You’ve already spent a chunk of money on an adventure vehicle to be able to get off the grid and travel and enjoy nature. You built it out yourself, or maybe you hired a company for the build, but either way, you’re probably pretty invested, right?
And unless you’ve made special plans for it, that beautiful rig of yours is probably sitting unused in a parking lot, driveway or garage somewhere.
Hailey Sandoval, Head of Marketing at GoCamp, says “Class B campervans can earn you up to $40,000 per year as a side hustle,” while larger RV rigs could earn you closer to $60,000 or more.
Renting Your Campervan or RV as a Side Hustle
According to Sandoval, “you can make $35,000 to $40,000 per year if you’re hustling and have a nice van.”
But that’s hardly the limit. According to RV marketplace Outdoorsy, larger RV rigs are estimated to earn anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on the vehicle type, amenities and add-ons, and your geographic location.
It sounded crazy to me, too. But I quickly learned that crazy doesn’t mean unrealistic.
Last year I rented an extended wheelbase Sprinter van from Outdoorsy for a road trip to Mammoth Lakes and Big Pine. After a week of off-grid adventures, I got the chance to sit down with Sandoval, owner of the aptly named “Command Post” Sprinter van and talk shop. She told me all about her experience renting out her van—and exactly how much money she makes.
In 2019, Sandoval moved to Lake Tahoe where she attended the Adventure Van Expo. There, she met Deborah Kane, founder of GoCamp. When Sandoval learned how much she could be earning with her van, she immediately listed it on GoCamp and made $15,000 in her first two months. In the off season.
This is when everything changed. All of sudden, Sandoval was making money in the most unexpected way.
While Sandoval initially bought her Sprinter in order to go on adventures, what she quickly realized was that she had a revenue stream on her hands that she just hadn’t tapped into yet.
Renting Your RV Like an Investment Property
If you already own an RV or campervan, there’s good news—you’re sitting on a cash cow. But if you don’t own one (yet) and plan to rent it out, Sandoval recommends buying a new, mid-range van that has easily available parts. Don’t buy the cheapest one, but also don’t buy the most expensive.
Some rigs can go for twice the price, but you could get a van for $60,000-$70,000, rent it out on Outdoorsy, and pay the entire thing off in two years. Even if you’re only renting it out every so often, the rental income pays for your own trips, plus maintenance, registration, insurance and other miscellaneous expenses.
“You might have the mindset of wanting to turn a profit, or you might just want to break even. Either way, you’re going to end up with an adventure vehicle that’s fully paid for in just two years.”
Not a bad investment, if you ask me!
So, How Much Can I Really Make by Renting my RV or Campervan?
The short, annoying answer to this question is: it depends.
Keep in mind, what you make is not equal to how much you charge. There are more than a few expenses to consider.
But with that said, you’ll find a very wide range of pricing. Depending on your type of vehicle, amenities, the season and market, what you charge may change. Luckily, platforms like Outdoorsy offer recommended pricing based on all of the above. It works just like Airbnb. In fact, Outdoorsy is basically the Airbnb for RVs.
But really, at the end of the day, the nicer the rig, the more you can charge per night.
Beyond the quality of your rig, consider what kind of rig you have. Chances are, people want to rent whatever you have!
Let’s break down vehicle rental rates based on the type of campervan or RV you own.
Say you own a class A, an RV that is comfortable for individuals of every age and families of every size. Comparing different RV listings online, you can easily see that $200 is a very average price point for a nightly rental.
At $200 per night or $1,400 per week, you wouldn’t even have to rent out your vehicle year-round to make $60,000 per year.
Even just renting your motorhome out for 43 weeks of the year, you’d meet your goal. That still would leave you over 2 months of the year to use your RV for your own adventures AND you might even have money to go on sabbatical.
Don’t have a class A? Let’s skip over to campervans, also known as class B vehicles. According to Sandoval, you can make around $40,000 per year renting out a campervan. Breaking down the numbers, we can start with Sandoval’s listing as an example.
Her 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is listed for rent at $360 per night. That’s $2,520 per week, just off the nightly rate alone. Even if she only rented out her Sprinter for four months out of the year, she would meet her goal of $40,000 income from rentals.
Just imagine if she rented out her van full-time year-round.
Maybe you sit in the travel trailer community. A great option as a secondary piece of equipment to tow behind a vehicle, less engine maintenance to worry about, with many more perks.
Even on the lower end of nightly pricing, a small teardrop trailer can easily be rented out for $100 per night. If your travel trailer was rented out for half of the year, that’d be more than an extra $18,000 in your pockets this year. If you’re willing to really hustle and put in the work, you could even make upwards of $36,000.
So beyond the type of vehicle you own and the amount you could rent it out for nightly, what else matters when considering renting out your RV?
When talking to Sandoval, she mentioned a few good tips to consider when trying to make the most out of your RV listing. Her main piece of advice: “consider the season you’re listing your RV.”
You can change the price according to the time of year you’re listing your RV. Consider increasing your nightly rates during peak seasons, especially during summer, while lowering your nightly rates during the colder months.
“It’s important to keep your rental schedule open in the far future, such as up to a year or so, especially between May and September.”
If you were going to book a family trip, you’d likely need to do so well in advance. People need to take time off work and be prepared for a vacation, especially during the peak season.
Not sure you’re in the right place to rent out your van? Your location can definitely make a big difference in your success while renting out your vehicle.
Keep in mind, the larger the market, the higher the competition, which means you might be forced to lower your rates. In smaller markets, there’s less saturation and the potential to increase a nightly rate.
At the end of the day, it’s mostly just a balancing act between how much you charge and how often you rent. It’s up to you to find the sweet spot.
That’s not the entire story, though. There is more money to be made.
Extra Fees, Add-Ons, Etc.
When talking to RV owners who rent out their vehicles, “there is more to making money than just the nightly rate.” For example, we’ve been told that the average owner charges at least $100 per booking as a cleaning fee.
Owners can also offer optional drop-off and pick-up services for a fee that is calculated based on distance/mileage.
People often don’t have all the essentials that they may want during their road trip. For example, if you have any extra add-ons, such as camping gear, you always have the option to rent this out for an additional fee as well.
Although not as common, cancellation fees still work in your favor. According to GoCamp’s cancellation policies, owners can still receive a large percentage of the original booking payout, especially if the cancellation is less than 14 days before pick-up.
Lastly, most bookings include a base mileage allowance per day. Sandoval offers 125 miles free per day with her van rental. If a renter goes over her free limit, she charges $0.50 per extra mile!
Are There Any Downfalls to Renting My RV?
Of course there are. Everything has downfalls, right? Especially when you’re talking about renting out something that you own.
Major things you should consider are damages from rentals, wear and tear, and what you will be required to do – i.e. time commitment and mental energy.
Your van might get some interior and exterior scratches during the rentals. But think about the extra income you’ll make from those rentals!
Even if you have to visit a body shop for some minor paint touch-ups just once a year, the cost will barely scratch the surface of your rental income. Proper insurance can also help counteract these downfalls.
Provide sufficient walk-throughs with your renter so they understand how to properly use and drive the vehicle, and make sure you catch any damages directly upon the return of the vehicle.
You’ll also want to think about if you have the time and energy within your schedule to manage rental bookings! Staying on top of communications, maintenance, and upkeep will help ease the process of managing your rental.
Do I Need to Change My Insurance?
When we think of renting anything out, our mind immediately goes toward coverage. How can you make sure that your campervan or RV is fully covered?
Most normal van coverage will not cover rental bookings but according to Sandoval, there are services offered made just for this scenario.
Throughout her rental bookings, Sandoval uses a service called Roamly, which is made for RVs and campervans that are being rented out. Also, most online rental platforms require the renter to purchase their own daily insurance!
For example, Outdoorsy has three different insurance plans that renters can purchase for the time being of their rental. This helps ensure that your vehicle and their safety are taken care of.
It can feel like a big risk renting out something so important to you, but with just a little extra insurance you can sit comfortably with peace of mind. Let the professionals handle the insurance details if anything happens! Just make sure you’re covered upfront.
So, How Do I Rent My RV?
While there is a lot to consider when deciding whether to rent out your RV or campervan, there’s also a lot to gain. If you ask me, you’ve already got the RV, so why not make some extra money with it?