Budgeting for that big RV vacation
Road trips get a whole lot easier when the vehicle of choice is basically a home on wheels. For that reason, families and friends traveling together on cross-country trips often opt to rent RVs, which come with convenient benefits both on the road and at campsites. That all sounds pretty good, but it leaves just one more question: How much does renting an RV realistically cost?
RV rental prices
The cost of renting an RV varies depending on the type of RV, how old the RV is and the time of year. Those prices can be all over the board, but here's the general gist:
- Class A RVs, which resemble transit buses and are considered the most luxurious option: $150-$250 per night for vehicles older than 10 years, $350-$450 per night for newer models
- Class B RVs are the smallest option, using cargo van as the base: $100-$200 per night for vehicles older than 10 years, $200-$350 per night for newer models
- Class C RVs are mid-sized and also use cargo vans for the driving portion: $100-$200 per night for vehicles older than 10 years, $225-$400 per night for newer models
- Travel trailers 10 years or older go for between $50 and $125 per night, and newer models go for $125-$200 per night
- Fifth wheels cost from $60-$150 per night for those 10 years or older and $150-$300 per night for newer vehicles
During peak vacation months (usually July and August), rental companies might hike nightly rates. But travelers should remember RVs eliminate rental car and hotel costs, so they do usually make for cheaper vacations.
That base nightly rental price isn't all, unfortunately. Travelers should expect to pay taxes on their rentals, with the rates varying depending on their home state, and potential optional fees for amenities such as outdoor furniture or a fully stocked kitchen.
RV owners or rental companies usually also require renters to buy insurance on the vehicle (which might cost around $30 per day) and put down a refundable damage deposit (which varies, but could cost $1,000 or more).
RV rental companies often limit daily miles and hours of generator use, as well, so if a renter exceeds those limits, they can expect to shell out some extra cash for that. And speaking of miles, gas will also create a significant expense, though those costs vary depending on location. Some RVs can get as little as 9.25 miles per gallon, so fuel refills can really add up by the end of a lengthy trip.
It's relatively cheap to park an RV overnight in a campground, which should usually cost less than $20 per night. An RV park, which typically offers amenities such as electricity included in its daily rate, can cost anywhere from $20-$75 per night.
But remember: While RV parks are inexpensive and convenient, they do tend to book up quickly – sometimes as early as a year in advance for the most popular destinations. If you plan to stay at some RV parks during your road trip, make sure to check their availability and book them ahead of time.
If you're unlucky in nabbing an RV park reservation, many RV travelers wrangle free overnight parking, such as in Walmart parking lots. But those stays don't include the communities and other perks found at campgrounds and RV parks, so they're best interspersed throughout a trip to save money.