RV business sees jump in rentals as vacationers forego flying to hit the road

An RV rental and sales business in Dublin said it is seeing a large increase in demand for motorhomes this summer.

Don Price, general manager of El Monte RV, said people are looking for a safe way to travel during the pandemic. He said families are taking road trips instead flying.

"It's the perfect cocoon for self-isolation. Your entire family can stay in here," said Price as he showed different sizes of RV's that are available for rent.

He said rentals have increased five times compared to last year at the same time and that sales have increased by 50%.

"Right now, we're getting a huge number of people calling in, trying to make reservations. Families are anxious to go somewhere," said Price.

With Yosemite reopening Thursday and other outdoor attractions reopening soon, he said he's renting out 75 RV's each week.

"They're pretty much staying close to home so motor homes lend themselves to that," said Price. 

Before the pandemic, 70% of his customers were European families visiting San Francisco and coming to rent an RV to travel to other destinations.

This summer has been 100% domestic customers.

"They can't take a cruise, They can't fly. They don't want to fly. This opportunity makes it easy for a family to travel," said Price.

At Sports Basement in Berkeley, one manager, Andy Dischekenyan said camping gear is popular.

He said there is a desire just to get away, even for a short trip.

"Getting away from the noise of the city. Spending quality time, nowadays with a handful of people."

One customer is a nurse. He's looking forward to relief from the stress of work and COVID-19. 

"For my time to chill or decompress is to touch base with nature," said Daniel Grisales, a nurse and father of three. 

Many said they've cancelled plans to fly this summer. 

"I'm afraid that I could be the one to catch something on a flight," said Allyson Klein of Oakland.

"Somewhere within driving distance would be our first choice," said Frederick Hawkins of Berkeley.

Back at El Monte RV, Price said he is seeing a lot of first time customers with a newfound desire to re-discover America.

A sentiment similar to another difficult time: after the September 11th terrorist attacks.

"People are wanting to travel domestically, most of them are closer to home, shorter trips. It's a family get-together," said Price. .

The cost of renting an RV can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 a week.  

Anyone with a regular driver's license can drive these rv's.