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Retirees Profit From Sharing Recreational Vehicles

Online marketplaces offer the equivalent of Airbnb for RVs

Woman sitting in front of R V

Digital Vision/Getty Images

Some businesses are giving people the option of renting their RVs when they are not in use.

Mike Jarvis, a 63-year-old retired computer technician from a suburb of Portland, Ore., likes owning an Itasca Spirit recreational vehicle (RV), which he and his wife recently used to take their grandkids on a weekend trip to the Oregon coast.

But typically, the couple travel in their $50,000 RV just once a month. So instead of letting it sit unused, Jarvis rents out the Spirit to others via the online sharing platform Campanda. Though he charges a modest price of up to $150 a night during the summer, he’s got enough takers to earn $10,000 a year.

“It’s a way to have a pretty nice mobile home but cover the cost of it,” Jarvis said.

Campanda, a German-based company founded in 2013, is one of multiple businesses, including RVShare and Outdoorsy, that are vying to be the RV version of Airbnb. Niklas Kubasek, chief operating officer of Campanda’s North America division, says the company’s platform enables 30,000 RV owners worldwide — including 2,000 in the U.S. — to list their vehicles when they’re not using them and to set the rental price. 

A messaging function allows RV owners to screen renters for factors such as driving experience and destination. (Jarvis rents only to those planning to travel within 500 miles of his home.) The company also offers insurance for the vehicles, with renters covering the cost.  

According to Kubasek, some RV owners make as much as $3,000 a month from rentals. For retirees, he says, “a  potential gold mine is sitting out there in the driveway.”