Travelers are skipping challenging drives with RV delivery


San Diego-based Audrey Patterson takes frequent RV vacations with her family. But she actually only drove an RV once — a short distance near Burbank, California — on her way to Yosemite National Park for her summer vacation in 2021. The area northwest of downtown Los Angeles is a tangled network of highways, difficult to Move around in it regardless of the car.

“I was so exhausted, and I felt bad for everyone—especially my husband,” Patterson says.

Patterson’s husband usually drives. When it was time for the 2022 summer family vacation—a camping trip in Big Sur, California—her husband couldn’t drive because he had arrived a day later.

With a Burbank memory fresh in her mind, along with the fact that she would be single raising her two- and four-year-olds, Patterson was determined not to drive an RV to Big Sur.

“My husband suggested looking up if we could get an RV, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, yeah,'” she says.

One of the latest trends in camping is RV delivery, changing the traditional paradigm as you trade in your vehicle for an RV at a rental facility. RVshare is one of the largest RV delivery operators, a company that operates like Airbnb for RVs. And while not all RVs on display there can be delivered, RVshare said nearly 40% of RV rentals have been delivered so far in 2022, up from 27% in 2021 and 16% in 2020.

With RV delivery, you don’t have to worry about driving, fuel mileage and liability. Instead, you simply arrive at the campground in an RV that is already prepared for you. Patterson hired through a similar service called Outdoorsy, which says 70% of its listings offer delivery.

Other delivery companies own and operate RVs themselves. Most are regional, such as 101 RV Rentals in Southern California, which delivers to campgrounds throughout Santa Barbara, California.

Who are the recreational vehicles delivered to?

RV deliveries can be great for nature lovers, but that’s not the only customers. It is also handy for those who are traveling to a destination where there are no hotels or a place with expensive hotels.

RVshare said the top destination for deliveries in 2021 was The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, a Disney-owned campground just a quick ferry ride from Florida’s Magic Kingdom theme park — and it’s becoming more and more popular. According to RVshare, RV shipments in Fort Wilderness for the first three quarters of 2022 were up 12% compared to the same period in 2021.

The cost for a Fort Wilderness Resort campground, including full RV hookups, is $1,300 for a six-night stay during the first week of March 2023. For a six-person cabin at the resort during the same period, you’ll pay $3,600. .

Sure, the cost of RV rental and delivery eats up the $2,300 difference. But across delivery sites like RVshare and Outdoorsy, there are dozens of menus available that are big enough to sleep six and cost under $1,000 a week, including set-up and delivery. Few are under $500, which makes renting an RV one of the cheapest ways to sleep at Disney World.

Recreational Vehicle Delivery Restrictions

Some campgrounds prohibit handover: Rules vary by camp site and are not consistent across state and national parks. For example, recreational vehicle delivery is prohibited in Yellowstone National Park, but that’s OK at some locations in Yosemite National Park.

You Can’t Stop Overnight Wherever You Want: For many, part of the magic of an RV trip is the ability to stop along the way.

Patterson says she’d prefer deliveries if she’s driving to camp in a single day with minimal layovers. But on a fun ride with so many stops, she might fall behind on her RV’s drive, especially since it gives her kids room to spread out.

Delivery fees can be confusing: Outdoorsy allows owners to set delivery fees, meaning that sometimes a cheaper RV can be more expensive if the connection fees are high. Some companies charge a flat rate for delivery (usually $150-$300), while others charge by distance (usually $4-6 per mile). Even so, most deliveries are limited to a specific region, which varies by owner.

You can’t pack a lot: For rentals near the house, you can pack an RV from your own driveway. Otherwise, you will only be equipped with what you can put in the car that drove you to camp. This especially limits bulky items - such as bicycles and surfboards.

RVs can be one of the most desirable ways to camp, as they offer amenities such as air conditioning, kitchens, power outlets, and Wi-Fi. Many challenges can be mitigated by delivery.

You can save fuel by driving a car — not an RV — to a destination: Cruise America says, on average, that RVs get 6 mpg to 10 mpg. Instead, you drive your car—which gets better gasoline miles—on the road trip and the RV is delivered from closer to your destination.

Insurance coverage is often cheaper: The outdoorsy rental company requires that all renters have an insurance package that covers liability and damages. For stationary deliveries, this insurance is cheaper because you do not pay to cover the costs of the excavator on the road. Sometimes it’s less than a quarter of the cost of comprehensive Outdoorsy coverage to secure an RV you’ll be driving.

No cumbersome setup: RVs can be tricky (especially for first-timers) to hook up, which is essential for access to fresh water, sewage, and electricity.

Since Patterson doesn’t have a place to store her RV if she has one, she rents every time. But every type of RV has its downsides. With a truck, she has to de-interlock and secure the items inside every time she drives her family out of the camp site. Detachable RV trailer provides more freedom.

“But maneuvering the detachable trailers on winding roads is difficult,” she says. “With the RV delivered, almost everything is positive.”


This article was provided to the Associated Press by personal finance site NerdWallet. Sally French is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected].

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