How to Rent an RV

Three Parts:PlanningLooking at RVsDealing with the Renter

RVs (recreational vehicles) are a great way to travel when you want to save money on lodging and food because your vehicle is attached to your home, complete with a bed, kitchen, and bathroom. But RVs can be expensive to buy, so a great option is to rent one for the length of your trip or traveling season. Do your research into both dealers and private owners to find a great RV at the right price.

Part 1

  1. Image titled Rent an RV Step 1
    Pin down your budget. Come up with a figure you’d ideally like to pay to rent an RV. Do some quick research online or at an RV dealer to get an idea of what some typical rental prices are. You may need more beyond your decided number for deposits or to negotiate. It’s helpful to come up with a maximum number that you absolutely won’t go over.
    • Write down the number of nights and the approximate number of miles of the trip you plan to take in an RV. RV rentals will often have a per night and/or per mile rate, so it’s helpful to have these numbers on hand to estimate rental prices.
  2. Image titled Rent an RV Step 2
    Determine the type of RV you need. There are towable RVs—like travel trailers and camper trailers—that attach to the back of your vehicle, and there are motorized RVs—like type A, B, or C motorhomes—that are self-contained with a driving cab.[1] It’s important to decide on an RV type according to your needs, the number of people you’re traveling with, the price you’re willing to pay, and your vehicle’s towing capacity if you’re choosing a towable RV. Opt for a smaller RV for easier navigation if you can, especially if you’re a first-time renter.
    • For a towable RV, you’ll generally need a vehicle with a high towing capacity, a hitch rated at 5,000 pounds, and an electronic brake controller installed in your vehicle or the proper wiring to rent and attach one.[2]
    • In most states you need only a normal driver’s license to operate any RV recreationally, but some states do require a special commercial or non-commercial license for larger/heavier RVs. Check with your state’s Department of Transportation.[3]
  3. Image titled Rent an RV Step 3
    Compare prices. Expect to see rental prices per night for RVs, and know that the same renter can have different per night rates depending on the season (usually rates are higher in peak vacation months like July and August). There could also be a per mile rate, which might be something like 34 to 45 cents per mile. Rates will also vary by the type, size, and condition (or age) of the RV.[4]
    • Note that some rental companies will want to place a hold on your credit card while you’re in possession of the vehicle.
  4. Image titled Rent an RV Step 4
    Consider extra costs. Expect extra costs beyond the rental rate for possible things like a security deposit, a small charge for the RV’s generator or propane, additional vehicle insurance, and the price for kitchen utensils and bedding if you’re not providing your own.[5] Of course the cost of your trip will also include gas for the RV, campground rates, and food costs.

Part 2
Looking at RVs

  1. Image titled Rent an RV Step 5
    Check classifieds and local dealers. Check out the For Rent ads in your local newspaper, Craigslist, or other classified ads for RV rentals. Many private owners will rent out their RVs for reasonable prices when they aren’t using them. Also check out local or national RV dealers with rental locations near you.
  2. Image titled Rent an RV Step 6
    Narrow your search. Call up the renters you find to make sure they’re still offering the RV offered in their ad, and ask about any additional costs there are on top of the per night or per mile rate to get an idea of the true price you’d pay. Choose your favorites based on the best features and price, and narrow your options down to a number that you can reasonably spend the time to visit before booking and embarking on your trip.
  3. Image titled Rent an RV Step 7
    Arrange to visit and test-drive. Call your prospects again to set up a time to meet. Get a thorough tour of the inside living space and ask to take a test drive if it’s a motorhome. Larger rental companies will be more equipped to give you a full tutorial, often including an educational video. No matter who you’re renting from, be sure to check that everything works properly and ask questions like:
    • How do I properly hitch and unhitch a towable RV?
    • How and where do I empty wastewater and sewage?
    • How and when do I run the generator, and at what cost?
    • How do I use the propane to light the stove, run the refrigerator, etc., and at what cost?

Part 3
Dealing with the Renter

  1. Image titled Rent an RV Step 8
    Bring your ID or any other necessary materials. You’ll usually need a driver’s license and car insurance for anyone that will drive or tow the RV. Get copies or receipts for any paperwork or transactions you complete.
  2. Image titled Rent an RV Step 9
    Determine if there is a deposit or charges for damage. Make sure you understand all the upfront costs as well as charges you could face later for damages or generator and propane charges.
  3. Image titled Rent an RV Step 10
    Negotiate if you can. Especially if you’re renting from a private seller, you may be able to compromise on a price. Let them know your budget, and see what they can offer you. Come up with a rate that they can agree on that doesn’t go over your maximum budget.
    • If you’re not happy with their final offer for rent, walk away from deal. They might come back to you with a lower price if they want to rent the RV quickly.
  4. Image titled Rent an RV Step 11
    Agree on a payment plan. Discuss with the renter if they have options for a payment plan. You make be able to make smaller payments over a longer period of time if you wish.


  • Always test drive a motorhome RV to make sure you’re comfortable with driving it.
  • Check for damage or malfunction ahead of time. Warped wood and mold or mildew could indicate an ongoing water leak problem, for example. Have all issues addressed before you commit, and be sure you can deal with whatever damage is in place.

Article Info

Categories: Recreational Vehicles