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Renting an RV: A first-timer's guide

Renting an RV can be a great opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts for a variety of reasons. If you like the idea of going RVing but aren’t ready to commit to buying your own, renting can give you that taste of the RV life. Or perhaps you might already have plans to buy an RV, but want to see if a certain model is right for you. 

Whatever your reason for wanting to rent an RV, the key to a good trip is good planning. The first step: read this article. Congrats, you’re already on your way to enjoying your rental! We’ll go over what you need to do to prepare for renting an RV, what to do while renting it, and what to do when the rental is over.

What to know before you rent an RV

Don’t pack your bags just yet! First, you’ll need to book your RV. 

Choosing the right RV

The first step is to decide what kind of RV you want. While it may appear to be a simple decision, there are actually a few things to consider. 

1. How many people you are traveling with

First, you should consider how many people will be joining you for this trip. If it’s just you and a friend or significant other, a small travel trailer or campervan might do. If you have a big family going on a big road trip, you might want to look into a class A motorhome, a larger class C motorhome, or a fifth wheel trailer.

2. Whether or not you are able to tow a trailer

The second step to deciding what kind of RV you need is the vehicle you already have available to you. 

If you only have a sedan but need to sleep five or more people, you will have to look into a motorhome with its own engine. A sedan will not be able to tow a large trailer.

On the other hand, if you have a midsize SUV and only need room for three or four people, you can probably find a trailer big enough to accommodate your needs within your SUV’s towing capacity. And if you have a half-ton pickup, you can tow just about any trailer you need— just be sure to check your manual for the maximum towing capacity and the RV rental listing for the gross combined vehicle weight (GCVW).

3. Your driving skills

You also have to consider how comfortable you are with your own driving skills. Unless you rent a campervan, you will either be driving equipment larger than you are used to or towing a big trailer behind your vehicle. This can make accelerating, braking, turning, and changing lanes all more complicated than you are used to, so make sure you’re ready.

Booking the rental

Once you’ve found the right RV for you, it's up to you to book the rental and arrange the pickup. With peer-to-peer platforms like Outdoorsy, you can arrange to meet the owner to pick up the vehicle, or you can have it delivered to you at your preferred campsite. To do so, you will need to be 25 or older and verify your driver’s license with Outdoorsy.

Getting renter’s insurance

While you certainly hope it never happens, accidents do occur on the road— which makes renter’s insurance a must if you’re renting through a peer-to-peer platform. Renter’s insurance is NOT the same policy that owners use. In fact, many insurers will void an owner’s policy if the vehicle is being used for a rental.


Are you an RV owner looking to make money off of your rig when you’re not exploring? Learn more about Roamly— insurance coverage for owners who want to rent out their RV.

When you rent with Outdoorsy, renters’ insurance is embedded in the rental process with no additional premiums or monthly fees for owners. Outdoorsy’s protection is fully integrated and requires no additional effort outside of basic vehicle information from the owner and a renter background check for each rental. Outdoorsy’s coverage extends to all states (except New York), as well as vehicles traveling into Canada. 

Outdoorsy also offers a few tiers of insurance with different prices and protections. The most basic package offers state minimum liability protection, comprehensive and collision coverage, and windshield coverage. The middle tier adds concierge services, mobile mechanic service, and RV technical assistance, and the highest tier offers even higher liability coverage and accident interruption services to refund you for the trip (including rental fees and campsite fees you’d already paid) in the event of an accident putting a halt to your trip. 

You can also purchase trip insurance beforehand so that if you are unable to go on your trip for some unforeseen reason, you can be refunded for your trip expenses and even covered for transportation to the nearest hospital or medical expenses due to injury.

If you have a rambunctious or clumsy group with you, you might also want to consider interior damage protection so if any of the furniture or appliances break under your watch, you don’t have to foot the bill.


Traveling somewhere with sub-freezing temperatures? Make sure to properly insulate your RV pipes to prevent freezing and flooding. 

During your RV rental

You should treat your RV rental with the same courtesy and caution you would any other type of rental. 

Keep the following in mind:

  1. Always follow all speed limits and driving laws in whatever state you’re in; ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. 

  2. As a general rule, passengers must be buckled up in a moving motorhome, and trailers must remain unoccupied while the car is towing it.

  3. You also have to follow the rules posted by the owner renting you the RV. It doesn’t matter how well-behaved Fido is, if the owner says no pets then do not take your pets with you, and no smoking means no smoking whatever state you’re in. 

Take good care of the RV. The owners have had some great memories in that machine and wanted to share that with you and your family— so don’t let anybody break the furniture, start a fire where it shouldn't be, or put gasoline in a diesel engine.


Your RV awning allows you to bring the comforts of your RV to the outside world! Keep your awning clean and ready for the next sunny day with these tips.

Understanding your hookups

Understanding and operating your hookups— electricity, water, and sewage—  is one of the most daunting parts of RVing. If you aren’t sure how to operate anything, be sure to get a lesson from the owner before you set out. 

If you’re staying at a campsite or RV park, check what the hookups are, as different places offer different amenities. Some might offer water and electrical hookups only, but others may have a sewage hookup to dispose of your waste right at the site when needed. Keep in mind which of these your site offers so you can plan your water and electricity usage accordingly. 

Once you’ve got the ground rules and basics down, it’s time for you and your family to have fun and start making memories.

After your rental

All good things must come to an end, and eventually you must return your RV rental. Keep in mind that extending your rental is at the discretion of the RV owner and subject to the RV’s availability. Similarly, if you wish to cut your trip short, the RV owner sets the policy for refunds. 

However, most of the time, the return is an easy process— you’ll simply return a clean and undamaged RV back to the owner and be on your way. Though you no longer have the RV with you, the memories you made will last a lifetime!

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Roamly Insurance Group, LLC ("Roamly") is a licensed general agent for affiliated and non-affiliated insurance companies. Roamly is licensed as an agency in all states in which products are offered. Availability and qualification for coverage, terms, rates, and discounts may vary by jurisdiction. We do not in any way imply that the materials on the site or products are available in jurisdictions in which we are not licensed to do business or that we are soliciting business in any such jurisdiction. Coverage under your insurance policy is subject to the terms and conditions of that policy and is ultimately the decision of the buyer.

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