Travel Tips: How To Get Free RV & Camper Van Rentals
Sometimes I feel like a broken record on blog posts because so many of my stories start the same way. It’s always begins with me and my trusty computer, surfing the internet looking for interesting ways to travel, usually on a budget. My RV story kicks off that very same way. There I was Google Chrome’ing it up looking for a cheap way to get a rental vehicle. Laura and I wanted to get something we could sleep in so we would be able to go on a road trip for extra cheap by bypassing the need to get hotels or Airbnbs. Somewhere along the way I landed on a random website and right there buried in the middle of this travel hacking blog I discovered the world of RV Relocations.
Now if you’re like me you probably have never heard of RV or Camper Van Relocations. Basically, when a rental company needs to move their vehicle from one place to another, they call it a relocation. Traditionally rental vehicle companies paid trucks to tow these vehicles or drivers to drive them from wherever they were at to wherever they were needed. Somewhere along the way a few companies figured out that they could offer these vehicles for cheap to travelers who wanted to go along for the trip. Let me give you a simple example: Bill rents a RV from a rental office in Seattle and drives it all the way down the coast to Los Angeles. Bill then flies home to Seattle but the RV stays stuck in Los Angeles. Now someone back in Seattle wants to rent a RV a few days later but the rental office doesn’t have the RV anymore because it’s down in Los Angeles. The RV rental company then lists the RV for relocation from Los Angeles back to Seattle for low or no cost.
There are many rental companies that offer low and no cost RV relocation deals. Some of the most popular companies are Jucy, El Monte RV and Apollo RV. Most routes take you around the western Unites States to/from major hubs like Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Denver, as well as the occasional other random location throughout the USA. Most trips can’t be booked very far in advance (less than a month), so being flexible with your schedule is a big bonus on these trips. In fact, the closer to the date of departure that you book, the more perks you can get from the companies, thing like extra days, fuel and expense credits are very common.
I realize this all sounds too good to be true, right? How could you possibly get a free RV or Camper Van rental!? Well, I’m here to report we officially completed a RV relocation and it is most definitely 100% legit. We booked our relocation through Apollo RV from Las Vegas, Nevada back home to Seattle, Washington. We had 7 total days to do the trip, and they even gave us $50 in fuel credits. Our total out of pocket cost was $1/day plus a rental security deposit that was refunded in full after our trip. We flew down to Las Vegas on free airline miles we had laying around. The vehicle we rented was the 25’ Apollo Pioneer. The Pioneer model is loaded with all of the comforts of home without being too big and difficult to drive. As a first time RV driver I had zero problems driving this guy. It had all of the amenities you could want like AC, TV, awning, microwave, stove, two large beds, full bathroom, comfy little dining area and tons more options I’m already forgetting.
At the end of the day we had an awesome week long trip and we only spent $400-$500 total on gas and food. That’s pretty cheap when you compare it to a normal vacation with hotels, rental cars, fuel and restaurants. We got to drive a basically brand new RV from Las Vegas up into the National Parks of Utah, through the southern part of Idaho and then up through Oregon back into Washington. We visited amazing places like Arches National Park, Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Shoshone Falls. If you’re on a budget, have a flexible schedule and like to take road trips, I fully back RV relocations as an awesome way to travel and see the western United States.