10 Ways to Save Money on USA Car, Campervan and Motorhome Hire


Today’s guest post comes from Bakpak Dave

There’s nothing more exhilarating than heading off on a road trip adventure around the States, whether you’re cruising along Route 66, camping in National Parks or relaxing at that perfect California beachside campground. That is, until you see the price tag!

While campervan rentals are way cheaper than motorhomes, they can be more expensive than a basic car rental or taking the bus or train. So Bakpak Dave has put together ten ways you can save money and make that special road trip adventure more affordable. Happy travels!

1. Pick up in a location with a lower sales tax rate

While the savings is not huge, on a long rental or an expensive motorhome, you can save a couple of percentage points by picking up across Manhattan in New Jersey at 7% versus California which is as high as 10%. You can also save a little when choosing between Los Angeles (9.25%) and San Francisco (8.5%). This savings does not apply to companies that charge a flat 10% tax and admin fee amount.

2. Take advantage of early bird booking specials

One of the best ways to save on your summer campervan or motorhome rental is to book early. How much you save depends on how early you book. Many companies offer as much as 15% off the daily rate if you book by October 31 or as last as November 30. If you can’t make these dates, then you can save 10% and 5% if you book by January 15 or 31 and February 28, 2013 respectively.

Best of all, you only need to put down a deposit to make your booking, with the balance due either 30 days prior to pickup or on the pickup date itself, depending on the company you rent from.

3. Score a relocation

What can be better than a $1/day relocation? While the opportunities at this rate are very limited, you can look for relocation opportunities at the various rental agencies to see if any are available and at what daily rate. Other relocation deals might include no the one-way fees (see #4 below).

4. Find no one-way fee deals

In the off-season, you can find no one-way fee deals for your cross-country trip including from the west coast to the east coast in winter and early spring, as well as New York back to the west coast in spring. One way fees on cross-country rentals range from $500 to $1500 so getting a deal like this will save you big time!

5. Don’t get more vehicle than you need

Two travellers don’t need a motorhome unless you really, really want the on-board toilet, shower and full kitchen. If you stay at campgrounds, you will likely want to use their facilities anyway and avoid having to dump the waste on your motorhome.

Campervans offer a great alternative to pricey motorhomes. They are cheaper, easier to drive, require less fuel and are easier to maintain. You give up space and certain luxuries but it can definitely be worth the savings.

6. Buy a tent and rent a car

During the peak summer season, campervans or motorhomes may be booked out or unaffordable. Why not consider renting a car or minivan, purchasing a cheap tent and sleeping mats/bags and hit the campgrounds? You can even use the money saved to splurge a couple of nights a week on a nice hotel or motel with free breakfast, pool and hot tub and comfy beds.

7. Take advantage of long term rental/hire discounts

Most rental operators provide discounts for longer term hire. Motorhome operators offer discounts ranging from 5% for 21+ day rentals to 10% for 35+ day rentals. Some campervan rental operators provide discounts at set increments such as 7, 14, 21 and 35 days.

8. Book early and long term!

If you can book early AND book for 21-plus days, you can combine both discounts, saving 20-25% off the daily hire rates. This represents significant savings!

9. Travel in shoulder season or wintertime

Skip the summer and fall travel periods and hit the roads starting in November though to March and you will find big savings including campervan daily rates as low as $25 per night and motorhome daily rates as low as $40! Seriously!

The off season is a great time to explore California and the Southwest. With mild winters and little or no snow, you will find the roads, campgrounds and attractions less congested. This time of year is also best to visit Death Valley safely and to explore the tide pools dotted along on the California Coast. Do bring a warm jumper though.

10. Book through Bakpak Dave

Bakpak Dave’s free car and campervan rental booking service will help you find the right vehicle and price, saving you time and money, and providing you piece of mind. Bakpak Dave, a car/camper rental guru and travel agent, works with top quality rental operators that cater to the budget/backpacker industry. He does not mark up supplier retail rates or add any fees. Additionally, he offers the following extra benefits:

  • Advice on best rental options for your road trip adventure including miles required
  • Discounts and special offers when available
  • Free trip idea planning e-books
  • Free print copy and/or online edition of our USA/Canada hostels & travel guide
  • Free road trip club membership (a soon to be launched private resource site for road trip planning)
  • Donations of $5-10 for each booking to the National Parks Service or California State Parks

Bakpak Dave is located in Los Angeles and his company, Bakpak Travelers Guide, is a registered seller of travel in California (CST #2100061) and a Member of the American Society of Travel Agents. Send him an email to info@bakpakguide.com

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Thanks to juokaz for the image off Flickr. Please note, this image was held under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.

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