How To Get a Free RVAnthony Day
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Current RV prices might make hitting the open road look impossible, but if you know how to get a free RV, a relaxing, fun trip is far cheaper than it seems.
Besides using the RV to enjoy America’s vistas and wide-open spaces without breaking the bank, a free RV opens up the possibility of fixing it up and selling it for significant cash if you can can actually get ownership for zero dollars.
The best places to get a free RV include listings on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, through a local RV dealership found through RVT.com Dealer Search, or on imoova.com. Several of these sites are also useful for finding private individuals in your area willing to give you a free RV.
You may be able to enjoy a new or slightly used RV temporarily if you find an RV rental agency that allows use of the vehicle while you’re transferring it to another location for them. For actual ownership, you’ll usually need to hunt down an old or damaged RV someone is willing to give you to get rid of it. A free RV gained this way will probably need repairs and refurbishing, but it’s still far cheaper than buying an RV outright.
Free RVs to realize your outdoor adventure dreams, or fix up to sell, may take some legwork to find, and some work on your part to get them in livable condition once found. But the task isn’t impossible and plenty of people go RVing in vehicles they got for zero up front cost.
Top Places to Look for Free RVs
Other than relying on word of mouth among your friends, locating a free RV means going to places where people frequently list items they want to give away. The bigger and more well-known the website, the more likely you are to quickly find what you’re looking for.
Imoova.com is the best, most efficient way to get a free RV for a few days or week. It provides listings of rental agencies looking for volunteers to drive one of their RV fleet from one specific location to another.
By volunteering to drive the RV, you gain use of the vehicle for a fun mini-vacation. The rental agency gets to have its RV moved to a different city without the expense of hiring a professional driver, or having the RV towed or moved on a flatbed truck. The details of volunteering are described more later on.
imoova’s clear, straightforward interface lets you readily find available RV relocations in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe.
Listings show the pickup and dropoff locations, inclusions such as gas allowances, earliest pickup and latest drop-off dates, the type of vehicle, the rate (often not strictly free, but usually with a nominal charge like $1 per night), allowed days, and other details such as security deposits required.
Craigslist is a favorite place for people to list both free items and vehicles for sale, making it a spot suitable for watching for free RV listings. The site enables searching listings for your city or region, along with recommending listings from geographically nearby areas, especially if there are few or no local results.
In the “For Sale” section for a given location, Craigslist has both “Free” and “RVS+Camp” categories. It’s also worth the time to look in the “Cars+Trucks” category in case someone listed a free RV in the wrong place.
The “For Sale” section also includes a “Wanted” category where users can post requests for items. Placing a listing here could be effective, with the best strategy being to stress how you are willing to take an old, unwanted RV or camper off the owner’s hands for free. Mentioning how this will save them future storage and licensing costs and inconvenience can add to the appeal of your “Wanted” listing.
3. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace leverages the vast user base of one of the world’s most popular social media sites to bring together buyers and sellers, alongside people offering free items. It will be necessary to sign up for an account on Facebook, assuming you don’t already have one, to make best use of the Marketplace and its features.
You can also search for “free stuff” and “neighbors helping neighbors” groups for your town, city, city region, or county and join these. If you have trouble finding these pages, people operating local thrift stores, junk or variety shops, or even pawn shops may be able to direct you to them.
“Free” and “neighbors helping” groups often feature the requirement that anything asked for or offered through the group must be free. This makes them a good place to upload a post indicating you’re looking for a free RV or camper and are willing to take an old RV off the current owner’s hands for free.
4. RVT.com Dealer Search
RVT.com Dealer Search enables taking your quest for a free RV away from private individuals and to RV dealerships in your area. Entering your city or zip code into the Dealer Search is all that’s needed to start locating businesses renting and/or selling RVs in your city or region.
Optionally, the website also enables searching by dealer name, city and state, and scores of RV manufacturers listed in a dropdown menu. The site provides a list of dealership links including the name of the dealer and the distance in miles from your provided location.
Clicking on one of the links takes the user to a page listing more details on the dealership, contact information such as a telephone number and its physical address, and at least some of the business’ current inventory. If the dealership has a website, a link to this is also provided on the page.
These dealerships may have an old, unwanted RV at their site, with interior damage such as mold or mildew making it unsaleable and disposal costs preventing its immediate scrapping. In this scenario, the dealership may be willing to sign over the unsaleable RV to anyone willing to tow it away for free. Dealerships may also be looking for individuals suitable for volunteer RV transport to move one of their newer vehicles across the country.
How Do You Volunteer for a Free RV Relocation?
Transporting an RV from one location to another across thousands of miles of interstate highways can be costly for dealerships and RV rental agencies. These businesses often have RVs dropped off at their location by customers who rent the vehicle for a one-way trip. This creates a need for the company to get the RV back to the original rental location so it’s available for the next customer.
According to research by Thrifty Nomads, many rental agencies sweeten the deal for volunteer RV transport drivers by allowing them to drive for only two to three hours per day. This lets you stop at campgrounds, sightsee, and enjoy the RV lifestyle along the way.
You should check on mileage limitations and bring any supplies the agency would otherwise charge you for. You’ll probably have to pay at least partially for gasoline, but may also be eligible for some reimbursement depending on the specific setup.
Agencies looking for volunteer transport will likely require potential drivers to have a clean driving record over the past several years, a valid license, and be 21 years old or older. Most also require a security deposit, which typically ranges from $500 to $1,000 in the USA. This is refunded when you deliver the RV to the destination as agreed.
Are You Ready for Your Free RV?
It’s best to be ready to collect and transport a free RV even before starting the search if you’re looking for a permanent acquisition. Having arrangements in place beforehand means you can respond instantly and effectively to opportunities.
After all, any free-to-own RV you locate is probably free because it’s in very poor condition. If it’s a motorized RV rather than a towed model, may not be roadworthy or even mechanically functional:
- Find a place to put the RV, preferably with enough space and privacy to enable working on it.
- Locate a towing service willing and able to tow a large RV or towable to this site, at price you’re willing and able to pay, and keep their contact information on hand.
- Since many wet-climate RVs are abandoned by their owners (thus becoming candidates for being given away free) because the roof leaks, leading to interior damage and mold, be prepared to partly or fully gut the interior. In case some of the interior can be salvaged, have a good roof sealant such as LR Liquid Rubber RV Roof Coating on hand to waterproof the roof ASAP. This will stop further wet from getting into the interior to cause more damage, mold, or rust.
- Be prepared to strip, refurbish, and refinish the interior. The exterior may also need repair, repainting, and resealing. New tires may be needed and the tires should be checked to make sure they're in good condition. Engine work might also be needed. The more of this you can do as a DIY project, the closer you can stay to a truly free RV.