Enjoy a Great American RV Road Trip for less than $100 per day!
An American road trip is an iconic vacation that everyone should experience. The United States has many wonderful places to see and things to do and “hitting the road” to experience them first hand is often the best way.
Of course, you could just hop in a car for your road trip, stopping in restaurants to eat and in hotels to sleep….that would be a great holiday. But imagine enjoying a great American road trip in the comfort and convenience of a modern Recreational Vehicle (RV).
For those who don’t know, an RV is a self-propelled vehicle, fully equipped with a kitchen, a sleeping area, and a washroom. It’s like camping, but with all of the comforts of home. You can camp in a different campsite every night, or you can settle in and stay for a while if you find a place that you really like. You can cook your own meals in the kitchen, or you can grill a nice meal over a campfire, or you can stop in a restaurant along the way.
In this article, we’re going to how you how to enjoy a great American RV road trip for less than $100 per day!
What are RVs like?
Modern RVs are a pleasure to stay in with air conditioning, nice beds, a fully equipped kitchen and washroom, and a dining area. The onboard equipment (kitchen, bathroom, heating and air conditioning) is easy to operate, even if it’s your first time in an RV.
RVs are easy to drive, with comfortable seating for the driver and passengers and all of the driving features (such as cruise control) that you are accustomed to in your car. You can drive one as long as you have a regular drivers license.
All of the RVs that we’re going to show you:
- sleep at least 2 people, and as many as 5 or 6 people in the larger classes
- are equipped with a kitchen with stove, microwave oven, refrigerator, sink, and running water so you can cook your own meals
- are air conditioned to keep you cool while you’re driving and while you’re sleeping
- have a clean water storage tank, so you always have clean water available
The larger models:
- have an onboard washroom with toilet, sink, and shower
- are equipped with a hot water tank, so you can have a hot shower
Some of the larger RVs are equipped with an electrical generator so that you can camp in locations that do not provide electricity.
Which RV is right for me?
RVs are available in wide range of sizes and configurations.
The largest RVs are called “Class A” and are truly impressive! As large as a city bus, these can include a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. They have large screen televisions, powerful sound systems, comfortable furniture, and loads of space to relax in. Unfortunately, Class A RVs are very expensive to rent, far beyond the budget of our readers.
Smaller RVs are called “Class B” or “Class C” and are almost as well equipped as the Class A models. Class C RVs are somewhat smaller than Class A, and it is possible to rent a Class C and still be “under budget” of around $100 per day. All Class C RVs are equipped with a large kitchen, living and dining areas, comfortable bedroom, and private washroom.
Class B RVs are smaller than Class C RVs but are still fully equipped for a comfortable, even luxurious, camping trip. Everything is just a little smaller, and you may have to rearrange the cabin to switch from daytime to nighttime use. The kitchen will be compact, with limited shelf and storage space, and a smaller sink and refrigerator than the larger models. The big benefit, of course, is that Class B RVs are less expensive to rent and leave more money in the budget for entertainment.
Just below the Class B RV, there is a “Truck Camper” class that is essentially a mini camper placed on the bed of a large pickup truck. These are smaller and more rugged, but you are going to give up a lot of space and comforts when you choose a truck camper. In addition, they are becoming scarce and we were unable to find any “bargains” in our search for budget RVs.
Finally, the smallest category is the “Minivan Conversion” class. These are conventional van or minivan vehicles that have been converted into RVs. There is not a lot of room in these vehicles, so the designers have used some clever designs to squeeze all of the RV facilities inside. These RVs include a sleeping area, sometimes located within the vehicle, or sometimes atop the roof of the vehicle in a “pop up” tent that you open when you arrive at your campsite. There is also a cooking area, which is incorporated into the vehicle and then pulled out for cooking. These RVs are not equipped with toilet or shower, so make sure you choose a campsite that has these facilities.
If you’re travelling with your family, especially kids, you will most likely prefer a larger (Class C or Class B) RV, so that you have enough space for everyone. These have multiple beds, a washroom with shower and sink, and an eat-in dining area. You can stay inside if it rains to play games or just surf the Internet.
If you’re travelling as a couple, and you want the most economical choice, you will most likely prefer a smaller (Truck Camper or Minivan Conversion) RV. These are significantly smaller than the other classes, but there is enough room for a couple to sleep, cook, eat, and relax.
Here’s an infographic comparing the classes to help you choose the right RV for you.
How much does it cost to rent an RV?
Camping in a rented RV can be very expensive! You can easily pay hundreds of dollars per day to rent and operate an RV. Here are some of the costs that you might expect to pay:
|Class A||$200 to $400 per day|
|Class C||$100 to $200 per day|
|Class B||$75 to $150 per day|
|Truck Camper||$75 to $150 per day|
|Minivan Conversion||$60 to $100 per day|
|Campsite||$20 to $75 per day|
|Mileage (100 miles @ 35 cents per mile)||$35 per day|
|Fuel (100 miles = 10 gallons)||$24 per day|
|Insurance||up to $25 per day|
For a Class B camper, driving about 100 miles per day, that’s going to cost about $250 per day. Even for a minivan conversion, driving about 100 miles per day, the cost will be about $165 per day.
That’s too much for our readers! Here at everybodycantravel.com, we like to limit our daily spend to about $100 per day for accommodations and transportation. Let us show how you can get those costs down!
How to rent an RV and enjoy a great American road trip for under $100 per day
In this article, we’re going to show you how you can enjoy a great American RV road trip for less than $100 per day. To get the cost this low, you’re going to take advantage of some special savings that are available to everybody. You just need to be flexible in your itinerary, be willing to do some research, and plan ahead. You also need to make your reservations quickly, as these special savings are limited in quantity.
First, we’ll show you how to rent an RV as a “One Way” or “Factory Relocation” rental which can save you 40% to 90% of the daily rental rate, along with some mileage and gas savings. Second, we’ll show you ways to find places to camp for little or no money. Third, we’ll give you some ideas on how to save on the insurance costs. Finally, we’ve got some tips on how to save on your food and living expenses while you’re on your trip.
Save with “One Way Rental” and “Factory Relocation” specials
To keep costs as low as possible, we will show you how to take advantage of two unique offers: the “One Way Rental” and the “Factory Relocation”.
One Way Rental
RV rental agencies often rent RVs on a “one way” basis. In these situations, the renter will pick up the RV in one city and return it to a different city. Sometimes the agency ends up with an excess of RVs in one location and a shortage of RVs in another location.
In these situations, the company needs to move the RVs to their original location, or to another location where “pick up” demand is high. Rather than pay someone to transport the RV to the new location, the company offers a “One Way RV Rental” deal to anybody who is willing to drive the vehicle to the new location.
These “One Way RV Rental” deals offer extraordinary value and that’s why we include it in this website. We have seen deals as low as USD$9 per day to rent an RV, which is like paying $9 for a car and a hotel room combined! In addition, the agency will waive the normal one way drop off fees, and often include some other incentives such as free mileage or gasoline credits.
Another great opportunity are “Factory Relocation” specials. These specials become available when the agency receives a brand new RV from the factory and they need to move them to one of their other rental locations, or when an RV needs to be moved to or from a factory for refurbishment.
Again, rather than pay to have the RV relocated, the agency will make these RVs available for rental, as long as the renter agrees to move the RV to the drop off location in the specified amount of time. These specials are priced substantially lower than the usual rate, and generally includes free miles, and the normal “one way” fees are also waived.
RV Rental Agencies
We recommend renting an RV from a reputable rental agency. These agencies have large fleets of modern vehicles, multiple locations, and they maintain their vehicles in excellent condition to ensure that your vacation is trouble free.
Here are four RV rental agencies that regularly offer “One Way Rental” and Factory Relocation” specials on a regular basis.
Our first recommendation is CruiseAmerica. CruiseAmerica is the largest RV rental agency in the United States with more than 120 locations. They offer a wide range of modern, well equipped vehicles. Here’s a Cruise America “Class C” RV:
We found lots of One Way Rental and Factory Relocation specials on the CruiseAmerica website, and we found that new specials pop up frequently. Here are some recent examples:
One Way Rentals
Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah (660 miles)
- Large (Class C+) RV for 6 nights
- Includes 1500 free miles
- $9 per night
Missoula (Lolo), Montana to Newark, California (1000 miles)
- Standard (Class C) RV
- $48 per night
Seattle (Everett), Washington to San Mateo, California (830 miles)
- Standard (Class C) RV
- $48 per night
Seattle (Everett), Washington to Rancho Cucamonga, California (1170 miles)
- Standard (Class C) RV
- $40 per night
St. Paul (Hastings), Minnesota to Phoenix (Mesa), Arizona (1640 miles)
- Standard (Class C) RV
- $49 per night
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Orlando, Florida (970 miles)
- Standard (Class C) RV for up to 7 nights
- Includes 2000 free miles
- $39 per night
San Francisco, California to Phoenix (Mesa), Arizona (750 miles)
- Compact (Class B) RV for up to 6 nights
- Includes 1500 free miles
- $39 per night
For more information on CruiseAmerica, including their “One Way Rental” and “Factory Relocation” specials, click the button to visit their website.
El Monte RV
Our second recommendation is El Monte RV. El Monte has about 30 locations located in the United States. El Monte offer only the larger vehicles (Class A and Class C) but their Class C vehicles range from small (22 feet long) to large (31 feet long). El Monte vehicles are generally two years old or newer. Here’s an El Monte RV:
Here are some examples of One Way and Factory Relocation specials that we found on the El Monte RV website.
One Way Rentals
New York (Linden, New Jersey) to Orlando, Florida (1060 miles)
- Full Size (Class C, 31 feet) RV for up to 12 nights
- Includes 1500 miles and a $200 gasoline credit
- $43 per night
Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, California (690 miles)
- Small (Class C, 22 feet) for up to 7 nights
- Includes 700 miles and a $200 gasoline credit
- $25 per night
Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California (270 miles)
- Large (Class C, 28 feet) for up to 5 nights
- Includes 400 miles and a $200 gasoline credit
- $37 per night
Factory Relocation Specials
El Monte offers a wide range of “One Way Factory” specials. You choose one of two factory locations to pick up the RV, and you choose one of nine rental locations to drop them off. You pay as little as $9 per day, with 2500 free miles included. RVs are available on a “first come, first served” basis.
Five different sizes of RV are available with this offer:
- Class C Small (C22)
- Class C Medium (C25)
- Class C Large (C28)
- Class C Family Sleeper (FS30)
- Class A Large (AC35, AF34)
You can choose either of two pickup locations:
- Chicago, Illinois (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
- Elkhart, Indiana
Note that you’ll pay an additional fee of $375 to pick up the RV at the Chicago (Glen Ellyn) location.
You can choose one of nine drop off locations:
- Los Angeles, California (2100 miles)
- San Francisco, California (2200 miles)
- Miami, Florida (1350 miles)
- Orlando, Florida (1130 miles)
- Las Vegas, Nevada (1840 miles)
- New York, New York (680 miles)
- Dallas, Texas (1040 miles)
- Salt Lake City, Utah (1500 miles)
El Monte RV
For more information on El Monte RV, including their “One Way Rental” and “Factory Relocation” specials, click the button to visit their website.
Our third recommendation is Escape Campervans. Escape has nine locations in the United States, and a fleet of about 600 “campervans” available. Most campervans are minivan conversions, and they also offer a Jeep conversion. Here’s an Escape Campervans “Big Sur” RV which is a modified full size van. This model will sleep up to 5 people including the pop up rooftop sleeping area.
Their smaller campervans are comfortable for two people and include a comfortable bed and a modest cooking capability. Their larger models can sleep up to 5 people. There is no toilet or shower in a campervan, so you need to find a campsite with these facilities.
Here’s a graphic showing how the Campervans convert from daytime use to nighttime use. Very clever!
Escape offer “One Way” specials from many of their locations. Some of these are priced at just $5 per day, but you are required to purchase 100 miles per day, bringing the daily price to $35. If you don’t use the 100 miles, they will be refunded at $0.30 per mile. If you need to purchase additional miles, they are also priced at $0.30 per mile.
In early 2021, they were offering a number of these “One Way” specials for the “Maverick” model:
- Seattle, Washington to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas (7 to 13 days)
- Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas (7 to 13 days)
- Orlando, Florida to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas (14 to 20 days)
- New York, New York to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas (14 to 20 days)
- Phoenix, Arizona to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas (3 to 13 days)
For more information on Escape Campervans, including their “One Way Rental” and “Factory Relocation” specials, click the button to visit their website.
Our fourth and final recommendation is JUCY USA. JUCY has just three locations in the United States and a relatively small fleet of minivan conversion RVs. There are two models available, the Trailblazer and the Wavefarer.
The Wavefarer holds two people, while the Trailblazer has rooftop sleeping so it sleeps 4 people. Both models include a modest cooking capability. There is no toilet or shower in the Jucy RVs, so you need to find a campsite with these facilities.
JUCY offers an extraordinary relocation offer at just $1 per day, but this special rate is limited to just two routes:
- Los Angeles, California to Oakland, California (370 miles)
- Las Vegas, Nevada to Oakland, California (560 miles)
This special allows a maximum of 3 nights, and includes 500 miles free miles. Additional miles are priced at 25 cents per mile. If you want to go longer than 3 days, the additional days will be at the regular daily rate.
For more information on JUCY USA, including their “One Way Rental” and “Factory Relocation” specials, click the button to visit their website.
Six important factors when choosing the “best” deal for you and your family:
|Factor||What it means||Why it’s important|
|Pick-up location||This is the location of the rental agency where you will pick up your RV and begin your road trip.||This will be the beginning of your road trip, and will play a large role in developing your itinerary. You need to arrange transportation to the rental agency with all of your belongings (clothing and supplies).|
|Drop-off location||This is the location of the rental agency where you will return your RV and end your road trip.||This will be the end of your road trip, and will also play a large role in developing your itinerary. You need to arrange transportation back home with all of your belongings and souvenirs.|
|Depart After||This is the earliest date when the RV is available.||“One Way” rentals are often offered at the last minute, meaning you’ve got to make all of the arrangements quickly to take advantage. Weather is also a factor, as many rentals are offered in the off seasons (winter, spring, and fall), when the weather in many parts of America is cold or snowy.|
|Return By||This is the date when the RV must be returned to the agency.||Agencies typically want the RV returned quickly, usually within one or two weeks The agency will allow enough time to drive safely from the pick up location to the drop off location, while visiting a few places along the way|
|Vehicle Size||Recreational Vehicles are available in a wide range of sizes, from “Compact” to “Standard” to “Large”||“Compact” sized vehicles “Standard” sized vehicles are large enough to comfortably accommodate up to 5 people. An experienced, responsible driver can drive these safely.|
|Discount||This is the discount offered by the agency to incent renters to purchase a One Way rental||Renting an RV can be very expensive you need to look for discounts of 50% or higher to make this affordable|
Where is the best place to stay on an RV road trip?
You’re going to need a place to stay while you’re on your RV road trip. In fact, you may need to find a new place to stay every night! In the United States there are a lot of choices…..we’re going to describe all of your options to help you plan your RV road trip itinerary.
As you plan your itinerary, make sure you know where your preferred stays are located and how long it will take you to get there. You want to have enough time to enjoy the trip during the day, but you will need time to check in, to set up camp, prepare the evening meal, maybe enjoy a campfire, and get to bed on time.
Campsite, Boondocking, or Parking?
An RV is essentially a little house on wheels. You can stay overnight almost anywhere that you can park the vehicle. That gives you a lot of options for choosing where to stay. You can stay in a traditional campsite, you can “boondock”, or you can simply stay in a parking space. Let’s explain those options and then we’ll give you some information to help you decide where you want to stay.
Staying in a traditional Campsite
If you want to enjoy a traditional camping experience, you’re going to want to stay in a campsite. There are thousands of campgrounds in the United States to choose from, and virtually all of them have campsites suitable for a small RV. You’ll be assigned your own private site for the night. Depending on where you stay, the site may have a picnic table, fire pit, barbecue, and even an electrical outlet. The campground may have some facilities such as a swimming pool, playground, beach, laundry room, or a grocery store. Many of them will have a facility to drain the RV septic tank and to refill the clean water tank.
These campgrounds may be privately owned and operated, or they may be public, owned and operated by the federal, state, or local government.
You will pay a fee to stay at this type of campsite. The overnight fee will range anywhere from about $5 for a very basic campsite, to $70 or more for a luxurious campsite will all of the amenities. In addition, some public campgrounds will charge you an admission fee just to enter the park.
There are lots of websites where you can shop to find a great campsite for your RV road trip. Here are a few suggestions to help you with your search.
KOA (Kampgrounds of America)
KOA is the largest private campground operator with more than 500 campgrounds in the United States.
Thousand Trails operates a network of 80 campsites in 22 states.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park
Yogi Bear’s operates a chain of 75 family oriented campgrounds.
GO RVing is a website dedicated to the RV lifestyle, and they maintain a large directory of campgrounds on their website.
ReserveAmerica is a website dedicate to all things outdoors, with a focus on campgrounds. Many government operated campgrounds, especially state and local, use ReserveAmerica to make their campsites available to the public.
Campendium is a blog for people who enjoy the RV lifestyle, where you can find campgrounds as well as user reviews and tips.
GoCampingAmerica.com is a large online database of private American campgrounds. You can use their search engine to shop for campsites.
Another great way to find campgrounds is to use Google Maps. Simply select the area that you are interested in and then search for “campgrounds” or some similar term. Google Maps will show you all of the campgrounds that it knows about and usually provide a clickable link to the operator’s website. There are even reviews so you can read what people said about them. Here’s what we got when we searched for campgrounds near Durango, Colorado.
National Park Service
The United States National Park Service (NPS) operates campgrounds that are located within National Parks all across the country. Many of these offer overnight camping suitable for RVs. To find out which national parks offer camping, use the “Advanced Search” function on the NPS website, and select “Camping” on the “By Activity” pulldown menu.
It can be very expensive to camp in a NPS campground. You need to purchase a vehicle pass simply to enter the National Park, and you must also pay a campsite fee for overnight stays. This can really add up. A vehicle day pass to a popular National Park can cost $35 or more, and an annual vehicle pass costs around $80. The overnight camping fees range from free to as much as $60 per night!
There are some ways to save money when visiting National Parks. There are a number of special passes available that are less expensive; you can see the list here.
There are also some special days of the year when it is free for anybody to visit the national parks; check the NPS website for the list of free days.
There are twelve United States federal agencies that offer some form of recreational activities on the properties that they manage, including campgrounds or places to stay overnight in your RV. Together, they operate a website “Recreation.gov” that allows you to search all twelve agencies for campgrounds. Just click on the link shown here, then click on the “Camping and Lodging” button, and that will take you to their search engine. Simply choose the area that you are interested and search for campsites.
The 12 federal agencies are:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing
- Federal Highway Administration
- National Archives & Records Administration
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- National Park Service (NPS)
- Smithsonian Institution
- Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Army Corps of Engineers
- US Forest Service
Here is a screenshot from recreation.gov for campgrounds around Durango, Colorado. You’ll notice that most of these campgrounds are priced around $20 per night.
All 50 states operate campgrounds that are suitable for overnight camping suitable for RVs. Most of these charge a fee, but some may be free.
If you know which states you’ll be visiting on your road trip, you can quickly and easily find a list of state operated campgrounds using Google. Just type the name of the state and “campgrounds” and Google will direct you to the appropriate website.
Overnight camping on designated federal land is called “Boondocking”, or the more official term “Dispersed Camping”. Boondocking is completely free, and no reservations are required. You simply find a suitable spot for a campsite, usually on or near a small country road, and set up camp.
Boondocking is perfectly legal if done properly, but the rules are somewhat complex and may be difficult for a newcomer to understand. Be sure to read all of the rules and regulations before choosing to camp in one of these areas. There are no facilities at all, so you need to be completely self sufficient, and be sure to “leave no trace” when you leave.
The good news is that we found several great websites to help you to find “boondocking” campsites for your RV, and to help you understand the rules.
The website “boondocking.org” is dedicated solely to the practice of boondocking, and it offers a user generated list of boondocking locations in the United States.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages federal land in 12 western states and they allow overnight camping in certain areas. BLM offers both conventional and boondocking campsites.
To learn about boondocking on BLM lands, visit the BLM website and go to the “Camping on Public Lands” page. You’ll see a description of “Dispersed Camping” along with lots of information on those rules and regulations. Click on the “Where to Camp” link to find a list of campsites in each state where BLM manages public lands.
National Forest Service (NFS)
The United States National Forest Service (NFS) manages federal forests and grasslands in all 50 states. NFS allows Dispersed Camping in many of those forest and grassland areas. To find a suitable campsite, click on the “Visit Us / Destinations” link, and you’ll be taken to the “Visit Destinations” page. From there, select the NFS property and use the pull down menu “Dispersed Camping” to search for boondocking sites. NFS also provides great information on the “Leave No Trace” and “Tread Lightly” best practices which all boondockers should follow.
“Camping” in a Parking Lot
Okay, we’ve looked at conventional campsites, and we’ve looked at boondocking, now let’s take a look at one more type of place to stay overnight on your RV road trip……….parking lots!
Yes, we know, that’s not the dream campsite that you’ve been imagining for your RV road trip. There’s no forest, no babbling brook, no campfire……just a parking lot where you can spend the night.
But you know what? Parking lots are free, they’re easy to find, there are people around, and there may even be things to do there! Let’s take a closer look and maybe you’ll include a parking lot in your RV road trip itinerary.
A number of retailers, restaurants, gas stations, truck stops, and casinos allow overnight camping in their parking lots. You don’t need to make a reservation, but you do have to check in advance to make sure that overnight RV parking is allowed. You can do this by visiting the website, or by checking the signage at the location, or by phoning ahead and speaking to a manager.
If you do decide to stay overnight in a parking lot, remember you are a guest, so you must be on your best behaviour! That means following some common sense rules:
- At a retail store, arrive in the evening and leave in the morning so you don’t interfere with the store operations
- At a retail store or casino, park at the far edge of the parking lot so you don’t get in the way of customers
- at a gas station or truck stop, park out of the way of incoming and outgoing traffic, or better yet, park in a designated area for overnight stays
- Use the store restrooms while the store is open, but not for bathing!
- Maintain a low profile, no campfires and no singalongs!
- Keep the parking lot clean, and leave no trace when you leave
- If you’re visiting a retail store, gas station, or casino, buy something to say thanks
Here are a few places that may allow overnight RV stays in their parking lots:
- Camping World
- Home Depot
Restaurants, Gas Stations, and Truck Stops
- Cracker Barrel
- Pilot/Flying J
Many casinos allow overnight RV parking. Click here to visit a website dedicated specifically to people who like to camp in casino parking lots.
Here’s some practical information to help you start planning your great American RV road trip!
- Age Requirements
- Drivers License Requirements
- Insurance Requirements
- Mileage and Gas expenses
- Living Expenses
- Road Safety
You generally must be 21 years of age or older to rent and drive an RV.
Drivers License Requirements
Drivers must have a valid drivers license to drive an RV, and you must present it when picking up the vehicle. You don’t need to hold a special license to drive any RV.
To be fully protected in case of an accident, you need to obtain two types of insurance:
- Liability Insurance, which covers damage or injury to third parties; it is recommended that you carry $1 million in liability insurance
- Collision Damage Insurance, which covers damage to your rented RV in the case of an accident; the policy you buy will cover any and all potential damages
When you rent an RV, the rental agreement generally includes a basic liability insurance to protect you in case of an accident. This basic coverage, however, only provides a small level of protection and you will be responsible for any additional liabilities.
It is recommended that you obtain supplementary liability insurance (SLI) prior to starting the trip. This will protect you in case of a serious accident that causes injury.
There are three ways that you can obtain SLI:
- if you have an auto insurance policy which covers your personal automobile, it may include SLI coverage for rental RVs; check your policy carefully or contact your insurance provider to see if you are covered
- if you have a travel credit card, and you use the credit card to rent the RV, the credit card may include SLI coverage at no extra cost; check your credit card agreement or contact your credit card provider to see if you are covered
- if you can’t obtain SLI coverage by either of these means, you should purchase SLI from the rental agency; this will generally cost about $15 per day
Collision Damage Insurance
The RV rental agreement will likely not include any collision insurance protection. In the case of an accident, you will be responsible to pay for any damages to the vehicle.
Just as with SLI, you can check with your auto insurance and credit card providers to see if this type of coverage is already included with your auto policy or credit card agreement. If not, you can purchase collision damage insurance from the rental agency; this will generally cost about $10 per day.
Mileage and Gas Expenses
Mileage and gas expenses can add up quickly when renting an RV. Here is some basic information about these expenses so you can manage your budget.
Mileage charges can cost anywhere from 30¢ to 45¢ per mile, so on a long trip this can add up to a lot of money. The best way to reduce this cost, of course, is to get the rental agency to include “free miles” with your rental. Use Google Maps or some other mapping application to calculate the actual driving distance for your road trip, add on a few miles for side trips, and see if the free miles will cover your trip.
If you are paying for miles, choose your route carefully to minimize mileage expenses. Remember, even at 30¢ per mile, if you drive 500 miles, those miles will cost you $150.00!
Depending on which class of RV you rent, you will likely only travel about 10 to 20 miles on a gallon of gasoline.
For example, if you rent a large Class C RV which gets 10 miles per gallon, and you travel 1000 miles, you’re going to consume 100 gallons of gas. Depending on the cost of gas where you travel, this could cost you a few hundred dollars.
You can reduce gas expenses by driving at a moderate speed and by keeping your tires properly inflated.
The appliances inside the RV (stove, heater, and refrigerator) also need fuel, but they burn propane. Check your propane levels occasionally to make sure you don’t run out. The good news is that it only costs about $20 to refill a propane tank.
Although the rental RVs are fully equipped with beds and kitchen appliances, you will need to obtain your own bedding and cooking equipment for the trip.
All of the rental agencies will offer to see you various convenience kits. These can include bedding, cooking and eating utensils, GPS devices, and so on. If you don’t own these, or you don’t want to pack your own, you can reserve and purchase these from the agency. They are reasonably priced for what you get.
On the other hand, if you really want to save money, or you ae more comfortable using your own belongings, you can bring your own from home. Check out the rental agencies “convenience kits” and see which approach you prefer.
Finally a word about road safety. If you are an experienced driver, and have driven larger vehicles before, you know that it is a little more challenging than driving a conventional passenger car or SUV. Apply those skills and you should be safe in your RV.
But if it’s your first time driving a larger vehicle, here are the “golden rules” for driving an RV:
- Know the height of your vehicle – make sure there is enough clearance above your vehicle when driving under bridges, toll gates, etc
- know the weight of your vehicle – make sure you don’t drive on bridges or roads that can’t handle the extra weight
- know the length of your vehicle – when turning, or backing up, make sure there is lots of room to spare to avoid bumping into things
- limit your driving time per day – if you’re feeling tired or drowsy, ask someone else to drive, or pull over for a rest, or stop for the night
- limit your speed – observe and obey the speed limits, especially when the weather is poor or in the dark
Okay it’s time to figure out the budget for your Great American RV Road Trip.
We’ve looked at all of the “Classes” of RVs, identified all of the expenses involved, and shown you how to save a lot of money by using “One Way” and “Factory Relocation” specials from reputable rental agencies.
It’s pretty clear that affordable RVs fall into two distinct categories. There are the big Class B and Class C vehicles that are suitable for a family of 3, 4, 5 or maybe 6 people travelling together. Then there are the small Minivan Conversion vehicles that are really suitable for 2 people travelling together. So let’s draw up two budgets, and see if we are able to squeeze in below our “$100 per day” limit.
Family Road Trip
For a family RV road trip, we recommend renting a Class B RV. They are the least expensive of the “big” class RVs to rent, are easy to drive, fuel efficient, and still have enough space for everybody to enjoy their holiday.
We think you should be able to rent a Class B RV for about $43 per day, with the agency throwing in 150 free miles or more. Gas will cost you about $36 per day, and a nice basic campsite should cost you around $20 per day. That comes out to $99 per day, just under budget!
You could save about $20 per day by “boondocking” or parking overnight. You could also shop around for a lower priced RV, or for an offer that includes more free miles or a gas credit. Make sure you check to see if your existing auto insurance policy or credit card will cover the insurance; if not, we suggest you pay the rental agency for appropriate insurance at around $25 per day.
Here’s the daily budget for our Great American RV Road Trip for a family:
Couples Road Trip
For our “couples” road trip, we recommend renting a “Minivan Conversion” RV. They are the least expensive of all RVs, are very easy to drive, very fuel efficient, and have enough space for a couple of people to enjoy their holiday.
If you shop around, you should be able to rent the RV for about $5 per day, plus $30 per day for the first 100 miles. Gas will cost you about $12 per day, and a nice basic campsite should cost you around $20 per day. That comes out to $67 per day, well under budget!
Here’s the daily budget for our Great American RV Road Trip for a couple:
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading the article and that someday you’ll be able to enjoy a Great American RV road trip of your own. It will be a memorable experience!
Here are a few more photos to inspire you…………happy travels, everybody!