Best Small RV Rental Options: Cheap and Value For Money

Looking to rent a small RV but can’t seem to figure small RV rental out? Let us help you!

Below, we want to introduce you to a few RV rental options that you should know about. While we’ll be focused more on small RV rental, you may apply our tips to any other kind of RV.

Let’s get started! 


Best Small RV Rental Options

You have 4 main options for towable and drivable RV rental:

  • Private RV rental.
  • Local dealership rental.
  • Web-based directory rental.
  • National dealership rental

Each of these options has its good and bad sides. And before choosing one, it’s important that you understand what to expect with each.

Private RV rental

In private RV rental, you work directly with an RV owner without any intermediate company or dealership. You may rent RV from a friend or someone else you know in your area. For example, renting through a Craigslist listing would be a private RV rental.

The greatest thing about private RV rental is that both you and the RV owner can be flexible about the terms. You aren’t locked into any agreements or policies, and the terms of the rental are up to you and the owner.

You also have plenty of room for negotiating the price of the RV. Dealerships are often unwilling or may be unable to change their prices. This isn’t always true for private RV owners.

On the other hand, the greatest benefit of private RV rental – your and RV owner’s flexibility – is its greatest downside as well. There are many aspects you will have to agree on, including:

  • How does the RV insurance work? What if you get into an accident? What if something breaks down while on the road? Will you be responsible for the repairs done and parts purchased throughout the journey?
  • How will you document the condition of the RV? This is important because you shouldn’t be held responsible for damage that has already been there prior to the rental.
  • Will the owner cover any breakdown that occurs on the road with no fault of yours?
  • How much mileage is the owner comfortable with?
  • If the RV has a generator, is its use included in the rental price? And if so, how much will you pay once you exceed the generator use included in the fee?
  • Who cleans the RV once you return it?

There are many more questions like these that you should agree on with the RV owner. While most of these won’t have legal force (unless you sign a contract with the owner), you both should agree on how issues should be dealt with to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Experienced RVers should have no issues with negotiating things like the ones listed above. But if you’re a newbie, you are more likely to run into added expenses since you just won’t know what to pay attention to. With that in mind, renting an RV from a private owner probably isn’t the best option if you are inexperienced.

Local dealership rental

The second option is to rent an RV from a local dealer.

You have much less flexibility when it comes to negotiating the rental. However, you also have fewer things to worry about.

Corporate owners have their own rental policies, which means that there is no need for your in-depth involvement. The terms are already there, and the only thing you need to do is to read the fine print so that you know what to do in certain situations.

On the other hand, you have little flexibility, as mentioned above. This applies both to the terms of the rental and the selection of RVs available.

A local dealer will have only so many RVs to choose from. And while the assortment is often wide enough, you may still be unable to find what you are looking for. Conversely, you have many more options to choose from when looking through rental options through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.

With that said, renting from a local dealer is a safer and less involved option. If you don’t want to wrap your head around anything and negotiate the terms of rental, then go with a local dealer. An RV dealership is great if you need an RV right now or if you don’t have the experience to make a good deal with a private owner.

Online directory rental

The third option perhaps is the most convenient one.

Have you ever heard about RVshare or Outdoorsy? If you’ve been researching rental options for some time, then you’ve probably heard about these two platforms and have seen an ad or two.

Well, these are the two most popular RV rental online directories. They aren’t the only ones, but they are a good place for getting started.

The key feature of platforms like these two is that they are peer-to-peer. This means that they allow RV owners to rent their RVs out when they don’t need them. On one hand, RV owners get the opportunity to earn money rather than let their RV sit uselessly, and on the other, people like you get plenty of options for RV rental.

And remarkably, platforms like RVshare or Outdoorsy combine the benefits of private and dealer RV rental without inheriting their downsides!

Allowing private RV owners to list their RVs for rental, these platforms have a huge directory of RVs of all shapes and sizes. No matter whether you need a pet-friendly RV, an RV with 8 sleeping spots, or an RV that has a laundry room, you are very likely to find what you are looking for.

Peer-to-peer rental platforms have also developed rental and insurance policies to cover both owners and renters. Allowing RV owners some flexibility in how they price their RVs and what they offer with their vehicles, peer-to-peer platforms at the same time have a general policy that outlines the general terms for RV rental.

This is a lot like an RV dealership would do, but with a bit more flexibility since these platforms allow RV owners to set their own terms.

Peer-to-peer platforms also have rental options throughout the US. The RV supply comes and goes, of course, but no matter when you look for a small towable or drivable RV, you are likely to find what you are looking for at websites like RVshare or Outdoorsy.

National dealership rental

Finally, you have options like Cruise America or El Monte RV that essentially are nationwide RV dealers. With that in mind, they have the same advantages and disadvantages as any local dealer.

There’s one more thing that makes such dealer networks stand out – you can do one-way rental with them. That is, you can pick an RV up from one Cruise America location and drop it off in another.

You can’t do this with a local dealer unless they have a point at your destination where you may drop the RV off.

How Much Would You Pay To Rent A Small RV?

So you have many options to consider. But how much will it cost for you to rent a small RV, whether drivable or towable?

Well, this will depend on what you define as small, as well as on what you need. But for reference, let’s have a look at what kind of pricing you could expect at a few places.

Cruise America

Cruise America offers only class C motorhomes for rental.

The smallest RV offered by Cruise America, for example, is a Ford-based Thor class C motorhome that is sized at 20 feet in length. This is quite small for a class C motorhome.

As of early November 2019, the rental of this RV cost around $70 per night. However, aside from the base nightly fee, you will have to pay 35 cents per each mile you travel. Cruise America charges for 100 miles for each night ($35), and at the end of the rental, you’ll be refunded the excess mile charges or will be charged more if you’ve exceeded the estimated mileage.

So the base nightly cost of a 20 feet RV with Cruise America would be around $105, if we don’t take into account other fees. 

Keep in mind that the price is subject to change based on the number of available RVs and the season. When there are only a few RVs available (typically at the season peak), the prices are higher.

You could expect the same pricing from a local RV dealership as well.

RVshare & Outdoorsy

On RVshare, the pricing for a class C motorhome under 20 feet is around $140-$150 per night on average. You may find RVs for as low as $100 or as much as $200 as well.

While the pricing on RVshare may seem less favorable, owners very often include 100-200 nightly miles for free and only charge for excess miles. Besides, you may get a few hours of free generator use!

As for other RV types, here’s what kind of pricing you should expect at RVshare and Outdoorsy:

  • Class B motorhomes under 20 feet cost around $150-$200 per night on average. As with class C motorhomes, owners may include some free miles and generator hours.
  • Travel trailers and toy haulers under 20 feet cost $100 per night on average, though you could get as low as $70-$75.
  • Pop-up campers under 20 feet very often cost under $100 per night.

Which Type Of RV To Rent?

You may also be wondering which type of RV you should rent. This is a pretty difficult question since there are plenty of things that need to be considered.

For example:

  • Do you have a car that can tow the desired RV? If no, then you will be limited to motorhomes. Otherwise, you may consider towable RVs as well.
  • If you will be staying at RV campgrounds, what kind of campgrounds will they be? If some campground doesn’t have full RV hookups, then it doesn’t really matter which RV type to go for as long as your RV has all the necessary amenities.

Other campgrounds require self-contained RVs, which are RVs that have cooking, eating, sleeping, and sanitation amenities.

  • Will you be bringing bikes, kayaks, ATVs, or other “toys” with you? If so, then you will have to go for a towable toy hauler. There also are motorhome toy haulers out there, but there are so few models that you are less likely to find one for rental.
  • How good of a driver are you? Motorhomes are arguably easier to operate since they are less bulky, and it’s easier to maneuver them than a towed RV.
  • What’s your budget? Drivable RVs are usually more expensive to rent than towable RVs of the same size, but this depends on what features the RV has.

Once you choose between a towable or drivable RV, you will need to select the exact RV option to go for. Well, here, you will need to take into account your needs and budget. There are so many things that could differ in RVs that it’s difficult to give even general guidelines.

But if you understand what kind of cooking, eating, sleeping, sanitation, or recreation amenities you need, you should be able to pick the right rental option relatively easily.

Big Vs Small RV Rental

Finally, let’s answer the following question – why would you want to rent a small RV?

One obvious answer is that you would choose a small RV because it’s cheaper. Besides, you may not need any of the amenity or comfort benefits offered by larger RVs.

But there’s another thing to consider as well.

Are you a newbie RV driver? If so, then a small RV will be easier to operate. It will be less bulky, it will be less heavy, and it will thus be less taxing on your skills and experience.

Even if you do have the budget, then you shouldn’t jump all in and get the biggest RV you can. We suggest that you start small, see how it works for you, and then go from there.