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We’ve written quite a bit over the past year about all types of RV rentals and the best RV rental locations. You have a ton of information to explore here on the site on this topic, but we haven’t really targeted how to really help you save money on RV rentals!
It’s mixed in here and there in our RV rentals posts, but right now we want to shine a spotlight on this topic and dive deeper into the best ways for you to save money the next time you decide to rent an RV.
Listen, we’ve been through the RV rental process ourselves more than once. So we’ve learned a thing or two about what to watch out for, questions to ask, different RV travel strategies available to us, and a dozen other things. We’re here to help you make your RV trip the best (and cheapest) it can possibly be, so keep on reading.
Save Money on RV Rentals: TREKKN’s Top 7 Tips
Like I said, we’ve been through the rental process multiple times and we have been exploring everything Outdoorsy has to offer on a regular basis. (Yes, this is our rental platform of choice for the reasons we cover in this Outdoorsy review.)
If this is your first time renting, there are definitely several ways you could make mistakes and overlook opportunities to save money….or at least avoiding wasting money unnecessarily. We are going to cover all of them right now, so pay attention!
1st RV Rental Tip – Consider a Shorter Drive and Longer Stay
A friend of mine recently brought up the idea of our two families renting a Class C RV for a week and going on a road trip together. Since both of our families are between RVs right now, this is always a very appealing idea…and we’ve never done the group RV trip thing. So I was ready to jump at the chance!
But his idea was to rent here in the Austin, TX area where we live and drive all the way to Estes Park, CO (nearly 1,000 miles) to explore that area that we all love very much. At first, I thought maybe that long road trip would make sense. But then I really gave it some more consideration and suggested an alternative to him.
I suggested that we should consider renting the RV somewhere in Colorado instead of here in Texas. Then we would have the choice of either driving our vehicles to Colorado or flying there (if ticket prices were super cheap) if the road trip idea just didn’t feel very enjoyable. We could pick up the RV, drive just a few hours to our destination (still giving us that “road trip” flavor) and then really have time to soak in the beauty of our ultimate destination in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.
What are the advantages of my suggested approach?
- Rental Cost – Renting in Colorado for five days instead of in Texas for seven days could save us about $800-900.
- Fuel Cost – We would easily save another $300-400 on fuel with the shorter drive.
- Mileage Cost – Putting 2,000 miles on an RV will normally be very expensive. Many driveables have daily limts of 100-200 miles and then charge 30-40 cents per mile after that.
- Lower Risk of a Breakdown – I’m all about simplicity, so if there’s a way to avoid a potential mess (that will cost more money) I’m all for it!
- More Time Enjoying, Less Time Driving – Even though I do love driving, the thought of FOUR DAYS of RV travel for a week’s vacation just doesn’t add up.
RV Delivery is another option to consider
And guess what? If you really don’t like the idea of driving the RV and just want to have the RV living experience, you can find an RV owner willing to deliver the RV to your RV park of choice! We did this exact thing with a travel trailer we rented last year, and it worked out great.
Yup, for an additional fee, they will deliver and set up the RV for you and then come pick it up when you are done. Pretty sweet if you don’t love messing with the “dirty details” of RVing, if you know what I mean. Just click the “On Site Delivery” button just below the search box on Outdoorsy and explore the possibilities.
2nd RV Rental Tip – Don’t Assume Bigger is Better
I know, I know. It’s very easy to automatically go into the RV rental situation thinking, “I want to get as much RV as possible for my dollar!” You want to feel like you got an awesome deal so you can tell your buddies about it. And maybe you also have a fear that everyone won’t be completely comfortable without a “monster” RV. But I think this makes it very easy to miss the bigger picture.
What is it that you want most out of this RV rental experience? You want great memories and a positive, relatively stress-free outcome here, correct? (Well, if you’re wired anything like me at least.) But as I’ve discussed on the site before, you often need less RV than you think in order to have the experience you are hoping for. And this is true whether you are renting for a week or full-timing for a year.
Trying to go bigger just for the sake of it could mean the following for your experience:
- You might end up paying more money than you needed to for both rental fees and fuel, meaning you miss out on other experiences along the way.
- You could end up more stressed out trying to navigate the roads with a larger rig.
- You could find yourself not able to access some fantastic areas that you were hoping to explore because your rig is too large.
- You could also find that certain campgrounds in pristine settings are ruled out because of the larger size of the rig.
- A bigger rig is harder to handle, and that increases the risk of an accident of some sort. If you don’t have much experience with larger vehicles, think twice about going bigger!
My point is that the living space the RV provides is only one factor in this experience. You have to remember that you will likely be spending much of your time enjoying outdoor time around the RV (and hopefully campfire) or involved in outdoor activities in the area. Other than sleeping, you will likely not spend a ton of time inside or feel squeezed.
Ideally, you’ll be having far too much fun exploring to even stop and think about it! So choose wisely and remember that with more RV often comes more headache and responsibility.
3rd RV Rental Tip – Contact Multiple RV Owners Before Deciding on a Rental
Believe me, I know from experience that it’s very easy to quickly “fall in love” with one RV that you come across and begin exclusively pursuing that one. And I also know that this is a bad idea.
The fact is that the listing itself may not always give you all of the relevant details about the rental situation. You may have an owner that ends up being far more motivated to rent than the listing communicates, and they may offer you a better deal because of that motivation. The only way you will know this is by opening the line of communication.
And the best way to get to that “better deal” is by trying to establish a personal connection with multiple owners. Let them know the details of your trip, why you are excited about it, what you hope to experience, what it means to you.
In other words, do your best to make this a personal and emotional connection with each owner you contact, not just a transactional connection. Make yourself appear more human and some pretty cool things can happen!
4th RV Rental Tip – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a “Deal”
As I just covered above, making a good connection with RV owners is an important part of the rental process that will serve you well. Just by being friendly and open, you can make some great things happen. But that’s not always all there is to it.
Even with that connection opened up between yourself and an owner, that “deal” may not just come spilling out of them. They may like you and want to rent to you but not be willing to just immediately cut some of the profit out of the deal for themselves right away.
This is why you have to be willing to ask the question and open the conversation about making this a “good deal” for everyone involved. That doesn’t mean you will necessarily ask for a lower price on the rental; you could also request they increase their mileage or generator usage limits to allow a bit more freedom, include extra bedding or kitchen necessities at no extra charge, etc.
Here’s an important rule of life (taught to me by my oldest brother): If you don’t ask, the answer is always no! So make the personal connection and ask away.
5th RV Rental Tip – Watch Your Mileage and Generator Usage Limits Carefully
Alright, my friend, pay attention. This one can really bite you in the hiney if you’re not paying attention.
Before you commit to a rental deal, be sure that you are clear on what your mileage limits are set at (if it’s a drivable RV) and compare that to your mapped route. This could make a huge difference in the overall cost of your RV rental, because those extra mileage charges add up quickly.
Most often, I see extra mileage charges set at 35-50 cents per mile. Just a few hundred extra miles and you could be out another $150! Extra charges is not the best way to end a great RV trip, so know this ahead of time so it’s not a nasty surprise.
Don’t forget about that generator
The same goes for that generator (if your RV is equipped with one): you will normally have 3-5 hours per day of usage included with the rental, and then $3-5 per hour for additional hours. Put an extra 20 hours of usage on the generator during your trip and it’s yet another $100 out of your pocket.
As you can see, all of these extra fees can obviously add up fast if you’re not careful and if you have not planned well. So just pay attention to your limits, know your route and know your power needs ahead of time.
6th RV Rental Tip – Bring Your Own Gear, Bedding, Utensils, etc.
You know how I talked in Tip #4 about asking for a deal, asking to have some extras included at no cost? Hopefully you are able to get the RV owner to agree to some of those added benefits, but you still have some options if not.
If the owner isn’t quite willing to throw in some extra things for free, you should seriously consider providing some of those items yourself from your own hoome. Often, owners might charge $30-50 for use of kitchen utensils. I’ve even seen some charging $20-30 PER DAY for use of their bedding in the RV. Personally, I find this a bit ridiculous.
Avoid having all of these “little” fees add up on you and put your trip over budget. Instead, put in a little extra effort and bring your own items! A little hassle can save you a nice chunk of cash here.
7th RV Rental Tip – Consider Inviting Another Couple or Family (You REALLY Like)
I started things out back in Tip #1 by telling you about a potential RV trip this summer with a friend and his family. Sharing an RV trip with a friend (or family) is a great way to immediately cut your trip expenses in half. Don’t rule it out right away.
You might be a little bit hesitant to consider this…and you should be. No one wants to take the “wrong” individuals on a trip like this and potentially make it a miserable experience. So while I encourage you to consider this is an option, I also encourage you to be sure that you are truly compatible with your potential traveling companions. If you haven’t spent long periods of time with them in the past, doing so for the first time in an RV is a major gamble.
If that compatibility is not there, it could make your week-long “dream” RV vacation feel like a huge burden and leave you more exhausted and frustrated when you get back than you were when you left! In this day and age, nobody needs that outcome.
If you have some BFFs that you KNOW you will enjoy traveling with, don’t hesitate to invite them into your RV adventure so you can all enjoy it for a fraction of the cost. This can be the best way for you to save money…if you do it right.
BONUS! 8th RV Rental Tip – Look at Off-Season Rental Options
In your mind, RVing might equal Summer. That makes sense as that is definitely the high season for RVing and the time when most folks use their vacation time to get out and explore.
But if you have more flexibility in your planning and could plan a spring or fall trip instead, you could easily shave 30%+ off of your RV trip costs. Because in the off-season, owners are more willing to make a deal to get their units rented out!
Not only can you track down great rental deals off-season, but there are several other potential benefits as well:
- Fuel will normally be less expensive outside of the summer months.
- Campground and RV park fees are often reduced during the off-season.
- Crowds will be smaller in general, allowing you to see more and stress less.
- Less traffic on the roads can create more time for you to explore in amazing places.
- Cooler temperatures to enjoy (this one makes a huge difference for me)
You can probably list several more potential benefits of an off-season RV trip if you take a minute to think about. There’s really nothing not to love here!
Which of These Tips to Save Money on RV Rentals Makes Sense for You?
Listen, there is very little chance that you are going to be able (or willing) to take advantage of every single one of these money-saving tips for your next RV rental. And that’s fine!
If you just use a few of them wisely, you can drastically reduce your overall trip cost while also boosting your enjoyment factor. And that, my friend, is a win-win situation that I hope you can appreciate.
Have any RV rental tips of your own to share? Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know! We’re always happy to learn more.
Todd Bonner is the slightly quieter half of the dynamic TREKKN duo. He spends most of his time sharing information about RV travel and safety, RV accessories and tips, and the National Parks he has visited and still desperately craves. When he’s not busy working on TREKKN, you will often find him staring at breathtaking pictures of Glacier National Park, probably his favorite spot on earth.