How Much is an RV Rental? – All you Need to Know About RV Prices
When it comes to taking a holiday, RV rental is probably the most flexible option you could choose. Whether you’re looking for a couple of nights’ getaway or a lengthy, luxury road trip, campers & RV’s are the way to go.
This article will take you through everything you will need to think about before taking out an RV rental. We particularly recommend it to those experiencing RV rental for the first time as there is a lot to think about.
From Initial Planning to Finding the Best Campers & RVs
The compelling vision of the camper van experience is a time of spontaneity and going where your wheels take you. However, all experienced RVers know that the real secret to being able to relax, unwind and let nature be your guide is to put plenty of effort into planning the trip in the first place.
Leave Plenty of Time for Planning
Rushed camping trips rarely end well and you will be lucky if your corkscrew and tin opener are the only things you leave behind.
There is no such thing as starting to prepare too early so if you haven’t begun your research yet, it’s time to get moving!
It is often a good idea to treat your preparation as a project planning exercise, so find yourself a ring binder or big notebook or even set up an online folder to keep everything together.
Start with the fundamentals: where do you want to go?
If you don’t exactly know yet, narrow it down to the UK or Europe or further afield. Who is going with you? This is clearly critical because an 18 foot camper van may be fine for a couple enjoying each other’s company but if you’re taking a group of 10 you will be looking at something like a 35 foot Class A motorhome.
Bear in mind that sellers tend to overestimate the capacity of their vehicles so it’s always best to aim for a larger vehicle rather than risk feeling like sardines in a tin.
At this point, you will probably want to get your head around the difference between class A, B & C motorhomes as well as the various towed options (caravans, fifth wheels, trailer tents, etc.)
How much will you be setting aside to pay for your holiday?
There is much more to think about than your basic RV rental price. We set out some of the extra, sometimes hidden, costs you can expect to pay further down this article.
You should also discuss with your travelling companions what sort of a holiday they are expecting. Some may be hoping for a relaxing beach break or a tranquil wander around cultural sites. Others might be looking forward to dancing until dawn in a city nightclub after a day hiking through the wilderness.
Make sure you come up with compromises before you leave rather than fighting each other during the break itself.
How RV Rental Works
There are basically four ways to get your hands on the keys of a camper van or motorhome:
- Buy one of your own
- Hire one from an RV rental company
- Hire one from a private owner through a peer-to-peer platform (read our Outdoorsy review here).
- Hire one from a private owner independently
There are pros and cons to each of these methods and we go into more detail on this in our motorhome rental page.
How to Find Great RV Rental Deals
If you know where to look, you can often find some very generous RV rental deals offering significant savings. Camper van and motorhome blogs are a good place to start as some of the most successful ones will have affiliate arrangements with camper van rental companies, campground owners or suppliers of various accessories. To encourage subscriptions, you will often be presented with a discount code or special offer.
Caravans and camping clubs are another source of savings, especially for regular camper van renters. For example, you might find that one RV hire company has a ‘half price miles’ promotion over a certain period. This can add up to considerable savings if you will be driving a long distance.
It’s also worth looking for one-way relocation deals. This is where a company needs to move their rigs a long distance and offer cut-price deals to encourage renters to do the job for them. This is also something that cruise operators do in the off-season!
Don’t do Anything Until you’ve Asked These 8 Questions!
Before you make any commitments, ask yourself the following 8 questions to avoid making some common mistakes:
- 1. What hidden fees are there in your RV rental deal?
The headline price rarely gives you the full picture of what hiring an RV costs. You may have to pay charges for additional mileage driven and for generator hire. You might be charged for additional amenities or need to buy a bottle of propane gas for the stove. While insurance cover is critical, be sure to check the details, especially if you are being urged to take out the highest value policy.
- 2. What hidden fees are there in your campground?
These might include extra nights and again gas bottles or generator hire. Propane gas bottles are always cheaper if you buy them beforehand and take them with you. One expense you may want to accept is the ‘dump service’ for emptying your waste. This is an unpleasant task that can really spoil a relaxing break away.
- 3. What reviews does the RV rental company/rig owner get?
Peer-to-peer platforms usually include a rating facility while direct hire companies may be rated by third party services. Even private RV owners might invite Google reviews or similar if they rent out their camper regularly. These are easier to fake though. Check the reviews carefully, especially the comments.
- 4. Can you drive the camper you are interested in?
Most hire firms and peer-to-peer platforms will run a pre-hire check with the DVLA but private renters might assume you know the law. As a rule of thumb, small campers can be driven on a standard car licence while large Class A motorhomes require a Category C endorsement. It’s a bit more complicated for some medium-sized campers requiring a C1 endorsement. This was included with a standard car licence pre-1997 but the law changed that year so that an extra test needs to be taken.
- 5. Have you researched your hookups?
While hookups are usually straightforward, incorrect connections can cause costly damage. Be sure to read the manual and ask for help from campground staff if you’re struggling.
- 6. Have you compiled an inventory?
It is good practice for the company or camper van hirer to run through an inventory and damage report with you. This protects you from being blamed for any damage or missing items that were not your fault.
- 7. Have you researched local fuel costs? Diesel (and petrol) costs can vary wildly and strangely seem to be higher where the heaviest camper van traffic is. If you can explore the area in advance (physically or online) you can save yourself a lot of money by choosing your refuelling stops wisely.
- 8. Are you going to be preparing your own food? Eating out regularly is the surest way to blow your budget during a holiday. Most campers will have a refrigerator and you should use it as much as possible to make your food last. If you don’t have a power hookup, bring cooling packs as an alternative. Bring plenty of non-perishable foods and a good quality can opener (or two) as well.
Customising your RV Rental Itinerary
Deciding on your itinerary has to be one of the most enjoyable parts of the preparation stage.
As mentioned earlier, if you can come to a consensus around a variety of activities, the trip is more likely to be enjoyed by everyone equally.
Since you are not tied to a rigid timetable organised to fit the schedule of a tour operator, you can spend as long or as brief a time as you want at any destination of your choosing.
For scenery-lovers, the chance to gaze up at the soaring mountains of Wales or scan the tranquil waters of Scotland’s lochs is within easy reach, no matter where you live. If you like your ancient history, there are plenty of awe-inspiring sites to visit including the impressive Stonehenge.
If you’re more of a city person, make sure you put at least one full day aside to take in the sights and sounds (and shops) of London or perhaps one of the UK’s other major urban centers such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Edinburgh or Bristol. For food buffs, there are rustic country pubs; restaurants offering fine dining; markets selling delicacies from all over the world and, of course, plenty of irresistible fish and chip shops.
Whether you prefer the gentle exercise of a brisk stroll or a round of golf or prefer an afternoon fighting white water rapids or galloping horses across the beach, make sure you plan in plenty of activities to break up those spells behind the wheel.
Of course, you’re not limited to exploring the UK. If you are looking to take your motorhome further afield, the cultural marvels of Rome; the sunny beaches of Nice and Barcelona; the enduring charm of Dublin and the romantic city of Paris are just a tiny example of the European experiences lying in wait when we cross the channel.
Most people hiring an RV for the first time will want to spend the nights in official campsites where there is hot water, electricity, gas and a reasonably useful WiFi signal. After a few trips though, many feel the call of the wild and opt to give ‘boondocking’ a go, parking up wherever they feel inspired. Be aware that this is largely illegal in the UK, especially in England, so you may need to travel further afield to indulge your instincts.
To Bring or Not to Bring?
By this stage you will probably have a good idea of what vehicle you will be hiring, where you will be getting it from and where you will be spending your holiday. Now it’s time to think about what you will be bringing with you.
First, there are some things that almost all RVs, regardless of their size, will include as part of the hire. It is very unusual, for example, to not be provided with a refrigerator, air conditioning and a fresh water toilet. Something to prepare hot meals with, even if that is just a microwave, should also be expected.
Apart from these essentials, there is huge variation between companies and vehicles. Some amenities will be included within the hire cost but look out for those that attract an additional charge. If you have to pay for blankets, dishes, pots, pans and towels, you might want to consider politely declining and bringing your own.
Entertainment can also be an area of contention on a camping trip. You might be happy with a pack of cards and a decent book but other travellers might demand to bring their smartphones, tablets or even games consoles away with them. Most campgrounds will have WiFi but it is unlikely to be that great. Consider investing in a WiFi booster or simply insist that you are all going away to disconnect for a while.
The number of RV accessories you can buy now is staggering and you could easily blow your budget on all-in-one cooking pots, collapsible washing bowls, motorhome-friendly SatNavs and motorised awnings. Just remember that every item adds extra weight to your vehicle and increases fuel consumption. You should also ensure that you have adequate insurance in place.
7 Bonus Benefits of RV Rental
Are you excited yet? To help get you into the holiday mood, here are 7 reasons why a camper van holiday makes for the ideal getaway:
In our busy lives, it can be difficult to set aside quality time together as a family. Traditional holidays are often frenetic with people running from event to event, worrying about missing check-in times and queuing up to catch flights. With a motorhome holiday, there is much more time to be together as a family and share fun and happy times.
It Could Turn into a Potential Money-Spinner
Many of those who get into the camper van lifestyle decide to invest in their own vehicle. As well as having a home on wheels they can take out whenever they feel like it, they also have a way of making some cash on the side. With platforms such as Outdoorsy taking care of insurance, roadside assistance and drivers checks, it is no wonder that RV owners are happy to sign up.
There is a huge community of people out there who have embraced the RV lifestyle. As your experience grows you will find yourself enjoying the camaraderie and perhaps even meeting up regularly to share good times.
No Waiting Around
With a camper van holiday you are in control. You decide when you get up and when you go to sleep. You choose when to drive and when to stay in a campground. Taking a camper van holiday means saying goodbye to airport queues. It means no more worrying about whether you missed last check-in at the hotel.
A Chance to Unplug
In today’s ‘always-on’ world, it can be difficult to avoid checking our emails when we hear the ‘ping’ or checking in with Facebook to see whether our friends have posted anything of interest.
An RV holiday provides a great excuse, if one were needed, to ditch the technology and live life as nature intended. Just make sure you have at least one device present in case of emergencies (and the odd Instagram post of course!)
Do Festivals Differently
Whether you’re heading down to the Cornish coast to enjoy the Boardmasters surf festival; taking in the headline acts at Glastonbury or filling up your stomach as well as your soul at the Big Festival, motorhomes and camper vans give you that little bit of extra security and comfort.
Every Experience is Different
One of the enduring charms of the camper van lifestyle is the depth and breadth of experience you will enjoy. No two trips are ever remotely the same and wherever your adventure takes you, you will be left with memories that will last a lifetime.