I’ve recently been intrigued by the idea of car/RV rental relocation as a way to get cheap (or even free) trips.
That’s right. You can get a rental of an RV with beds and your gas reimbursed for free (or $1 a day) for simply relocating the vehicle. Your only expense on such a trip would be airfare, food, and possibly paying for an RV campground night.
And while you can’t choose just any route, there seems to be popular routes for vacationing and RVing. For example Salt Lake City to Vegas or LA… Which could be an amazing RV trip through Utah, as there are so many interesting, remote areas (like Canyonlands National Park).
In this post I’ll list the best websites for finding and booking these rentals and then go over the details of a typical rental.
List of Best Car/RV Relocation Sites
US / Canada options
|imoova||https://imoova.com/imoova/relocations||Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, Europe||40|
|transfercarus||https://www.transfercarus.com/search||US / Canada||6|
|Apollo||https://www.apollorv.com/reloc.aspx||US, Australia, New Zealand||15|
New Zealand / Australia
My priority in looking for a relocation vehicle is determined by how much it could end up costing me out of pocket (which I’ll discuss), and even more importantly, the route and number of free days given.
If I have to drive from Seattle to LA in 2 days, that’s not free transit you’re getting, that’s free labor you’re giving, because all you would be doing is driving.
Most important to me is getting an interesting route with 5 free days.
By “interesting route”, I mean both a place I can take an RV and a pace where I can actually enjoy those places. Driving 10 hours in 5 days (like Salt Lake to LA) is ideal.
In the cases of long routes, I think it could be worth paying $100 a day extra for a day or two to really enjoy your pace. Otherwise, I’m looking for shorter routes with 5 free days.
Breaking Down Costs/Fees of Car Rental Relocation
Summary of expenses:
- Up to $1,000 temporary deposit
- 6 to 20 MPG
- Typically $100-$250 in gas, I’ve seen $750 for long routes
- Charges for extras like linens, kitchen wear, and insurance
- Charges for extra days and miles
Getting Free Gas
I think this is where the costs can add up or be avoided. RVs especially get low MPG and so I would first look at the gas reimbursement and I’d compare that to the miles likely to be driven and the MPGs.
To go from Vegas to LA, that’s a very short distance, like under 300 miles. Although, when calculating my costs, I assume that I’ll actually drive 10%+ more.
For 300 miles and a vehicle that gets 10 MPG, and assuming $3 a gallon, that’s only $90 or so. So if you have $100 of reimbursement towards gas, that’s enough.
But if you’re going from Vancouver to Toronto (a route I recently saw), that is well over 2,500 miles, especially if you go through Canada only. I believe they offered $750, which could be close to enough at 10 MPG, but with a giant RV that gets 6 MPG, it’s not close. And with 5 free days, you’d be driving a long way every day.
Now, I have seen a few offers to pay for all gas: “Special – All fuel refunded against receipts and $100 Travel Allowance”. That’s a fantastic deal, and paying for gas and $100 is still cheaper than they’d otherwise pay hiring someone to do it.
So best case scenario is making $100 on gas. Otherwise, the gas reimbursement is a maximum based on gas receipts.
Examples of mileage limits:
- Vegas to Seattle = 1,125 driven miles
- 1,200 limit w/ imoova
- 1,200 limit w/ Apollo
- Orlando to NYC = 1,073 driven miles
- 2,100 limit w/ imoova
- 2,100 limit w/ Apollo
- Vegas to LA = 270 driven miles
- 500 limit w/ imoova
- 300 limit w/ Apollo
Typically, extra miles are 40 to 45 cents per mile after you’ve gone over the limit. That’s an easy and quick way to rack up fees. So pay attention. In some cases, you have way more than enough (like Orlando to NYC) and with Vegas to Seattle, I don’t think it’s practically enough. I think you would have to count on paying extra.
But just like fuel, you can get a deal where you come out completely even, or you can end up paying way more than free.
I saw on imoova the following: “For $50 per person we will supply a Linen Pack (pillow cases, sheets, towels, sleeping bags) and for $125 we will supply a Kitchen Kit (cooking equipment and cutlery)”.
On Apollo it’s typically $10 a person for linens.
At $10 a person, this might be the cheapest way to get pillows and linens, assuming you don’t want to fly with ’em.
If you’re flying Southwest and get two checked bags, it seems worth it to me to carry an extra bag to your RV.
Besides a flat $10 for linens, I could see myself using a generator, which I saw listed with a fee of $3 an hour.
I’d really like to try this out, and with a deal that is going to be completely free (plenty of gas and miles to cover all the costs), or close to it, then I absolutely will try this out. Especially in an area I’d like to travel to, like Utah, the Canadian Rockies, etc…
Still, I wanted to outline the most likely pitfalls, but I’d obviously take the time to read the details before renting and encourage doing the math yourself. As I mention, 3,000 driven miles on a big RV getting 6 MPG could be close to $1,500 in gas.
Now, most of the examples I’ve considered seem to be close to break even on gas and miles.
Per usual, if anyone has experience doing a car or RV relocation rental, I’d love to hear if I’m missing any important details and if there are any extra costs I’m missing or that might be worth it.
As it is, RV relocation deals seem to mostly be good deals, and for the last little while I’ve checked, they have plenty of deals.