Shipping An RV 101 – How Much Does It Cost?

Shipping An RV 101 – How Much Does It Cost?

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Shipping a RV or a camper or travel trailer is something which a lot of people do.

They either take help from professional services from the shipping companies or look for people who can help them while they are heading in same direction.

Shipping a camper can be a nightmare unless you take care and plan for some of the basic things. The cost of shipping is obviously one of the main things you should consider.

Using a professional services can help you in easing the shipping process, you should however need to be careful about frauds involved in this area of business.

Since united states is a huge market for RV or campers there are lots of business around this area and you should be able to get options in abundance.

However, choosing a right shipping service is very necessary otherwise this could turn out to be a very annoying process.

Expected rates of shipping

RV shipping cost majorly depends on the destination distance to be covered, RV size and if it has to be transported over land, water or internationally. On an average, the RV shipping cost is around $3 to $3.50 per mile when the destination is within 100 miles where as the cost per mile drops to $1 to $1.5 when the destination is between 100 miles to 1000 miles.

The shipping cost will also vary based on other factors like gas prices, demand, seasonality, RV condition and the reputation of the shipping company itself.

Insurance is covered by the shipping company where-in some things can be excluded for which the RV owner can purchase a supplementary insurance.

The RV shipping cost for smaller size RV’s is lesser and will be high if you have a large sized heavy RV. The cost will be proportional to the weight of your RV. A smaller RV with higher weight will also cost you high. This is a normal rule in any kind of transport.

RV shipping cost per mile could range from $3 to $4 for around 100 miles and that could lower down to around $1.5 if your shipping distance is around 1000 miles.

Considerations for shipping an RV

Shipping an RV or camper is very different in comparison to shipping a car. Its relatively easy to transport a car.

Also, there are lot of companies which deal with transporting car’s same is not true for RVs or campers or motorhomes. Moreover, preparing your RV for shipment is a big task for owner which involves lot of things.

Get the Quotes

Estimating the RV shipping cost is important as it could cost you in thousands and a good deal with proper research could save you hundreds. Comparing and taking quotes from multiple RV transport specialist is something that you should consider specially when you are on a tight budget.

Getting quotes from multiple transport specialist will make sure you will get the best deal. Do not decide on the price though, getting a lower quote may not mean a good deal. You need to check for all other things with the transport company and settle for the one that best suits your needs for RV shipping.

Can you negotiate over rates? Yes, you can! There are number of companies who deal with this and it is completive enough. Once yo get the quote do let the company know about your thoughts and may be they may provide some discounts.

Check if there are discounts for clubbing together multiple items like car shipping or other things. Remember no 2 companies will have exact same rates and that’s a great opportunity to find out best rates. Get quotes from multiple vendors before you finalize the transportation.

Plan the shipment

People usually use shipping facility for campers or RV when the distance is longer. Using a terminal to terminal shipping facility could save money rather than using door to door shipping and this could be good way to go for.

It is of great importance that you plan for your transportation well in advance and finalize the shipper for you. You need to give sufficient time for the shipping professionals so that they work wit you and get the process of shipping done smoothly.

Planning fir you shipping well in advance will also make sure you get the shipment done as per your date rather than getting it shipped much ahead of your required date, especially when the shipping distance is much longer, or cross border to a different country.

You may also have to consider and plan for all legalities when shipping your RV to different country.

Do i need to pay for RV shipment insurance?

The RV shipping company should have insurance that should cover your RV. Any damages done during the transit should get covered by the shipping company’s insurance.

However, there could be exclusions in this policy and therefore you may need to buy additional insurance for RV, covering those exclusions. All these details will be present in the sale bill.

Can the transport company not have this basic insurance?

Well, all the shipping companies registered with DOT (department of transport) are legally required to carry minimum $750,000 in liability insurance.

This amount will be ideally enough to cover for any of your damages. But, as i said above there can be exclusions and the company insurance may not cover them at all.

In such a scenario, you can buy additional insurance to cover all the exclusions. Cost of this additional insurance will completely depend on what aspects are not covered.

To make sure you have all the coverage needed, request for the insurance policy details and also verify their DOT number.

How are RVs transported

RVs or travel trailer can be shipped in any of the below ways.

Flatbed shipping

This is done large trucks and trailers. Multiple RVs can be shipped using this method. There are few limitation in this method like height of RV need to be under the maximum allowed by DOT.

The sipping service company need to be vary about trees, overhead bridges. This is suited for small to medium sized motorhomes, truck campers and also small trailers.

Driving Away

This is a method wherein a driver will be sent by the shipping service company. The driver himself will drive the RV to your destination. Medium to large motorhome can be shipped using this option.


Here the RV will be towed using a capable truck to your destination. The services company would come with all the towing equipment needed for this.

This method is mostly suited for towable RVs like travel trailer, fifth wheel and pop up camper trailers.

When the RV is to be sent abroad internationally, it can be shipped on a ship vessels that can carry such wheeled cargo.

Preparing your RV for transportation

Even though you would be paying all the fees for shipping, you as a owner has some responsibilities to do.

The service company personal would normally address you on this before the day of shipping comes. Below are some of the things to do so as to prepare and be ready for shipment.

  • Make sure there are no liquids like engine oil or other fluids leaking anywhere in the RV
  • Make sure trailer side lights, break light are in working condition
  • Do not keep any items hanging in the RV. Store them inside cabinets or storage
  • Make sure all the doors, windows, cabinets are latched firmly. If any of these cannot remained latched then tap them firmly so that the doors don’t open while transporting.
  • Tires on the RV should be properly inflated. Check the pressure before the shipment day and get it to proper pressure if its not.
  • Hitch and tow bar should be properly latched
  • Remove all items that are heavy and not needed. More weight means more shipping cost.
  • Remove all valuable from the RV
  • Slide outs should be locked.
  • All the appliances should be turned off and voltage supply should be disconnected.

How long will it take for shipment

Number of days it will take to ship your RV will depend on the distance it has to be shipped to and also on the service company.

A popular company in such a business will be able to get things done much faster as compare to the one that isn’t much experienced.

On an average, when the RV is shipped between west and east it can take around 8-12 days. The days taken between north and south is lesser to around 6 to 8 days.

This is obviously average days taken and the actual time taken can vary beyond or you can get it even earlier depending on your location.

In most cases, your RV would be delivered to the nearest delivery location and you may have to go there to collect it. Door to door delivery are also possible but it will cost higher due to more efforts.

Expect the delivery based on miles as below on an average.

  1. Up to 500 miles : 1-3 days
  2. Up to 800 miles : 2-4 days
  3. Up to 1000 miles : 4-6 days
  4. Up to 1500 miles : 6-8 days
  5. Up to 2000 miles : 7-10 days

What if the RV or camper gets damaged and How to claim the insurance?

This is the last thing you want to happen during this whole transportation process. In most cases, when you are dealing with established service company you wont face such issue. But, there can always be exceptions and that’s why you have insurance.

Since the shipping company will have the insurance covered all you have to do is to report the damage within 24 to 48 hours. Before you do this, the first thing on delivery you do is to inspect the RV thoroughly both internally and externally to certain if there is damage.

If there was any damage prior to shipping then that will be documented and pictured by the shipping company and you too can keep a note of that. Best thing to do is to take a video and pictures of things inside and outside.

Once you report the case it will be handled by the company thereon. Obviously, you have to have all the legal documents to get the claim .

In most cases you will see that companies will help you out as that is their business and they don’t want to disappoint and get negative reviews from customers.

However, be sure to keep things clear from the beginning itself. Make sure you fully understand the insurance policy and know what all things are not covered so that you can buy the additional insurance yourself.

Shipping an RV out of USA

Shipping an RV out of united states could be tough. You will have to deal with all internal laws under this.

The cost of shipping to other country will also be high and will also attract taxes that you will have to understand in detail. It is advisable to go with a transport company that has much more exposure in doing these things and good background.

Best way to judge the transport company is to ask them lot of questions about all ins and outs.

Firm answers from them would generally mean they are well versed with all the procedures and have probably done that a lot of times. You can in fact use this rule for within country shipment as well.

A transport company with good track record will keep you worry free. When you want to ship a RV to Europe or ship a RV to Canada it is very important to talk to your transport company about all legally things well in advance and get all doubts cleared.

Shipping an RV to hawaii

There are lot of people who want to move their RV or campers to hawaii. And when it comes to shipping RV to hawaii you will definitely need a professional advice and decide on the best possible company for this. You will need to get all things cleared before finalizing on the deal.

Shipping options

1. Go for professional RV shipping company . You can search online and contact various shipping companies and get the quotes from them. A reputable company would normally have rates than may not be lowest. You need to finalize on some one trust worthy for the transport. A lower rate may save you some dollars but may cost you other headaches, hidden costs and so on. So do your home work before finalizing on the transport professional.

2. Ship RV by train : You can ship your RV by train as well. You may contact dealers or transport companies that use this mode of transport. Shipping in a train could be less expensive. You can either chose an enclosed transport or open air. Enclosed will be costly but will keep your RV safe and secure. Open air transporting by train is the most inexpensive mode of transport for your RV. Shipping in a train is very safe and in-fact fastest way to transport.

Is it worth it to ship an RV?

Why do people transport RVs? Why don’t they just drive or tow it using their truck? That’s what they are meant for right? For traveling long distances?

Well, most people do this when they buy it brand new or used in another state. People shift from coast to coast and driving that long may not be for everyone.

People also ship their RVs abroad international when they move out like in Canada, Mexico, south America, Caribbean and even in Europe. In this case also its not possible to drive so shipping is the only option.

People also ship their RVs to Hawaii or Alaska driving the RV there also not possible.

So, is it worth it to ship the RV? It depends on why and how far you want to transport the RV. Sometimes costs can be high and if you own a very old RV then selling it and buying new can be a better option. You don’t want to spend an amount that is almost equal to your RVs worth.

In Conclusion

Transporting a camper or RV should not be a difficult process but you need to be carful about few things specially when the cost of the RV is too high. Validating the company, its expertise is essential. You need to pay special attention to the insurance, as if anything goes wrong, you will have your cost covered.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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