If You Own an RV, You’ll Want to Read How This Couple Made $37K

A middle-aged woman wearing a black shirt and her hair up in a pony tail wipes down a table in a motor home.
Karla Atherton cleans out an RV for a customer to use at their R.V. storage facility in El Cajon, Calif., on Dec. 7, 2018. The Atherton family rent out RVs to customers through RVshare. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder
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Patrick Atherton has been around mobile homes and RVs his whole life.

As a teen, he worked alongside his stepdad repairing units.

This passion for motorhomes has seeped into his adulthood. In 2008, Patrick teamed up with his wife, Karla Atherton, and started a business: A1 RV Repairs and Services, a repair business located in the San Diego, California, area.

They’ve serviced an array of clients, some who rented their RVs out through Craigslist. This piqued the couple’s interest — it would be nice to turn an idle travel trailer into some income.

But they weren’t excited about Craigslist. Renting out an RV is different from renting out a vehicle or any other item for that matter. More complications. More liabilities.

Then Karla found RVShare, a platform dedicated to RV, motorhome and travel-trailer rentals. It’s like Airbnb — but for vacationers looking to hit the road.

It offers comprehensive insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance.

In October 2017, the Athertons listed their Lance travel trailer on the site. Then, this past August, they added two more to their rental fleet: a 1990 Class-A motorhome and a 2015 Forester Class-C motorhome.

In 2018 alone, the couple has made $37,830.55 with RVshare.

The couple shared their RVshare experience as well as insider tips.

Why Would I Rent My RV Through RVshare?

A man and customer walk in a field full of RVs in southern California.
Patrick Atherton assists a customer at his R.V. storage facility. In 2018, the couple has made $37,830.55 with RVshare. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Unless you live in your motorhome full time, it’s likely sitting in your yard (if local code enforcement hasn’t called you out yet), or you’re paying for storage.

That’s OK, because the family adventures are well worth it. But wouldn’t it be nice to earn some extra money instead of watching it collect dust and dirt?

The income could help you pay off the loan you used to purchase it, cover the storage fees or boost your income.

That’s why the Athertons decided to rent out their 21-foot 2017 Lance trailer in October 2017. Their repair business tends to slow down during the off season, from around September to March. Renting out the trailer would potentially offset that lull.

But what if someone backs it into a Joshua tree? Blows out a tire in the middle of Death Valley? Freezes the pipes in Banff National Park?

RVshare has safeguards in place to help prevent and take care of those types of accidents.

All-Encompassing RVshare Insurance

RVshare’s insurance policy protects not only the RV but also the owner and the renter. It spans all 50 states and Canada.

It includes $500,000 in liability coverage plus up to $200,000 in collision coverage.

Even better: It’s free with each rental. When a renter books your RV, their estimated price includes a $1,500 security deposit, which equates to the insurance deductible.

RVshare insurance will cover you in case of animal impact, back-up accidents, windstorms, floods, lightning, vandalism, fire — you name it.

Free 24/7 Roadside Service

A man slides underneath a motor home to repair it after it broke down.
Patrick repairs a motor home for a customer. The Athertons repair RVs in addition to renting them through RVshare. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

RVshare also offers 24/7 emergency roadside assistance — free for the owner and the renter.

This includes free towing and free tire service, in case of a flat. This takes a lot of responsibility away from the owner and allows this to become a more passive form of income.

Attentive and Efficient Customer Service

Karla says her favorite part about RVshare, over other RV rental sites, is its customer service.

“Its customer service is not only superior [to its competitors] but very efficient in accomplishing what needs to be done,” she says.

She’s sent messages to support and has received a response within an hour.

For example, if Karla has ever needed to add more days to a reservation or has faced technical difficulties on the site, she’s been able to get in touch right away.

“The very few times that I’ve needed their support, they always replied very fast and in a very efficient way,” she says.

Free Listing

You don’t have to pay a penny to list your unit on RVshare. You’ll only pay a commission (usually about 25%) if your RV is actually rented out.

Remember, RVshare has to make some money, too, but you’ll never pay a monthly listing fee or an annual membership.

7 Pro RVshare Tips to Maximize Your Income

A woman assists an RV customer at her RV storage facility.
Kassandra Atherton, 8, watches her brother’s dog as Karla takes care of Kevin Hertz, an RVshare customer. “The RV owner must be ready at any given time to answer a customer’s call or text,” Karla says. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

After a year in the business, Karla has become a bit of an expert when it comes to RV rentals. She shared some tips to help beginners make money through RVshare.

1. Know Your Worth

Before listing your RV, get a solid understanding of how much money you could make so you know whether it’s worth the hassle.

Use RVShare’s free estimator tool. Enter your RV, motorhome or trailer information into the calculator to see how much you could make.

2. But Don’t Undercut the Competition Too Much

After you’ve gotten your free estimate, take a look at RV listings available in your area. Search by year and RV class.

Because you’re new to the platform and don’t yet have any positive reviews, you’ll want to lower your asking price — just a smidge. This will allow you to attract your first few renters and build up some five-star reviews.

However, Karla urges new renters to remember: “Don’t undercut the competition by a lot, because you’ll be cutting your own throat in the long-run, as this will cause for the entire industry to start lowering and lowering their prices as a chain reaction.”

3. Watch YouTube Videos

OK, this might sound strange, but if you’re just entering the RV world, Karla suggests educating yourself on the ins and outs of your RV, motorhome or travel trailer.

Yes, RVshare has that 24/7 roadside assistance, but renters will likely reach out with questions.

“I have experienced that no matter how many times we train a customer with verbal, written or video information and tutorials, they most often forget everything,” Karla says.

For them, most questions are about how to use the solar panels they’ve installed on their rigs.

4. Flex Your Customer Service Skills

“The RV owner must be ready at any given time to answer a customer’s call or text,” Karla says.

It happens fairly frequently — again, no matter how much she tries to train and educate customers before they hit the road.

5. Make Best Friends With Folks at Your Local Repair Shop

A man checks the transmission and engine of an RV as a person turns the RV on to ensure it works.
Patrick repairs a motor home for Joe Gates. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Because your RV will now be out and about a lot more frequently, make a new friend: the owner at your local RV repair shop.

Karla notes two reasons for this:

  • First, she advises tires be replaced at least once a year — if not more, depending on how often you’re renting your unit out.
  • Second, if your RV or trailer comes back damaged or needs attention, you’ll want to get those issues resolved as soon as possible.

“In the RV rental business, time is of the essence,” Karla says. “More often than not, there’s another upcoming reservation, and the RV has to be ready to go immediately. Having someone to do all the needed repairs is crucial.”

She encourages owners not to rely on major RV dealers for maintenance, especially during peak season. Wait times can range from two to three months out, meaning you’ll lose out on income from missed reservations.

6. Don’t Entertain Outside Inquiries

Because you’re operating through the RVshare platform, you don’t need to worry about vetting any potential renters. That’s because RVshare does it for you, requiring customers to have a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license).

However, Karla has received inquiries outside the platform. Accepting an offer like this would not only violate RVshare’s terms of service, it also poses many risks. You risk losing the RV, facing a number of liabilities, getting scammed and more.

It’s best to just stick under the protections of RVshare.

7. Evaluate the Commitment

A man checks a generator for an RV in southern California.
Zachary Hollingsworth, Patrick’s son, checks the generator for an RVshare customer. The Athertons already owned a Lance trailer, but once they had success through RVshare, they invested in two more units. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Purchasing and maintaining an RV is expensive work. If you already have one, you understand that. If don’t and are looking for an additional income stream, you’ll want to really evaluate this commitment.

The Athertons already owned their Lance trailer, but once they started seeing success through RVshare, they decided to invest in two more units.

They’re well-versed in the industry, so the decision was not too cumbersome for them. For newcomers, however, Karla emphasizes the importance of thinking through the investment.

First, you’ve got the RV loan. “Most people do not know that obtaining an RV loan is almost held to the same term as buying real estate,” Karla says. “I’ve seen RV loans with terms lasting 15 to 20 years.”

Second, think about the unit’s maintenance. It’ll require more attention than your average vehicle — and will cost more.

Third, you’ve got to think about storage costs. Karla says some storage units even require certain types of insurance, which can be more pricy.

So, yes, you can make a nice chunk of change from renting out an RV or trailer, but if you don’t already own one, you could be taking quite the risk.

Building out a Fleet of RV Rentals

A man steps out of his truck as two other men load a generator into the bed of his truck.
Patrick and Zachary load a generator in the bed of Kevin Hertz’s truck. In a little more than a year, the Athertons have had 294 nights reserved. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

In a little more than a year, the Athertons have had 294 nights reserved and have made more than $37,000 renting out these three units.

This is just their first year in the RV rental industry, too. After seeing such success, the couple plans to amp up business — not simply treat it as supplemental income when their repair business slows.

“After seeing the potential, we are planning on investing a lot more time and resources within the RV rental business,” Karla says.

That means investing in more units.

Karla says she recommends RV owners consider renting out their rigs, especially through RVshare. Why?

“Because its a company with great integrity, morality and it delivers what it promises,” she concludes. “It’s a company I can 100% trust.”

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She comes from a family of campers, and some of her favorite childhood memories took place at campgrounds across Florida.