our everyday life

Where to Rent a Camper Van

by Jenny Landis-Steward

Do you want to take your family on an outdoor vacation without trying to cook with smoke in your eyes, and or sleep on the cold ground with a rocky bump hitting you when you roll over. Do you want to enjoy the scenic beauty of state or national forest campsites without struggling outdoors with a flashlight in the middle of the night looking for a smelly outhouse? If so, then a camper vacation is for you. Here's where and how to rent a camper van or camper.

Finding a Van Rental Agency

Camper van rentals are available on all continents and a few are multinational. In the United States, camper vans are primarily available on the West Coast. Typing "camper vans" into a search engine site will bring up a listing of rental companies. Typing "Westfalia van rentals" will bring up a few more. If an international van rental company shows a U.S. flag, it means it may have rentals in the United States. Motor homes worldwide (motorhomesworldwide.com) provides links to rental agencies in 36 countries, including China and India, as well as listings by continents. Wicked Campers (wickedcampers.com) has a variety of vans with bold graphics, and has rental agencies in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, England and South Africa. Another rental agency is Cruise America and Cruise Canada (cruiseamerica.com). Even though it doesn't sound right on the face of it, Maui rentals (maui-rentals.com) can get you an RV in South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.

Costs

Vans are rented by the day. In the U.S., figure $65 to $80 per day for rental and a mileage fee of around $30 for every 100 miles traveled. Add to this the cost of gasoline and campsite fees. The typical van can go 15 miles per gallon. Assuming $3.50 per gallon, each 100 miles would take about $25 in gasoline. A campsite may cost $10 to $30 per night with some additional charges for showers and laundry facilities. A week in the U.S. could cost $750 to $800, Canada could be $600 (U.S. dollars). The minimum rental is typically four to seven days, depending on the season. Cancellations made 45 days prior to the reservation will cost $250 and cancellations made closer to the reservation time may result in forfeiture of up to the entire cost of the rental. There also may be a charge for changing the reservation. In Europe due to the relative strength of the euro in comparison with the dollar, you'll pay around $900 per week for a rental and campsite, and about $40 for every 100 miles for gasoline. In Australia and New Zealand or South Africa, costs would be comparable to Europe In addition, figure into the typical rental the cost of daily collision insurance. Ask about vehicle taxes and if there is a fee to rent towels and sheets, so you don't have any unwelcome surprises. For about $50 per person you can rent a personal kit of a sleeping bag, bath and kitchen towels, or you can bring your own. A fee of $100 to $150 may be charged for equipping the van with dishes and cooking equipment as well as such things as a fire extinguisher and tire jack. Companies place a $500 - $1000 charge on your credit card as a bond against damage. It will be refunded if you return all the van in clean condition, full of gas, with no damage and with all the items you rented in the personal kit or the cooking kit. Finally, expect a $20 administrative fee for the rental company to pay for paperwork.

Van or RV

Some smaller RVs rent for less than camper vans. The advantage to an RV is an indoor toilet, which is handy in the middle of the night. Yet some campers get by just fine with the traditional chamber pot or port a potty right outside the van.

Restrictions

All rental companies have prohibitions on where you can take the camper. Death Valley, California, during the summer is one such area, due to its extreme heat. Some primitive roads also are off limits. If you intend to go to certain festivals, auto races or concerts, there may be extra fees charged to allow for the risk that exists from being in such large crowds.

About the Author

Jenny Landis-Steward has written reports for child welfare research for over 14 years. She has a master's degree in clinical psychology. She was the editor of two social service agency publications for seven years. Her economic thesis was an analysis of employment trends.