By Mike Gast
For many longtime RVers, renting out your RV – your baby (tell me you didn’t give it a name) – to a novice, probable first-time RVer is a daunting thought. What if their kids pull down the curtains? Maybe they’ll spill something – then what? WHAT IF THEY WRECK IT?!
Times have changed. Renting your RV to someone else no longer has to feel like a risky back-alley drug deal. You may not personally know the person to whom you hand your keys, but there is now an entire peer-to-peer rental industry created just to provide the safeguards you need to comfortably share your RV with others – and make a pretty good profit.
The other new factor is that the explosion of use in peer-to-peer home and apartment rentals driven by Airbnb has taken the mystery out of staying in a stranger’s space. That goes for a house, an apartment and now an RV.
Renting out your RV might not be for everyone
I’d also say right off the bat that renting your own RV to someone else isn’t for everyone. After all, “they” will be cooking in your kitchen and sleeping in your bed. You might not be able to handle that.
But, if you find that you just aren’t using your rig enough and there are a lot of nice summer days where it could be out there making you money, then read on.
I’m quite familiar with Outdoorsy, a rental company founded in 2014 that has become one of the big dogs in this new industry. Founders Jennifer Young and Jeff Cavins took an idea to become the Airbnb of RVing and started talking to campers as they traveled in their 27-foot Airstream. Way before the pandemic year of 2020, they knew they were onto something. Resistance among owners to renting their rigs started to fade as they answered all of their concerns. A burgeoning interest by non-RV owners to get outside by any means possible showed them they had a big market in the making.
They’ve grown the company to include listings in more than 14 countries and they have more RV inventory than the seven largest RV dealers in the world combined. Their customers have driven 250 million miles in rented RVs. It’s a drastic understatement to say the peer-to-peer rental market is growing. It’s on fire.
But what about …?
One by one, Outdoorsy began to solve the problems and answer the questions that were troubling RV owners. They built their own reservation software and fancy website and can now cover every trip with $1 million in liability insurance and free roadside assistance, should something go wrong.
The folks at Outdoorsy say they’ve now got RV owners who are earning up to $50,000 a year just by renting their RV. Imagine what that would do for your cash flow. After all, there is nothing but cost when your RV is sitting idle in your driveway.
Outdoorsy isn’t the only offering. There are other companies around North America such as RVshare and RVezy that do what they do, too. Their services are pretty much the same, so I’d suggest doing your own side-by-side comparisons before listing your rig. You might even want to try them all. Campanda, which operates in 42 countries but not currently in the U.S., said it isn’t unusual for an RV owner to make $2,000 to $4,000 a month with just a few bookings.
Weigh the benefits
Companies like Outdoorsy, RV Share and RVezy tout several benefits to renting out your RV:
- You’re in control: You set your own rates and control your rental schedule.
- You earn money: Those extra funds might pay off your rig or fund your next adventure. The transactions are all handled by the companies and the money magically appears in your account.
- You’ve got company: Outdoorsy has a community of owners who help each other out, and RVshare touts their team of rental experts that will walk you through every step.
- That insurance I mentioned: Every rental is automatically covered with liability insurance and roadside assistance.
- Get your money fast: Money usually hits your bank account within 48 hours of the start of each trip.
- They verify every renter: Driver verification processes are designed to ensure your rig is in good hands.
- There’s Big-Time Marketing: You’ll be a part of a vast network that brings your rig to the attention of a lot of potential renters. RVshare claims their platform reaches millions of renters each year.
Again, renting out your pride and joy isn’t going to be for everyone, but you might just consider it. Right now, a lot of families are struggling with expenses at the same time a lot of other families are looking for a safe way to get outside. Renting your baby might just be the right answer for both.
Mike Gast was the Vice President of Communications for Kampgrounds of America, Inc. for the past 20 years. Now, he’s on to new adventures, helping others tell their stories through his freelance company, ‘Imi Ola Group. You can reach Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.