As people are finding new ways to travel and relax without getting on a plane, short-term RV rentals have become increasingly popular. The benefits for vacationers are endless, as folks can enjoy all that #RVLife has to offer without the purchase, maintenance, and storage concerns associated with ownership. But in this article, we’re focusing on the many advantages of purchasing an RV for use as a vacation rental, including helpful tips on how to make your budding business a huge success.
We were lucky enough to catch up with a member of the RV rental community, Ashley, who has spent the past few years renovating her family’s RV and creating Boho Adventures Camping. It’s a venture that has not only allowed Ashley and her family to take on a fun and fulfilling DIY renovation project (you need to check out the before and after photos - we’ve shared some below!) but also provides additional income to help cover the costs associated with RV ownership. Read on for her full interview!
1. Let’s start at the beginning: why did you decide to purchase an RV and rent it out?
"We bought our RV in June 2020 after seeing my brother and sister-in-law have success renting out their unit due to limited travel during the pandemic. During the first summer we rented it out 4 times, and the following summer of 2021 we had 8 booked rentals. I was feeling pretty bogged down by the day-to-day of the pandemic lockdown and being a stay-at-home mom, so taking on this project was the perfect distraction."
2. How did you go about picking the right RV?
"We started looking at RV's in 2018, so we already had an idea of the style we wanted. My husband also camped a lot as a kid and was familiar with different RV styles. He said he really enjoyed a hybrid RV because you get the feeling of camping in a tent with the luxury of an RV. Our family had expanded to 5 and we knew we needed something to accommodate our family as the kids grew. Some things that were important for us when shopping for our RV were: sleeps 8-10, large dining bench, lots of storage, and floor space to move around. We decided on a 2017 Travel Star EXP 239."
3. Tell me about your RV renovations!
"One of the key things we wanted to change was removing the propane stove and oven from the RV and replacing them with an air fryer. This gave us peace of mind about the safety implications concerning renters using a live flame and propane stove in our RV, plus it freed up lots of counter space. The air fryer is amazing and I even cooked our Thanksgiving turkey in it!
I have a passion for design and the tiny home trend, so I eventually moved the RV out of storage and into our driveway where I began planning for renovations. We wanted to brighten things up, add usable storage space, make it more chic and fun with bold wallpapers and lighting, and make it more family-friendly. We did the entire renovation ourselves and it took about 6 weeks. We get so many compliments about how much people love the Boho vibe of our unit, how well it functions as a home, and how modern and spacious it is."
Bonus: you can follow Ashley’s full RV renovation project here!
4. How often do you rent your RV, and where do you list it?
"We open our rentals in May of each year and close on October 1st. We use the RV for our own camping trips as well, but want to invest in a second RV so that we have one for our family adventures and one that’s strictly a rental. We list our RV on RVeasy (take a peek at her listing and custom RV artwork) and have found it works well for us. They provide a small amount of insurance which is helpful for covering damages caused by wear and tear, and we’ve had a relatively easy experience renting out our RV."
5. What are some of the challenges with renting your RV?
"One thing we didn’t think about was needing to clear out our RV after every use! Most people can keep their food, linens, clothes, and other supplies in their RV all season, but if we go camping for a weekend we need to clear everything out for the next renter. We also ONLY offer delivery and camping within a radius of our home. This isn’t a challenge, necessarily, but it does require us to do things like tow the trailer to a site, set it up, take care of the septic tanks, and pick up the trailer after the rental period is over. We also struggled to find adequate insurance and encountered a few bumps along the road (to say the least) during the process. Fortunately, everything worked out fine, but we weren’t expecting it to be so challenging to get the insurance we needed."
6. What do people love about renting your RV, and how do you make your particular RV vacation rental?
"We do all of the work, so our renters can simply show up, camp, relax, and enjoy! We treat it like an Airbnb and leave our guests a little gift with important items, some fun camping items, and recommendations for food and attractions in the local area. We are also adding in packages, so people can book a Family Package and we’ll leave things like a high chair and toys, or a Chef's Package where we leave special groceries and outdoor cooking supplies, or an All-Inclusive Package with camping chairs, games, bedding, and just about anything somebody could need while on vacation. We also keep the RV well-stocked with food and supplies to make sure our guests can arrive and start relaxing right away."
7. What are your favourite parts of this journey so far?
"I really enjoyed working on the RV doing the renovation! I was able to show my kids that even when times are hard you can do hard things. They saw Mom working on the trailer any chance she got and making it into a very cozy space for our family to enjoy. It also supported my mental health during the very draining pandemic lockdown and gave me purpose outside of being a Mom. I loved sharing the journey with our neighbours and seeing their reactions as the renovation took shape. We even had a family in our neighbourhood rent out the RV for the weekend as they had never camped before. They have already said they would like to do it again. I love hearing the families talk about what an amazing time they had and how much they loved the RV. It’s a good feeling knowing you were able to help create a lasting memory for another family."
8. Has it been a financially viable business for you?
"We have been able to cover most of the year's expenses with the rentals that we have had. We do charge a delivery fee which also includes the septic fees and propane fees. My father-in-law has been so kind to help with the deliveries to make this all possible, so we do our best to ensure it's worth his time. It’s helping to support two families."
9. What types of supplies do you recommend other hosts stock in their RV rental units?
"We like to include things like citronella candles, bug repellent wipes, jiffy pop. bubbles, glow sticks, sparklers, and a thank-you magnet with a drawing of our RV to remember their experience. We also keep family board games, colouring supplies, flashlights, puzzles, card games, and books on board."
10. What’s are your future plans for your RV rental business?
"We are planning on having new Glamping getaway packages, where people can camp at different wineries around the country and enjoy new experiences. These packages would be fully inclusive and work alongside other local vendors to offer services like glamping picnics, local charcuterie and snack boards, specialty workshops, wellness events, and so many more options. We are excited about continuing to build out our packages so that people can experience the all-inclusive vacation they’ve always dreamed of while staying relatively local."
11. Any last tips for anyone looking to turn their RV into a vacation rental?
"Be ready for the challenges you might come up against! It’s hard to find storage amid the RV boom, and there are a lot of bylaws about parking RVs in a residential driveway. As I mentioned earlier, it took a lot of effort to get the insurance we needed, and renting our RV means being available for drop-off/pickup during the summer. But it’s also a lot of fun, especially if you take the time to give your RV some personality through DIY projects and renovations. You’re giving people an opportunity to make memories and enjoy all that camping and RV life has to offer!"
Whether you’re looking for a trailer for personal use or want to explore the world of RV vacation rentals, we can recommend the best types of units to meet your needs. New and used RVs, RV services, financing, insurance, warranties, and so much more - we have it all at South Thompson RV.
And thank you so much to Ashley of Boho Adventure Camping for sharing her journey with us and our readers!