Known Pitfalls of Renting Out Your RV or Travel Trailer

Damage done to RV rental

What are the pitfalls of renting our your RV?

Of course there are pitfalls, both known and unknown. We don’t know until we know, but we can make an educated guess and prepare for the most likely. Planning involves educating yourself and then executing on that plan so as to maximize the benefits, and minimize the downside. In other words, avoid the pitfalls.

RV site at Borrego Springs RV Resort

While the pitfalls of renting our your RV can be many, the rewards of starting an RV rental business will likely offset those known pitfalls. One of the biggest questions we get from RV owners is, “how much can I earn?” In order to balance the pitfalls against the upside, you have to ask this question.

An easy number that I share is $5,000 per year. It comes from an average of 8 delivered RV rentals per year to campgrounds near my home. It can be more or less depending on your market and your RV, but this is a good average.

In this post I’ll share my observations from the perspective of someone who has been renting out their RV’s for over 7 years. Yes it’s work, but it’s also work that is fun. What’s not fun about setting up your RV at a nearby campground? Yes, it’s for another family but isn’t fun to share what you love and know?

Okay, it’s fun and it offsets the cost of owning. It also forces you to keep it clean and in shape, ready to use by you or a guest. But there are 4 major pitfalls to consider in my humble opinion. Each pitfall is known by way of real RV owners who either say yes, or no to sharing and why.


The number one pitfall that most people point to is damage. Most people also agree that RV renters tend to be novice, and have never driven or towed an RV, let alone your RV. This puts the chance of damage in an uncomfortable range, which puts the cost of managing a driving RV rental business very high. We leave the driving to our competitors.

Excess miles

Often overlooked is the issue of renters putting excessive miles on your rig. After all, this is what most vacations are all about… road trip! How will this affect the resell value of your RV given that most buyers are looking for a “low-mileage RV” to buy?

Someone else has been sleeping in my bed!

In the surveys we’ve taken that relate to whether or not RV’ers are willing to rent out their RV, almost all of those who say, “No way”, cite the reason as being stingy when it comes to sharing the bed in their RV. Just the thought of it, ewww! My sister in law had a tough time with this concept. But then, they have no problem sleeping in a Disneyland hotel bed. Once that point sunk in, she gave in.

My camping stuff

Photo: Credit

When it comes to “stuff”, there are no better pack rats than RV’ers. They know how to overload a vehicle like no other, GVWR be damned! Their RV is also their storage unit for camping stuff. If there is room, it must be fine to cram it in. This makes number four on the list of pitfalls; packing stuff in and out with each rental.

Well, in reality all RV’ers need to do a better job at limiting weight, but this really isn’t the point. The main pitfall here is convenience: unloading your personal stuff before every rental. After all, your RV is your home away from home and we all have stuff. This is one major pitfall for many of us.

What is the best way to avoid the major pitfalls of renting out your RV?

We believe that the rewards for renting out your RV outweighs the pitfalls. Always take the time to consider the pros and cons, but after 7 years of “sharing”, i.e. earning income on an asset that normally would sit idle 90% of the year, I have concluded the following: Avoid the pitfalls, and just do it. It’s fun and it’s good for your RV! “Lot Rot” is a real thing. Besides keeping your RV in shape and ready for action, sharing is good for your wallet too.

How to avoid damage

Don’t let renters drive or tow your RV, ever. If you stick to delivered RV rentals you will have minimal damage. In the 7 years I’ve been sharing, the one and the only time I had major damage was when I let the renter tow my 30′ bunkhouse travel trailer. Since then, 100% of my rentals are delivered and set up for my guests. Since then zero have backed into a tree, sheered off the AC unit, or scraped the side with a telephone pole going around a corner. It’s fine to be a novice, it’s just not fine to believe your not a novice when you really are.

How to limit the excessive miles on your RV

Don’t let renters drive or tow your RV. If you rent and deliver to nearby campgrounds, the mileage you put on your RV will be mostly limited to your own personal use. When you go to sell or trade in, you won’t get dinged for excessive miles due to renting it out. The wear and tear on your transmission, tires, and engine will be far less as well.

How to limit guests from sleeping in your bed

On this point, we can’t help you. This said, my brother just informed me that they are buying a new Wilderness RV Mattress. He’s going to switch out his existing mattress with each rental. It turns out that earning $5,000 per year for sharing his rig is highly motivating.

Even if this business is not for you, no problem you’re still in good company. Only 1 in 10 RV owners want to earn income, offset expenses, and generate tax deductions. These benefits are flowing to some 1.2 million registered RV’ers in the USA. The other 9 million  have their RV’s stored in driveways or those lots next to the freeways.

How to manage your camping stuff

This is a good question, and a practical one. Early on, we struggled with this question. In the end, we decided to do two things:

  1.  We purged all of the personal non-essentials like photos, clothes, and personal items.
  2. We organized and labeled our useful items: Books, camping chairs, patio mat, BBQ, table, fire pit, fishing poles, games, dish towels, salt and pepper, linens (clean of course), and DVD collection. Keeping items organized turned out to be helpful for us as well.

We know that only personal items are needed for each trip. We don’t have to remember if the camping coat is in there or not. We don’t have to check on how much toothpaste is in the tube, or which toothbrush is in the cabinet. None of it is in there! Personal items are all fresh and clean for each personal RV trip we take.  And, the revenue from renting out, allows us to keep all of the “community items” upgraded. Even the RV itself is sold and upgraded every 2-4 years.

Pitfalls summary

In truth, these are just a few of the major pitfalls we’ve encountered. The other pitfalls such as time, repairs, maintenance, cleaning, are all little annoyances solved by paying other people to clean and deliver. It does require work and effort to run a side gig like this, but then is this kind of work a pitfall or a privilege? Is it a win/win or win/lose?