RV Reservation Tips
There’s more to RV rental than there is to renting a car. Here are some tips to help you have a great experience and avoid disappointment when renting an RV.
Book early to get your first choice of vehicle
In peak times of year, there simply aren’t enough RVs to go around. Anyone who rents RVs regularly (such as many Dutch, German and English tourists visiting the US) will know how important it is to book six months or more in advance.
If you are looking to travel in shoulder seasons (May – early June, August – early October) and especially peak season (June – July), your chances of securing your first choice vehicle, dates and locations are greatly diminished the closer you get to your travel dates. Even if you are booking for peak season 4- 6 months prior to your travel dates there is a chance your first choice may not be available. You have very little chance of getting your first choice if you are booking an RV within 4 – 6 weeks of your travel date for peak season. So plan ahead, book early, and get the pick of the fleet.
Book early to get the best specials
Many of the larger RV rental companies in the USA have very generous “Early Bird Specials”. These reward people who book (and in some cases pay) early. Specials can include a 10 – 20% off the normal base rental costs, and this is often combined with one or more additional elements of the rental at greatly discounted rates. These other elements can include free additional miles, half price unlimited miles upgrades, no one way fees, free convenience kits, or other standard fees reduced or removed. To qualify, bookings for the coming Summer season must be received by either the end of December or January preceding. Some early bird specials may continue into February but they will be of a lesser value than the offers that are in place for bookings received by December or January. You will not find better value for a spring/summer rental than what you will get if you place your reservation in December–February.
Many RV rental companies increase the standard pricing on their vehicles as vehicle availability for shoulder and peak seasons decreases. Make no mistake, the best RV rental companies will rent a very high percentage of their fleet across peak and shoulder seasons, so their prices are far more likely to increase than decrease as these seasons get closer.
Book your RV before your flights
Do not book your flights first, especially if you are travelling inside of 2 months. There are far less RVs available in the USA than there are seats on planes coming into and out of the country! By all means investigate flights before booking your RV, but make sure you have secured an RV before confirming your flights. You may find that your first choice RV rental is not available but your agent has come back to you with alternative suggestions that may have variation in the pick up or drop off dates or even locations. If you have booked your flights first you may now find it hard or expensive to change these to enable you to take the alternative RV rental suggested. Many people make this mistake and end up having flights booked but never secure an RV.
Further to above, do not wait for cheap last minute deals on flights before booking an RV. Your chances of securing an RV that fits between your return flight dates and locations is greatly diminished the closer you get to your RV travel dates. And what money you save on a cheaper last minute flight will be more than swallowed up by a more expensive rental price on the RV which typically increases as your travel dates get closer to booking dates.
Understand the terms and conditions
Read terms and conditions especially payment and cancellation fee clauses before placing your reservation. Because RVs are specialty vehicles all motorhome rental companies need at least a percentage of your rental paid in advance. Many will expect full payment 35 days prior to travel dates. All RV rental companies impose cancellation fees if a booking is subsequently cancelled. These increase dramatically as the numbers of days prior to the start date of your rental decrease. If you cancel within 7 days or “no show” you can expect to be charged for the full cost of your rental and most companies will still expect around 25 – 30% of the cost of the rental if you are cancelling inside of 30 days prior to your pick up date. If you do need to cancel your booking, let your booking agent know of your cancellation in writing as soon as you do. They may be able to negotiate better terms with the rental company on your behalf if there is a good reason for the cancellation and the notification period of your cancellation gives the RV rental company a chance of renting your unit to another customer.
Don’t treat an RV reservation like a car reservation
Do not make multiple reservations on different websites in an attempt to increase your chances of securing a vehicle. Doing this could result in you being chased for cancellation fees on more than one vehicle! RV rental companies do not work like car rental companies where they overbook fleet to counteract the percentage of customers who “no show”. A good online agent with relationships with multiple RV rental companies should be able to search and find a vehicle for you, so sit tight and let them use their relationships to do the searching for you.
Be flexible in your plans, especially if you are wanting a one way rental
If you are booking a one way RV rental between two different locations, all of the above points become far more poignant. The number of vehicles assigned to one way rentals are more limited than the numbers of vehicles that a rental company will be happy to rent back to the same location. Rental companies need to be very careful that large components of their fleet don’t end up in one or two locations due to too many one way rentals in the same direction. So book early and do not book flights first if you are looking to rent one way. With cross country one way rentals (e.g. New York to Los Angeles, Boston to Las Vegas, Denver to San Francisco) you are more likely to secure a vehicle and get a better price if you travel from West to East, particularly if your rental is mid or late Summer. More people want to one way from East to West so essentially by renting in the reverse direction you are helping the RV rental company redistribute their fleet. Talk to your rental agent to see if they know of any “relocation specials” coming up.
Book with an agent like iMall Motorhomes Ltd who operate www.rvrentalsalefinder.com. Their buying relationships with the RV suppliers can mean that their pricing is better than what you would get direct. A good booking agent can offer other knowledge and services relating to RV rental and should also be able to find alternative vehicles for you should your first choice not be available.