When we told people that we planned on renting out our RV on Outdoorsy, people had STRONG opinions.
- “Aren’t you worried about people driving your motorhome?”
- “You’re letting strangers stay in your house?”
- “Why would you even consider renting your RV? It’s such a big risk!”
To which I want to respond in one simple way: You spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance in your lifetime so that when bad stuff happens, you don’t have to worry. Why on earth are you wasting your time worrying now, before anything bad has happened at all?
Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.
-William Ralph Inge
That’s just good advice for life.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about this realistically.
There are only a handful of times out of the year when I’m not living in my RV:
- And Spring Break when Heath’s family all goes skiing in Colorado together.
Accordingly, these are also peak times that everyone is traveling and a great time to rent your RV. As a full-timer (or any RV owner really) I have a choice: pay to park my unattended rig at an RV park or storage unit during the holidays OR make money by renting it out for those few days.
Since Heath and I run a blog about all the different ways you can make a living while traveling full-time, we had to try out renting the RV at least once to see if it was worthwhile as a source of extra income. Plus, when people are unsure about jumping into the RV lifestyle, we recommend they rent an RV using a peer-to-peer RV rental service to get a real taste of the experience before committing. And recommending a service we’ve never used just doesn’t seem right.
Peer-to-Peer RV Rentals
Earlier this summer, Heath and I met the two main peer-to-peer RV rental companies, Outdoorsy and RVShare. We met RVShare online and over the phone since they are housed out of Ohio. But when we passed by San Francisco on our way to the beaches of Santa Cruz, we detoured (in the car) to downtown San Fran to meet with Outdoorsy.
Right now, I’m biased toward preferring Outdoorsy for a few reasons.
- I met them and they know me, so I trust them to take care of me.
- As of today, we’ve already rented out our RV on Outdoorsy successfully.
- They have an insurance policy that covers your rig for up to a million dollars.
(Since I’ve never rented through RV Share, I don’t have an opinion of them. But I do know some awesome people who work there!)
In case you’ve never used a peer-to-peer service like Airbnb or Turo, let me explain how the process works.
The Rental Process
As a renter, you first input the city where you live (or a nearby city you’d be willing to pick up from) and what dates you’re looking to rent on the website. When I typed in Austin, Texas and some random dates in January just now, Outdoorsy pulled up my RV as the first option, along with a bunch of other people’s rigs.
After you click on one of the rigs, you can look at pictures, see specs, and learn more about who you are renting from. On the side of the page it gives you quotes for costs and a big “Request booking” button.
If you book our rig, for example, Outdoorsy will email Heath and let us know. Then we can approve your booking if the dates work for us and set a pick-up time with you. We have 24 hours to approve your booking, which gives us plenty of time to discuss if the rental is worth our time and if the dates will work.
To qualify to actually rent the RV, you’ll have to go through a background check to ensure you have no outstanding traffic violations or DUIs. Outdoorsy will send you an email to show you how to do that.
After you pick up the rental, Outdoorsy automatically pays out to the RV owner. It’s incredibly simple and easy to use and like I said earlier, with Outdoorsy, the renter will pay for insurance that covers up to a million dollars.
Upon pick up, we’ll teach you how everything on the rig works and provide notes, just in case. We’ll record mileage and generator hours too. On return, you are required to clean the RV, make sure the tank is full, and pay for any mileage that exceeds the 100/day limit.
Voila! You’ve just had an awesome RV vacation and you got to do it all in someone’s real RV, which is like nicer/bigger/better than any corporate RV rentals.
Note: If you’re going to rent an RV, I highly recommend using on of these two services. Please don’t use Cruise America. They suck. They nickel and dime you for everything and their rigs are so incredibly ugly. Plus, when you rent someone’s personal RV, everyone on the road doesn’t know you’re a tourist.
Our Experience with Our First Outdoorsy Rental
Within 12 hours of adding our RV to Outdoorsy, we already had a booking request. Which was crazy surprising and totally awesome. Since we set up our account a month ago, we’ve reserved two bookings: one over Christmas, and one this past week over Thanksgiving.
For privacy, let’s say the guy who rented our RV is named Luke. Luke booked our RV for November 23-27th (four nights) for himself and his small family. They planned to drive our rig from Austin to the local Renaissance fair. Heath called him up a few days before the reservation to tell Luke to meet us in the Cabela’s parking lot. (Since we weren’t sure what Luke’s RV driving experience would be, we wanted to meet somewhere that allowed him to test drive the rig easily).
Before we met with Luke, we cleared the RV out of all of our personal belongings. We left behind dishes, basic cooking supplies, our books, towels, pillows & blankets, and everything in our understorage that we didn’t want to unpack. Mostly we wanted to leave behind all the basics that you would find in a hotel and anything they would need to cook in the RV.
However, when we moved back into the RV a couple days ago, I realized I did forget one thing in the drawers… a bikini. Sigh. It could’ve been worse.
Luke met us at 11:30 that Wednesday morning–he actually showed up thirty minutes early, so I didn’t have the fresh sheets on the bed yet!–and we walked him through the RV. We showed him how to set up the rig for boondocking, how to start the generator, level the RV, pop out the slides, etc.
Then Luke drove away and we drove up to Denton to spend Thanksgiving with my family.
Honestly, I only thought about another family living in our RV once during the next few days when I realized I had keys to the RV on my keychain and momentarily freaked out that they would be keyless.
Picking Up the RV
We met Luke and his family at their home to pick up our RV. Our Winnebago was taking over their cul-de-sac while they unpacked their belongings. They were sweeping the floors and wiping the counters when we walked up. Everything seemed to be in order, nothing broken, nothing missing.
I walked through and opened all the drawers and cabinets in the bedroom to make sure they didn’t forget anything (that’s when I found my swimsuit just chilling in my drawer). I missed checking the kitchen cabinet, so we drove away with their three sippy cups and a bowl of candy. Thanks for the Starburst, Luke.
All-in-all, the RV looked exactly the same if not better than when they picked it up. It certainly smelled cleaner, if nothing else. After driving the RV and setting it up at our RV park, everything is still running properly and looks no worse for the wear.
Are we going to rent out our RV all the time? No way. This is our house and we missed that king-sized bed while we were staying in my parent’s house.
Will we rent the RV out again? Heck yeah! Outdoorsy paid us $680 for four nights. That’s a killing considering we would be paying to keep our RV at an RV park in Austin during those nights anyway.
I only see two cons to renting out our RV:
- Adding miles to the engine (which through Outdoorsy, you can set daily limits and charge extra per mile to cover this)
- The chance that something bad could happen–but let’s be real, there’s a better chance of a wreck if I’m driving the RV than a renter. Plus, we can vet all the renters before agreeing to the let them rent the RV. So if a bunch of college guys ask to rent our rig, we can kindly say no and only choose people who seem trustworthy.
In a couple weeks, a new couple is picking up our RV to travel during the Christmas holidays. While I’m a little more anxious since they will have our RV for over a week, I’m mostly just thinking that we will get extra time with family and make enough money to cover Christmas presents this year.
So, what do you think? Would you ever rent out your RV?
This post originally published on heathandalyssa.com on December 1, 2016.