Planning a USA road trip adventure of a lifetime is no easy task and it ain’t cheap! So you want to be sure you are getting the best vehicle to match your travel style and budget and at a fair price.
But how do you sort through the multiple quotes you might receive from rental operators, travel agents and online booking sites? How do you know you are comparing apples to apples? And how do you know if the booking agent is reputable? Well, it’s not easy. But never fear because Bakpak Dave is here. And he will shine a light on the process that will definitely make your job easier.
Whether you are inquiring directly with a rental operator or through an agent you want to make sure that all costs are disclosed clearly on your quote, up front on the first page. You want to know what costs are included, what is optional, like insurance or additional miles, or what else might be payable at pickup like sales tax and one-way fees.
The following are a few costs that can notoriously cause faulty comparisons:
If you are traveling one-way, there will almost always be a one-way. Has this fee been included in your quote? If not, does it specifically say there is no one-way fee for your trip. OR is it buried at the bottom in the fine print? If it’s not included in your quote, than you might think Quote A is cheaper than Quote B, when in fact it is the opposite. Sites like Motorhome Republic (www.motorhomerepublic.com) do not include the one-way fee in your total price but refer to it as an additional fee payable on pickup.
Sales tax is charged on all rentals. On RV rentals, the tax may already be included in the daily rate and if so, the quote would state sales tax included. On the campervan rentals, sales tax is extra and should be shown as a separate line item in your list of costs and should be included in your total rental cost. Unfortunately, some quotes do not include tax in your total rental cost but show it as an additional charge payable on arrival. Motorhome Republic (www.motorhomerepublic.com) does not include sales tax in your total price but refers to it as a separate fee payable on pickup.
Did you request optional insurance be included in one quote and not the other? This happens often and once again, you are comparing apples to oranges and the best quote may lose out. The daily rate for rentals usually includes public liability also known as standard liability insurance or basic insurance which covers you for the bare minimum 3rd party liability cover and provides for $0 to $1500 excess for vehicle damage, depending on the rental operator.
Two optional insurance choices can be added to your quote, Collision Damage Waiver (aka “CDW”), usually $9/day and Supplemental Liability Insurance (aka “SLI), usually $9-9.95/day. Be sure to check that the quotes you are comparing have the same insurance options. If not, add it in to the quote that does not optional insurance or take it out of the quote that does.
Campervan rentals may include 100 miles/day in the daily rate (Escape) or you may have to pay for 100 miles/day (JUCY). Optionally, you can add extra miles for a daily fee. With Escape, you can add 200 miles/day for $15/day or unlimited miles for $19/day. With JUCY, you can add unlimited miles per day for $25/day. Make sure the miles inclusions are the same for each quote. And if not, adjust them accordingly so you are comparing even quotes.
ADDITIONAL FEES PAID AT PICKUP
As we said above, some online booking sites separate out certain costs (like one-way fees, prep fees, sales tax and other smaller costs) from the final price presented to you and lists the costs further below in the terms and conditions as an additional fee payable on pickup. These are hidden costs that make it harder to compare quotes properly. This practice is done to make their quotes look cheaper. Then you book and it’s too late.
If you hear names like Escape Campervans, Jucy Rentals, Apollo RV, Road Bear, Cruise America, etc, then you are hearing the names of the actual rental operators, the companies that you ultimately rent from and who own and maintain the vehicles.
If you hear names like Bakpak Guide, Camper Travel, STA Travel or Motorhome Republic, then you are hearing the names booking agents and/or online booking sites that book on behalf of the rental operators.
Agent’s can be an excellent source of information and help guide you to the best choice and deal. But you should definitely not be paying more than booking direct. You may even pay less in some instances.
Do they have road trip and first hand knowledge of the USA?
For example, your local home town agent might be able to book your campervan but do they have a direct line into the owners of the rental operators (Bakpak Dave does, shameless plug #1)
Where are they based? In the US or overseas?
Bakpak Dave is in Los Angeles, close to most rental operator head offices, (shameless plug #2). Other online booking sites are based in Australia and New Zealand.
Are they ready and able to go to bat for you in case something happens during your trip?
Will you be one booking out of thousands made on a site or will you be one booking made with a smaller agent who has time to be on your side? (Bakpak Dave will, shameless plug #3).
Credit Card Payments
Finally, never give your credit card info to any company until you have confirmed availability for your desired vehicle. Some sites require you to enter your credit card info in order to check availability. If it’s available, you are booked in and your deposit is taken and you might not be aware that you now cannot get your deposit back. Other sites, like Bakpak Guide don’t request deposit payment until availability is fully confirmed and you get to choose if you will book or not.
Bakpak Dave is an authorized agent for top quality rental operators that cater to budget-minded international and US travelers. Benefits include: