The Beginner's guide to book an RV in the USA
aka where to find the best deal for your next vacation on the road
Once you have decided the right RV-size for your needs (see our previous post), there are still quite a lot of decisions to be taken and choices to make. But first of all let's spend some words on the very next step: where should I book the RV/Camper?
Obviously the first idea might be to book directly from the web pages of the main players (brands) in the US market. These are:
Apollo has almost 35 years experience and a wide range of vehicles to rent. Moreover they claim that the vehicles are on fleet for a maximum of 3 years.
They have 9 rental locations: Anchorage, Denver, New York, Orlando, Seattle, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco.
Britz offers exclusively 4-Berth RVs (meaning with sleeping place for max. 4 people) and without slide-out options.
They have 7 rental locations: Denver, New York, Orlando, Seattle, Las vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco.
Cruise America has a long history and experience, being on the market for 45 years. Moreover they have one of the largest choice of rental locations all over the US, which makes it easier to plan a trip. They have a large choice of RVs and Truck Camper but unfortunately they do not offer vehicles with slide-out option.
They have a total of 128 rental locations in USA and Canada: a much wider distribution than any other rental company.
El Monte RV offers a wide selection of camper rentals, including A and C Class.
They have 25 rental locations across the USA and most of them are even open on Sundays: Phoenix, Chicago, Las Vegas, Reno, Dallas, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Corona, San Diego, Van Nuys, Victorville, San Bernardino.
This originally Swiss company has been founded more than 30 years ago. Road Bear definitely has one of the newest fleet, with a max. of 2 years lifetime. Moreover they offer a very useful complimentary shuttle transfer from Airports and Airport Hotels to the rental stations and back.
They have 7 rental locations: Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle.
Star RV is the premium branch of Apollo and is the only RV rental company to guarantee that its entire fleet is less than 12 months old.
They have 10 rental locations: Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami, Orlando, New York, Seattle.
Is the direct booking the only option? Definitely no!
The other way is to use one of the multiple RV & Motorhome online rental agencies. The big advantage is that you can easely compare different brands and offers. Moreover, (surprise surprise) the rates are often lower than booking directly!
Here are some of the main online agencies:
Definitely the largest player on the market, operating in 38 countries. The big advantage here is that you can choose both your local currency and your language: this makes the finding ouf the right offer much easier. They work with all the main brands in the USA.
This agency also offers a big choice of brands, even though some big names are missing (e.g. Apollo). But it's still worth to compare their prices as they claim to have a "best price guarantee".
This agency is working only on the German speaking market (D/A/CH) but is offering great deals for USA (and not only). The webpage comes in a nice and easy design, filled with pictures and floor plans of the vehicles.
Also this agency is working only on the German speaking market (D/A/CH). They are specialized in USA trips and can give you great support in planning. What we really like about their page is that you can compare 1:1 the different offers with all details and options. This is a huge plus that helps you to understand the offers and make sure you that compare "apples with apples".
As it happened with hotel bookings many years ago, also with RV's and campers now the benefits and advantages look to be greater passing through agencies than booking directly. This might change in future but based on our experience, the possibility to compare the different offers and options (this will be our next post!) combined with lower rates is a clear plus for the agencies.