Did you know that most Americans get 10 days or less of paid time off a year from their employer? That two weeks of vacay is beyond precious for the opportunity to recharge the soul and bond with family members away from the stresses of normal life.
Fly, Rent, Relax
Dannelle Gay shares her tips on finding a rental RV already parked and ready for you at the campground.
I recently had the exciting opportunity to partner with GoRVing and RVshare for a trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana. While I am a Crazy Camping Girl and RVer, I had to consider a few things before packing up the family and hopping behind the wheel to zip from Southern Wisconsin to Sam Houston Jones State Park.
Would we drive from southern Wisconsin or fly? We love a good road trip, especially when we travel with our RV. Driving would take about 16 hours, using up almost 2 days of our vacation to get there and another 2 days getting back. Since we only had 5 days, we decided to fly (about a 5-hour trip). Since our teen soon graduates and moves off to college, we wanted more time in a destination where we could do fun stuff!
We love to park and play in a destination. That means parking our RV in a beautiful location that is only a short drive away from the places we intend to visit. This also lets us bring all of our favorite things, including our dog.
State parks are our favorite for this. With lower camping fees, picturesque locations where we are surrounded by natural beauty, and the fact that many of these parks are established to conserve and protect natural areas and cultural resources, we feel that they are for far more than the budget-conscious camper’s best friend. They just make sense.
That all adds up to us needing to use RVshare.
RVshare is an online marketplace that connects RV owners with individuals looking to rent RVs for their travel adventures. It serves as a platform where RV owners can list their vehicles for rent, while travelers can browse and choose from a wide range of available RVs based on their preferences and needs.
Think AirBnB of the camping world. RVshare offers a diverse selection of RVs, including motorhomes, campervans, travel trailers, and more. The platform allows renters to search for RVs based on location, travel dates, size, amenities, and budget. Each RV listing provides detailed information about the vehicle, including descriptions, photos, amenities, rental rates, and reviews from previous renters. We had our solution! We would rent an RV – but have the owners set it up at our intended campground, then fly in and out of the area to save time.
We found the rental process was typically straightforward. Once a suitable RV is selected, renters can communicate with the owner through RVshare's messaging system to ask questions, discuss rental details, and arrange pick-up or delivery options. RV owners often provide instructions on how to operate the vehicle, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for the renters.
What to look for:
Is it fully stocked: We knew we were going to fly in, rent a car, and then stay in the RV. It would have to be fully stocked from sheets, to towels, to a Keurig style coffee maker. (Hey, momma’s gotta have her morning cup!)
Delivery fee: We weren’t going to be able to pick this up and return it. That meant we would have to pay a bit for the owners to deliver it to the campground, set it up, and then pick it up after we were done, and its well worth it!
Is it Fido Friendly: Many people travel with their pooch now, make sure the RV owner is OK with that. Some charge more, an additional deposit, etc. Never try to sneak your dog in – they will know.
Here is what you need to know:
- Some people list their RVs on more than one site like this. They don’t always pay attention to notifications and answer questions.
We had booked one RV but didn’t finish the process as we needed the owner to add the fee for delivery to the campground. Our transaction was kicked out of the system for not completing the full process after a few weeks. We did get a full refund, but had to start over again.
We reached out to a few other people who had RVs that showed up as available but they had rented them out via that other site and not updated the site we were using.
- Delivery is extra.
This fee covers the convenience of having the RV delivered and set up at your designated campground or destination. The exact cost of the delivery fee can vary depending on factors such as the distance of delivery and any additional services provided by the RV owner.
- You need to connect with the campground.
First of all, you still need to get a campsite when renting an RV. When making your campground reservation, they need to know you are having an RV delivered so they can make note of it in the reservation. You can confirm lot size, make sure you are getting the hookups you need, etc.
- Get the paperwork from the campground.
Funny thing – when we got to the campground, we didn’t get “check in” paperwork from them. They said it went to the RV rental people, who later told us that no – they never got anything from the park. This is important paperwork to have, especially when they lock the state park gate at 9PM and the code for that lock is in that paperwork.
We may or may not have had an interesting first night trying to get back into the park. Walking to our campsite wasn’t going to be an option over an almost half-mile drive, at night, with alligators around. They can run up to 33 miles per hour on land and we can’t. FYI: the local sheriff’s office knew the gate code.
- Make sure you clean up.
Just like an AirBnB, there are things that you agree to do in your contract. Make sure you pay attention to the details and go down the list of expectations. While they didn’t put “leave a review” on the list, I think they should. If you have a great experience, make sure you voice that to help other people make an informed decision down the road.
What we loved
The convenience: we literally pulled up to our campsite and went inside. No set up, no hooking up, no helping my husband back in & out to get the “perfect” spot on the lot. The owners even set up patio chairs for us to enjoy.
If you have ever tried to set up in the middle of a heavy downpour you can more than appreciate this.
The connection with the owner: being able to chat through the app made me feel like we already knew Mike and Tammy. They answered questions, addressed concerns, and then even left us a cute card and welcome gift on the table inside the 2020 Trail Runner Toy Hauler we rented from them.
You are insured: RVshare also offers insurance options to provide peace of mind for both RV owners and renters during the rental period. It is simply a step built into the rental process through the system.
We saved: with 3 less days of driving time we had more time to hike, and play in the neighboring town of Lake Charles Louisiana. While Sam Houston Jones State Park is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Laura that hit in August of 2020, it was still a peaceful respite. We could catch funky street art, hit museums, and check out the amazing food in the area. We even picked up a new skill: roadside crabbing!
In a world where time off is limited and precious, finding ways to save money and maximize relaxation is paramount. We found that flying, renting an RV through RVshare, and embracing the beauty of state park campgrounds and the local community was the perfect fit for us. RVshare provided a convenient platform to connect with RV owners, ensuring a seamless rental experience. From cost savings to convenience and connection, this alternative approach to vacationing offers a refreshing and stress-free way to create lasting memories.