We Rented Out Our RV on Outdoorsy…Are we crazy?
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We Rented Out Our RV on Outdoorsy…Are we crazy?

Renting our RV to strangers for the first time was scary, but we instantly saw how we could turn this into a business asset. Here's our review of renting through Outdoorsy.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:

  • Easter
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • 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.

  1. I met them and they know me, so I trust them to take care of me.
  2. As of today, we’ve already rented out our RV on Outdoorsy successfully.
  3. 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.

rented-our-rv-on-outdoorsy

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.

rv-rental-outdoorsy

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.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-4-13-52-pm

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 one 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 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.

Conclusion

Are we going to rent out our RV all the time? No way. This is our house and we missed it 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: 

  1. Adding miles to the engine (which through Outdoorsy, you can set daily limits and charge extra per mile to cover this)
  2. 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?

Learn more about how you can rent your RV on Outdoorsy here.

Follow Alyssa Padgett:

Travel blogger

Second half of Team Padgett and full-time traveler in our Winnebago Brave. I blog about our travels, how I run our production company from the road, and the ridiculous things Heath does on a daily basis. My husband thinks I'm funny.

  • This is cool! I’m going to talk about this with my wife. Can you do it if you have a loan on the RV?

    • Hey Josh!

      I believe you can do it if you have a loan on the RV. This isn’t really an issue and doesn’t come up in the process of renting it out. Legally speaking though, I wouldn’t speak too definitely on this just because it’s not my area of expertise. 🙂

      • Haha Heath I think you mean yes you can, especially considering the fact that we have a loan on our RV.

      • Thanks Heath. That makes sense. Thanks again for sharing this. You may have just given us an idea for another income stream we weren’t even considering. 🙂

  • Super cool! And thanks for sharing all the gritty details. We’ll be home for a few months next summer, so it’s something we might consider 🙂 You guys rule. Thanks for all you do and post!

  • GoRVRentals

    Another option is to have a dealer manage the RV rental like management companies do for vacation rental properties. This way you don’t have to interface directly with the renter or mess with the paperwork. Sites like http://www.GoRVRentals.com host dealer RV rental fleets. Those who want to rent their RV without many of the headaches of peer-to-peer should consider this option. The dealer may also store the RV for free. Just sayin’.

  • We used to live in Austin. I figured I could make a killing just buying some small, used RV’s and renting them out during all the events. SXSW, Formula 1, ACL, etc. We full-time in a 32′ motorhome, and have “agreed upon” value on our insurance. If we ever left, I’d do this in a hot minute.

    • Oh yeah, events in Austin are great time to rent out the rig! Plus it’s so much easier too, since you wouldn’t have to worry about people driving the rigs around. Just park em and let them stay like an Airbnb.

      • I managed rental apartments for several years. If you’ve got a good deposit, do some background checking, and have solid insurance — it’s not a big deal if they do damage. And often, once you’re made whole, the unit is in better condition. New carpet, brand new appliance, replaced fixtures.

  • Cheri

    After having unsuccesfully trying to sell it, We have been recently toying with this idea since we own 40 Ft Motorhome that sits most of the time dipping deeply into our retirement savings. We live in New Braunfels and don’t think we would have much trouble renting it since Austin, San Antonio area us so popular! Just the normal apprehensions of what ifs? A little scary, but if it worked we could afford to keep it and make a little $ on the side-a win- win thanks for your blog!

    • For your instance, I think renting is a great idea! Plus you can post it on multiple RV sharing sites, like RVshare, and make even more money. Our goal with renting ours was to help cover the interest and depreciation on the rig. So far, so good! 🙂 Good luck renting yours!

      • Cheri

        Thanks! And we like the idea of setting it up for people so they’re not driving it. It’s huge!

        • Ah, if you don’t want people to drive it, you’ll need to put it on Airbnb! It’s implied if you’re renting an RV through any of these services that they will be driving it.

  • Cheri

    Which RV rental companies have you heard have good reputation for dealing with. Being able to store the RV on their property would be a plus. We would like to go in person to speak with some of them if they are anywhere near our area (New Braunfels, TX – 1/2 way between Austin and San Antonio). Or speak to a live person to answer our questions?? Thanks!

    • If you’re wanting someone to rent your RV to live in full-time on their property, that is a completely different thing. To do it that way, I’d lease your RV just like you would a house. I don’t think you’d have much luck with that. Especially with a motorhome, they are meant to be moved. We go through Outdoorsy with ours, SF based, and the other company we like is RV Share, based in Ohio. If you google either of them, I’m sure you can find a customer service number if you have questions.

  • Cheri

    Yeah OK thanks for that information! No we would not want to rent it out for somebody to live in – I think it would fall apart in no time. I’m just wondering if you knew of any that are close around here. I think there’s one in Seguin where you can stored it on their lot but I don’t know the rest.

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  • Christian Knapp

    Hello Alyssa. Thanks for the great post. Seems like a good way to make some extra money. Just out of curiosity, how many days did you end up renting your RV over the past year? I am looking at starting a RV rental business in Chicago, using the RV part time and renting it the rest. Thanks

    • Maybe about three weeks? We full-time so we rented it out only during the holidays. I’d say 25 days max is how long we rented it and we’ve already rented it for a week now in 2017.

  • MP

    Any suggestions for renting out a travel trailer? We are considering renting it out.

  • Sara Mellander

    Do you know Outdoorsy’s commission? I see the RVshare is 25% if you own 1 RV, but I cant find Outdoorsy’s.

    • Looking at our past reservations their cut is around 15-18%. It’s a little different on all our past rentals.

      • Sara Mellander

        Thanks! 🙂

  • Cydney

    Where is the best place to get insurance if we want to rent out our camping trailer?

    • Ask whoever your current insurance provider is! Before we used outdoorsy, we tried renting privately to a friend. He used his either car or homeowner’s insurance to take out a temporary policy. Cost him $10/day. I think he used All State.

  • Scott Semone

    Alyssa – Great story, I also recently starting using OUTDOORSY; eight (8) renters so far and everything was great until it wasn’t…. I recently had my No. 7 renter back over a “mail-box”, and I guess continued to drive over it causing cosmetic and undercarriage damage; and to top it off, brought back our RV dirty and left all of their uneaten food in the refrigerator for my family to clean up…. (I think they are confusing OUTDOORSY with AVIS and or HERTZ rental cars…) Long story short, they weren’t very forthcoming about the accident, and being towed out of a ditch and God only knows what else; I found what looks like damage on our roof-top and awning, from what I’m guessing as a result of driving under low hanging trees and such, which OUTDOORSY is claiming as “Normal Wear & Tear”. My biggest complaint with OUTDOORSY in times like this; it is impossible to speak to a person over the phone, even though I requested several times via back-&-forth email exchanges.

    On a positive note; all of my other seven renters up to this point have been excellent, RV comes back clean and in working order, positive feedback on both accounts (5 STARS) – all is good… I estimate that we have made between $12k – $11k over the past four months or so; we have probably put $3,500 back into our RV for six new tires, Mercedes-Benz A-Service and B-Service work. So figure we are about $8k in the black for something that would have been sitting.

    Back to the CON of using OUTDOORSY; a call back number would be most helpful when dealing with an accident claim.

    • Oh man that is crazy! And annoying. Bringing it back dirty would ruin the experience for me. But it sounds like you’ve made a good bit of income!

      Have you complained in their Owner’s Facebook group for Outdoorsy? Might be a good chance to grab someone’s attention if you need it!

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