If you’re thinking about renting a recreational vehicle (RV), you’re not alone. Interest in RVs has soared because of the coronavirus pandemic, as Americans look for more isolated ways to go on vacation.
You can rent an RV online through a company called Outdoorsy. The site allows you to pick up and return an RV to a designated location or have it delivered to your home.
In this article, I’m going to show you five things you need to know about renting an RV on Outdoorsy.
Renting an RV From Outdoorsy? Read This First
Outdoorsy bills itself as “the most trusted RV marketplace for a reason.” It’s actually a brokerage, kind of like Vrbo or Airbnb for RVs. Before you rent through Outdoorsy, here are some eligibility requirements you must meet:
- Be at least 25 years old
- Have a valid driver’s license
- Pass a standard rental background check
I went through the rental process at Outdoorsy to see how it worked. Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. Research RV Rentals
If you’re not familiar with RVs, do some research on the different types of vehicles available on Outdoorsy.
You’ll find out quickly that there are several types of RVs you can choose from including camper vans, trailers and different classes of motor homes.
You’ll want to pay particular attention to:
- Vehicle length
- How many people the RV sleeps
- Rules for occupancy and cleaning
- Cancellation policy (We’ll talk about this more later)
Money expert Clark Howard’s principle about comparison shopping works just as well on Outdoorsy as any other online marketplace. You can find a deal only if you put in the research.
Once you feel like you know enough about the different types of RVs that would meet your needs and that you’d feel comfortable driving, it’s time to choose the exact vehicle you want to rent.
2. Choose an RV Rental
On the website’s home page, you type in your location and vacation dates, and you’ll see a list of the vehicles available near you.
You can use filters to narrow your selection. Here are some of the top filters for searching for an RV on Outdoorsy:
- Vehicle Type
- Number of Guests
How Much Does It Cost to Rent an RV?
The amount of money it costs to rent an RV varies just like any rental vehicle: It’s based on the vehicle type and how long you plan to rent it.
On Outdoorsy, I found RVs listed for as low as $100 a night and as high as $750 a night. You can imagine that the cheaper the RV, the more it’s similar to a regular vehicle with a bed. On the other end of the spectrum, the higher the price, the more amenities and the closer you get to a road-ready hotel. Keep in mind that the listed price is only a base price per night (more on that later).
Because each RV has its own listing page, you can dig into the details on what kind of entertainment the vehicle you’re interested in has and other particulars.
If you have any questions about an RV you’re thinking about renting, make sure you reach out directly to the owner by way of Outdoorsy’s messaging system on its RV listing page.
3. Vet the Owner
One of the great things about Outdoorsy is that you can vet the RV owner by reading the reviews from previous renters.
Make sure you look for mentions of any mechanical problems or issues with the owner. Also, you’ll want to look out for things that indicate that the RV doesn’t have a feature or amenity that the listing page advertises.
On the listing page, you’ll see a rating system by the owner’s name. The more stars you see, the better reviews the RV has.
If you can’t find any issues during the vetting process, it’s almost time to book, but first…
4. Get a Discount Code
Before you book, look for a discount code online: sometimes up to 10% off. You can find Outdoorsy discount codes on RetailMeNot and other coupon sites.
Outdoorsy also allows RV owners to create personalized discount codes to entice customers. The typical types of discounts that are available include:
- Returning Renter
- Family & Friends
- Seasonal Discounts
To save money on your RV rental, message the owner and ask for a discount code. If they know you’re serious about renting, you may end up getting a deal!
5. Book and Pay for Your RV Rental
When you’ve settled on the RV you want to rent, it’s time to book it and pay.
To book on Outdoorsy, you need to select the dates for your trip by filling in the departure and return boxes on the calendar. Once you do that, you’ll see:
- How many miles you get to travel for free
- Insurance required per night
- Owner fees
- Service fees
When I went through the process to book an RV listed at $215 a night, all the fees for a three-night reservation bumped the price up to $1,160.95. That ends up being $385.98 per night!
To make the reservation, you will need to log into the site and agree to Outdoorsy’s terms of service. You’ll also need to provide the following information:
- Your phone number
- A description of your trip
- Select your insurance coverage
What Type of Insurance Does Outdoorsy Offer?
Outdoorsy requires that you have insurance on your RV in addition to your personal auto insurance.
Outdoorsy’s insurance coverage comes with 24/7 roadside assistance and customer support. The three options offered at the time of this writing are:
- Risk Taker: $22.95 a day with a $2,000 deductible
- Essential: $37.95 a day with a $1,500 deductible
- Peace of Mind: $47.95 a day with a $1,000 deductible
During checkout is also where you can add any optional notes or add-ons, like a generator, more gasoline and other extras. You can also choose whether you want the RV delivered to you (for a fee).
Once you’ve added everything you want for your trip, enter your credit card information and click the Request Booking button.
For good measure, the booking page also includes the cancellation policy of the owner. Make sure you read it carefully because Outdoorsy encourages renters to work cancellations out directly with owners.
Once the booking process is complete, you’ll get an email telling you that your request has been sent to the RV owner. If he or she approves it, you’re almost on your way to happy trails!
Much like Airbnb, Outdoorsy does not own the RVs it rents out — it just facilitates the transaction between you and the owner.
Of course, the real measure of your travel experience is not a booking website but the RV itself. That’s why you should always remember to:
- Do Your Research on RV Types
- Choose an RV that Fits Your Needs
- Vet the Owner
- Ask for a Discount
- Read the Cancellation Policy Before You Pay