Benefits, limitations and considerations when swapping out a recreational vehicle

Benefits, limitations and considerations when swapping out a recreational vehicle

Do you dream of spending your vacations in a motorhome in Europe, Australia or New Zealand? But perhaps you are somewhat reluctant to put yours on a cargo ship in the middle of the oceans, to rent or even to buy an RV on the spot… Exchanging your motorhome may be the solution!

Why exchange your motorhome, RV or van?

The benefits are numerous, starting with the possibility to travel, free or almost free, to the other side of the world! Because yes, the concept of exchange consists quite simply in lending your motorhome to another traveller, in return for which you will be able on your side to borrow his vehicle. Imagine being able to lend your motorhome to an Australian, and then being able to drive his RV through the bush… This good exchange is all the more interesting as it considerably reduces your vacation budget. Add to this the airlines that offer international flights at ever more attractive prices… You can then easily plan your dream vacation, always in road-trip mode, whether it is for 2 weeks in Europe or one month in New Zealand.

Discover the world by RV: what are the most popular options?

To travel the world by RV, needless to say that it takes time… But is it necessary to remember that the further away the destination is, the more important the economic dimension becomes? If you are, an American and you want to travel by motorhome to Europe, South America or Australia, for example, there are several possibilities…

The first option is to rent a vehicle on site, but this can quickly have an impact on your budget depending on the length of your stay and the period concerned. For your information, a family RV in the USA in summer will cost you about 3000-4000€ per month, where you would drop to more or less 1000€/month in the fall… You will have understood it, high seasons are to be avoided if you want to preserve your wallet!

The second option is to temporarily import your own vehicle and transport it by cargo ship, which can be expensive, not to mention the associated administrative procedures and possible risks of theft during the crossing. Once you disembark your vehicle, you will need to insure it, which can be complicated and very expensive depending on the destination. Finally, as far as maintenance and mechanics are concerned, it is better to avoid breaking down abroad with your own vehicle…. In this case, you will have a lot of trouble finding a competent garage or one that simply agrees to take an interest in your problem and take a look under the hood…

The third option is to buy a vehicle when you arrive in the country and resell it before you return home. But to make sure you don’t make a bad purchase, which would then jeopardize your stay, or beyond that, the very profitability of the operation in the case of a resale at a low price, This is what many young roadtrippers do when they go to Australia or New Zealand with a WHV (working vacation visa) in their pocket… This practice of buying/reselling is very interesting over a relatively long period of stay, between 6 and 12 months.

A 4th option synonymous with saving and sharing…

The RV exchange is therefore a real alternative to continue traveling in “Vanlife” mode away from home. Being able to borrow a vehicle on the spot allows you to envisage a stay over a longer or shorter period of time, without having to worry too much about insurance or the taking care of the vehicle in case of breakdown. All this, of course, free of charge. Even if it is still essential to take certain precautions beforehand with the owner of the vehicle you are about to drive! Finally, you should know that beyond “swapping” their vehicles from time to time, the regulars of the RV exchange say they also share their experiences, their good plans and their traditions. Many of them also talk about the lasting friendships they have developed through the exchange of their “rolling home”. In passing, they say that this provides them with more opportunities to travel, as the ties with the country and its people are so strong that it almost becomes a second home…

What are the limitations?

Those who have already lived this experience readily concede that the research was complicated. Those who have not yet tested the motorhome exchange admit their reluctance to lend their vehicle and more generally their difficulty to trust. If you own a motorhome that is in San Francisco and you propose to exchange it for a road-trip in Europe. The owner of a motorhome in Europe who is interested in a vacation in California puts his motorhome at your disposal and uses yours. Still, it is necessary to be interested in the same destination and to agree on the dates… Moreover, the motorhomes exchanged must be somewhat similar, and the duration of the exchange must be the same so that the exchange is fair.

What considerations should be taken?

 First of all, we advise you to contact your “exchangers” well in advance of your trip. Do not neglect this step and with it the relationship you are going to initiate. Confidence is necessarily established with time… A phone call or even a message? No matter the way, the essential thing is to be in contact and to allow yourself to stay in contact as much as possible. Thus, you will be able to make sure that the current passes between you, identify if they are serious people and also check that the vehicle you are about to borrow has the accessories and equipment that will be useful to you during your trip.

As far as insurance is concerned, because this is certainly the aspect that most concerns the followers of motorhome exchange. First of all, you must know that the term “exchange” means “loan” in the eyes of the law. You should therefore check what is indicated in your insurance contract.
Depending on the insurance companies and the contract taken out, lending a vehicle to a third party may be prohibited or authorized under certain conditions. In the event of an accident, when lending a vehicle to a person who was not authorized by the contract, the intervention of the insurance company may be limited at best, or even non-existent. In addition, the deductible that will be applied may also be increased. The method of weighting the assessment of risk and claims should also be considered. Not forgetting, of course, to mention the need for the occasional driver to have a valid driver’s license (translated into an international license for certain countries) and to use the vehicle under the conditions provided for in the owner’s insurance contract.
The objective for you is therefore that all these elements be discussed (and bordered) with your “interchanges”, so that ideally the loan of the steering wheel is possible, without limitation of guarantees nor increase of deductible!

Ideally also, we advise you to agree to be present for the handing over of the keys in order to devote at least one hour to the explanation necessary for the proper functioning of the vehicle. As you know, each motorhome is unique and has its own specificities, specificities that it is good to know in order to experience the best possible trip. It is not uncommon for “borrowers” to arrive one day before receiving the vehicle, to be accommodated by the “lenders”, and to take to the road one day later. This is an excellent way to build a genuine relationship based on trust.
One last detail that goes without saying but that goes better when you say it: don’t forget to exchange your phone numbers!

By respecting all this advice and as those who have the experience of exchanging motorhomes will testify: you will very quickly feel responsible for the vehicle you are lent, as if it was finally yours! Finally, you should know that many exchanges lead to lasting friendships, which in the process multiplies the possibilities of travel. 

Julien D.

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All or almost everything you need to know about RV Exchange

All or almost everything you need to know about RV Exchange

Perhaps you have already heard about Recreational Vehicle Exchange? The principle, on paper, is relatively simple since it is a matter of temporarily exchanging one vehicle for another, in order to be able to visit a country that is often far away from one’s own.

Want to know more? This article is made for you!

How does it work?

Based on the model of the exchange of house or apartment, now widespread in the world, the exchange of motorhome (or RV) has largely enough to seduce those who are owners!

Indeed, if you own a motorhome, you can now exchange it. This simply consists of putting it at the disposal of another motorhome owner, living abroad and wishing to visit your country. In return, you will use his  “house on wheels ” to visit his, whether you are alone, as a couple or with your family. Of course, the operation will be entirely free of charge, since it is an exchange, and therefore a vehicle loan from a legal point of view. 

Who is it for?

The RV Exchange is thus addressed as its name indicates to the owners of Recreational Vehicles, but not only… The followers of the campervan are also concerned, or those who have a “Véhicule Récréatif”, a “Camping-car” or a “Wohnmobil” since this is how this type of vehicle is named in Canada, France or Germany…

So let’s imagine a family of American RV owners, who want to do a road-trip in Europe. At the same time, a family owning a “motorhome” in the Paris area, who wishes to discover the USA. The exchange of vehicles and their equipment is therefore possible. It remains for them to contact each other, organize things, and prepare their suitcases to take the plane!

How long has it existed?

To find out, we must first look at the history of the motorhome as such and its development.

The latter made its appearance at the beginning of the 20th century and was at the time reserved for a privileged few, since its price was then close to that of a house. It was not until the 1970s that it was marketed on a large scale. Initially relatively Spartan, it was in fact in most cases fitted out vans. It is only at the end of the 90s that the builders really develop better fitted and better equipped models, and this in order to meet the growing demand. Demand that comes in particular from young retirees who are looking for freedom and travel.

The first RV Exchanges therefore began to take place in the early 2000s. They follow not only the development of Recreational Vehicles in the world, but were born mainly thanks to the development and accessibility to the largest number of Internet. What a joy to be in retirement and to be able to travel with all the necessary comfort… And why not consider doing it elsewhere since it is now possible to ask the question to the whole world?!

Why is it going to grow?

Quite simply because the exchange of motorhomes fits perfectly into the collaborative economy, which has become a real social phenomenon, whether in tourism of course, but also in transport, housing, equipment, food or service. Today, whatever the sector of activity, it is inevitably possible to exchange a good or a service, to lend it, rent it, sell it, give it, or share it through community platforms.

Under the impulse of the Internet and following the economic crisis, it is in fact a new way of consuming that is still developing, and this throughout the world. It is now possible for some people to round up their income and for others to enjoy themselves without spending their savings. A concept based on the “win-win” that is gaining more and more followers every day. Beyond the economic aspect, this consumption mode is also attractive on a human level because it promotes solidarity and social ties. Let’s not forget either the ecological dimension with which individuals can identify in this new mode of consumption. 

To sum up, the transition to the 21st century and the development of the Internet has literally propelled our societies into a race to consume, the famous “produce more to sell more”. The RV market was no exception to the rule since the new contenders wanted to have access to this type of vehicle, to be the happy owners of this “object” synonymous in a certain way with prestige. They wanted to have the privilege to travel freely and with a level of comfort close to that of a house… Today, the time has come for collaborative consumption and with it the question “how to increase the use of a good or service through sharing, exchange, sale or rental, between individuals? ». As far as the motorhome is concerned, it is now surpassed in the long term by the return of the campervan or converted van. Its adepts, younger and often still active, are less attached to comfort than to the use that this mode of travel gives them. More than just an asset that they will own and will be very attached to, their “Recreational Vehicle” takes on its full meaning for these new consumers: they flourish through the experiences that they will be able to live thanks to it!

Thus, the exchange of motorhomes, campervans and finally everything that looks like a “house on wheels” should have a bright future ahead of it…

Julien D.

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