Renting an RV to road trip through California will be an unforgettable journey. Maybe you’re cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway headed for the jagged cliffs of Big Sur. Or maybe you’re making your way towards the towering sequoia trees of Yosemite National Park. Wherever your journey takes you, you’ll be glad that you’re exploring California from the comforts of a home on wheels.
But how exactly do you rent a campervan in California, and what are some of your best options for RV rentals in California?
Renting an RV in California is fairly easy, you just have to know where to start! Once you have the logistics figured out, you’ll be on the open road in no time.
First, Get a Driver’s License
One of the first questions that might pop into your head before renting a campervan or RV is, “Am I actually allowed to drive this thing?”
The short answer is yes. As long as you have a valid United States driver’s license, you don’t need any sort of special license to rent an RV in California.
The only condition where you’ll need a special license to rent an RV in California is if the vehicle is over 26,000 pounds. Thankfully, the majority of Class B and C RVs and campervans are way under that limit, clocking in around an average of 8,000 to 12,000 pounds. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what size RV to rent, we’ll get into that a little later.
If you’re planning to rent an RV over 26,000 pounds, you’ll need a special commercial driver’s license that allows you to operate large and heavy vehicles. Specifically in California, this means obtaining a Class B Non-Commerical License.
Then Find an RV That Suits Your Needs
While you’re probably familiar with booking flights and hotels online, knowing where to rent an RV might leave you scratching your head. Thankfully, there are services that make renting an RV a piece of cake.
With thousands of rentals available throughout the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, Outdoorsy has become the most comprehensive website for finding an RV or Caravan. Owners list their vehicle directly on the site, therefore unlocking the world of motorized recreation for travelers around the world.
A Fold-Down campervan is a great option for those starting out!
Besides having one of the largest collections of cool and cozy campervans, Outdoorsy also lists every type of motorhome you can imagine, including fifth wheelers, Class A, B and C RVs, and even toy haulers. From glitzy marble-counter topped Winnebagos to simple, efficient travel trailers, Outdoorsy has a rental for every type of traveler and budget.
Think of Outdoorsy as the Airbnb of Campervans, where renters connect directly with the owners to book the best possible vehicle for their journey. Outdoorsy has everything you need to rent an RV in California.
Before we dive any further into road tripping in one an RV rental, let’s first discuss the differences between vehicle types. When it comes to motorhomes, there a quite a few terms floating around.
An RV (otherwise known as a recreational vehicle) is a broad term widely used to describe any type of motor vehicle that comes equipped with home amenities. Depending on your budget, the amenities can range anywhere from a small living space with a peep-hole window to a luxurious apartment on wheels with all the bells and whistles.
To take things one step further, RVs can be broken down into several categories.
Motorhomes come in a variety of shapes and sizes but are often built on top of a truck or bus chassis. They are completely self-contained vehicles with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and sometimes even a dining and living room. The largest motorhomes are classified as Class A, while the smaller, efficient motorhomes are called Class C.
A motorhome definitely gives you more luxury compared to a campervan
On the other hand, Campervans tend to be smaller and more compact. There is usually a bed, a small cooking area and maybe a bathroom—think classic 1960s Volkswagen (yes, the brightly colored ones with pop-up tops), and you’ll get the jist of the campervan shape.
Compared to motorhomes, campervans have all the necessary basics, fit into smaller parking spots and are easier to drive.
Maybe you’re not the world’s best parallel parker, or maybe you’re just looking for something that’s easier to maneuver on the highway. If that’s the case, then a campervan is more for you.
Consider the Cost of RV Rentals in California
Not only is renting a campervan more fun than spending all day sitting in a hotel, but it can also be more cost efficient. The cost of an RV rental in California will vary drastically depending on the following factors.
What Amenities Do You Need?
The biggest cost associated with renting an RV in California will depend on how big and pimped out you want your ride to be. As a rule of thumb, a newer, larger, more extravagant vehicle will obviously cost a lot more cash than a campervan with basic necessities.
While it may seem like an awesome idea to cruise up and down the Californian coast with a high-tech entertainment system, washer and dryer, and luxury bedding, it might not make the most sense economically. After all, your campervan is simply an outlet for exploring the wilderness and outdoors.
How Big of an RV or Campervan Do You Really Need?
Not only does the size of your vehicle affect the rental cost, but it also impacts the level of comfort. Cramming five or six surfing buddies into an Airstream Trailer might not make for a very enjoyable or pleasant ride. On the other hand, a couple looking to explore the national parks will probably not need a fully equipped motorhome with multiple bathrooms.
If you’re traveling with a group of friends, then keep in mind that you’ll likely all be sharing the same space for a long period of time. If you don’t want to be breathing down each other’s necks or bumping shoulders the entire ride, then think about renting an RV with separate bedrooms or dividers between beds.
Although you’ll be forking over more cash for a larger vehicle, you’ll also have more bodies to split the bill with.
When Are You Going?
Just like flights or hotels, the cost of renting an RV in California will fluctuate depending on the demand.
Summer is one of the busiest (and most expensive) times to rent a Campervan. The sun is shining, the kids are off school, and the demand is high for booking outdoor vacations. Try and book your rental as far in advance as you can in order to snag the type of camper you want without shelling out too much cash.
Some rentals also offer discounts if you plan on booking a vehicle for an extended period of time. For example, you might save 10 percent off the nightly fee when booking for a week, or 20 percent off the nightly rate when booking for a month.
How Much Gas (and Food!) Are You Going to Consume?
Although the Caravan’s daily rental rate might be affordable, don’t forget to take into consideration any extra charges.
Due to the sheer size and weight of most RVs, it should come as no surprise that they tend to guzzle more gas than your average car. Don’t forget that most owners will want their RV returned with a full tank of gas, as well.
The number of miles you rack up on the odometer might also incur an extra charge. While there is usually a set number of miles included per day, read the fine print to see if there is an extra fee (anywhere from $0.25-$0.75 per mile) for going over the allotted amount.
Besides the rental price, you will also probably have to add taxes, pay a cleaning fee and put down a security deposit.
Now that we’ve gone over the logistics of how to rent an RV, let’s dive into the coolest, most exciting rentals you can find in California. You can also use the form below to search for RVs and campervans in California.
With endless hours of warm sunshine, white sandy beaches, and clear turquoise waters, there’s no place quite like Los Angeles. Although tourists flock to the City of Angels for amusement parks and celebrities sightings, renting an RV and escaping the bustling city will allow you to explore California’s vast, sprawling landscape.
Here are some of the best campervan rentals in Los Angeles.
You can’t get any more Californian than a classic 1977 Volkswagen Westfalia . Perfect for your drive to Huntington or Venice Beach, this vintage caravan will bring out your true surfer spirit.
Painted a bright, candy yellow and decked out with a kitchen sink, fridge and stovetop, you’ll be able to spend your entire vacation listening to the crashing waves of the ocean right from your Los Angeles campervan rental.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 4 people Transmission: Manual Kitchen stovetop, sink, and refrigerator included 100 miles included per day, $1.00 per mile of additional mileage
For all the top amenities built right into a compact campervan, rent a 2018 Dodge ProMaster . You’ll have no problem falling asleep on your memory foam queen-size bed or cooking a gourmet meal with a built-in stove and oven.
In true Californian fashion, the ProMaster comes with solar panels, so you can help save the planet while venturing through Los Angeles in your campervan rental.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people Pet-friendly Solar panels Full kitchen, toilet, dining table, bedding, cookware and tableware 125 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage
Drive through Beverly Hills in luxury with a top of the line Mercedes Winnebago . You and your friends will feel like celebrities as you make your way through Los Angeles in your extravagant Californian RV rental.
There’s no need to stay in an opulent hotel when your RV comes with a full bathroom (and shower), kitchen and bedroom.
Sleeps 6 people Unlimited generator use Included RV training Front door delivery in LA County Full kitchen, full bathroom, towels and linens, bedroom, sleeper couch, Wifi 100 miles included per day, $0.45 per mile of additional mileage
The 1987 Solar Dodge provides all the comforts of home without breaking the bank. Perfect for camping on the edge of the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, this campervan has all the necessities for a weekend in the outdoors.
Don’t worry about hunting for restaurants in the evening because you’ll have a fully stocked kitchen with all the cookware and cutlery needed for a warm meal. The RV also comes with an Igloo ice cooler, so you can have your ice, cold beers at your side at all times.
Type: Class B Sleeps 4 people Smart TV with Netlifx and Hulu Ambient lighting Nespresso Machine Full kitchen, toilet, cookware and tableware, folding sofa bed, lofted bunk bed 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage
Why go to Coachella and camp in the middle of a thousand sweaty, music lovers when you can relax in the privacy of your own campervan? Trade in your sleeping bag for a comfortable mattress, couch and electricity to help you can unwind after a long day at the festival.
You’ll be off the ground and away from the natural elements, so you can feel well rested and refreshed all weekend.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people Kitchen stovetop, refrigerator, air conditioning, radio, linens Black-out window shades Stereo/CD/Aux input 100 miles included per day, $0.25 per mile of additional mileage
This vintage Volkswagen Westfalia is possibly one of the coolest campervans for exploring Los Angeles. It comfortably sleeps four and comes with built-in kitchen, cooking utensils, and camping equipment.
In true Californian fashion, the Westfalia comes with solar panels, so you can help save the planet while venturing through Los Angeles in your campervan rental.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 4 people Pet-friendly No smoking, no festivals Pillows, sleeping bags, linens are extra 120 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage
With some of the most iconic landmarks in the whole state, San Francisco should be at the top of your California road trip list. By renting an RV in San Francisco, you’ll have the opportunity to explore everything the City by the Bay has to offer. Whether you’re driving across the Golden Gate Bridge or racing the cable cars to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco will undoubtedly be a memorable stop on your itinerary.
Skip the overpriced city center hotels and spend your vacation relaxing in one of the following campervan rentals in San Francisco.
While it may seem like an average four-wheel-drive SUV from the outside, the inside of this stealth Honda Element has been tastefully renovated to be a full-blown camper.
You get all the perks of a car (better fuel efficiency, AWD) with the added benefits of an RV (mattress, stovetop). To top it off, you’ll have a much easier time navigating the steep hills of San Francisco with the SUV frame.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Stove, full-size bed, moonroof Yeti cooler Rack roof storage
You don’t need to venture far out of San Francisco in order to enjoy the California wilderness. Take this converted Ford Econoline a few minutes out of the city center to Candlestick RV Park or San Francisco RV Resort and soak in the San Francisco skyline without being overrun by tourists.
The privacy screens and queen size memory foam mattress guarantee that you’ll get a full night’s sleep—one of the best things about an RV rental in California.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people 150 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Stove, sink and refrigerator, generator, cookware Fold out table in the back Roof Rack with storage 5 gallons of clean drinking water
Channel your bohemian spirit by buzzing through the city in “Cream Puff,” a retrofitted 1979 Volkswagen Westfalia . The entire kitchen is stocked with all the cookware, cutlery and equipment needed to keep you well fed throughout your trip.
The pop-up top and rear fold down bench also sleep up to four people, so grab a couple of friends and chill out to some groovy tunes as you boogie through San Francisco.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 4 people 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Kitchen stovetop, sink, propane heater, cookware, and linens Board games and books 8-foot awning
Don’t just rent any RV in California! This Ford Transit Connect XLT may look compact, but it has been completely customized to convert between a living room, kitchen and sleeping space.
Besides being versatile and efficient, the campervan has also been decorated with custom wood paneling and recycled denim insulation. There’s nothing quite like this trendy campervan on the market anywhere else.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people 100 miles included per day, $0.50 per mile from 101-1000 mileage, $0.60 per mile from 1001-5000+ miles Kitchen stovetop, sink, outdoor shower hook-up, cookware, and linens Custom design Interior LED Lighting
Imagine watching the fog roll in while you watch the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge from your Chevrolet . This white van may look ordinary from the outside, but it’s bursting with color and amenities once you open the back doors.
Because of its stealthy appearance, you can park it pretty much anywhere, which is perfect for the city. As an added bonus, this campervan comes with a built-in TV and video game hookup, so you can keep yourself entertained all through the evening.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Kitchen stovetop, refrigerator, and TV/DVD set up Backup Camera Bicycle Rack
Imagine watching the fog roll in while you watch the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge from your Ford Transit . This white van may look ordinary from the outside, but it’s bursting with charm once you open the back doors.
Because of its stealthy appearance, you can park it pretty much anywhere, which is perfect for the city. As a bonus, this campervan comes with built-in solar panels, so you can keep your electronics charged no matter where you go.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people Stove, sink, fridge Thule storage space 110 miles included per day, $0.30 per mile of additional mileage
Best Campervan and RV Rentals in Northern California
California has the most national parks out of any state in the US, so it’s no wonder that exploring the outdoors is a top priority for many travelers. You can find a handful of diverse landscapes and parks just in Northern California, from the cascading waterfalls in Yosemite to the molten, volcanic terrain of Lassen.
An RV rental in Northern California is the ultimate way to see the serene, majestic beauty of the national parks. Wake up to the rustling leaves and chirping birds every morning with one of these RVs.
Make the most of your road trip by renting an RV in California that’s big enough for all your hiking and camping buddies.
The Fleetwood Jamboree Sport comfortably fits and astounding eight people on one of the two queen beds, fold-out sofas, or built-in bunk beds. The right and left slide-outs also make it possible to store everyone’s luggage and hiking equipment, which means more space for everyone.
This cost for the entire RV is comparable with other midsize campervans, which means you don’t need to go bankrupt to enjoy an entertaining (and spacious) trip with your friends.
Type: Class C Sleeps 8 people 125 miles included per day, $0.55 per mile of additional mileage Dining table, full kitchen and cookware, full bathroom with toilet and shower, and separate beds DVDs and board games Outdoor camping gear (chairs, bbq, lanterns)
If you prefer the idea of traditional camping but still love the benefits of an RV’s amenities, then trek through the Northern Californian parks with this off-roading Toyota Tacoma .
With Active Traction Control, Crawl Control and top-quality all-terrain tires, this bad boy can literally go anywhere. When the sun sets, pitch your four-sleeper tent and admire the forests and trees around you in peace.
This Tacoma also comes with a fridge and outdoor shower so you stay comfortable.
Type: Campervan Sleeps 2 people 150 miles included per day, $0.50 per mile of additional mileage Kitchen stovetop, kitchen sink, and outdoor shower Propane tank Tow hitch
Imagine spending your evening stargazing atop your RV with nothing more than the chirping of crickets to keep you company. With this brand new Winnebago , you can spend the entire week immersed in nature while having all the comforts of home at your fingertips.
Whether you’re parked in the middle of the forest or hooked up to an RV camp spot, the self-contained Winnebago provides everything you need for a relaxing vacation.
Type: Class C Sleeps 6 people 100 miles included per day, $0.50 per mile of additional mileage Full kitchen, full bathroom with toilet and shower, and outdoor shower Electric awning Bike rack
Best Campervans and RV Rentals in Sacramento, California
Although it’s just a stone’s throw away from San Francisco, Sacramento is a fascinating city full of history and culture. Thanks to Sacramento’s proximity to major landmarks and monuments, California’s capital city has evolved to attract a variety of travelers and visitors.
Start with an RV rental in Sacramento, California and head out on the open road to see some of the best sites in California!
A ski trip with a group of friends is almost as exciting as skiing down the mountain itself. Lake Tahoe is less than two-hours outside Sacramento, and this 1988 Intervec Falcon is the perfect way to climb to the top of the snow-capped mountains.
The sturdy 4×4 tires should get you through any terrain, but there’s a built-in cassette toilet just in case you get stranded.
Sleeps 2 people 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Toilet, kitchen stove and sink, refrigerator, and full-size shower Gaming PC with 40+games Bike rack
While Sacramento is a great starting point for a road trip, you might be driving several hours a day in your rented RV. For the most comfortable ride, drive through California in your seven-sleeper Thor Motor Coach Four Winds .
With top of the line amenities such as a 32” smart TV with Netflix and iPhone hookup, you’ll have entertainment the entire day—no matter how long you’re on the road.
Sleeps 7 people 100 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Full bathroom with toilet and shower, full kitchen with stove and oven, generator, and dining room Smart TV Keurig espresso machine
Whether you have kids or whether you’re simply a kid at heart, you’ll love soaking in the Californian sun off the top of this Mercedes Sprinter rooftop deck.
Park overlooking the coast and climb to the top to enjoy the unique views right from your own RV. This child-friendly vehicle is one of the best RV rentals in California for families since it comes with a latch for a child seat.
Sleeps 2 adults + 1 child 150 miles included per day, $0.35 per mile of additional mileage Kitchen stovetop, kitchen sink, refrigerator, and organic mattress Ceiling fan with remote Espar cabin heater
If you have your own pick-up truck, then hook up the fully equipped Coachmen Apex to elevate your road trip. During the day, you can eat at the dining room table after cooking on the built-in stove top.
At night, the dining room table converts to another queen-size bed, which means you could comfortably fit six adults altogether.
The best part about the trailer is that it comes with unlimited miles, so you can journey wherever your heart desires.
Sleeps 6 people Unlimited miles Kitchen stovetop, kitchen sink, refrigerator, dining table, and full bathroom with toilet and shower
With bright, open windows, the Westfalia is the perfect campervan for sightseeing through Sacramento. Not only do you have all the kitchen amenities and equipment at your disposal, but there’s also enough room to fit four full-grown adults.
The Westfalia can fit in any normal parking spot, which makes it easier than ever to find a home base in a city.
Sleeps 4 people 160 miles per day, $0.40 per mile of additional mileage Kitchen stovetop, kitchen sink, two tables, cookware, and tableware Transmission: Manual