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RVs

Recreational vehicles sit in a lot waiting for delivery at Horizon Transport in Wakarusa, Ind., on July 15. RV delivery is a growing trend that allows travelers to enjoy all of the conveniences of staying in an RV without actually having to drive it. Several companies offer delivery services for customers who rent, which can not only be more convenient, but also more affordable. (James Buck/The Elkhart Truth via AP)

San Diego-based mom of two Audrey Patterson frequently vacations in an RV with her family. But she’s actually only driven an RV once — a brief stretch near Burbank, California — en route to Yosemite National Park for their 2021 summer vacation. The area northwest of downtown Los Angeles is a tangled web of freeways, tricky to navigate no matter the vehicle.

“I was super overwhelmed, and I just felt bad for everyone — especially my husband,” Patterson says.

Patterson’s husband usually drives. When it came time for the family’s summer 2022 vacation — a camping trip in Big Sur, California — her husband couldn’t drive because he was arriving a day later.

With the Burbank memory fresh on her mind, coupled with the fact that she would be solo parenting her two- and four-year-old boys, Patterson was intent on not driving an RV to Big Sur.

“My husband suggested researching if we could get an RV delivered, and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, yes,’” she says.

THE RISE OF RV DELIVERY

RV delivery is one of the latest trends in camping, upending the traditional model where you exchange your car for an RV at a rental facility. One of the biggest RV delivery operators is RVshare, a company that operates like Airbnb for RVs. And while not all RVs offered there are deliverable, RVshare said that almost 40% of its RV rentals were delivered so far in 2022, up from 27% in 2021 and 16% in 2020.

LIMITATIONS OF RV DELIVERY

Some campgrounds ban delivery: Rules vary by the campground and are inconsistent across state and national parks. For example, RV delivery is prohibited in Yellowstone National Park, but it’s OK for some sites at Yosemite National Park.

You can’t stop overnight wherever you want: For many, part of the charm of an RV trip is the ability to stop along the way.

Patterson says she prefers delivery if she’s driving to the campground in one day with minimal stops. But for a leisurely trip with many stops, she might default to driving the RV, especially since it gives her kids room to spread out.

Delivery fees can be confusing: Outdoorsy lets owners set delivery fees, and it means that sometimes a cheaper RV might turn out to be more expensive if delivery fees are high. Some companies charge a flat rate for delivery (typically $150-$300), while others charge by distance (typically $4-$6 per mile). Even then, most limit deliveries to a certain area, which varies by owner.

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