When you think of the sharing economy, companies such as Uber and Lime probably come to mind. In Alberta, RV sharing is also on the rise, with web-based services like Wheel Estate—plus traditional rental businesses, including Go RV—helping more people enjoy trailer-based camping without having to actually buy a trailer.
“The first summer we had about 30 trailers listed for rent,” says Chad Ball, who launched Wheel Estate with his wife, Cherie, in 2017. “Whether it’s because of pent-up demand or just that people are more comfortable using sharing services, we now have more than 1,500 listings.”
The Okotoks couple’s website is based on a simple premise: Most people with RVs only use them for a few weeks out of the year. Owners wishing to earn money from their idle assets sign up and create a free listing for their trailer—setting a price, noting when the unit’s available and detailing its amenities and specs. Prospective guests likewise create a free account to connect directly with owners to set up a rental. The site’s most popular trailer rentals are conventional, 26-foot units, though funkier options like Bolers, A-frames and teardrop trailers are also available.
To add a layer of trust to the arrangement, Wheel Estate verifies all owners and guests when they register. Renters must have a valid driver’s licence (Class 5 for Alberta residents) and their towing vehicle must be properly insured.
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Insurance is a big consideration for RV sharing. That’s because an RV owner’s insurance policy on their trailer isn’t transferable to a renter, according to Kavita Jain, underwriting supervisor for the Alberta Motor Association Insurance Company. Wheel Estate, however, has a unique fleet policy that covers trailers for damage and liability up to $1 million at no extra charge. Whether you are a would-be lender or renter, Jain recommends contacting your insurance advisor to ensure you’re protected against the unexpected.
For those less inclined to plunge into peer-to-peer sharing, Go RV rents traditional 20- to 30-foot travel trailers at its Red Deer and Leduc locations. Trailer rentals include third-party liability coverage (a.k.a. Part A), in the event you are responsible for someone else’s death, bodily injury or property damage. Doug Caldwell, sales manager at Go RV in Leduc, takes particular care to ensure first-time renters are comfortable hooking up and towing a trailer.
“We do get people who are nervous about towing,” he says. “It’s like driving a Mini and then taking the wheel of a semi truck. For first-timers, we recommend smaller, lighter-weight trailers, which are easier to tow.”
Regardless of size, hitching any trailer to your vehicle changes the way it handles. Signing up for AMA’s half-day RV Smart course can help motorists strengthen their RV-specific safe-driving skills.
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• Some national parks have a “reservable period” for campsites that’s shorter than the park’s actual operating season. Dates outside of that period are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
• Campsites are limited at Jasper National Park; its Whistlers Campground remains closed for reconstruction.
• Alberta also has hundreds of privately operated campgrounds. Check them out at albertacampgroundguide.ca.