Now that you are interested in an RV rental adventure, it’s time to take a look at some RV rental companies. I determined which companies to research based on my observations from the road and chose to include the most popular companies; Road Bear, Cruise America, and El Monte RV. I also decided to review a rather new company called Jucy. Recently, I have been seeing more of their campervans on the road and at campgrounds. I was intrigued by the concept and know I had to learn more about them.
I approached the subject as if I were planning my own trip. I selected the week of July 15. picking up at the closest office and used Yosemite as our destination. I had also estimated that I would need 1,000 mile for the trip. I then went through the reservation process for each company to determine how easy (or difficult) it would be to ascertain the total cost of the rental. Further, I combed through each company’s website to gather additional details included in an “At a Glance” chart. Let’s get started:
You don’t see too many Road Bear RV’s on the road here in Southern California, but don’t let that push this company out of your possibilities. Road Bear is huge with the European crowd (I’ve met quite a few of them in campgrounds) and I see them everywhere when visiting National Parks or driving the US scenic byways. Their Southern California location is in Agoura Hills which is about a 70 mile drive from Huntington Beach. Sounded a little inconvenient so I called to find out if there was the possibility of leaving a vehicle in their lot. Not only was the answer yes, but it was also free to do so! Even better, since it would be a local rental, I would receive free use of their kitchenware package (see below). We could roll up with our bedding, specialty kitchen gadgets, outdoor items, clothes and pantry items and leave right from the Road Bear lot.
Tip: You can find the General RV Packing List under the tab “Planning”
Road Bear has a very simple reservation form which gave me a strong idea of what the total cost of my RV rental would be. Although the dates I selected were not available, I was still able to choose the days to get my quote. I selected the 19-22 ft class C non-slide RV for the reservation.
With Road Bear, you can pre-pay for miles in 500 mile blocks for $210 each. Keep in mind that these blocks cannot be purchased at the time of return. Additional miles will be charged at $.45/mile plus local sales tax. Buying the blocks saves you about $15 for every 500 miles you travel.
Road Bear offers optional “Convenience Kits. While some companies offer two types of kits to cover bedding options in one and kitchen items in another, Road Bear has just one kit. Their kits include: kitchen equipment, dishes, cups, glasses, silverware, bedding, linens, towels etc and a generic GPS system with North American maps. The cost is $70 per person over the age of 6 years old. For example, if we were to do a fly/drive package, the cost for renting most of the items we would need would be an additional one-time charge of $280 ($70 per person).
Road Bear was the only company that offered local renters (meaning renting from your local location) that plan on using their own bedding, can receive the use of their kitchenware package free of charge if you are interested.
How can you get a deal with Road Bear? If you book your Spring or Summer travel during the fall season, you can save between 5% to 15% on your RV rental and save 50% on Convenience Kits. (Travel must commence after April 1st).
Here is the break-down for a 7-day rental with 1,000 miles
19-22 ft class C non-slide RV $1,540.00
(2) 500-mile Blocks $ 210.00
Supplemental Liability Ins. $ 63.00
Total including local tax $2,023.00
When I rent an RV, Road Bear will be a strong contender. Not only did I receive great customer service when I called in to ask some questions, but Road Bear also has a simple reservation process and offers competitive pricing.
Tip: Road Bear is a good choice for one-way or fly/drive options. They have locations in major city centers including: Denver, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and of course, Los Angeles.
Jucy is a new player in the U.S. RV rental market with just three locations to date: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. They may be new here, but they are huge in New Zealand and Australia. Not only do they offer RV rentals but car rentals and even have a Jucy Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand. They are family-owned and operated and take pride in their company.
Their Los Angeles location is located in Lawndale, approximately 30 miles from Huntington Beach and parking in their lot is not an option. You choice would be to use the unsecured parking on surrounding streets. Since they had an unlimited mileage package, driving home to pack would cost additional time but not miles.
So what does Jucy rent? They offer one campervan option called the JUCY Champ USA, What’s great about the Champ is that it uses a minivan base making it easy to drive and very fuel-efficient. Inside the Champ there is a refrigerator, gas cooktop, sink, DVD player, indoor and outdoor table, and two comfortable double beds that will sleep up to 4 people. This is a great option for families who enjoy tent camping but want the convenience of a kitchen and sleeping indoors.
The reservation process was super simple and easy to calculate the total cost of a rental. They are the only rental that allows you to select unlimited miles for a charge of $25/day. For my reservation, I selected the unlimited miles option as I realized I would be driving to and from their rental center in Lawndale.
Jucy offers Personal Kits (Bedding and towels for up to 4 people) for a fixed $100 and a Provisioning Kit that includes cooking equipment and utensils (for up to 4 people) for a fixed $115.
Here is the break-down for a 7-day rental with 1,000 miles
Jucy Champ Campervan $ 805.00
Unlimited Miles $ 175.00
Supplemental Liability Ins. $ 70.00
Total including local tax $1,555.47
Tip: If you have a tall person in your group, make sure you ask about the bed dimensions before reserving.
Living in Southern California, you definitely see Cruise America RV’s everywhere. With rental locations in 35 states and 5 Canadian Providences, they offer the most options for fly/drive and one-way rentals. With the closest office in Costa Mesa, that puts Cruise America as a convenient option for a RV rental.
Making a reservation with Cruise America is straightforward and includes all the information you will need to estimate the total cost. For my reservation, I chose the Standard 25’ RV. It shows that Supplemental Liability Insurance is included at no cost, howeve, they do collect a refundable $500 Damage Deposit as part of the reservation.
Cruise America made it very easy to estimate the total mileage charge. The reservation includes 700 miles (for a charge of $238). They state on the reservation form that if you were to travel less than 700, they give you a refund on the unused miles. If you go over, miles are calculated at $.34/mile. They do not sell discounted blocks of miles.
Cruise America also offers kits to help make your rental more convenient. They offer a kitchen kit for $100 and you could order one and get the most basic Kitchen items. There is also a personal kit that includes bedding/towels for $55 but if you need this, you need to get one per person.
Here is the break-down for a 7-day rental with 1,000 miles.
Note: Since the reservation comes with only 700, for the other 300 miles it would cost an additional $85 plus applicable tax and is not included in the below total.
Note: Cruise America does collect a $500 Damage Deposit at the time of pick-up and it is refundable. Just be aware of the additional amount being charged to your credit card.
Standard 25’ RV: $973.00
700 miles: $238.00
Supplemental Liability Ins: Included
Tax $ 96.88
Total including local tax $1307.88 (not including the cost of the 300 extra miles)
El Monte RV
El Monte RV is headquartered here in Southern California and has expanded into 16 states since 1970. If you are looking to rent a Class A (bus style), El Monte is the only one of the four RV Rental companies I’m reviewing that rent them. They have a convenient pick-up location within the Newport Dunes Resort (Newport Beach) which also makes for an easy pick-up and return if you live in Orange County.
When I went to make reservation, the different models to choose from popped up. For this example, I chose the 22ft cabover. The photos were very helpful as they provided diagrams of both daytime and nighttime configurations.
Past that point, I found the rest of the reservation form confusing. The overview shows the vehicle price and then options/fees for a total of $53.95. I was curious about what fees were being charged and when I expanded the reservation I saw that the fees were for:
• California Vehicle License Fee $14.00
• Starter Kit $39.95
Additionally, I was confused because there was a section entitled “Additional Mile Packages” and it did show a drop-down menu where there was an option to select 100 miles for a charge of $29, but you could not add to it. It was the only reservation form that was difficult to ascertain what the total charge for the rental based on the 1,000 mile comparison.
Here is the break-down for a 7-day rental with 1,000 miles
Note: Based on the assumption that blocks of 100 miles are sold for $29, the cost of miles should be $290 plus tax. Additionally, I found no way to add Supplemental Liability Insurance to my reservation but found out the cost to add it will be $13.50/day.
22′ Cabover RV: $1,673.00
Options/Fees Total $53.95
Sales Tax $137.04
Total including local tax $1,863.99
I did make a call to El Monte to ask some questions and the person who helped me was pleasant and knowledgeable. I first asked about the fees. She told me that the CA license fee was a mandatory charge for all rentals. Since I have a CA license, I was not clear on why that was and why no other company charged it. Additionally, I learned that the Starter Kit included a tank of fresh water, full propane tank, chemicals in the toilet, etc. El Monte was the only company that had a separate charge for this. I asked about how they sell mileage and the agent told me that I would need to provide the estimated mileage I planned on driving and at the time of pick-up I could purchase blocks of 100 miles for $29. There would be a charge of $.32 to $.39 per mile for any overage of miles at the time of return.
El Monte RV also has two types of Convenience Kits for rent. The Personal Convenience Kits ($50 each) include bedding/towels and also a place setting for one person (cereal bowl, dinner plate, saucer, salad plate); 2 glasses (12oz), coffee cup, and a silverware Set (fork, spoon, knife). It was interesting as this kit also included (2) pillows and (2) blankets but only the one place setting, This means you would have to purchase one per person. There is also a Kitchen Convenience Kit available for $125 and only one kit is needed per rental.
El Monte RV is the only company that offers an AAA discount of 5% – 15% based on season. If you are thinking of booking, check out their “Cool Deals” section on their website. Currently they are offering 50 miles a day free if you book a vacation of 4-nights or longer.
You may be asking, Are there other RV rental companies out there? The answer is yes. In most locales you can find a RV rental outlet that could fit your needs and provide the same or better service than the big guys. In my opinion, the small companies could be an alternative. The other options include companies that rent RV’s for owners such as ShareMyCoach.com and individuals who rent out their own RV’s. I have heard people say they’ve had a great experience renting RV’s this way and unfortunately, I have heard of not such good experiences. If you are looking at these options, it is in your best interest to read online reviews and understand what people have encountered and how things were handled. Then you can make an informed decision of what you may encounter and if it is something you can live with.
Tip: If renting from an individual, make sure the contract clearly states what happens if there is damage to the RV (take photos of any existing damage) and even more important, who is responsible if the RV breaks down on the trip. As we learned on our 2014 RV Adventure, things can and will happen on the road and if you are left stranded somewhere with a large repair bill looming, these issues can be a real problem.
Tip: Before renting from ANY company, check out current online reviews. See what works well with these companies and what recurring issues there may be. This will allow you to make the decision of what you are comfortable in encountering and can help you make your decision on what company to choose.
To make things a little easier, I have put together a side-by-side comparison chart that covers the most important details of each company:
Have you recently rented an RV? Would love to hear about your experiences!