV: What to consider first
The very first thing you need to do even before asking “How much does it cost to rent an RV?” is determining your needs and priority, in order to pick the optimal RV type and model. Think about how many people will share the same space, how long your trip is, the level of comfort you desire, and of course your budget.
Driving the unit
An important note is it is not easy to drive the hulking gorilla around, especially on hilly, mountain roads. Therefore, choosing which type of RV to rent also depends on your driving skills and also your logistic choices.
If you would rather compromise space to have an easier driving experience on long trips, smaller sized RVs like a 21 foot rig would be much easier to drive around. Plus, smaller rigs typically have better gas mileage.
Depending on the types of RV, you might be driving in the RV itself or you would be towing it behind your car or truck. Towing would allow you to leave your rig in the parking area and go explore in your compact vehicle.
Space and sleeping arrangements
To decide what type of and which RV to rent, space and sleeping arrangements should be a major consideration. After a long day spending outdoors, every traveler will need a good night sleep to recharge. Sleeping space is what you would not want to compromise, especially if you plan to camp for a week and above.
RV rental listings will always show how many people each RV sleeps. Note that RV beds are typically hidden or convertible, so it’s best that you inquire before renting how large each bed is, and exactly how to go about converting it.
Convertibles aren’t the most comfy and spacious beds, thus inquiring beforehand will help you organize sleeping quarters for each companion.
Small groups of two or three will get all the basics covered with something like the standards 2016 R-Pod 180 Forest River, which sleeps three, possibly four petite: a queen size bed for two plus a dining area that folds out into a twin bed.
Meanwhile, bigger groups and longer trips will require a larger RV with extra storage space and amenities like the 2014 Fleetwood Bounder 33C, which sleeps six and features two slide-outs for extra living space.
Level of comfort
RVs come in all sizes and offer widely different levels of comfort. A standard RV will often have the basics: a sleeping quarter, a fully-equipped kitchen with a microwave, a gas stove, a small fridge, a full bathroom with built-in shower, a dining area with a convertible bed and a TV.
If you prefer more privacy or you’re traveling with a few companions, you can upgrade to an RV with a private bedroom with king size bed, a full bathroom with separate shower, which is more convenient for larger groups, a bigger and better equipped kitchen with double door refrigerator and an oven, a more comfy and spacious dining area, more than one AC units, and more storage.
To decide which RV type is ideal for you, check out the details for each type below.
Peer-to-peer RV Rental Cost
The four basic RV types
A Class A is an all-in-one RV, perfect for families and large groups who need a lot of room and privacy. A Class A usually includes a lounge and dining area, a fully-equipped kitchen with sufficient counter space for cooking, a bathroom with shower, and one or two separate bedrooms.
Slide-out is a common feature you can find in many Class As, which serves to increase the interior space.
With a Class A motorhome, you will be driving inside the RV. This means if you would like to bring your car to go explore in a compact vehicle, you will be towing it behind the RV. Do note that only certain types of vehicles can be towed behind an RV.
If you travel alone or with your spouse and do not need a whole lot of space, then a Class B might be a great option. It is sometimes called a van conversion, since it is a full size or extended van with a raised roof for extra head room, called a pop-top van.
Vans come in different sizes and height, thus if you want to, say, be able to stand up straight inside the Class B, there are many models with high roof for tall travelers, despite not being a pop-top.
A typical Class B is equipped with basic kitchen appliances, a bed/dinette combo and sometimes a toilet for the larger sized vans. You can also find models with a number of handy solutions for the limited space, such as a kitchen and/or dining unit which can be extended or pulled out from the back door to offer outdoor dining.
Often without a bathroom and space for washing and drying clothes, a Class B is suitable for shorter trips.
A Class C RV is built on a truck chassis with an extra cab over the driver’s compartment. This extra space usually houses the bed.
Most Class Cs have a dining area which converts into a bed, a kitchen, and a bathroom, which means more comfort than a Class B. More spacious than a Class B, a Class C can house a family who would like something easier to drive than a Class A, or a couple who want more space and a built-in bathroom.
Class C and class B are the easiest to drive in. With a class C, you are basically driving a pickup truck with something attached on top of it.
A 5th wheel is a large sized RV you tow behind a truck. Note that not every vehicle can tow a fifth wheel: you would need at least a pickup truck for the job. Categorized as being on the fancy side, a 5th wheel offers the same level of comfort a Class A does.
This usually gives you the most living space, however this also means having to drive a very large unit around. In addition, you’re not driving one whole unit, but two units attached by a hitch, which makes handling very different. Some driving and parking practice before the actual trip is recommended.
Compared to a Class A, a fifth wheel allows you to park your rig at the campground and drive around in your towing vehicle to explore, which might be more ideal.
A travel trailer also requires at least a pickup truck to tow. It is more compact compared to a fifth wheel or a Class A, and thus doesn’t offer the same luxurious amenities.
With this type, you have a wide range to choose from: they come in all sizes from tiny 10 feet compact trailers all the way up to 40 feet long trailers, with varying interior features.
For a mid-size trailer of 25 to 35 feet in length, you can enjoy a lounge, a dinette/bed combo, a kitchen, a bathroom and a private bedroom.
How much does it cost to rent an RV?
Now that you have decided which type of RV to rent, the next step is shop around. How much does it cost to rent an RV on average? The average per-day motorhome rental prices vary depending on the class and the age of the RV.
A key takeaway from seasoned RVers is to go through peer-to-peer rental platforms, like Outdoorsy for the US market, where you rent directly from the owner of the RV. This is much cheaper than renting a motorhome from an RV rental company like Cruise America, which often offers unfavorable customer services.
Typically, the average cost of RV rental on peer-to-peer rental platforms is as follows:
For RVs of 10+ years or older:
- Class A: $175-$275/night
- Class B: $100-$200/night
- Class C: $150-$200/night
- Fifth Wheel: $60-$150/night
- Travel Trailer: $50-$125/night
For RVs of less than 10 years old:
- Class A: $350-$450/night
- Class B: $200-$350/night
- Class C: $225-$400/night
- Fifth Wheel: $150-$300/night
- Travel Trailer: $125-$200/night
Below are three types of the smaller vans you might want to look at for short trips and one or two persons, however they are a little harder to find for rent. You can expect a small kitchen plus a small sleeping quarter or a kitchen and a dinette/bed combo. With such limited space, you can dine outside and even sleep in a tent in good weather.
- Pop Up Camper: $50 to $100
- Campervan: $75 to $150
- Toy Hauler: $100 to $200
Sometimes, more likely in off-season, the owner might give you one free day when you rent for six.
Renting an RV: Other fees
The cost of renting an RV also include a number of other fees, in addition to the per-day rental fees:
RV Campground Rates
If you decide to stay in a campground to have full hookups for water and electricity plus wifi, you’ll need to reserve before hand and pay for your spot. This rate varies widely depending on seasonality, even within the campground the more sought after spots with better view will come with a bigger price tag.
Or, if you don’t mind a bit more adventure and fewer creature comforts, there’s always the option of boondocking or dry camping, which is totally free.
Sometimes RV owners will charge a cleaning fee of some $50 to $100, which you can usually avoid by cleaning the unit before returning it.
RV renters typically require you to fill the gas tank filled before you return their rig. Otherwise, they will charge you the cost of filling it up, plus an additional fee of about $20-$50 for them having to drive to a gas station to fill it. So fill it up on your way back.
Per mile fee
RV rentals nowadays usually offer unlimited mileage. However, do check with the owner on this to avoid paying for hidden fees later.
Sometimes, you will be given only a restricted number of miles, then you will be charged for all the miles above this limit. This averages $0.25-$0.75 per extra mile.
Needless to say, if you rent an RV online, you’ll pay taxes like everything else. The tax rate you’ll pay, however, is based on the state you’re picking up the RV in. So if you’re in New York, but the RV rental is in North Carolina, you’ll pay North Carolina’s sales tax.
When you rent through a peer-to-peer rental platform, you are often automatically protected by insurance of up to a certain value for free. Otherwise, you can choose to pay extra for insurance from a number of insurers on the market.
The average for such insurance is around 5%-7% on top of your total rental cost. RV rental insurance allows you to get your deposit and/or rental fees back in case of a covered emergency cancellation, and protects you from paying for damaged appliances and interiors. This Damage Protection service is especially recommended if you’re renting a luxury RV.
You will also have to pay upfront a security deposit of a few hundred bucks, which is refunded at the end of your trip if there are no damages or in case you’re covered by Damage Protection insurance.
Having to reschedule a vacation is common. Just make sure you read the cancellation policy of the rented RV before renting so that you know the time window for free cancellation and avoid extra cost where possible.
Just like Airbnb, some RV rentals allow pets while some don’t. Where pets are allowed on board, you might need to pay an extra deposit or fee.
In addition, you should also check the pet policies of the campgrounds and places where you will be traveling, as many parks do not allow dogs on trails or beaches.
You can choose to pay extra for added amenities, such as satellite TV for $10, or a kitchen supply package for a fully stocked kitchen or outdoor furnitures like camping chairs, hammock, fire pit and grill.
Pro tips on renting an RV: How to save money
After getting answers to “How much does it cost to rent an RV?”, many travelers would wonder “That’s a lot! How can I save some money?”
When you’re paying thousands of dollars just for renting the RV alone, you would want to save money wisely where you can. Below are many handy pro tips from seasoned RVers that the regular travelers might not know about.
Look for discount
Especially in off season, you might be able to nail a big discount for long-term rentals. Rentals for over a month will also be easiest to negotiate. Otherwise, sometimes you can get a few free days for long term rentals, or as mentioned above, a free day when you book six days.
Book Peer-to-Peer RV Rentals
Nowadays, peer-to-peer rental platforms seem to have triumphed over the conventional service companies. With lower rental costs, advanced search filters, free insurance and good support services, renting an RV is easier than ever.
Book In Off-Peak Seasons
Camping in the summer means crowds and higher prices. Vacation in spring, fall, or even winter offer a wholly different scenery and experience, plus you will be able to save a couple hundreds dollars.
If you love the beaches, you can get some great deals on winter rates and still enjoy warm weather. Some campgrounds in, for instance, Myrtle Beach offer campsites right on the beach for half price until mid-March. Enjoy an affordable vacation in ideal weather of 70-80°F or 20-27°C.
Book campground ahead of time
In good weather, campgrounds get filled up very quickly, especially the most scenic spots. Therefore, when you can plan ahead for your vacation, book the campground then to get the best rates for the best spots.
If you need amenities such as full hook-ups for power, sewer, water, cable, wifi, and maybe even a heated swimming pool, best stick to private RV Parks. Or if you want the best view, some privacy without the crowds in the campgrounds and the shortest access to nature, public campgrounds will be more your style.
Together with peer-to-peer RV rental platforms, you can now find a number of websites offering a comprehensive list of campgrounds around your country to filter your search with ease.
If your RV is self-contained and especially in moderate weather, try dry camping without hookups when suitable. It’s easier than you would think. No fees, and no distraction from nature.
On long trips, your fuel bills can add up quite quickly. To save on fuel cost and also to save the environment, maximize your RV’s fuel efficiency with necessary maintenance tips.
The very first thing on your checklist is to avoid unnecessarily overloading the RV. The second is checking your tire pressure daily. Excess weight and under-inflated tires will eat up your fuel supply.
Secure Items Inside the RV
Remember the security deposit fee? Prevent potential damage by making sure every time before the wheels start to roll that everything is firmly secured in place. Safely stow loose items, clear off counters and tables and latch all cabinets.
Plan your route
Plan your route wisely beforehand not only saves you on gas but also avoid a hefty extra mileage fee, in case you’re charged for mileage above the owner’s allowance.
There are currently a variety of apps tailored specifically for RV, such as RV Trip Wizard, the Google Map for RVers. Magnificent off-the-beaten-path scenery and fun activities are only a few clicks away.
You might also want to use an app to find the cheapest and closest gas stations. More on handy RV apps at the end of the article.
Plan & cook your own meals
If your RV comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, an adequate counter top and a big enough fridge, save on food by buying groceries for your trip beforehand. For longer trips, research on places where you can buy some along the way and plan your route accordingly.
Pack the Essentials
Make sure to double check with the RV renters on exactly what is included in the RV. You don’t always get items such as linens, towels, kitchenware and utensils, camping chairs and an RV grill. Pack what you will need so that you won’t need to buy on the way.
RV Apps to Enhance Your Trip
You can download many free RV apps at once, or for only $10, you can get everything you would ever need for an RV trip in one app: AllStays. This massive all in one RV guide helps you find campgrounds, supermarkets, dump stations, gas stations, plus other RV services and overnight stops.
For freebies, check out these handy RV apps and the likes to save some money and have a hassle-free, enjoyable vacation in your RV:
RV Trip Wizard
The Google Map for RVers. This is handy since an RV is bulky, thus certain roads might be too small or dangerous to drive on. Just like truck-tailored navigation apps for truck drivers, having both Google Map and RV Trip Wizard will be ideal.
Compares fuel prices to help you find the cheapest gas station nearby.
A database of national parks with everything you need to know, including reviews, recommendations, points-of-interest with GPS coordinates, and interactive maps.
A must-download app for navigating a new area, with a giant database of reviewed campgrounds, restaurants, services, and entertainment venues.
There are many things to manage with an RV, like latching all the cabinets before the wheels roll, or crank up the stabilizers. Never forget these things again with the RV Checklist app with your own customizable list and easy features for checking off items.
Remember to keep track of weather on the go and before every time you start to roll with the many free weather apps available.