How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip: Helpful Beginner’s Guide

NOTE*** The content on this page may contain affiliate links, we may make a commission. And, as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.  More information: disclosure page.

Thinking of an RV rental for a road trip? Planning an RV vacation can be overwhelming because there are so many new things that you don’t know…yet. In addition to figuring out where to go, you will also be learning about camping and how to operate an RV among other things. In this guide, I walk you step-by-step through renting an RV for a road trip.

The first time we rented an RV was in Canada because we found an amazing deal. Since then, I have owned many campers and now rent out my travel trailer to other people. I frequently help others to plan their own RV road trips.

Follow this step by step guide to planning your RV rental vacation for an unforgettable road trip.

Think About Who to Invite on your RV Road Trip

Pros and Cons of RV Travel to Decide if You Should Rent an RV for Your Family Vacation
Pros and Cons of RV Travel to Decide if You Should Rent an RV for Your Family Vacation

Will your trip include just you and a friend, or your family, or maybe a multi-generational trip where the grandparents can come along? The number of kids and people planning to camp with you is important. This will help you decide the size of the RV that you will be renting. You also need to make sure that you have enough seatbelts in the rig. 

Another option is to join a group for camping but, have your own RV.  They might decide to come along and tent camp or grab the RV space next door.  Some campgrounds even have double spots with space for 2 RVs.

Set Your Travel Dates

You may dream of a month-long road trip for your family or just a weekend adventure.  Getting everyone’s schedules to align for time off can be tricky.  So you must decide the length of the trip – days, weeks, months, forever?

Get out the calendar and everyone’s schedule and try to lay out a couple of dates that meet the requirements.  This might not be possible, but it will help with getting the best deals. 

We frequently take the kids out of school to extend our vacations. Roadschooling, or just staying up on schoolwork is a great option.

Choosing an RV Destination

Camping in Arches National Park
Camper in Arches National Park

At this point, you will need to decide the general location for the road for your trip. If you’re starting from home, you can rent a camper near you. However, you may want to plan an exciting road trip that starts with a flight. Our first rental we flew into Toronto Canada and rented a 30 ft. motorhome. 

Of course, you don’t need to start reserving campsites yet.  Just knowing the approximate route, the number of miles, and starting and ending points are the most important. 

We have an entire series of RV vacation ideas by month and holidays. The most popular are:

Budget for How Much Your RV Rental will Cost

What are the current RV rental prices? RVs are generally rented by the night and cost between $60 to $350 a night.  Weekly rentals will cost $400 to $2,200. Renting an RV for month will cost $1,600 to $9,000.

  • Class C – $120-$250 per night
  • Class A – $230-$350 a night 
  • Campervan or Class B – $90 – $200 a night 
  • Travel trailer- $80 – $250 a night
  • Fifth- wheel trailer – $15-$300 a night
  • Popup or hybrid travel trailer – $50-$200 a night

In addition to the rental fees, you will need to budget for additional costs such as mileage fees, gas, campground fees, and insurance. 

Search here for the exact price for RVs.

Use a Reputable RV Rental Company

You have many options for renting an RV. Large nationwide companies like Cruise America and El Monte RV and others are located across the US and Canada. They are generally near cities and rent motorhomes.

You can also rent a camper from a smaller local company. These companies frequently specialize in a specific type of RV such as camper vans.

The other option is to get a great deal on the peer-to-peer network Outdoorsy.  This is a great option because of the wide variety of campers and locations that you can choose from.  You can find an RV near almost any small town, national park, or neighborhood.   

I make money renting out my RV on Outdoorsy
My RV on Outdoorsy

You can read more here about RVShare VS Outdoorsy for renting a camper

In early 2020, RVEzy opened up its peer-to-peer RV rental platform that has long been the king in Canada since it opened in 2012. With this, I wanted to try them out and I am amazed at how superb their customer service is.

Because of how impressed I was, I decided to dedicated a whole post for them, read it here: Is RVezy Legit and Safe?

You can also go straight to their platform to register, RVezy.

Choose the Right Type of RV for Your Road Trip

Although you may associate RV with a motorhome, it is a general term for all campers both drivable and towable. There is a huge variety to choose from.   Here are the basics to get you started: 

Further Reading: 11 RV Rental Types Explained

Class A Motorhome

The largest and most luxurious of the drivable RV type.  This is ideal for long-distance and cross-country adventures.  However, you need to plan for local transportation. 

  • Sleeps:  4-12 people
  • Average length: 25-45 feet
  • Rental Cost Per Night: $200 – $500 

Class B Motorhome (Camper Van)

Class B motorhomes are mid-sized camper that is built on van chassis. These are the easiest type of RV to drive and park.  You will forgo much of the space and seating of the larger RVs.

If you like this style you can find more in our article “smallest RVs to rent”

  • Sleeps:  1-4 people
  • Average length: 16-21 feet
  • Average Cost Per Night: $85-$200

Class C Motorhome

The most popular type of rental RV that you see on the road with the bed over the cab. The class offers the comfortable accommodations of the larger class A but in a smaller, cheaper package. 

  • Sleeps:  2-8 people
  • Average length: 21-36 feet
  • Average Cost Per Night: $150 – $300

Travel Trailers

Both bumper pull and fifth-wheel trailers are towed with your own truck or SUV. These feature the comforts of a motorhome at a lower price.  The big benefit here is having a separate vehicle for driving during your outings. 

  • Sleeps:  2-12 people
  • Average length: 19-45 feet
  • Average Cost Per Night: $90- $350

Small Trailers

You can rent a very small trailer that can be towed with an SUV or car.  The most popular are pop-ups, R-pods and teardrop, and hiker trailers. These novel designs are generally for rent at Outdoorsy. 

  • Sleeps:  2-8 people
  • Average length: 15-25 feet
  • Average Cost Per Night: $40- $150

Read More about which type of RV to choose for your Vacation here.

What Size RV Should You Choose?

So what size should you choose? The smallest travel trailers can range from 5 feet to 20 feet in length. Larger travel trailers and fifth wheels range from 20 feet to 45 feet in length.

Here are the suggested RV lengths based on family size  

Family size (#people)    Length of RV
215-25 feet
2-420-35 feet
4-625-40 feet
6-1025-45 feet 
Suggested RV length based on family size

What size RV to choose based on the number of people in your group

Consider Having an RV Delivered

If you are planning a camping trip and staying at one location, you can have a camper delivered and set up at your campsite. You don’t have to deal with driving, getting the rig level, and hooking everything up. Delivery charges can range from free per mile to a flat rate ($50 -$100). The average delivery charge is $100 up to 50 miles plus $2/mile after that.

Delivery charges can range from free per mile to a flat rate ($50 -$100). The average delivery charge is $100 up to 50 miles plus $2/mile after that.

Check here to search RVs that you can have delivered

Related Content: Everything You Need to Know to Have an RV Delivered (and setup)

Airbnb is an excellent option for RVs but only covers stationary rentals so the rentals do not need driving insurance. It turns out that renting this can be a cheaper way to go. Plus here is our link for $35 off the first rental on Airbnb. 

Insuring Your RV Rental

Your options for RV rental insurance include adding a binder to your own insurance, purchasing separate RV renter’s insurance through a third party, or purchasing it along with the rental.  

The easiest option is to buy insurance with your RV rental. For example, Outdoorsy offers $1million dollars in coverage through Liberty Mutual.  You will have the option of 3 different levels of insurance when you reserve your RV.  

Make sure you know everything about the insurance, deductible, and what is covered. Read more about Outdoorsy insurance here.

Book Your RV rental

Now that you have all the information that you need it’s time to reserve your RV.  This is the most exciting part of planning your RV road trip.   I always suggest talking to the company or owner directly and asking as many questions as you can think of.

Below is a list of questions to get you started. The I will walk you through the reservation process.

Questions To Ask When You Rent:

  • What is the cancellation policy and how long do I have?
  • What is included? Kitchen supplies, bedding, towels?
  • What does the RV rental insurance cover?
  • What is the policy for pets?
  • Is there 24/7 roadside assistance and how does it work?
  • What is the mileage limit and will I get charged for mileage?
  • What are the taxes and RV rental company fees?

Related Reading: All the Essential Questions to Ask BEFORE renting an RV

To reserve on Outdoorsy, I suggest contacting the owner instead of using the insta-book function.  Let them know your plans and ask if the RV is available.  This first contact will help you know about their renting style and communication. 

Pro-tip: Sometimes owners do not update their calendars or are otherwise unresponsive. I suggest writing a short introduction and questions for the owner. Then save this and copy and paste it into the message of a few different rentals you are interested in.

You will request a booking and add your credit card information. When the owner approves your booking your card will be charged the amount that is set for that rental. Some require the full payment and others only partial payment. You will also need to cover the deposit, so make sure that you have enough available on your credit card.

You will also need to verify your identification before the pick-up of the RV. This is as simple as taking a picture of your driver’s license.

Create an Itinerary and Map

A few steps ago I said you needed to choose a general location or direction of travel. Now that you have your exact RV reserved it’s time to really get to planning! Choose where you want to travel on your road trip and the stops that you want to include.

Research your route and destinations ahead of time, plot out where you’ll stay overnight. If you are traveling long distances you might reserve a campsite for one night or stop and boondock on the way. There are many apps and websites that can help you plan your trip.

RV planning apps:

Campendium – The go-to travel planner for RV Park reviews, free camping, dump station locations, campsite photos, and RV travel resources

Road Trippers – the best app for planning your route and

All Stays – the ultimate app for finding campgrounds, RV parks, and related services

Good Sam Camping –  information for more than 12,500 campgrounds, RV parks and attractions, and service centers, including the Room Sam rating system and discounts

RV Trip Wizard – paid RV trip planning app that includes an impressive list of private, public, and National Park and BLM campgrounds and information about the internet connectivity. Includes driving hazards such as low clearance bridges.

Google Maps – Plan your trip, add stops and upload the directions straight to your phone – a website to find unique free boondocking sites from user-generated information.

How to Choose the Best Campsites

Winter RV camping on coast of California.

Know that you have your camper reserved it is time to start creating your trip plan and reserve campsites.  The most popular national and state parks tend to book up far in advance during the parks’ high seasons so make reservations early. 

The fun part of RVing is you can stay at a campground with full hookups to water, sewer, and electricity and feel as if you are at home.  Or choose to boondock in the middle of the national forest under the stars.  And everything in between.

Want to know more about Boondocking?  Here is our Ultimate Guide for Free RV Camping (Boondocking)

To choose a campsite you need to know the amenities that you want, the length of your RV, and the dates that you want to camp. Here is a list of questions to ask about your campsite. 

Related reading:  How Choose the Best Campsite Every Time

How to Plan for Meals in the RV

I love, love RVing because it gives us so many options for meals.  You can choose to cook dinner in the camper, or over the fire, or go out to a restaurant. 

Take into account when and how you will be traveling.  In general, we like to eat breakfast in the RV and lunch is a packed picnic if we are out for the day. 

Breakfast can be bacon and eggs, oatmeal or cereal, whatever your family enjoys and you have time for.  

Dinner is where we are more creative and might be dinner at a restaurant, home-cooked at the RV, or over the campfire.  I mean, no sense in cooking hot dogs inside the camper when you can roast them over the fire. 

I suggest creating a meal plan for the trip and having it handy to refer to. 

What to Pack for Your RV Trip

Family RV Camping with Kids sleeping in Camper packing checklist
Family RV Camping with Kids packing checklist

Whether you have been tent camping, or are new to camping altogether, RV camping requires some equipment specific to an RV.   

 Fortunately, with renting an RV, much of the equipment will be supplied for you.  All you need to bring along is clothes, food, and your camping gear. 

If you are renting a camper, use this packing list to ask the company what they supply for your trip and what you will need to bring.

Read more and get my downloadable checklist my personal RV packing checklist for camping

Get Ready to Go Camping

Everything is set and the big day has arrived.  It’s time to go pick up your rental RV. Plan to arrive on time for your scheduled pick-up time.  The owner will be waiting for you to introduce you to the RV and get you off on the road.

 Make sure to allow plenty of time for the walk-through and training.  This will generally take about an hour. You will learn all of the things that you will need to know to drive and operate the RV. Pay close attention and even take notes if you think it’s necessary.

25 Expert Tips for Renting an RV for the First Time

Also plan to return the RV clean. Most companies require that you return the RV in the same condition that you picked it up. Even if they have a small cleaning fee this is generally for sanitizing and laundry only. If you leave the RV dirty or do not empty the waste tanks you will be charged.

Don’t forget to have a great trip!

How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip -Easy Step-by-Step Guide (+$50 discount)
How to Rent an RV for an Epic Road Trip -Easy Step-by-Step Guide (+$50 discount)

Get this 19-page
Travel Planner
that I personally
use for our family trips

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at anytime.

    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

    Sign up for our email list for my best travel tips plus get the family travel planner free. 


    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.