With all its parks and lakes, Austin is pretty lucky when it comes to nature. But what about when you’re looking for a more epic adventure? A journey of epic proportions?
Well, you’re in luck! There’s so much to see in the state within easy reach of its capital: national parks, forests, a sick coastline… and there’s no better way to experience these wondrous landscapes than with an RV.
But the world of RVs can seem daunting at first. If you’re new to it all, you might not have a single clue on where to start (or where to go), and that’s where we come in to help.
In this helpful guide, we’re walking you through EVERYTHING you need to know to prepare a killer trip: how to get the best deals for RV rentals in Austin, where to take it, how to stay safe, and all that good stuff.
Ready when you’re ready…
Where to Rent an RV in Austin
For first-timers, knowing where to rent an RV in Austin can be confusing. Not only do you need to figure out what type of RV will be best for you, but you also need to cut through all the RV dealer noise.
With all the jargon, hidden costs, and competition on the market, knowing where to hire your RV from is no easy feat.
The best thing to do is to start from scratch. Think about what you want from it, the size and features, how much are you willing to spend, and this will make the process much easier.
Now, you get online and search for Austin rental RVs, and you still get a whole load of crap that won’t really help you in any way. Well, amigo, that ends today…
Outdoorsy – Airbnb for Vanlifers
Let us introduce you to the Airbnb of the RV world. With Outdoorsy, finding your dream RV is pretty much as easy as finding a place to stay for the night. All you do is enter your dates, location and price range, and boom — a bunch of sexy RVs magically appears in front of you.
You know, it’s not real magic, but it’s pretty close. See, Outdoorsy connects you with the RV owners themselves, which is only good for you. Just like with Airbnb, the owners want you to have a great time in their place, so you’re in great hands when you get an RV from them.
The choice is usually pretty wide, ranging from smaller, more compact models all the way to the huge bus-like luxury wagons — and everything you can fit in between.
As soon as you find something that suits you, check out the reviews left by previous customers. They’re the best indication of whether the RV is up to scratch and a good gauge of what the owner is like to rent from.
And because the RVs on Outdoorsy are all privately owned, they’re usually much-loved holiday homes and really well looked after. You can expect incredible service and a friendly owner at the other end of the line, should you run into any trouble.
The Perfect Austin RV
To help you out in your search for the perfect RV in Austin, we’ve found this top ride for you. Coming fully loaded with a queen-sized bed, a large wardrobe, and a well-equipped kitchen, this baby has enough room to sleep up to nine people! The RV is clean and well-stocked, so you can get behind the wheel without any stress. The owners are great at explaining everything, so you only have to worry about having the best experience possible. Another bonus is that this is pet-friendly, so your pooch can come along for the ride, too.
- Enough space for nine people
- Well-stocked kitchen
RVshare – More of the Excellent Same
Outdoorsy is awesome and we love it, but if you like a little more choice in your life, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Meet RVshare!
RVshare is a lot like Outdoorsy. On the surface, it feels like an Airbnb-style solution too and allows you to deal with owners directly. You add your details, hit search, and off you go.
The only thing we’d mention at this point, however, is the amount of choice RVshare has — or doesn’t — when compared to Outdoorsy. Outdoorsy is huge, and that makes RVshare look a little shyer.
But there is a game-changer, though…
RVshare offers one-way rentals for all their listings, which means you can drive it from A to B without looping back just to return the RV.
That’s pretty convenient if you ask me! And they take it a level further with a drop-off service that lets you sit on the couch as they conveniently bring the RV you picked to your door.
While Outdoorsy listings can allow for this option too, it is up to the owners to sort it out, and you never know… RVshare handles everything in the process.
If convenience is more like your thing, definitely give RVshare a go!
Top Places to Go With an RV Near Austin
Ok, you’ve got all the info you need to go online and rent yourself a snazzy RV — now is the time we show you all the good spots you can take it to!
A trip to Austin is guaranteed to be a blast. The city is great and has plenty of things to keep you busy, but today is all about exploring its surroundings and discovering the best Texas has to offer.
We hope you’re ready to put those wheels to work because there are a ton of crazy places you can hit up: rivers, mountains, deserts, and even the Atlantic Ocean which isn’t too far away. Here are some of our faves!
Best National Parks Near Austin
Austin is located in the middle of Texas, the biggest state of the contiguous United States, and this is a region packed with natural wonders. Voyaging through Texas on the hunt for national parks, state forests, and other bastions of nature is a well worthwhile experience.
To give you an idea of what sort of places to expect, check out a couple of highly recommended spots below…
Bend National Park is one of the most amazing destinations you can explore on a Texas road trip. Located in far West Texas, it’s about a seven-hour drive from Austin (right up against the border with Mexico). You can immerse yourself in the starry night, walk among vast canyons, and soak in the solitude of the desert landscape. To fully explore this stunning slice of Texas, you should really stay for the night — and what better way than RV camping at one of its designated sites?
If you wanna take your RV somewhere a little bit more magical, you might want to consider the majestic Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Situated roughly eight hours from the city, you can spend your time here lapping up the mind-blowingly diverse landscape. It’s here where four of the tallest peaks in the state are located, and among them, the most extensive Permian fossil reef on the planet. The RV parks will have you sleeping among the canyons, dunes, and deserts, as you wake up with the sun rising over the ancient land. Some crazy trails around here too!
A 3.5-hour road trip from Austin will lead you to Mineral Wells State Park. At the heart of it, you will find a huge lake, but that’s not necessarily the best part about it. Instead, it’s the unique trailway here that makes for some great hikin’ (and bikin’) — it follows the route of the former Weatherford, Mineral Wells, and Northwestern Railway, and was abandoned in 1992. Now the domain of keen hikers and bikers instead of locomotives, Mineral Wells State Park is a fascinating place to explore.
MATH TIME: The entry fee for Yellowstone National Park is $35. Meanwhile, the entry fee for the neighbouring Grand Teton National Park is another $35. That means that visiting TWO national parks alone (out of the 423 total in the USA) will run you a grand total of $70…
Or you can stuff that whole deal off and buy the ‘America the Beautiful Pass’ for $79.99. With it, you get unlimited access to ALL federally-managed land in the U.S.A for FREE – that’s over 2000 recreational sites! Ain’t that just beautiful?BUY THE PASS
Padre Island National Seashore
Texas might have a whole lot of desert to hit up, but let’s not forget about its coastline. If you’re hankering after some time by the sea, you should make your way to Padre Island National Seashore to discover the world’s longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island.
This is a great place for any first-timer looking to rent an RV in Austin. It’s less than a 4-hour drive from Austin, there’s space to breathe, and it’s a charming place to explore around.
Padre Island National Seashore can be found on the north of the island, which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre — a rare hypersaline lagoon.
It’s the ideal spot for experiencing nature up close: along its 70 miles of coast, the tidal flats are a nesting ground for sea turtles.
Heading here, you might want to make a detour for the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a small, but extremely beautiful place where you can spot migrating birds and hike in the remote wilds of nature.
San Juan National Forest via Palo Duro Canyon State Park
So, we’ve heard you asking for a truly epic road trip from Austin. Check this out… 17 hours of total driving time, two state lines, and two vast areas of natural beauty. All of this with the chance to stop off at some kooky locations along the way.
First off, you depart from Austin and drive 7.5 hours north until you reach Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Never heard of it? We don’t blame you. Texas is so huge that it’s impossible to know every little magical slice of nature.
And this is really a magical location. It’s the second-largest canyon in the US (after the Grand Canyon) and runs for about 120 miles, with a width between 6 and 20 miles (and a depth of 820 feet).
You can stay for the night and enjoy your time exploring its pink rocks and natural bridges. After that’s it’s a 9-hour drive through New Mexico all the way to San Juan National Forest.
If you want to break the trip in two, we recommend avoiding Albuquerque (it’s expensive and annoying) and making a move towards Cibola National Forest instead.
At last, you have a 5-hour drive to your final destination: San Juan National Forest. Rock up at one of the RV sites and prepare for a hiking wonderland, with over 300 trails at your disposal (some are challenging, others not so much).
Best Places to Visit in the Austin Area Mega-Map
Want to get your head around all these awesome destinations? Click the map below for some Google Maps magic, and you can start mentally planning your RV wanderings!
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Planning Your Austin RV Road Trip – Tips and Advice
Now that you know all the cool places you can go in your RV, it’s time to understand how much everything is going to cost.
Understanding the pricing for RV Rentals in Austin is essential to make sure your trip runs smoothly, but you should also brush up on the road rules for RVs (especially if you’re a first-timer).
Read on for some valuable information that we’ve prepared just for you…
Planning a Trip Budget: Prices for Austin’s RV Rentals, Parks, and Campsites
Ok kids, quick maths. This part may be a bit boring, but understanding the cost for Austin RV rentals isn’t too difficult (and it’s very necessary).
Think of it like booking a hotel room or an Airbnb in Austin — usually, prices will fluctuate depending on the season you book it for. Peak season comes with peak prices, so if you’re on a tight budget you should really consider traveling off-season.
Another factor is the age and size of your RV. Again, like a hotel room, the bigger and more luxurious, the more you’re going to have to fork out for the pleasure.
To help you get a better idea of it all, here are some figures to wrap your head around:
|Range||RV Rental (per day)||Campsite/Park (per night)||Food and Drink for One (per day)|
|Budget Holidayer||$60-$110 (Trailers to smaller Class Cs/Bs)||$0-$20||$10-20|
|Treat Yo’Self||$150-$280 (Class Cs/Bs to smaller Class As)||$20-$40||$50-60|
|Luxury Living||$290-480 (Class As and luxury RVs)||$60-80||$50+|
And don’t forget to factor rental insurance into your budget either! It may be expensive, however, not all insurance companies are created equal.
RentalCover.com has got your back. Their policies include all the common damages and come out cheaper than what you’ll get at the rental deskGet Your Cover Now
RV Packing List
Packing for an RV trip is something you should take very seriously.
Yours is probably going to come equipped with a lot of goodies that are helpful on the road, but there are a few other items we think are essential for any RV trip you plan to take.
And as an added bonus, here’s some excellent backpacking gear that our Broke Backpacker team adore. Suited for any trip… with or without wheels!
First Aid Kit
Even if you don’t plan on doing anything too extreme on your trip, you never know what could happen. Cuts, bruises, scrapes, third-degree sunburn: a first aid kit will be able to handle most of these minor situations.
Grayl Geopress Water Bottle
Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are.
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Every traveller should have a head torch! A decent head torch could save your life. When you’re camping, RVing, or just heading into the woods, a top-quality headlamp is a MUST. The Petzl Actik Core is an awesome piece of kit because it’s USB chargeable—batteries begone!
Active Roots Microfibre Towel
I dunno what to tell you—microfibre towels are the tits! They’re so compact, they dry lighting fast, and they’re just a real multi-purpose tool. Never go adventuring—on or off-world—without one!
Active Roots Camping Hammock
Hammocks are always practical: they’re lightweight, cheap, strong, sexy (chicks dig hammocks), and allow you to pitch up for the night pretty much anywhere. The Active Roots Camping Hammock is one of the best on the market and most importantly… it’s cheap!
Hanging Toiletry Bag
Oh man, hanging toiletry bags are a ridiculously efficient bit of gear for any travels. They keep all your unmentionables organised and they can be used anywhere—just hang it up and you’re good to go! When you start living the RV-life, you’ll never look back on the hanging toiletries game.
Tips for Renting an RV in Austin
RVs aren’t the easiest thing in the world to drive, that’s for sure. Whether it’s been a minute since you’ve done it, or you’re a total stranger to the RV life, it pays off to be informed before you hit the road:
- Take it slow – Take a minute to get used to how your RV drives. And don’t rush it, slow-mo is the way to go!
- Make a plan – For as much as we like to hit the road without a single care, this kind of trip requires a bit of planning. Draw a rough plan and book some RV campsites in advance. And always call ahead to confirm your bookings!
- Choose the right ride for you – RVs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Do some research and get something that suits your road trip needs.
- Read the description – Tiny details are easy to miss in rental contracts. Always read the fine print carefully and ask questions if you see an issue!
- Keep an eye on your dollar – It’s smart to stick to at least a rough daily allowance. That way, you save space for a special treat or unplanned cost and avoid having to cut your trip short.
- Don’t stay in cities – Having an RV is all about freedom, being in nature, and saving a ton of money. Why stay in cities that are just chaotic, stressful, and more expensive?
- Know your parking rules – Speaking of which, cities can get annoying. In Austin, you can’t park an RV on a public street for more than 72 hours, and you definitely cannot sleep in it on a public street.
- Be considerate – This might be a basic one for most, but remember to be human. When you’re at the campsites, and driving around, be considerate to others and respect the environment around you.
Staying Safe in Your Rental RV
By now, you’re probably well aware that driving an RV is not the same as driving a normal car. See, you can be king of the road in your Corolla, but that doesn’t mean hopping in one of these monsters will translate the same way…
There are a couple of things you can do to make your RV trip to Austin smoother. One is to key yourself in on how to drive an RV safely. Two is to make sure that it’s insured!
Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do consider getting insurance—take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you may need it.
Obviously, your RV is going to need insurance, but make sure your person is insured too! Travelling without insurance could be risky. Presenting The Broke Backpacker’s go-to Insurer—World Nomads!
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple—just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Not sold on World Nomads? Then check out our roundup of the top insurance providers for travelers and see what floats your boat!
Your Austin RV Rental is Waiting!
See, RV rentals in Austin don’t have to be so intimidating after all!
Planning a road trip can stressful, we get it, but once you nail down everything you need and what places you want to visit, everything becomes easier — and that was exactly the point of this guide.
Austin is a great base for some killer Texan explorations, and we hope we got you as excited about them as we are.
If you still need a little push, just get on Outdoorsy (or RVshare) during your next lunch break. You’ll see how easy it is to find a snazzy RV, and it will surely get you pumped for the adventures to come.
There’s never been a better time to enjoy the freedom of the great outdoors and to do it safely. Magnificent landscapes and open roads await…
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