What is the Cost to Ship a Trailer?
The cost to ship a trailer is calculated by the trailer weight, if it is a small or large trailer, how far an RV is shipped, how the trailer is shipped and if it is shipping internationally.
The cost to ship an RV is between 1$ and $5 per mile. The total will be based on the type, size and weight of the unit. Generally speaking, the longer the distance, the less expensive the cost will be per mile. A trip of 1000 miles will be around $1 per mile. 500 miles about $1-$2 per mile. Under 100 miles, $3-$5 per mile (or more.)
Continue reading to help you drill down on your own personal situation, the methods to ship, and cost implications.
Why Ship My RV?
People have their travel trailers shipped for many reasons. Maybe you got a great deal on the perfect RV in another state. Maybe you are moving across country. Maybe you are moving out of the country. Whatever the reason, you have to think about how to get it to where it’s going.
What is a reasonable price for having someone else move your RV, travel trailer, or 5th wheel? The answer depends on three questions:
- What are you shipping?
- Where is it going?
- How are you getting it there?
That sounds pretty simple. Before you start calling around, let’s look at what you can expect and what you need to know.
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How Do I Ship an RV?
When it comes to shipping a trailer there are basically two ways to go: Professional or Private.
People will go with a professional RV transportation service for peace of mind. They are insured and have experience moving trailers. Especially if it is a complicated move. However, going with a private party appeals to some for shorter relocations or to save money.
Hire a transport service
This is the most popular way to ship an RV. For good reason. First of all, they know what they are doing. It is literally their business. They know the best way to move your trailer. They also know the regulations and paperwork that can go with a major move. Meaning no guesswork on your part. This is very important if you are moving internationally. Even if it’s only moving your RV to Mexico or Canada.
Second, you aren’t just taking their word that they will do a good job. You can check reviews and licensing. They are insured if something should go wrong. Though most professional RV movers will be extra careful with your trailer. After all, too many insurance claims and bad reviews can cost them their business.
Professional RV transporters also have the right equipment to mover your trailer. This could be anything from flatbed trucks or tow vehicles to professional drivers to drive your RV to its new home. They usually have contracts with shipping companies for overseas cargo. They can also provide shipping containers if needed.
If you are purchasing an RV from a dealership, they may have a preferred carrier. Otherwise, a search for “RV Moving Companies” will produce several options. Most of these are domestic only. That means they only transport trailers in the continental United States. Maybe Canada. You’ll need to do a little digging to find a moving service that does international or Hawaii moves.
Hire someone to tow a trailer
Hiring a private party with a truck to tow your trailer is another possibility. Most people consider this option for three reasons:
- Save money: Private parties are usually less expensive.
- Can’t do it themselves: Maybe they bought a 5th wheel but don’t have the right truck / hitch.
- Short distance: Usually under 300 miles. Though, some private drivers will agree to longer distances.
Most RV lots and trailer service centers have people they use to move RVs short distances. Your camp host might also know someone or you can talk to other people you trust who have the right equipment. The big thing is finding someone you trust as they probably aren’t bonded or carry extra insurance if something goes wrong.
Because it is usually a short distance and someone using their own truck, price will vary due to regional differences. This is mostly because of average wages and fuel costs. However, you can assume an average of $2-$3 per mile.
Rent your RV one-way
There is a rise in private RV rental apps. Think Air BNB but for travel trailers. Since they let you pick who rents your RV, you might be considering letting someone rent your RV one-way. This way you basically get paid for moving it.
Sure, the app does background checks on the renters and provides extra insurance. However, what are the chances of renting your RV at the right time and going to the right place? The best you could hope for would be having it go part of the way. Then you are still faced with having a transportation company move your trailer the rest of the way.
Factors To Consider
How your trailer can be shipped can be affected by size, weight, distance, and condition. Then there is the pickup and delivery locations. Plus, how quickly you need it moved will also affect cost.
Before you start calling around for quotes, be prepared with answers to these:
Size: This is outside dimensions including any hitches and towbars.
Weight: Dry weight in your owner’s manual does not include the weight of your stuff. You’ll need to decide if you are shipping it empty or you’ll have to estimate the extra weight.
Distance: This is over the road miles. Round up.
Condition of the trailer: Road worthy compared to needing to be put on a flatbed.
Pickup/Deliver location: Rural area? Foreign country? Will you bring it to them?
Timing: Can you wait a few weeks? Flexible on pickup/delivery dates? Expedited?
How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Travel Trailer?
On average it costs a little over $1 per mile to have someone move your travel trailer across the country. For instance, going from San Francisco to Omaha, NE will cost around $1600. This is assuming you are flexible with your dates and you don’t need any special services.
It is also assuming you are going cross country. Short moves cost a little more per mile. The average is about $2 per mile for private party and about $3 per mile for a professional transportation service. Meaning a move from LA to Las Vegas will cost around $600 to $900 depending on how you have it shipped.
Why so much more per mile for the short haul? It’s because you are also paying for the return trip for the driver. The shorter the distance, the less likely the chance for a shipment going the other direction.
You’ll also want to add in the cost of storage. In some cases you can have your RV held for later shipment or store it once it arrives. Either way, the moving company will charge a storage fee. This is around $100 per month on average.
There might also be extra insurance costs. You will want to check with your RV insurance company. Most professional RV moving companies have $750,000 in insurance. However, it might not cover specialty equipment.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship An RV Overseas?
Getting your trailer to another country has a few added steps. There are special licenses, paperwork, and tariffs. There is getting it loaded onto a cargo ship. Plus, if you are not in a port city, you will need to have it moved cross country first.
Let’s assume you already have it in a port state such as California or New York. Most cargo containers are 8’ wide by 7’10” tall inside, so unless your travel trailer is small it will most likely be driven onto the ship. This leaves destination as your only real variable.
Once it’s on a ship, distance doesn’t seem to make much difference. Things like tariffs and port charges will be the biggest factor. For instance, an RV shipping from California will cost about $1200 to go to Germany but about $3600 to go to the UK.
The lowest rate was around $1000. While the highest was around $4000. Based on an average sized RV. You’ll need to use the domestic shipping costs for getting your RV to a port. Plus, some ports charge a fee of $275 to $350. Then you have transportation costs upon delivery unless you are planning on picking it up at the foreign port.
What About Hawaii?
Shipping your travel trailer to Hawaii is sort of a combination of overseas and domestic transportation. You don’t have to deal with extra tariffs. However, you do have port fees and the transportation by cargo ship to pay for. On average, it was about $2000 from California, plus whatever it costs to get the RV to the dock. So, plan on a minimum of around $2500.
How Long Does It Take To Ship An RV?
This question will really depend on you and your needs. Depending on the type of RV that you have, and the type of service you are willing to use, it could take a few days or a few weeks. Many hauling companies will require some notice to ship your rig for you. They work on many projects at once, so will try to bundle your haul when they are hauling other stuff from your area.
Some smaller haulers will be happy to pick up and deliver your unit in just a few days. Best rule of thumb, is to start doing your research as early as possible, to find the best situation and cost for you.
How to Get Your RV Ready to Be Shipped
Now that you have decided on a mover for your trailer, you’ll need to make sure it is ready to go. The transportation company should have a checklist for you. You can also check your owner’s manual.
Here’s a short list of common pre-shipment do’s:
- Close all windows and skylights
- Lower any antennas
- Check for anything loose or that might roll around. Even inside the cabinets.
- Clean out refrigerators
- Drain holding tanks
- Double check all latches
- Lock outside storage
- Secure awnings
- Make sure slides are all the way in and secure
- Remove any outside extras (satellite dish, tube lights, clip on towel rack)
- Check all mechanical functions (lights, brakes, fluid levels, tires, etc.)
If being shipped via cargo container or other options where the trailer will not be under its own power, you may need to also do the following:
- Turn off and/or unplug all appliances
- Disconnect batteries and propane
Damage can still happen in shipping. Make sure to take pictures both inside and out. Get a copy of the carrier’s insurance policy when you sign the contract.