Are you considering renting out your campervan? With over 140,000 people living full-time in vans, boats or other rec vehicles, maybe you’re ready to share the joy of this lifestyle!
You probably have a lot of questions about the listing, prep, send-off processes and everything in between. After all, this is your home on wheels–the idea of a stranger driving away in your tiny home can be a lot.
Table of Contents
Is the Listing Process on Outdoorsy Hard?
I found the sign-up process quick and straightforward. I was expecting it to be more complicated with the renters and owners insurance aspect. But it boiled down to Outdoorsy simply asking for your vehicle’s VIN, and then they email you about whether or not you are approved for their insurance. The rest of the signup process involves:
- Making a profile (with pictures, description) of your van
- Providing make, model and amenities details
- Determining your rules, rates and discounts
I actually signed up as a “joke” to myself because I was curious if anyone would be interested in renting my 20-year old van! But joke’s on me–I had renters reaching out within two weeks and I realized I had a lot of prepping to do.
How to List Your Van on Outdoorsy
Check out the screen recording video of me walking through the sign-up process.
1. Go to www.outdoorsy.com
2. Click “List your RV” in the upper right corner
3. Select your class of camper
4. Provide your email and phone number
5. Provide vehicle details (make, model, amenities, sleeping, hookups, etc)
6. Choose your rules (allow pets, tailgating, festivals, smoking, etc.)
7. Create your listing description with photos
8. Choose your rates, discounts, security deposit and add-on fees
9. Decide if you want to offer van delivery
10. Choose the flexibility of your booking acceptance and cancellation policies
11. Apply for rental insurance and roadside assistance
What Rental Rates Can You Charge?
You can set whatever rate your heart desires–seriously, if you want to charge $1M/night, go for it. Or maybe $1/night if you’re feeling generous. Just keep in mind that Outdoorsy takes between 20% – 25% of earnings.
From my research, the new, high-end vans with decked-out amenities typically charge between $150-$250/night. Older, low-roof vans or vans with basic amenities typically charge anywhere from $85-$120. I personally chose on the lower end since my van is older and a simple build.
Ultimately though, renters will determine your rates. There’s no sense in charging $1M/night if no one wants to rent your van.
You want to find the sweet spot where you’re making good money but renters aren’t turned off by high rates.
The best way to find that range is to simply scroll through Outdoorsy and see what other renters charge, who have similar vans and amenities to your own.
Go one step further and check if similar vans have any reviews. If a van doesn’t have any reviews, there’s a good chance renters think it’s priced too high, so it isn’t getting rented.
One of my favorite things about renting is that I choose ALL of my prices–and I can change them anytime I want. Prices and rates that you can set include:
- Daily van rental rate
- Prep fee (cleaning, safety checks)
- Security deposit (up to $3K)
- Custom discount rates
- Daily mileage
- Use of generator (if you have one)
- Any add-ons you create
Popular Rates, Discounts & Add-Ons
Similar to hotel rates, a common practice is upping your rates in the busy season (usually warmer months) and lowering in the “off” season.
Or you can set a weekly discount rate to incentivize renters to rent longer.
Ultimately, you can create any unique discount you desire and change or remove it anytime you want.
You can also make some extra dough by offering certain add-ons, such as airport pickup and drop-off.
I began offering this but have since stopped, because it has become extra hassle and logistics can get confusing if renters don’t communicate well. I try to keep my prices slightly lower than what an Uber or Lyft would charge, but by that point, sometimes the juice ain’t worth the squeeze! But it’s all personal preference.
How Does Insurance Work with Renting?
First, it’s important to note that Outdoorsy is the only major RV rental platform that covers both physical damage and liability for vehicles older than fifteen years.
As mentioned earlier, Outdoorsy asks for your VIN at sign-up and they use that to determine your eligibility for their insurance coverage. Assuming you are approved (most likely yes), you will receive an email letting you know. But you have to maintain your vehicle to certain standards in order to keep that coverage.
Read their guidelines for insurance eligibility and safety verification standards in order to keep coverage. And here’s a quick summary of the safety standards you have to maintain (click to enlarge photo):
It’s important to note that unless you are meticulously documenting every safety check of every kind before each rental, Outdoorsy could claim you did not meet those safety standards and therefore deny you coverage in the event of an accident or damage.
What Happens If a Renter Totals My Van?
Essentially, if a renter were to total your van, Outdoorsy will reimburse you based on the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of your rig. This is how Outdoorsy determines ACV (click to enlarge photo):
It gets a little vague in that last sentence…
Outdoorsy’s goal is to return your vehicle to what its current condition was before damage–no worse, no better. They also state (click to enlarge photo):
But no matter which protection package a renter chooses, all plans offer $1M in liability coverage for owners.
Outdoorsy offers its own insurance that covers both renters and owners. Their liability insurance is provided through Assurant and, as their site states, “For any damage to your rig, Outdoorsy provides direct coverage to you as an owner, backed by Lloyd’s of London.”
This is where taking detailed “before” and “after” photos of your van is really important, because if you can’t prove that a certain renter is responsible for physical damage, you could be SOL. Outdoorsy requires photos like this:
- Photos required to be captured pre-trip and post-trip include:
- Exterior photos: Front / Back / 2 side views
- Interior photos: Dashboard / Tank levels / Odometer / Beds / Baths / Seating
When signing up, you are asked to choose the amount of your security deposit–the default is $500 but can go up to $3,000. Once a renter returns your van, you have seven days from the return date to claim either a portion, or all of the security deposit.
When I have claimed small portions of the deposit, it asks me to describe the reason for claiming, but doesn’t require “proof”. I think a renter can dispute the claim, but I’ve never had that happen.
If damage is more than the amount of the security deposit, you will state that when filing a claim for keeping the security deposit. I think this is when you begin direct contact with an Outdoorsy rep to start the process of filing a bigger claim. But I haven’t gone through this process, so can’t speak to it.
There are a lot of details and certain stipulations that will determine how much reimbursement you receive if your van is totaled or damaged. I recommend reading:
- Outdoorsy Protection Packages for Owners
- Physical Damage Coverage for U.S. Owners
- All Outdoorsy articles on Owner Insurance
To be frank, a big reason I am okay with renting my van out is because it isn’t a huge asset that I’ve poured all of my money into. I have thought through the worst-case scenario of my van being totaled, and while it would be devastating, I would not be financially ruined. I can’t say the same if I owned a $150k Sprinter, though.
How Many Bookings Will You Get?
In my first month of listing, I received 5-7 messages which resulted in 2 bookings.
After being on Outdoorsy for ~3 months, I am averaging almost one booking per week, booked out for the next ~2.5 months. Most bookings are weekend-long trips and a handful are a week or longer. It definitely comes in waves. I won’t hear from any renters for 1-2 weeks and then I get 3-4 messages in one week!
You WILL get excited when renters reach out, only to then either ghost you or cancel their booking. Most renters have been polite enough to let me know that either their trip plans changed or they found a van better suited for their needs.
You can choose how long a renter is allowed to rent your van. I currently have mine set to three weeks, but I haven’t had a renter book longer than two weeks.
I think the number of bookings initially will depend on your location and the time of year. You’ll probably see more bookings if you are in a warmer climate and/or it is a warmer season. I signed up in early Spring–the weather was warming up and people were starting to plan trips.
What Percentage Does Outdoorsy Take?
As of January 2023, Outdoorsy increased their host rental fees from a flat 20% to a tiered structure ranging from 20 – 25%.
Their new tiered structure is based on your total earnings within a year. New fee structure:
- 20% fee
Hosts with $35,000+ in total bookings value in the prior 12 months.
- 22% fee
Hosts with $20,001 – $34,999 in total bookings value in the prior 12 months.
- 25% fee (my tier)
Hosts with $20,000 or less in total bookings value in the prior 12 months.
They also noted for me that, “if you increase your total bookings value to $35,000+ in a 12-month period, your fee will drop from 25% to 20%.”
They take this percentage off of the total amount of both your rental fee and your “prep” free. For example, I charge $99/night and have a $75 prep fee. So let’s say a renter books a 3-night stay, I will make $279.
Example of how to calculate earnings for a 3-night stay:
Rental rate: $99/night
Prep fee: One-time $75 fee
Outdoorsy fee percentage: 25%
Math broken down:
(99×3)+75 = 372
372 * 0.25 = 93
372 – 93 = $279 is what I will make
*Note this doesn’t factor in taxes, though. Depending on your state residence, taxes will be charged to the renter but are not factored into the 25% fee.
Security Deposit Fee
Outdoorsy also charges a 2.5% fee on any amount of the security deposit that you claim, in order to cover their credit card processing fees. As mentioned, you can set your security deposit up to $3,000 and the default amount is $500.
There have been a couple of times that renters didn’t fill up my gas tank, so I pulled from a renter’s deposit to fill it up–but had to charge extra in order to ensure I wasn’t losing money due to the 2.5% service fee. It may be different if you are filing a claim due to a renter leaving damage, though– I haven’t experienced this myself so can’t speak to it.
You have the ability to create any add-on you want. For example, offering airport pickup or drop-off. But when you create an add-on, Outdoorsy will ask if you want it charged daily or as a one-time fee that you will calculate after the trip.
This is basically the same as the security deposit fee, because add-ons costs are pulled from the security deposit. They also get hit with the 2.5% service fee.
How I Prep My Van for a Renter
Before my very first rental, I took my van to the mechanic (which is always scary in a budget van) for an oil change, fluid, brakes and tire check. They found a few things that needed fixing, so almost $2,000 later, my van was completely road-reliable.
Won’t lie, it hurt to dish that out, but the thought of a renter getting hurt under my watch is terrifying.
From there, I maintain oil and tire checks on schedule and check in on brakes frequently.
The free amenities I include with my rental are two camp chairs, fresh linens, two pillows, a very basic portable toilet, and a big Coleman cooler (since I don’t have a fridge).
I make sure the handy-dandy Van Manual I created is placed in the console, facing the drivers and passengers seat:
I ask renters before pick-up if they want my bench-to-bed in “bench” or “bed” mode–they always choose “bed” mode. I also ask if they want to use my cooler–about half of them say yes.
So I run sheets and a comforter through the wash, make the bed, make sure my five-gallon water jug is filled, clean out the cooler if it’s being used, and vacuum the carpet and seats. I use Clorox wipes to disinfect the main areas of the van.
Sometimes I go to a self-use car wash if the van is looking extra dusty or dirty. [On a very different side note, I created an LLC so I can write off car wash expenses and other expenses related to renting my van].
I double-check tire pressure and tread, make sure the gas tank is full, and (assuming I didn’t just change my oil), make sure it has healthy oil levels.
Steps in a Van Rental Pick-Up
- Before you do a rental make sure you download the free Outdoorsy Pro app on your phone. The regular Outdoorsy app is only for renters, but the Outdoorsy Pro app is just for owners. This is where you can initiate pick-up and drop-off for every renter, straight from your phone.
- Message the renter ~24 hours before pick-up to ensure everything is still good to go. Outdoorsy recommends keeping all communication within the messaging dashboard, so in the event of an accident or issue, they can quickly look back on your conversation.
- Make sure all safety and cleanliness inspections have been completed. Make sure the gas tank is full and any free amenities are ready to use.
- When renter(s) arrive, initiate the hand-off process in Outdoorsy Pro. If you haven’t already, take at least ten photos of the van to include.
- Calmly and clearly answer any and all questions the renter(s) may have. Give them a tour and show them how to use everything. I made a Van Manual I leave in the console in case they run into questions on the road.
Do You Have to Be Present for Key Exchange?
Nope! So long as you provide clear pick-up and/or drop-off instructions, your schedule doesn’t have to revolve around renters.
That being said, I’ve only done this once for a drop-off because I was out of town. I waited until the renter messaged me the day of returning to tell him I wouldn’t be present at drop-off. I thought it best to wait because you don’t want to chance a renter trying to do something sneaky if they know you aren’t around.
In the Outdoorsy Pro app, it asks if you will be present at pick-up or drop-off. So even though you aren’t there at drop-off, you still have seven days to report any damage or security deposit claims.
Safety Tips for Renting Your Van
You get VERY little information about renters from the owner dashboard. Most renters don’t even have a profile picture. All you get is their name and any information they share via messaging with you. Because of this, it’s important to ask questions that will really give you insight into the type of renter they will be.
Not just what they say but how they say it and their ability to communicate clearly. They have to become a verified driver on Outdoorsy in order to rent, which means they have to send Outdoorsy a photo of themselves and a photo of their driver’s license.
Don’t Use “INSTABook”: Outdoorsy offers an “Instant Book” feature which allows renters to book your van without messaging you at all. I don’t use this feature because I always like to have a conversation with renters before booking.
Ask Renters About Their Travel Plans: I ask renters if they are traveling with anyone (pets, partners) and what “type” of trip they are taking. My goal is to get a feel for the mileage they’ll be putting on the van and the overall messiness I can expect.
Take Note of International Travelers: I’m shocked at how many international travelers are looking to book. My only hesitation with international travelers is that driving in their country may be very different from driving in the US. So I may take extra time to review how to operate the vehicle with them, or ask them if they have driven in the US before.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No: You and only you decide who gets to rent your van. You always have the option to cancel a booking. While it’s not going to do you any favors for “good business”, the most important thing is to trust your gut. But the more you can initially say “no” rather than canceling on a renter down the road, the more you can avoid a bad rap.
Decide on a Meet-Up Location: Outdoorsy automatically sends a renter your listed address within 12-24 hours of their trip. So if you decide you want to meet in a more public area, or not your personal home, change the default “pickup” address that you listed on Outdoorsy when signing up.
Set Your Rules Up-Front: Outdoorsy lets you display whether or not your van is pet, smoking, tailgating, or festival friendly. So should a renter reach out asking about these things, it’s easier to say, “sorry, my rule is I don’t allow [whatever]”.
How to Maximize Chances of Getting Booked
Optimize Your Listing: Put some TLC into your vehicle listing! Outdoorsy even offers listing coaches that walk you through how to optimize your listing. Rather than just listing your van’s features, try painting a picture of what they can expect and use high-res photos to compliment it.
Use “INSTAMatch”: Sometimes Outdoorsy will send you a push notification saying “a renter is looking in your area for a van like yours! Message them now!” I have jumped on these opportunities and brought in two new renters this way. Sometimes messaging renters first can actually help them hone in on what they want, since they may not yet know. Be sure to sound friendly and not pushy, though!
Ask for a Review: Most of my renters have left a positive review without me even asking, which I’m so grateful for! But the more positive reviews you have, the more it will encourage other renters to trust your listing. I also think Outdoorsy pushes top-rated profiles higher on the search results list.
Respond ASAP: Try to respond as quickly as possible to renter messages but maintain a “go with the flow” attitude. And don’t throw TOO much information at a potential renter! In my first month, I wanted to be so thorough that I’d provide lots of detail for every question a renter had. In hindsight, I think shorter responses would’ve been more effective and not overwhelmed them or made them feel like they had to make a decision ASAP.
Offer Free Amenities: It’s the small things, right? Simple freebies like fresh linens, pillows, camp chairs, or anything you feel comfortable sharing for free, is a good way to increase rentability.
My Worst Van Rental Experiences
I’m happy to report that I haven’t had any earth-shattering, horrific experiences yet *knock on wood*. Most renters are communicative, polite and pretty respectful of the van.
I have had a handful that are really messy, don’t return the van with a full gas tank or lose cutlery or cookware (somehow?), but otherwise no big issues. And since everything in my van is budget, I’m not worried about a missing fork or plate. I’m just more curious…why it’s missing in the first place?
My worst experience was anticlimactic but extremely disappointing, because I was at fault but my renter had to pay the price.
Basically, despite having my AC fixed just six months prior, I was unaware it had a small coolant leak and was on its last leg of life. When a renter picked up my van to take it to the Grand Canyon, he called a couple of hours later saying the AC wasn’t that cold and he was worried about a coolant leak.
I told him he could continue using the van and the AC, continue his trip without using the AC, or return the van and I’d give him a full refund.
Ultimately, he chose to return the van and I issued a full refund. However, Outdoorsy would not refund the service or tax fees–so not only was he out about $150, but he was also massively inconvenienced and without a van.
Thankfully, no vehicle or human was damaged in the process, all things considered it could’ve been much worse. But still, it has left a big damper on the rental experience. It also shows that renters are quite vulnerable on Outdoorsy.
I had my AC checked out and fixed three days later and learned that it did, in fact, have a coolant leak in one of the service ports. The mechanic said it had just enough coolant left for the AC to still barely turn on and “work”. I’m thankful the renter decided to not risk his (or my van’s) luck.
I offered the renter a free night in the van once my AC was fixed, but I didn’t hear from him again.
At the end of the day, it’s still a leap of faith to rent your van. No matter how many safety or financial precautions you put in place, life happens. I have had to learn to embrace the honor code system in order to not nit-pick little things or get frustrated with renters.
I’ve lost a frying pan, spoon and two plates, but gained three boxes of La Crouix, two reusable Starbucks mugs, four cans of soup, a fitness tracking watch, and other random items. I even sent a photo of the fitness tracker to the renter who I know it came from, but he said it wasn’t his?! I’m still very confused.
That’s why the best precautions you can take will avoid bad situations altogether. This means vetting out your renters before allowing them to book your van and documenting everything!
I’m curious if this overview has increased or decreased your interest in wanting to rent your van! Please leave a comment with your feedback! I think more and more van owners will look to renting for passive income, and ultimately I think it’s an incredible way to make some extra side money.