In-Depth Outdoorsy Review -- The Best RV Rental Agency In 2019?
A ton of first-timer renters and RVers have made their way to us wondering one major question: is Outdoorsy a scam or a reputable RV rental agency?
Before we dive too deep into what makes them so popular (and successful) in 2019, we’re going to give you the shortest answer possible: Outdoorsy is THE best RV rental company we’ve found.
And we’ve dug into nearly all of them.
One thing we can say about the sudden influx of RV rental agencies on the internet is this — you’ve heard of AirBnB and know what it’s doing to help renters connect with short-term tenants in order to keep their properties generating revenue…
Outdoorsy is giving RV owners the exact same perks.
They’re giving first-timers and adventurers, like yourself, the chance to explore the world in a home-away-from-home without having to fork over the massive costs associated with buying and maintaining an RV themselves.
Now that you know what we really think of them…
Here’s how we came to our conclusion.
You’ve heard of AirBnB. Outdoorsy took what AirBnB did right, moved it into the RV industry, and then capitalized on their success to become THE best rental company right now.
The co-founders are full-time RVers who gave up their corporate careers to take life on the road, living in an Airstream for a few years.
Their love for the great outdoors and connecting with other like-minded people who were on the same journey in life was one of their biggest motivators and is, what we believe, the single biggest reason they’ve become so successful.
It’s hard to deny their passion when you hear their story and get a chance to talk to them.
What started as a small company, with just Jeff and Jen at the helm, quickly turned into the largest RV marketplace and peer-to-peer rental network online. In 2019, there are more than 30,000 RVs to choose from with the company employing more than 100 people.
Instead of listening to us ramble on about how much we love them, take a look at the short video Jeff and Jen put together where they share their story and what went into making Outdoorsy what it’s turned into today.
The Outdoorsy RV Rental Process
One of the biggest reasons Outdoorsy has propelled themselves to the top of the pack is their RV rental process. It’s one of the easiest we’ve seen and finding the perfect RV for your group size and destination has never been easier.
If you’re new to their site, here’s how the process goes.
Find The Perfect RV
When you land on their site the first thing you’re going to be greeted with is their search form.
This form makes it incredibly easy to filter through the tens of thousands of RVs available for rent so you’re only seeing the right size and type for your next adventure.
To get started, all you have to do is enter the location you’re wanting to rent from (pick your destination if you’re travelling — to save money!) and then select your dates.
Hit enter and let their site go to work.
Once finished, you’ll get a list of RVs that are available in the area you’ve chosen, with some alternatives available in nearby locations.
If the city you’ve chosen doesn’t have any matches for the filters you’ve set, Outdoorsy will branch out to help connect you with an RV owner in a nearby area.
If you’re overwhelmed with the number of results you’ve gotten you can refine the filters even further. For instance, if you know you want a smaller RV or a tow-behind, you can eliminate Class A and Class C rentals completely.
If you’re looking for a larger RV, you can set the filters so you’re no longer seeing popup campers, tent trailers, fifth wheels, and camper vans. Mix and match filters until you find the right RV for your group size and the rules you need.
You can choose whether or not you’ll need to bring pets along, if you’re going to require amenities such as a fully stocked kitchen, whether or not the RV has entertainment onboard, and how past customers rate their experience with the owner you’re considering renting from.
To save yourself the most time (and avoid potential headaches) you can limit the results to only 4-star and 5-star reviews. This makes the browsing process incredibly easy — and makes picking the perfect RV rental a breeze.
Booking Your Rental
Once you’ve narrowed down your options and chosen, what you believe to be, the perfect RV, you can go ahead and “Instant Book!” the rental.
While some RVs will be able to be booked instantly, there’s quite a few that are going to require you to speak with the owner and has out details.
This part of the process ensures that you’re getting exactly what you want — and that owners aren’t going to get plagued with negative reviews because customers didn’t read or assumed something that wasn’t true.
If the RV that you’ve selected requires owner-approval, you can expect a response within the first 24 hours — RV owners WANT you to rent their vehicles, but they also want to make sure that you’re safe to rent to.
Many times you’ll find that the owners are so eager to help you that they will respond within a few hours after contacting them. Sometimes the process moves a bit slower, though, so don’t fret if the owner isn’t able to return your messages right away.
Once you begin the booking process you’re going to need to go through a few pages of information in order to complete it.
During this part of the process, your RV is held in reservation for around 10 minutes so you’ll want to make sure you’re committed to the process after you hit “Book!” and open the lines of communication with the owner.
Next, you’ll be given the opportunity to choose the options you need. You can select everything from including linens and bedclothes to whether or not you need an electric generator, a gas stove or cooking grill, television, and other amenities.
Finally, you’ll need to enter your payment details.
This is when you’ll be asked to put down your security deposit (refunded once you return the RV in the same condition you rented it in) which can vary anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the size and trim level of the RV you’ve selected.
(Outdoorsy has recently began offering financing for your rental, through Affirm Credit, but you’ll need to be aware of the finance and interest charges attached.)
The next page is going to ask you for your insurance information and whether, or not, you need additional protections.
It’s always highly recommended to get the included insurance — you never know when life will come at you and having outside insurance is a great way to protect yourself from life’s little ‘hiccups’.
Once you’ve selected your insurance protections — or provided your own — you’ll be asked to purchase trip protection. This is used if you need to cancel your trip, to guarantee that you receive a full refund on your purchase, regardless of the owner’s cancellation and refund policies.
On top of insurances and trip protections, you will also be asked whether, or not, you want to purchase damage protection. This type of insurance protects the interior of the vehicle from damage, such as a broken knob on the stove or pet stains from your pooch having an accident while you’re on the road.
If you need time to consider whether the protections are necessary (so you can check your own insurance coverages), you can always go back and add the trip insurance or damage protections after you’ve booked the rental.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of the booking process, you’ll want to secure your rental.
Hitting “Save and Continue” will let the owner know that you’ve completed the process and they will secure your rental for the dates you’ve requested — guaranteeing nobody else will have access to the RV during that time.
Now’s the time to begin communicating with the owner.
Talk With Your RV Owner
One of the best aspects of Outdoorsy is how easy they’ve made it to communicate with the person that you’re going to be renting from. Many RV owners will expect you to contact them once you’ve booked your rental so it’s a good idea to send a message right away.
Installing the Outdoorsy app on your smartphone is a great way to stay in touch with them, since many RV owners are only available certain hours of the day and want to guarantee that you have a smooth trip.
Returning messages quickly saves a lot of headache and misunderstanding down the road so we can’t recommend using the app enough.
Communicating with the owners is incredibly easy. Most are kind and courteous, ready to answer any and all questions you have. Some will even go as far as helping you plan your adventures if you’re going to be staying in their local area with the RV.
The app is also great for those times when you’re already underway, in their RV, and encounter problems or situations that you didn’t think to ask about before you left. Many times, the owner will make special trips to you (if you’re close enough) in order to help you solve the problems.
This benefits them greatly. Rather than letting you guess and fumble your way through the situation (potentially causing harm or damage to the vehicle) they will rectify it for you, saving you time and headaches.
As the date nears you’ll want to start making arrangements to physically take possession of the RV. It’s times like these having checklists is critical.
Pick Up Your RV
When you’ve gotten the details ironed out there’s a couple ways to go about actually getting the RV. You can either pick it up yourself, or you can arrange for the owner to deliver it to your campground.
Some owners are going to be more inclined to deliver the RV for you, setting it up properly and then returning when you’re finished with your trip to break down the vehicle. This saves you a lot of headache — and the owners the frustration of fixing what may get broken during teardown.
Having the owner onsight with you is a great way to get familiarized with the vehicle, ask additional questions about how to use the amenities, how to care for the vehicle, and how to make the most out of your time with it.
If you’re new, this is an amazing benefit — and one you should definitely take advantage of!
Turn In Your Keys
You’ve heard the saying “All good things must come to an end” and your RV trip is no different.
When your trip is rounding out and coming to a close, you’ll be responsible for cleaning up the vehicle, getting in contact with the owner, and returning the keys.
This is one of those times when having an open line of communication with your RV owner is going to work in your benefit.
For instance, if you find out that you need an extra few hours at the end of your trip and you’ve already communicated that to your owner, they may be more inclined to help you.
Likewise, they may also be more inclined to break down the RV and clear out the returning process for you — in cases where they have another renter lined up and waiting on your RV.
The goal here is to make sure you’re able to end your trip smoothly, the RV owner gets possession of the vehicle in the condition you received it in, and they’re able to get it relisted on Outdoorsy for the next rental period.
Get Your Security Deposit Returned
Once your trip is over and you’ve safely returned the RV to its owner, you can begin working on getting your security deposit back. This typically takes around 7 days to give the owner plenty of time to go through the vehicle and let Outdoorsy know your financial liabilities.
As long as the vehicle was returned in the same (or better) condition than you received it in you should have no issues getting your deposit returned within a day or two.
The Benefits Of Outdoorsy
You’ve heard our review of why we believe Outdoorsy is the best RV rental company in 2019 but when it comes down to the brass tax — the unbiased look at what makes them so popular — you can start to see why so many first-timers and life-longers are using Outdoorsy over other marketplaces.
Comparing Outdoorsy vs RVShare or Outdoorsy vs Cruise America makes it pretty clear on how Jeff and Jen have sent Outdoorsy to the moon and back — and why they’re consistently rated higher than any other marketplace available today.
RV Rental Availability
The last time we checked the marketplace, Outdoorsy offered more than 50,000 rentals available around the United States. This is perfect for you because you can find a rental available just about anywhere you’re planning to visit.
We haven’t encountered many problems finding rentals available for both short-term and long-term rentals in a wide variety of popular destinations.
This goes for smaller, more unknown areas, too. Where most marketplaces only service the tourist traps and large metropolitan areas, Outdoorsy was the only service we’ve found that caters to smaller cities
If you start venturing into more remote locations, though, you’ll want to keep in mind that your options might be limited.
It’s times like these that renting from a larger area, spending some time exploring that area, and then venturing into your destination is a great way to explore and save money. This is something common among ALL marketplaces, though — not just Outdoorsy.
As it stands, Outdoorsy offers one of the highest levels of insurance protections of any marketplace and rental agency today. With more than $1,000,000 in protections (through their top-tier programs) there aren’t many times you’ll find yourself unprotected.
The $1 million insurance coverages take care of just about every possible nightmare scenario you could find yourself in. This level of protection shows that Outdoorsy wants to take care of the owners, while also guaranteeing you can relax and enjoy your adventures.
To give you an example, one story we’ve read showed where the renter managed to gouge a slice into the side of an RV rental by slipping into a rock. After filing a claim (and a bit of back and forth), the insurance policy covered the entire damage.
Even though it may take some effort to go through the claims process, the fact that Outdoorsy is willing to stand behind their protections instantly sets them apart from other marketplaces that will hem and haw until you give up and pay the claim yourself — AFTER charging you for premium insurance coverage.
As a renter, you never know when life will come at you or a random hiccup turns into a hurdle that requires you spending time on the phone with an insurance company to fix the damage.
Outdoorsy has designed their insurance policies to make this process as seamless and smooth as possible.
Roadside Assistance Programs
Another area that sets Outdoorsy apart is their inclusion of Free Roadside Assistance with nearly EVERY rental on their site, provided you accept the Premium and Ultimate coverages.
With their basic options you do not have roadside included, so you’ll need to either pre-arrange your own protection or consider accepting Roadside Assistance when you’re going through the booking process.
The protections that Outdoorsy offers are actually through a company called Coach-Net, who specializes in helping stranded RVers get back on the road as quickly as possible.
They currently offer:
- 24 hour per day, 7 day per week support.
- RV services assistance, for arranging repairs.
- A high-end RV service network.
- Mobile mechanics and tire repairs.
- Emergency roadside service for minor breakdowns.
Something to think about is whether or not you’re going to be driving the RV. If you’re allowing the owner to deliver and pick up the RV from your destination you do not actually need roadside coverage. This is only for renters who will be driving on open roads.
From our research, Coach-Net tends to be fairly reliable without making you jump through too many hoops to use the protections that you’ve paid for.
You will need to realize that Outdoorsy is not actually in control of the Roadside Assistance programs, so you’ll be dealing directly with Coach-Net.
Outdoorsy tends to be fairly upfront about their cancellation policies.
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to take possession of the RV that you’ve booked, due to unforeseen circumstances, there’s three levels of cancellation policies you’ll need to think about, as well: strict, moderate, and flexible.
The cancellation policy has a lot to do with how the owners of the RV view and handle cancellations, and Outdoorsy does offer protections in case you find yourself in a situation where your trip gets cancelled, but there are options available that other companies do not offer.
Other companies might charge you or retain your security deposit if you cancel while Outdoorsy wants to give you and the RV owner the ability to settle how the situation is handled.
Customer Service Rating
This is another area that sets Outdoorsy apart from the rest. Jeff and Jen wanted to ensure customers were able to receive the support they needed without having to jump through hoops.
Whether you’re trying to get a rental reserved, you’re on the road and encounter problems, or you’re trying to work through a dispute with an owner after the fact, the Outdoorsy customer service team is always available.
You can contact them by phone, through email, or in their help center and receive responses fairly quickly. Where some companies make it as difficult as possible to receive support (and save themselves money) Outdoorsy wants to guarantee you’re never waiting around.
Their customer service teams are always incredibly friendly and extremely helpful and will often go well out of their way to get your questions answered — even if it means they have to get back to you later.
Pros & Cons Of Renting With Outdoorsy
Now that you’ve worked through the entire rental process and seen what all Outdoorsy offers that sets them apart from their competition, there’s a few basic pros and cons to their service that you’ll want to know in advance.
Arming yourself with the information most first-timers (and even some life-longers) don’t realize is the best way to ensure a smooth adventure — one that turns into memories instead of nightmares.
- By far, the best customer service available through any marketplace.
- The biggest selection of RVs in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia.
- Better rates than any other marketplace we’ve seen.
- The highest level of insurance protections available to renters AND owners.
- An upbeat, friendly environment that cultivates relationships.
- Varying levels of quality since it’s peer-to-peer and not a managed agency.
- Varying levels of spam if you do not actually complete your booking process.
At the end of the day, it’s really hard to find faults with the Outdoorsy business model, especially when you realize that Jeff and Jen (Co-Founders) are constantly on top of negative reviews and go far-and-above to rectify negative customer experiences.
They want to be known as the best and it shows in their commitment to value and quality.
From what we’ve found, it’s really hard to go wrong with Outdoorsy!
Should You Start An RV Business?
If you came to this article because you’re an RV owner on the fence about turning your recreational vehicle into a part-time business model for yourself and your family, consider going with the Outdoorsy marketplace.
And if you have an Outdoorsy review of your own, we’d love to hear from you! How was your experience either renting from them or renting your RV through them? Do you believe we missed anything in our initial review? Let us know!