Not everyone is comfortable driving an RV or hauling a trailer on a hitch, especially if it’s not something you typically do or have ever tried. RVs and Trailers are wide and vary in length, and making right, and left turns or parking can be nerve-racking if you are not familiar (or at ease) with driving these types of vehicles or hauling a trailer. And reversing an RV or Trailer can feel very intimidating if you do not have any prior experience.
So, what do you do if you want the luxury of camping in an RV or Trailer but don’t want to pick up the unit from an owner nearby? You upgrade to RV rental delivery and set up. Yup, you heard that right. Like a pizza or your favorite meal, you can literally have an RV or trailer, with many of the creature comforts of home delivered to a campsite near you.
Imagine pulling up to your campsite and checking into your RV like an Airbnb. You drive up to your site, see the owner leveling your trailer, and the next thing you know, you learn your camper’s features and discover all of the amenities in a short 15-minute conversation. After a handshake, the owner leaves, and you’re left to enjoy a weekend or week with heat, AC, and fireplace (if you have hook-ups) in your own two-bedroom 5th wheel if that’s what you rented. It’s as easy as checking into a hotel – and if you’re at a campground with food and restaurants (yes, these campgrounds exist), you may not even have to cook.
The RV rental delivery and set-up cost will vary from listing to listing, depending on the owners’ individual terms. On average, you can expect fees between $2-3 per mile, with some owners charging slightly more or less from that price range. Note that when you choose delivery, your also opt not to have to deal with dumping the black water tank (i.e.; everything you flushed down the toilet) and grey water tank (i.e.; water used for dishes and washing hands) at a local dumping station, which can be a big hassle and one more thing to do when your tired and trying to wrap up your camping trip. So, having someone perform the dump station task for you is a big bonus once you realize the steps, time, and process required to do it yourself. That said, expect to be charged a dump station fee on the final invoice, which can average $50-150, depending on the owners’ terms.
Similar to an Airbnb, you can expect to incur cleaning fees, linen usage fees, fees to use a generator (typically flat fee + gas or propane refill fee), and propane refill fees. These fees usually add $150-300 to the bill but are inescapable for the most part. Note that although you pay a cleaning fee, this doesn’t mean that you can leave a sink full of dishes or a wrecked bathroom with sand and grit in the shower. Instances, where you add more to clean, will increase the cleaning cost in the end. A little tidying up after your stay will go a long way; come check out time.
Before you jump online and start looking at RV and Trailer rental inventory, it’s essential to understand the specifics of your campsite first. For instance, you’ll want to understand the total length of your campsite pad and whether or not it’s conducive to the type of RV or Trailer you want to rent. For instance, a 40ft trailer will not fit on a 38 ft pad. In fact, you’ll typically want to try to buffer 1-2 feet of pad space if possible. We recommend searching for a campsite using Campspot.com, as they select the best campsites in the U.S.. Their inventory has campgrounds with water parks, wineries, waterfronts, and many other cool camp sites that are not listed on other platforms.
Once you have the details of your campsite dialed in, you are ready to book your RV or Trailer. Many companies rent RVs and Trailers, but only a handful offer campsite delivery. For my camping trips, I tend to trust Outdoorsy and RVShare, reservation platforms that connect owners with vacation renters. Thus far, I have booked over three dozen trips about evenly on both platforms. Although you will see some overlapping inventory, both platforms have unique listings that are not featured on both sites.
Finding the right RV or camper typically comes down to headcount, functionality you want/desire, and budget. The total number of campers will determine the amount of space you need, and what you require from the rental (i.e.; toy hauling, extra space) will determine the type of unit you ultimately should rent; i.e.; Fifth Wheel, Toy Hauler, RV, etc. With these details, you’re ready to seek out listings that fit your requirements and interest and submit an inquiry or request to book. I recommend submitting an initial inquiry for any RV or trailer you are interested in to see who replies and what’s available. Note that both platforms handle RV rental delivery and set-up request slightly differently, so pay attention when you first log on to either homepage, as you’ll want to filter your searches for delivery before getting excited about a specific rental. Although Outdoorsy and RVShare are very reliable, there will be instances where a listing that shows available will reply with “were booked for that date range.” So putting out multiple feelers to see what’s available is totally normal. I typically compare 2-3 units before making a decision, and I’m often looking for functionality over the lowest price. Once you receive correspondence from an owner, it’s important to communicate effectively and be cordial/nice, as an owner does not have to rent to you if they do not want to.
Both platforms offer similar payment terms, and depending on when you book, you generally have the option to pay an initial deposit and follow up with the balance closer to the trip date; see below.
After you complete your reservation, you’ll want to take stock of everything your RV or Trailer rental does not include and ensure you bring whatever you need to enjoy your trip and be comfortable. That could be extra blankets, pillows, flash lights, cell phone chargers, battery-powered night lights or fans, speakers, coffee maker, board games, (if no fire ring provided and fires are allowed, consider bringing a Solo Stove Bonfire 2.0) etc.
It’s also advised that you stay in touch with the owner prior to the trip. I typically recommend a 3-step communication process at the very minimum, reaching out and connecting 2 weeks out, then again approx 3-5 days from the start of the trip, and finally the afternoon/evening before the delivery date.
Both the renter and owner will be able to review each other post-trip. Although you can be trivial, I suggest you focus on the long game and do not do anything to warrant a bad review.
Checking out of your RV or Trailer is typically an easy process, as you’ll set up a predefined time with the owner when to meet on check-out day. Note that due to traffic or road conditions, the owner may be late. It’s advised that you have the rental unit completely empty before the owner arrives, so that he or she can perform a walk-around and assess any damage. Providing you or other campers in your group didn’t break anything, you’ll generally be on your way in approx. 10-15 minutes.
And that’s it. That’s the beauty of RV rental delivery and set-up. No emptying smelly waste tanks, returning an RV or trailer before going home or refilling any propane/generator tanks. You head home and get back to real life while the owner of the RV or trailer handles all of the cleaning. It’s a great feeling and experience that you’ll most likely want to replicate.