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Curious about what life is like on the road? You don't have to commit to buying a recreational vehicle to try it out. Several companies give travelers the chance to rent an RV to see what it's like. While some traditional RV rental companies have gone out of business, the rise of peer-to-peer RV rental companies means you have more options than ever to rent an RV.
What sets one company apart from the rest? Well, good RV rental companies will show you fees upfront, assure that you're getting a clean and well-maintained RV and offer insurance just in case something happens.
We dug into the best RV rental sites to give you an overview of each and make our recommendations. But first, let's review how different types of RV rental companies work.
Types of RV rental companies
When renting an RV, you need to decide between two main types of rental companies: traditional or peer-to-peer platforms. Here are the advantages of each type.
Pros of traditional RV rental companies
Traditional RV rental companies work similarly to rental car companies. You're renting a vehicle from a large company that owns a fleet of vehicles specifically designed to rent out to travelers like you.
That means you should have consistency across rentals — from vehicle types to cleanliness — and have assurances that the company performs regular service and inspections after each rental.
Another advantage of traditional RV rental companies is that you can do one-way rentals. If you're renting an RV directly from an owner, it's unlikely you’ll be able to return their vehicle on the other side of the country. However, that's not an issue with traditional RV companies that have locations across the country.
Pros of peer-to-peer RV rentals
Peer-to-peer RV rentals work similarly to Airbnb or Vrbo. These are platforms that connect RV owners with potential RV renters, which opens the door to less-expensive rentals and more variety. As RV owners can be located anywhere, you don't need to go to a rental company location to rent your RV. Some peer-to-peer owners will even deliver the RV to your location or campsite.
Because you're renting directly from its owner, you may encounter all kinds of RVs — including campervans, trailers, pop-up campers or even a fifth-wheel trailer. Just make sure you have an appropriate towing vehicle before renting one of these non-driveable options.
» Learn more: How safe is an RV road trip?
Best RV rental sites for traditional rentals
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a few RV rental companies to shut down in the U.S., including Apollo and Jucy. Now, just two long-established RV rental companies dominate the market: Cruise America and El Monte.
1. Cruise America
Between its size, many locations and easy booking process, Cruise America takes our prize as the best RV rental site for traditional rentals. Cruise America operates over 123 locations across 33 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. Just like when renting a car, you choose your pick-up and drop-off dates, times and locations — whether round-trip or one-way.
Cruise America rentals don't include unlimited mileage, and you’ll be charged 38 cents per mile driven, though there are some promotions offering 100 free miles per day. Plus, you'll need to choose whether to rent or bring your own cooking gear and bedding kit. Cruise America offers all of these options upfront during the booking process, so you'll know exactly how much a rental will cost before you complete your reservation.
Cruise America offers five types of RV rentals that sleep between three and seven travelers. Most are Class C rentals — which is the term for drivable motorhomes, generally with a bed situated over the driving cab. If you have an appropriate towing vehicle, Cruise America also rents towable trailers that can accommodate four travelers.
2. El Monte
El Monte has just 27 U.S. locations plus one international location in Tokyo. That makes El Monte the smaller, slightly older version of Cruise America. El Monte's booking process isn't as sleek, and we have found that there aren't as many options for one-way rentals.
However, there are advantages to renting from El Monte. First, El Monte doesn't charge for generator usage while Cruise America charges $3.50 per hour. That's not going to make much of a difference to your rental cost if you're mostly camping at campgrounds. However, it can really add up if you're "boondocking" — the term for staying somewhere without water, electric or sewer hookups, whether that's in a remote forest campground or parking lot.
El Monte owns a fleet of over 1,500 vehicles consisting of five types of RVs ranging from 22 feet to 33 feet long. Four of the five types are Class C RVs. However, El Monte also rents larger Class A bus-shaped RVs.
» Learn more: Great RV road trip routes in the United States
Best RV rental sites for peer-to-peer rentals
Two peer-to-peer RV rental companies currently dominate the market: RVshare and Outdoorsy. But another up-and-comer, RVezy, is nipping at their heels. Here are our three best RV rental sites for peer-to-peer rentals.
From an extensive network of RV owners to a sleek and easy-to-use search tool, Outdoorsy takes our prize as the best RV rental site. Outdoorsy boasts that it has over 1 billion days of available RV inventory across 4,800 cities and 14 countries.
Outdoorsy leverages its massive size to provide 24/7 customer support, 24/7 roadside assistance, safety checks of renters and $1 million insurance protection covering renters, owners and the RV. There's not much more you can ask from an RV rental platform.
When deciding our pick for the best RV rental site, it was a close call between Outdoorsy and RVShare. The difference came down to each company's BBB rating. Outdoorsy's 3.96 out of 5 stars customer rating bests RVshare's 3.67 out of 5 stars rating. However, both RV rental companies enjoy an A+ rating.
» Learn more: How to save on road trips
Founded in 2013, RVshare notes that it's the "first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace." Renters can choose from more than 100,000 vehicles available on the platform using RVshare's intuitive search platform.
RVshare also offers 24/7 chat support and its rental guarantee will help you get a rental replacement if the RV owner is unreachable or the vehicle doesn't match the listing. RVshare also provides easy-to-understand resources, like breakdowns of different types of rentals.
Originally founded in Canada in 2016, RVezy has quickly expanded southward into the U.S. While it might not be the largest, RVezy boasts that it's "North America's most trusted RV rental marketplace." And it points to over 150,000 five-star rated bookings to support that claim.
RVezy offers plenty of listings throughout the U.S., including hundreds of rentable RVs in and around Tampa, Florida. And the appealing rental rates makes RVezy worth a look the next time you consider an RV rental.
» Learn more: RV secrets straight from the experts
RV rental companies, recapped
The first step in finding an RV rental is to figure out what type you want. Traditional RV rental companies — like Cruise America — are like the chain hotels of the RV rental space. If you're looking for a predictable rental from a large company, these are safe options. Plus, their many locations mean that you can do a one-way rental.
That makes peer-to-peer RV rental sites like Outdoorsy and RVshare the Airbnb of RV rentals. You'll have more variety, more locations and potentially cheaper cost. However, there are some inherent risks and inconsistencies with these types of rentals.
In our testing, we found that the best RV rental sites are Cruise America, Outdoorsy and RVshare. However, the right option for you can depend on availability, pricing and deals.
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