The 4 Best Rental Options for a Small Drivable RV
There are many rental options when it comes to renting a small drivable RV or motorhome. But which option is best for you? We wondered the same thing when we rented our first RV so we did some research to decide for ourselves and here is what we found.
There are four main sources for renting an RV or motorhome and they are:
- Private Owner
- Local RV Dealership Near You
- Web-Based Service Company
- Large National RV Rental Company
All four options have their advantages and disadvantages. But, no matter which rental source you choose we absolutely recommend renting a small drivable Class C RV. Especially if you are new to RVing. We recommend this because driving your RV is way easier than towing a camper behind your pick up truck. It’s also easier than driving an RV longer than 25 feet long. It is much easier to drive a small or compact RV that you simply jump in and drive. This picture to the right is a perfect example of a Class C Motorhome or RV – and it’s ours!
So we recommend renting an RV under 24′ long for your first RV trip. We rented a 19′ compact RV from Cruise America for our first RV experience and it was a breeze to drive.
So now that you know you should find a small drivable RV rental – where should you rent it? We considered all four sources before renting our RV and we discuss the pro’s and con’s of each before you decide your best rental option
1. Private Owner Rentals
Private owner rentals are where you work directly with the RV owner to rent your RV. You can find a private owner who is renting their RV on Craigslist or Facebook Market Place or you could even ask a friend. This may be the cheapest way to rent an RV but the risks could far outweigh the rewards. For example, you will need to work out the following details with the RV owner:
- What happens if you are in an accident? – How does the Insurance work…
- Where do you go if you need service? – Does the owner have Road Side Assistance and does it cover you?
- How much mileage is allowed? – How many miles are included with the rental price?
- What if you break something in the RV? – Are the components of the RV insured and how does that work?
- Who do you call if you have a question about how something works?
- Who cleans the RV when you return it?
And on and on the list goes. If you and the RV owner are not experienced at renting RV’s there could be lots of confusion resulting in added expenses. So, even though you may find the cheapest price from a private owner you could end up paying more due to unexpected surprises along the way.
2. Local RV Dealerships that Rent RVs
We have all driven around and seen RV Dealerships with a huge lot full of RV,s motorhomes, campers, trailers, etc. Well, many of these local dealerships also rent RV’s. The nice thing about using a local dealership is you can rent an RV that is nearby and deal face to face with them. You are renting from a company rather than an individual so there are well-defined rules for the rental and few surprises.
The downside is there may be limited availability for the type of RV you want to rent or no availability for your time frame. It is always best to read the reviews on a local RV dealership to see if other renters had a good experience or not. Also, you will need to plan ahead and book early to get the RV and time frame you want.
3. RV Rental From a Web-Based Directory
There are some terrific web-based RV Rental directories out there that make for a smooth transaction between you and the RV owner. They handle all of the details for payment, insurance, roadside assistance, and make the process incredibly easy and more transparent.
The best ones are RVShare, USA Rentals, and Outdoorsy, with Outdoorsy being the best in our opinion. You search online for your RV, enter the vacation pick up and return dates, location and other info about what you are looking for and these sites match you up with private individuals who are renting their RV. Some also have rental listings for local and national companies who are renting RV’s, which we will discuss further down the page.
The great thing about these companies is that they take care of defining all of the rules of the rental contract. They can provide insurance, provide reviews of RV owners and offer 24-hour roadside assistance plans and require that RVs pass a certified maintenance and safety inspection. The Rv owner benefits because they verify the driving record of the driver and handle the rental payment and deposit.
Another really great feature of renting through one of these companies is that you can try out whatever brand or type of RV you like. For example, suppose you are considering buying a Class A RV, which is one of those RV’s that looks like a Greyhound Bus, like the one on the right. Wouldn’t it be nice to try one out for a weekend or a week before you purchase one?
4. Large National Rental Companies
The large national companies that rent RVs provide for the most consistent user experience. You can read about all of the rental details and customer reviews on their websites and be very sure that there will be no surprises. Companies like El Monte RV and Cruise America are your best choices. In our opinion, Cruise America is the best. It’s who we chose to rent from when we rented.
These companies handle all of the rental details from A-Z and they do it extremely well. And the best part is that they are Nationwide so you can rent almost anywhere you want to travel. For example, when we rented we flew from Maryland to Las Vegas and rented from Cruise America. This allowed us to travel all through California and return the RV at the end of our trip at a different location than we started from if we wanted too. If we rented locally it would have taken three days of driving twelve hours a day just to get to California!
So, there are plenty of places to rent your RV but we think Outdoorsy or Cruise America will provide you with the best rental experience. We also recommend you check out our article 15 Essential Rental Tips For First Time RV Renters to save time, money and hassle if you do rent an RV.
There is another way to rent an RV which is called a Rent To Own. It’s a great way to buy an RV with little or no money down, and no credit check. The way it works is each month a portion of your rent goes toward the price of the RV and at the end of the lease, you own the RV! Check out our article 11 Smart Reasons to Rent To Own an RV for much more info.
Do you have an experience or question about renting an RV that you would like to share? Please leave your comment below. We would love to hear from you!
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