RV share travel picks up speed this year

Is an RV share vacation right for you?

John Flynn and his family won’t check into a hotel on their next vacation. Instead, they’ll roll to their destination in a Fleetwood Jamboree, a 31-foot recreational vehicle that sleeps six.

And not just any RV. Flynn won’t own this motor home, and neither will a traditional rental company.

They’ll RV share through a site called Mighway.com, a peer-to-peer service that brokers rentals between RV owners and travelers.

Is an RV share rental right for you?

“My wife and I love RVs,” says Flynn, who lives in Moraga, Calif., and works for a food-services company. “We’ve considered buying a recreational vehicle. The problems with owning one include storage, depreciation, maintenance, and insurance. It’s a lot cheaper and more convenient to rent when we need one.”

Until now, if you wanted to hit the open road behind the wheel of an RV, buying was your best — and sometimes your only — option. But now there are new ways to get into a recreational vehicle. The question is, does an RV share make sense for you?

RVs are not for the faint of wallet. The average motor home costs $127,514, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), a trade group. The actual cost of ownership is higher once you factor in fuel, insurance, maintenance and campground fees. Unless you’re recently retired and living in a motor home full-time, ownership might be a little pricey.

How much does a recreational vehicle vacation cost?

RVIA conducted multiple studies that found the cost of an RV vacation is comparable to that of a traditional getaway. “Taking a vacation in a rental RV costs about the same as fly-drive-hotel vacations,” says RVIA spokesman Kevin Broom.

Sure, you can lower the cost. Grant Sinclair, a high school teacher who blogs about traveling in his RV on his site, Wanderfilledlife.com, has spent the past two summers in a modest 27-foot travel trailer. He estimates that he and his wife have saved about 30 percent compared with traditional accommodations, spending an average of $40 to $45 per night on their accommodations once they factor in fuel and fees.

The Sinclairs also save money on food. “Since our camper comes with a fridge, we buy and cook our meals,” he says.

Still, unless you want to rough it, you probably won’t save money by switching to an RV on your next vacation, especially if you have to buy one.

“Traditional rentals are notoriously expensive,” says Leigh Wetzel, the co-founder of Campendium.com, a rating service for campgrounds.

RV rentals have existed for years, but haven’t caught on with travelers the same way car rentals have. As Flynn explains it, “Commercial rentals are stripped to the bones and made as damage-proof as possible.”

The RV share solution

RV sharing may be the solution. New peer-to-peer services, such as the three below, promise their customers all the conveniences of a privately owned motor home at a fraction of the price.

Campanda: With more than 26,000 RVs for rent in more than 42 countries, it appears to have the most international inventory.

Outdoorsy: Claiming to be the largest rental site of its kind, it promises that rates on its class A motor homes, the largest size available, will save you 10 to 45 percent compared with other upscale vacation travel options.

RVshare: The longest established sharing site says you can save up to 57 percent on vacation costs by sharing an RV, compared with other forms of travel.

Mighway, the company through which Flynn found his RV, is a hybrid. It launched earlier this year in California as a partnership between THL, the world’s largest RV rental operator, and Thor Industries, the manufacturer of Airstream and Jayco.

“On other RV sharing platforms, we noticed a major lack of service and trip protection that left RV renters vulnerable,” according to Dave Simmons, Mighway’s chief operating officer. So it doubled down on phone and roadside service for customers and added $1 million in liability coverage.

Who will win this RV rental race?

If this looks like a road race to become the next Airbnb for RVs, that’s because it is. More than 10 million American households own RVs, according to RVIA. The association expected the North American RV rental fleet to grow more than 12 percent last year. (Final numbers are not yet available.) Whoever wins this one will rule a massive rental fleet.

“It is an interesting time in the world of RV rentals,” says Dan Wulfman, founder of Tracks & Trails, which arranges self-drive RV camping vacations for U.S. and international travelers. “The recent advent of peer-to-peer networks is shaking things up.”

This summer could be the right time to try an RV share. But before you do, run some numbers. That’s the advice of Janet Groene, author of “Living Aboard Your RV,” now in its fourth edition.

“Consider total cost, including insurance, fuels, cleaning fee and campground rates,” she advises. “Nightly rates at campgrounds can often be higher than the rate for a double room in a Motel 6. Resort campgrounds cost more.”

State parks, on the other hand, can cost less. And the best deal is “Boondocking” — a camper term for squatting anywhere it’s legal, such as some truck stops and Walmart parking lots.

Don’t forget to read the fine print

Read the fine print on your rental carefully for service and cleaning fees, too. For example, I found a Cabover Style C22 RV on Mighway.com “starting at $107.55 a night” — a decent rate. But on closer examination, the site charged a mandatory $35 “service fee” that covers roadside service and a $100 “cleaning fee.” It also tried to upsell me on insurance for “peace of mind,” or I could check the box that I was a “risk taker” and take my chances. Either way, I’m covered by Mighway’s $1 million insurance policy but the deductible on a claim is higher. No pressure!

Another reason to RV share: If you’re thinking of buying someday. “Rent before you buy, please,” advises Susan Shumsky, a writer who has lived in a motor home since 1989. “That will help you decide if you like the challenges of limited water and electricity that go with traveling in an RV.”

Shumsky says people have a romantic view of living and traveling in an RV. They shouldn’t.

“It’s not romantic,” she says. “It’s not fun to have to dump the toilet water, fill the water tank, check the water in the batteries, and other tasks that aren’t fun,” she says.

“No matter how luxurious your RV is,” she adds, “you will be roughing it.”

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend