RV and Camper Rental Guide – your home on wheels
With an RV or camper rental you have the freedom and flexibility to go anywhere, stay anywhere, and never have to worry about accommodation.
Canada is a country made for RV and campervan travel. Both are popular type vehicle choices for road-tripping in Canada. Keep this in mind when you plan your trip. With an RV or Camper rental you have full control over your trip
RV and Camper Rentals – What You Need To Know
First of all, RV is short for Recreational vehicle and can be a motorhome, caravan, or campervan.
Renting an RV is a great option for longer trips, especially if you travel with a partner or with kids. There’s a good chance that it will reduce your travel costs.
Road-tripping in Canada with a home on wheels makes you fully independent and allows you to enjoy the freedom of backcountry travel, without having to worry about accommodation. You have your accommodation with you. All you need is a space to park your vacation home.
Your Choice Of Campers And RVs
RV Rental Types
- Motorhomes are RVs that can drive and they come in a range of sizes from very basic to luxury models
- RV travel trailers are designed to be towed behind your family car, SUV, minivan, or pickup truck
- Truck campers/travel campers are carried on top of a pickup truck and are especially ideal for backcountry travel if they come with a 4×4.
- Popup Trailers are pulled behind a car and some come with an innovative design that makes it easy to tow and easy to camp.
- Campervans are ideal for solo travellers or couples, and they are easy to get around on narrow backcountry and logging roads. Unfortunately, most of the campervans sold in Canada are front-wheel drive, even the new Mercedes Sprinter.
Difference between Class B and Class A Motorhomes
- Class B Motorhome (Camper Van) – The Class B Motorhome is generally referred to as a Camper Van. This unit is built using a conventional van to which a raised roof is added
- A Class A motorhome – A large luxury bus. The largest class of RVs, Class A motorhomes are constructed on a specially designed chassis and powered by either diesel or gas engines.
The picture gallery shows you a few examples to give you a taste of what you can expect.
Canada’s Variety For RV and Camper Rental Is The Best In The World
If you decide to rent an RV or camper, make sure to check what the rental includes. Bedding and kitchen equipment might come as an option and be charged extra.
Canada is a huge country, and once you leave the populated southern areas behind you will be on your own. Therefore, make sure to be prepared before starting your trip. Check my Road Trip Planner for extra tips.
Public Transportation in Canada
Canada has an excellent road network, but relying on public transportation to take you to places is not a reasonable option. Greyhound closed down all Canadian routes a few years ago. Various Private bus companies have sprung up but the bus travel network in Canada is pretty limited. Also, taking the bus is not a cheap way to travel because you will have to pay for accommodation each night.
The best way to travel in Canada
The best options are renting a campervan or RV instead of bus travel, or renting a car if you are into tenting.
I suggest renting a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle if possible, so you won’t have limitations to what places you can visit. Having your own wheels is the best way to explore the backcountry and Canada’s wilderness. This gives you the opportunity to stop at all the unique places on the way.
One of the best things about camper rental in Canada is, that once you leave the populated areas behind and take the back roads, you almost always can find a free place to pull up and camp for the night.
- Backcountry Camping in Canada is the place for camping information and camping tips.
Affordable Way To Travel
Camper rental in Canada is affordable, especially in the off-season. Just calculate the money you save on accommodation and on eating at restaurants. Whatever the costs, the experience and freedom you gain are worth the costs.
RV travel is part of the Canadian lifestyle. A large number of Canadians own a motorhome or another kind of RV. Canadians often pull an additional trailer behind with a boat or a couple of ATVs. Local folks know how to enjoy the big outdoors, and most know how to fish and hunt.
Summer vacation (July and August) and weekends are when the locals are out camping. You won’t find many people in the local pub on a summer’s weekend. Everybody is at the lake. Lots of retired escape the harsh Northern winter and head south with their RVs to places like Arizona or Mexico. We even have a name for these people. They are officially called Snowbirds!
How To Choose A Canadian Camper Rental Company
To rent any kind of camper in Canada you can choose from the big companies like CanaDream, or any of the smaller camper rental companies.
The advantage of the big companies is that they are well established and you know exactly what you’ll get. These companies buy new cars and older vehicles are rotated out quickly. Bigger companies are also more widely represented, even in smaller towns. They offer one-way camper rentals to many places. The prices are pretty much the same between companies.
You will find some Canadian camper rental companies offer something different by specializing in a particular market segment. An example of this is the “Wicked” Budget Campervans. They rent out cheap vans, brightly painted with flowery nippy-style motives, obviously catering to the backpacker market.
Camper Rental Companies to consider
- Outdoorsy – This would be my first choice. Rent an RV, motorhome, trailer, or campervan from Outdoorsy for your next adventure. Outdoorsy is a trusted RV rental marketplace, vetted by hundreds of thousands of renters.
- Escape – Why not rent in Seattle, USA instead of Canada for a better rate? Escape has a large collection of RV and camper vans at reasonable prices.
- CanaDream – This RV rental company has RVs of all sizes. This company has been around for a while and you will notice plenty of CanaDream Campers on the road.
- RVezy – an “Airbnb style” RV rental agency. You’re essentially renting someone else’s RV. This is often a cheaper option compared to CanaDream.
- Karma Campervans – Rustic Off Grid Campervans, similar to Outdoorsy, this company also offers camper van rental.
Best Time For A Canadian Camper Vacation
The season for a Camper vacation is shorter than the season for car travel. RV and camper travel is less enjoyable in cold weather, even with a good working heating system.
Schools in Canada are closed in July and August, which is considered the high season in Canada. More vacationers are on the road during that time, and prices are high.
RV travel is also possible during the month of May, especially in the last two weeks. September is my favourite month of travelling in Canada. The days are still warm and the nights comfortably cool. That’s the time when fewer people are on the go and prices are lower.
The first two weeks of October can also still be okay if you don’t mind some cold nights. The campgrounds are empty at that time. Forget about RV travel in Canada from November to April unless you are ready for boondocking and winter camping. Most provincial campgrounds will be closed in early October.
During the off-season, you will have access to the best campsites and cheaper camper rentals.
The principle of first come first served applies to forestry sites and more remote provincial park campgrounds. Lately, an online reservation system has been introduced, and many seasonal campers reserve up to one year in advance to get the best spots.
What Kind of License Do You Need To Rent A Camper Or Large Motorhome?
- You have to be at least 25 years old. A standard license for driving a car is all you need to drive an RV in Canada.
- You must have had your driver’s license for more than 12 months.
- Your driver’s license must be in English OR French. In this case, you don’t need an International license.
- Check out the general rules for driving in Canada.
What You Have To Know About Camper Rental
- All motorhomes and RVs for rent in Canada will have automatic transmissions.
- When arriving on a weekend, make sure the branch of your chosen company is open.
- If you want to drop off your motorhome in a different location from where you picked it up, make sure the company has an office there. Also, check if this involves extra charges.
- Find out if there are additional insurance charges.
- Most companies place restrictions on where you are allowed to take the RV. They may require you to stay on paved roads. If you are planning to go into the backcountry, you most probably will drive on gravel roads. Make sure the rental company knows that.
- Sometimes, Rental Companies specify certain roads that you must not travel on, which might be just the places you don’t want to miss.
- Find out what camping, cooking, and other equipment is included in the rental and what isn’t.
- Ensure that the RV you rent in Canada is capable of doing what you planned. This applies mostly to trips into the Canadian backcountry. Not all 4WD vehicles are the same.
- For a longer trip into a remote area, make sure you get a reliable vehicle. Ask about the age of the RV. Consider paying extra for a newer vehicle, in the end, it’s money well spent. You definitely don’t need any mechanical problems when you’re in the backcountry.
- Gasoline is not cheap in Canada, even with our own oil fields. The province of Alberta has the lowest gasoline prices. Filling up with gasoline at more isolated places costs more.
- Instead of renting, consider converting your car into a mini camper.
Your Camper Rental Choice Will Depend On The Trip You Have In Mind
It is a good idea to start looking around early if you want to rent a camper. Look around even earlier if you need a camper rental during the main tourist season, July/August. Campers and RVs are the most popular ways to travel in Canada, and unless you get in early you have to take what’s left in the end.
And last but not least, camper rental in Canada doesn’t mean you have to spend your whole holiday self-driving. I suggest that you mix and match with domestic flights and city stays to get the most out of your trip. Check out the resource page for cheap flights.
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