Flash sale: Sign up now to take a spring road trip in a brand-new RV from $1 a day
Traditional vacation plans will likely still be off the table this spring for many Americans. But, if you want to take a memorable, socially distanced holiday, you could sign up to relocate a brand new recreational vehicle (RV) from the factory to a rental location this spring.
Even before I rented an RV for only $1 a day for the first time in 2018, I followed factory relocation rental pages. After all, some RV rental companies offer steep discounts every spring to travelers who are willing to relocate new RVs from the factory to rental locations.
I didn't track the factory relocation pages this year since I bought a used El Monte RV to live and work in during the pandemic. But, my colleague (and fellow RVer) Richard Kerr noticed that El Monte recently announced factory relocation rentals for this spring.
Since many would-be travelers are looking for low-risk ways to travel right now, an RV relocation may be appealing even if you wouldn't normally consider renting an RV.
So, today I'll address what you need to know about El Monte's factory relocation deal. But, travelers will book these factory relocations quickly. If you're interested in doing a factory relocation, I suggest filling out the form on El Monte's website as soon as possible.
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What is an RV factory relocation rental?
I've written before about how to rent an RV for $1 a day through relocation rentals. RV rental companies usually offer these relocation rentals to move RVs from one rental market to another based on demand. But, in some cases, these relocation rentals take an RV in need of repair to a maintenance facility. In either case, the rental company often gives you a limited amount of time to complete the relocation. As such, relocation rentals often make for a speedy one-way road trip.
But, factory relocation rentals offer several benefits over typical RV relocation rentals. First, you can often book for as many days as you'd like, within reason. Second, you can often book factory relocations a few months in advance so you can plan a trip around the relocation. And third, you'll get a brand-new RV to drive.
Related: 6 things you should know before you rent your first RV
El Monte's factory relocation rentals
El Monte is currently taking reservations for one-way factory relocations in March. You can also fill out the form on El Monte's website if you'd prefer to do a factory relocation between April and June. These factory relocations are only open to U.S.-based customers due to international travel restrictions.
El Monte's factory relocation rentals typically start at $9 a day. El Monte's website doesn't state the higher end of the rental range, nor what relocations qualify for the $9 a day rate. Based on past years, however, I assume relocations delivered by the beginning of April will be the least expensive.
If you're flexible and looking for a deal, El Monte says it will soon offer a $1 per day factory special flash sale. Go ahead and put in a relocation request to be added to El Monte's waitlist and receive notifications when it launches this sale.
You can pick up the RV from the factory in Elkhart, Indiana. Or, for an extra $375, you can retrieve the RV in Chicago, Illinois. If you opt for the Elkhart location, you'll likely need a rental car. But El Monte may arrange transportation to Elkhart from Chicago-area airports based on interest and availability.
When you fill out the factory relocation request form on El Monte's website, you can select a preferred drop-off location from the following list:
- California: Los Angeles or San Francisco
- Florida: Miami or Orlando
- Nevada: Las Vegas
- New York: New York City
- Texas: Dallas
- Utah: Salt Lake City
- Washington: Seattle
It seems El Monte needs to deliver many RVs to California and Nevada. So, you may want to select a preferred drop-off in one of these states.
Each factory relocation rental includes 2,500 free miles, which is enough to get to any drop-off location. If you deliver your RV to California, however, you'll need to choose your route carefully. If you drive more than 2,500 miles, you'll need to pay $0.45 per mile on any excess mileage.
Related: Maximizing points and miles on road trips
You can request a particular RV length, but this request isn't guaranteed. All the RVs are 22 to 30 feet long and can accommodate up to four people. Specifically, you could pick up any of the following RV types from the factory:
- Class C Small (C22)
- Class C Medium (C25)
- Class C Large (C28)
- Class C Family Sleeper (FS30)
- Class A Large (AC35, AF34)
Luckily, all El Monte factory relocation rentals come with free, unlimited generator use. So, you can power your electronics, run the air conditioning and use the microwave even when you aren't connected to a power source.
Related: What one TPG staffer learned on his RV trip from hell, and why it was still fun
Tips for doing a factory relocation rental
I've never done a factory relocation rental. But I've put a lot of thought into doing one over the last couple of years. So, between this planning and the two one-way RV relocation rentals I've done, here are some suggestions.
Managing the factory pick-up
One of the trickiest aspects of a factory relocation rental is the factory location. El Monte may facilitate transportation from Chicago-area airports to Elkhart, but you may also need to organize your own transport.
In either case, you may prefer to rent a one-day rental car from a Chicago-area airport for social distancing reasons. Then, at least two adults could drive the rental car out to the factory, pick up the RV and then drive separately to return the rental car and start the RV trip.
Related: Why this camping loyalty program is worth its $33 fee
Stocking the RV
When reserving your RV, you can reserve convenience kits with bedding, towels and a table place setting for $55 per person. And, you can reserve a kitchen convenience kit with pots, pans and cooking utensils for $130.
But, I recommend skipping these kits. It's better (and less expensive) to bring your own supplies or simply buy what you need.
For example, on our first relocation, my husband and I brought sleeping bags, quick-dry camping towels and backpacking kitchenware. We didn't bring any supplies on our second relocation and instead bought what we needed after picking up the RV.
Related: 5 things people get wrong about traveling in a camper van
Planning your route
Route planning is essential when driving an RV. First and foremost, you want to ensure you won't encounter any low overpasses or tunnels that could damage the RV. But, if you stick to interstates and U.S. highways, this is less of a concern. So, focus on staying under the 2,500 free mileage allotment.
Gas mileage is poor for most RVs. For example, we usually get around 9 miles per gallon in our 30-foot Class C RV. So, be sure to budget for gas cost when planning your route. Plus, remember that you can't comfortably drive an RV like a car. As such, we usually don't go faster than 65 miles per hour on the interstate in our RV. As such, account for slower driving when you plan how far to drive each day.
When I planned the route for our RV relocation rentals, I started with the most direct route. Then, I looked along the path to see what sights and national parks were within reach. Depending on your distance and time, you may be able to deviate significantly from the direct route. But, doing so will increase your driving time and gas costs.
Related: What it was like to rent an RV for $1 a day from California to Texas during the pandemic
There are two primary ways to approach campsite reservations on a relocation rental. On the one hand, you can book your sites in advance. Making reservations ensures that you'll have a site each night and forces you to stay on schedule. On the other hand, you can book sites on the day of arrival or even look for a campground when you get tired. This approach provides more flexibility but can also be stressful.
You can also park for free at select locations, such as select Cracker Barrels, Cabela's, Walmarts and casinos that allow overnight parking with management approval. I recommend using the RV Parky app to find possible parking spots, and then call to ensure the business still allows overnight RV parking.
Related: 5 things one TPG staffer learned from his first ‘RV resort’ stay
Transportation on either end of the relocation rental
Before the coronavirus pandemic, I would have recommended flying into and out of the nearest airports at either or both ends of your relocation. But, if you're looking to avoid air travel during the pandemic, you may want to rent vehicles on either end of your RV relocation rental. Although this adds more driving time to your trip, it could also create a fun road-trip around the U.S.
When looking for a rental car, I start at AutoSlash. Although rental car prices have generally increased during the pandemic, I've still usually been able to find inexpensive rental vehicles.
Related: 46 rental car promotions that will save you money
Even though I now own an RV, these factory relocation rentals are still exciting. I've had so much fun on the two relocation rentals I've done in the past. And it's possible to limit contact with other people when doing a factory relocation rental. So, I hope some of you can take advantage of this offer.
Several other RV rental companies also offer spring factory relocation deals. I highlighted El Monte in this piece because it has the best deal right now. But, also check Cruise America, Apollo, Road Bear, transfercar and imoova for inexpensive relocation RV rentals.