The best RV rentals in 2021
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- With the ongoing pandemic, travelers are looking to RV rentals for socially distanced road trips.
- Motor homes offer flexibility and independence for travelers wary of staying in hotels or Airbnbs.
- RVs come in a wide variety and are available to rent from corporate fleets and peer-to-peer rentals.
- Read more: The best camper van rentals
As the pandemic continues to spread across the US, many travelers are seeking safe vacation alternatives.
For those still feeling uneasy about encountering fellow guests in a hotel, or wondering if it is safe to rely on Airbnb hosts to ensure proper hygiene, there's another option on the table.
Recreational Vehicles, commonly known as RVs or motor homes, are ideal for maintaining proper social distancing and remove the need to check-in to questionable lodging while on the road entirely.
Self-contained, self-sufficient, versatile, and equipped to travel across the entire continent, they make an attractive proposition right now when the desire to control the immediate conditions of your own space is at a premium.
Travelers can eat, sleep, wash, and drive themselves all in one collective environment without encountering anyone else, almost eliminating the risks associated with mass transportation or staying in a hotel or home rental. Even within the bounds of an RV campground, social distancing is much easier than in airports or hotel restaurants.
RV and motor home rental companies are seeing a major uptick. In fact, between April and May of 2020, bookings were up more than 1000% and have continued to stay popular over the last several months.
"Renting an RV is a lot easier than most people think," says Maddie Bourgerie, spokesperson for Akron-based, peer-to-peer rental company RVShare. "Similar to most vehicle rentals, you need a valid driver's license and be over the age of 25."
However, keep in mind that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and there's no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now. Even road tripping in an RV poses risks when you inevitably need to stop to get gas or restock supplies. And you should be particularly mindful of traveling to or from any hotspot areas right now. We always recommend following guidelines from organizations like the CDC and WHO, as well as checking local and state government mandates.
RV rental companies break down into two main categories, corporate and peer-to-peer. All rentals come with generators, are covered by the company's own insurance policies, and offer some kind of loyalty rewards program. They all offer robust cleaning policies in response to COVID-19. If you're renting an RV for the first time and are not sure where to start, jump to the bottom of this guide for tips and more information on types of RVs.
All sample quotes listed below are for a 45-year old driver for a two-week trip, booking two months in advance, picking up the vehicle at the point of rental, and starting from and returning to New Orleans. Different models will incur different fuel costs depending on their size, the terrain, and whether they are gas or diesel engines.
The best RV rental companies
- RV Share
- Cruise America
- El Monte RV
Company info: Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer RV rental company based in Austin, Texas. The company has over 40,000 vehicles listed and operates out of 4,800 cities across 14 countries. The company has great feedback, and although not accredited by them, it has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
COVID-19 policies: Outdoorsy has issued robust cleaning instructions to their community of owners, listing new CDC guidelines on both personal hygiene and the use of soaps and disinfectants when cleaning the vehicles. "To ensure our cleaning standards are being met, our trust and safety team monitors reviews," says Outdoorsy CEO Jeff Cavins. "If we start to notice a negative pattern, we work with owners and renters to get a feel of the situation and can delist folks if it becomes a problem."
Typical rental costs:
Class A motor coach, sleeping up to 6 people – 2,000 miles free, $0.35 for every mile over per day, $240 per night. Middle of the range vehicle, fully equipped kitchen (stove, fridge, microwave), shower, and toilet, TV and CD player.
Class B Mercedes, sleeping two people – 150 miles free per trip, $0.25 for every mile over, $339 per night. Top of the range luxury vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet, dining room.
Class C Winnebago, sleeping 4-6 people – 100 miles free per day, $0.35 for every mile over per day, $192 per night. Fully equipped kitchen, shower and toilet, TV and CD player.
Cancellation policies depend on individual owners.
Pros: An extensive network and vehicle search options include 'pet-friendly' and 'festival-ready.' Vehicle owners may even deliver vehicles to campgrounds so that renters just show up and enjoy the accommodations instead of driving them.
Cons: Customers are dealing with individual renters, who have different policies about mileage charges and costs to drop off vehicles.
Book an RV rental through Outdoorsy
Company info: RVShare is one of two of the bigger peer-to-peer RV rental companies in the United States, reporting a community of around 60,000 RV owners across the country. The company is also not BBB accredited, but also an A+ rating from the organization.
COVID-19 policies: The company reports that it is in contact with owners, sending them resources so that motorhomes can be cleaned to the new, exacting standards of hygiene that customers will expect.
Typical rental costs:
Class A Fleetwood Bounder motor home, sleeping up to 9 people – 150 miles free per trip, $0.25 for every mile over, $245 per night. Luxury vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower, and toilet.
Class B Chinook, sleeping two people – 150 miles free per trip, $0.45 for every mile over, $175 per night. Middle-of-the-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet, dining room.
Class C Classic Freelander motor home, sleeps up to 8 people – 200 miles free per trip, $0.50 for every mile over, $268 per night. Middle of the range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
Cancellation policies depend on individual owners.
Pros: They offer pet-friendly options and can arrange to have their drivers deliver to the renters' preferred locations (please note these delivery options do incur additional fees). The company was the first peer-to-peer option for RV rentals.
Cons: Customers deal with individual renters who have different policies about mileage charges, cancellation, and costs to drop off vehicles.
Book an RV through RVshare.com
Company info: An employee-owned company based in Mesa, AZ, Cruise America has operated since 1972. It now boasts 132 locations across the United States and Canada. The company is not accredited by the BBB, but they do receive an A rating.
COVID-19 policies: The company has a video on its website detailing its current cleaning policies, which meet CDC advisories.
Typical rental costs:
Class A large Ford motor home, sleeping up to 7 people -$170 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
Class B standard motor home, sleeping up to 5 people – $160 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
Class C compact motor home, sleeping up to 3 people – $150 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
An estimated mileage charge applies to all rentals. The charge will be a per night charge based on 100 miles for local rentals and 250 miles for a one-way rental. The rate is $0.35 per mile for all vehicles and cancellations are currently being assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Pros: The company offers customers an attractive range of extra packages such as blankets and towels or camping supply kits. The website regularly has special offers including free nights and one-way specials.
Cons: No standard free mileage, so long trips can rack up the costs.
Book an RV through Cruise America
El Monte RV
Company info: El Monte has been operational for over 40 years, though its network is smaller in scope than Cruise America. The company has 13 locations that are well-dispersed around the country and cover 12 states (with two locations in Florida).
COVID-19 policies: All procedures adhere to all guidelines provided by the CDC on COVID-19, according to their website.
Typical rental costs:
Class A large family motor home, sleeping up to 6 people – $338 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
Class B standard motor home, sleeping up to 5 people – $225 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
Class C compact motor home, sleeping up to 4 people – $145 per night. Mid-range vehicle, fully equipped dining and entertainment amenities, shower and toilet.
The mileage charge is $0.32-$0.39 per mile depending on unit size or prepaid in blocks of 100 miles for $29 each. For cancellations, the renter's credit card is charged $250 deposit to reserve an RV. Renters may cancel within 24 hours and receive a refund of the deposit. The deposit is non-refundable 24 hours after booking. Unlike others on this list, these quotes are for vehicle pick up in Miami, and all vehicles are 2018 models or newer.
Pros: A long time rental provider, the company offers many specials on their websites ranging from free mileage to free nights, with good one-way deals, too.
Cons: There is no standard free mileage, so long trips can rack up costs. Customer satisfaction varies across locations, so be sure to research specific ones depending on your trip's geographical requirements. Reservations might be paused or restricted in states with high COVID-19 infection rates.
Book an RV from El Monte
Popular types of RVs and motor homes
There are different classes of RVs and motor homes, each with pros and cons, so it is best to decide which one best suits your plans before booking.
Class A motor homes
Class A motor homes are the largest and can sleep up to 10 people on the bigger side (up to 45 feet or so in length). They are, essentially, houses on wheels, usually part of a truck or bus chassis.
They tend to have the most luxurious amenities, often with master bedrooms and full kitchens with fridges, microwaves, and electrical or gas stovetops, as well as living rooms, dining rooms, and large bathrooms. They're ideal for large families or those looking for an experience similar to glamping, more akin to staying in a hotel.
They are also typically the most expensive to rent and less fuel-efficient, usually only managing eight to 10 miles to the gallon. Bigger models can also find problems fitting into some smaller campsites, which can limit overnight options on the road. The large size also means these vehicles are best-suited to seasoned, experienced RV users and drivers. First-timers should probably try smaller models first to gain a feel for traveling this way.
Class B motor homes
Class B motor homes are the smallest category and are usually a good fit for two people, though even then they can feel somewhat cramped. The larger ones will have comfortable sleeping quarters but small kitchens and work well for those traveling in minimal style or on shorter vacations.
This class of RV is generally much more affordable with better fuel economy, delivering up to 25 miles per gallon. They also slip neatly into almost every campground.
However, expect limited amenities and storage space, and often with a 'wet bath' set up, meaning that the toilet and shower share the same space.
Class C motor homes
Class C motor homes are somewhere in between these two first categories. They are usually built onto a truck chassis with an overhang that fits over the driving cab, which is usually, but not always, used for sleeping space.
They sleep anywhere from two up to eight people at the large end, and most have toilet and shower facilities on board.
They come with better pricing, fuel economy (they typically manage up to 13 miles per gallon), and the ability to enter most campgrounds compared to Class A motor homes, however, they are not as efficient as Class B motor homes when it comes to parking, size, and fuel efficiency. They are usually acceptable for a short vacation, but not generally suggested as vehicles for extended trips.
Important information and tips for first-time RV renters
First time RV drivers should take time to familiarize themselves with the vehicle. "There's no special training or license needed to drive an RV," says Jeff Cavins of fellow peer-to-peer rental company Outdoorsy, based in Austin. "However, our owners will do a test drive with you before you leave on your trip to make sure you feel really comfortable with the vehicle, how it drives and how all the features work."
For the trip itself, forward planning is key, especially as states begin to reopen to varying degrees. "Research where you want to go before you depart," says Cavins. "Each day, we're monitoring the news of campgrounds reopenings taking place in each state and updating our list of state park systems and their status." Cavins recommends checking websites such as Harvest Hosts and Campendium to book suitable rest locations.
Check first that you may park your specific vehicle at your intended campground, as well as the facilities they provide. Booking ahead is especially crucial with the increased demand.
Overnight campsite and RV parks come with hookup fees to provide electricity, water, bathrooms, and/or sewage disposal, and typically range from $30 to $50 per night or more for the best quality grounds.
It's also possible to find places to park (usually for limited amounts of time) without any facilities, either in remote areas or at designated spots. This is called 'dry camping' or 'boondocking' and is usually free of charge. You can find these locations on the website for the United States Forest Service or Campendium.
Additionally, don't hit the road without a full complement of groceries and other essentials on board as it may be tricky to stop at some of the smaller, rural communities that drivers will likely pass through, especially for larger vehicles.
More great road trip guides
- The best camper van rentals
- The best camper van accessories
- The best car rental companies
- The best road trips in the US
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