Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean your RV has to be. While the pandemic kept many people from hitting the road over the last year, it encouraged others to plan road trips and seek out off-grid destinations and remote campgrounds. As a result, RV travel has seen increased interest among travelers looking to rent one for a vacation.
“I think more and more owners are catching on that it’s a great time to try it out,” says Maddi Bourgerie, spokeswoman for RVshare, a peer-to-peer RV rental platform. “We’ve seen a huge uptick in demand over the last year.”
That’s good news for RV owners. Through rental marketplace sites like Outdoorsy, RVshare, RVezy, and even Airbnb, you can list your rig for rent for a weekend, a week, or even longer. It’s a relatively easy way for RV owners to generate some extra income, and it’s fun to know you’re helping introduce new travelers to the joys of RV life.
Things to Consider When Renting Out Your RV
Remember that RV travel has a learning curve. The more information you can give your renter, the quicker they’ll learn. When your renter arrives to pick up the RV, Bourgerie recommends a thorough walk-through.
“We always suggest the renter film the owner, or it can be on the owner’s plate to create short videos demonstrating how to do everything,” she says.
Krista Doyle, editorial strategist for Outdoorsy, says renters, especially those who are brand new to RVing, have a lot to learn, and every RV has its own idiosyncrasies.
“This year, 90 percent of our renters have been first-timers,” Doyle says, “There’s so much education that has to happen to make sure they’re setting themselves up for a good experience that will keep your vehicle safe and accident-free.”
Ask yourself, “What are the things that make your specific vehicle tick? How do you empty your tanks, how does the water work? How should you position your mirrors? A lot of owners have gotten really creative in making their own videos or putting together a handbook. Those owners tend to be the most successful because they’re putting so much into it,” Doyle advises.
It’s a good idea to make sure your RV is comfortable, and that you provide all of the basic amenities for your renters. Bottom line: If it feels like home, they’ll treat it like home.
“Lots of owners provide welcome kits, or do things like leave fresh coffee from their local coffee shop in the kitchen,” says Bourgerie. Going the extra mile not only makes renters happy, but it can make them more inclined to treat your RV with the same respect and care they use in their own home.
That said, Doyle adds, leaving something as beloved as your RV—and everything in it—in the hands of strangers can be tough.
“It’s your RV, that’s your home-away-from-home, and you’re obviously really attached to it,” she says. “Some owners struggle when they feel like it came back and the renters messed something up. It can be really emotional.”
One solution is to take extra steps to separate yourself from the rental experience. Doyle suggests “owners have a set of sheets, dishes, et cetera, that they use when they’re in the RV, and a completely different set they’ll use when renting it out. Just to add a layer of emotional separation.”
How Much Money Can You Make from Renting Out Your RV?
While your profits will ultimately depend on what kind of RV you have, how often you rent it out, and where you live, it’s possible to make a significant amount of money through RV rental. At the very least, you can ensure your rig pays for itself. According to the RVshare 2021 Owner Report, half of all RV owners who rent through the site pay for the entire cost of their RV using rental income.
In fact, the average owner makes $16,000 a year in rental income, according to the same report. It’s possible to make much more than that, though, especially if you have a desirable rig. Class A RVs are the most popular with renters, and owners can make as much as $60,000 per year. Class B and C RVs can net their owners between $40,000 and $45,000, and a travel trailer can pull in more than $20,000.
Your location matters, too. The most popular destinations for RV rentals in 2020 were Houston, Texas; Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and San Bernardino, California.
But prices and popularity for RV rentals are rising in almost all locations. The Outdoorsy 2021 Travel Trend Report found that “the overall average nightly rate of an Outdoorsy rental in 2020 was $161, up from the $153 average in 2019, which directly correlates with the growing popularity of RV rental vacations.”
Choosing the Right Renter Is Important
RV rental marketplaces go to great lengths to ensure that owners are protected, even if something does go wrong. “RVshare has comprehensive nationwide protection, in all 50 states and Canada, for the RV owner and the RV itself,” says Bourgerie. “You definitely can have peace of mind about that when you’re renting.”
But, as an owner, you can help lower the chances of something going wrong by choosing renters who’ll put in the effort to educate themselves, and by helping them learn about RVing and your rig.
“Their willingness to learn how to drive the RV, asking about test drives—those are all good signs that someone will be really respectful to your vehicle,” says Bourgerie. A test drive, she adds, is especially important, even if the renter is only planning to drive your rig a short distance.
“Take a few laps, make sure the person not only knows how to maneuver it down the street, but make sure they’re taking a left turn, a right turn, and backing up,” she says. “It’s also a good idea to analyze the height of the roof; stand back with the renter and be, like, ‘You feel like it’s here, but it’s actually here.’ That’s going to be important for when they’re pulling into gas stations.”
If you’re not sure you’re ready to let someone else get behind the wheel, you can still dip your toe into renting by offering campground drop-off for your rig. “One in five [RVshare] rentals last year were delivered,” Bourgerie says. The owners bring the RV to the campground, park it, and get it set up before leaving it for the renters to enjoy. “It’s kind of like they’re getting a hotel wherever they want it.”
RV rental platforms also give owners a chance to vet potential renters, and while verification processes work hard to ensure there won’t be any problems, Doyle says owners still need to listen to their gut: “It’s your vehicle. If you don’t feel comfortable, say no.”
Airbnb allows RV owners to rent out their rigs, and listings on the site include everything from tiny teardrop campers to off-road adventure vans and fifth wheels.
To safely rent out your RV, you need two types of insurance. First, you need insurance that covers the length of your renters’ trip. RV rental marketplaces work with owners to make sure there’s comprehensive coverage for the entire time your RV is with a renter. Second, you need a standard RV insurance policy, just like you’d have if you were the only one using your RV. Just make sure the policy includes language that allows you to rent out your rig.
Many RV rentals on sites like Airbnb are stationary: Renters stay in the RV where it’s parked, rather than picking it up and taking it to another location. This type of renting works well if you live in a scenic location, near a frequently-visited city, or close to a national park or other popular tourist destination.