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Why renting an RV could be smarter than buying your own

One of the iconic American vacations is a cross-country road trip to see historic and natural sites and camp along the way. With more than 3.1 million square miles of mountains, prairies, and forests beckoning from sea to shining sea, endless adventure awaits. The open road is calling, but buying an RV is a major commitment. Not to worry, you can have your cake and eat it too. Instead of buying, why not rent?

Everyone likes to own what they use, so it may seem counterintuitive to think that renting may be beneficial. If you’ve been thinking of buying a new camper, consider the reasons why renting may be a better option. 

motorhome at dusk with the lights on inside
Virrage Images/Shutterstock

The costs of ownership

An RV is a luxury expenditure, not a financial asset. If you buy a brand new camper, it will lose about 40% of its value within two years. Used campers, on the other hand, are more associated with repair costs early and often. Either way, an RV purchase comes at a greater cost than the purchase price. Insurance, maintenance, and storage costs increase the expenditure. 

Try before you buy

Often, a first-time camper purchase is an ill-informed one. Most shoppers spend at least a year researching RVs before buying, but many underestimate the size they’ll ultimately want. Or, worse, they may realize that they rarely go camping. The lost value, as noted earlier, will make you upside down in payments if you decide to sell or trade the camper too soon. And infrequent use makes the purchase seem like a worse deal with every monthly payment or repair cost. 

If you rent instead of buying, you can try out different RV brands, styles, sizes, and configurations. Plus, many renters allow both short- and long-term rentals.

Spend less time driving and more time camping

If you own an RV, you will likely store it near home and drive it to your destination. If you rent one, you can fly anywhere to pick one up and go from there. For instance, someone in Scranton, Pennsylvania, could either drive their own camper all the way to Durango, Colorado, or save four or five days of driving and 1,700 miles by flying into Denver and renting one.

motorhome on the road beside a lake
Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock

RV rental ideas for travel

Camping in a motorhome is a safer alternative to staying in hotels or Airbnbs, with the added benefit of fresh air and nature. RVers can eat, sleep, bathe, and cook in one self-contained unit with the freedom to move anywhere. And, as a bonus, RV rentals are open to anyone over the age of 25 with a valid driver’s license. It’s never been easier!

The most common options for RV rentals include fleet rentals and peer-to-peer rental services. Following is a list of some of the best.


Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer rental hub where RV owners rent their personal campers. Those considering buying an RV will benefit from the sheer diversity of choices available here, from small camper vans to large bunkhouses and more. Search the inventory of campers to book instantly and have it delivered to you. Free roadside assistance is included.

Rentals average $75 to $150 per night for small trailers and camper vans. Large trailers and motorhomes go for $100 to $250 per night. Week- and month-long rentals are available at discounted rates, averaging as low as $60 per night.

Cruise America

Cruise America is a fleet rental company offering large, standard, and compact class C and class B RVs as well as truck campers. This is a more standardized experience than a peer-to-peer rental company, with a streamlined selection of models available. It’s an excellent choice for those who want all the benefits of RV camping without the added responsibilities of ownership. Those interested in buying may be interested to know that Cruise America also sells used campers as they are rotated out of rental service. Expect to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 for a week in a standard RV.

Whether you’re yearning to hit the road but don’t want to purchase an RV, or still aren’t sure about making the investment, renting an RV is the happy middle between making a big purchase and staying in a hotel every night. Have fun hitting the road!

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