First-time RV users have been major contributors to the sharp increase in demand for RV rentals since Sept. 11, according to spokesmen for Cruise America and El Monte RV who were interviewed by USA Today.

And RV rental demand will remain strong at least through Christmas, said Bob Caldarone, director of sales and marketing at Cruise America, and Joe Laing, director of marketing at El Monte.

Cruise America’s October bookings for future rentals were up 42% when compared with October 2000, Caldarone told USA Today. “I’ve been in this business since 1985 and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

At El Monte, reservations since Sept. 11 are up 30% and Christmastime reservations have spiked up 67%, Laing said.

In addition to worries about the safety of air travel, more travelers are looking to rent an RV during the Holiday Season because they do not want to deal with wrapped gifts being opened or confiscated because of tighter airport security, according to USA Today.

Gas prices also have fallen below $1 a gallon in some states and “off-season” RV rental rates can be quite affordable. For example, a 36-foot Class A motorhome that rents for $350 a day from May through August and be rented for around $125 a day after September, according to USA Today.