Renting an RV offers an unparalleled mode of travel and the opportunity for adventure. With the freedom of the road, you can have an unforgettable road trip while taking your home away from home right along with you.
However, if you’ve never rented an RV before, there’s a lot to think about. And that can be a little intimidating. But don’t let that stop your trip before it begins. With this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about renting an RV.
Plan the Trip
Before you even think about the RV, focus on the trip you want to take. Where do you plan to go? How long will the trip be? Who’s coming along?
All of these factors will influence every decision you make. The number, age, and interests of people traveling will influence the stops you make, your activities, and the size of RV you rent.
Budget for Your Trip
As you research your RV, you should have a budget in mind for the trip. Start with the cost involved for renting the vehicle. Then there’s a lot more to think about.
- Gas: Gas, alone, is a big cost. And RVs use a lot of it. Not to mention the fact that they get terrible gas mileage. So begin estimating how much you’re going to have to spend on gas.
- Campground Fees: The place you park your RV will come with a cost. These campgrounds and RV parks offer water and dumping station access. Plan ahead for the fees involved so you won’t have any surprises.
- It’s also worth a little effort to check with your local library for passes to State and National Parks. Sometimes you can check these out as you would a library book. This can help guide your trip and provide you with a camping spot without worrying about a fee. Plus, you get to enjoy some amazing attractions for free.
- Food: Depending on the duration of your trip, you may need to stop for groceries along the way. Plus, you’ll want to be prepared for those can’t miss restaurants. Budgeting for food will help you get your fill without stressing your wallet.
- Activities: Of course, no trip is complete without those fun outings. Whether you plan them in advance or they come spur of the moment, you need to factor in the cost of activities in your budget.
Research RV Parks and Campgrounds
You have a variety of choices when staying at an RV park or campground. The number of offerings vary. Kamgrounds of America (KOA) and ReserveAmerica have a dump station, full hookups, and on-site staff. Some state parks have these, as well as playgrounds and other attractions. They’re also less expensive than privately-owned RV communities.
The best thing to do is plan ahead to find a park or campground that provides the kind of RV experience you’re looking for.
Research Your RV Options
Committing to renting an RV is a big deal. The choice you make can significantly impact your trip, making it the best ever or memorable for all the wrong reasons. That’s why it’s a good idea to find one or more retailers near you and research their inventory in person.
By conducting on-site research, you get a feel for model sizes, amenities, and gas mileage. The dealership staff can answer questions you have and provide you with a wealth of information. And most likely, they’re RV enthusiasts who can give you the benefits of their own experiences.
Once you’ve gotten an in-person crash course in RV availability, you can supplement your research by going online. That way, you can delve deeper and begin to narrow down what’s a good fit for your group and your trip.
RV Types (Your Options)
- Class A: Ranging up to 45 feet long, Class A RVs are the largest models. They look and drive like buses. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to take a test drive to make sure you can safely handle this type of RV on the road. They often come with slide-outs that can open for additional space when parked.
- Class C: Class C RVs normally range 25-30 feet long. However, diesel models can be up to 45 feet. They rest on truck chassis and contain beds that jut out over the driver’s seat. These models are the easiest RV to drive and the most common available for rent.
- Class B: Class B RVs are vans converted into RVs, or camper vans. With a maximum length of 25 feet, these compact RVs are ideal for one or two people. It’s not very common for them to be self-contained with a bed, kitchen, and bathroom. So you may have to use your campground’s bathroom and shower facilities.
- Travel Trailers: With travel trailers, you need a truck to tow them. The advantage of these RVs is that since there’s no driving area, you get more space inside. Plus, you can select from any number of lengths ranging from 9-43 feet. The downside is that since they’re pulled behind a vehicle with a tow hitch, towing these RVs isn’t an easy task.
- Fifth Wheels: Just like travel trailers, you can tow fifth wheels. But these are easier to tow because they attached over the axle and into your truck bed. This makes for a sturdier drive. Their lengths range from 25-40 feet.
The Rental Procedure
Once you’re ready to rent the RV that works for you, there’s a procedure.
- Regardless of what service you use, the inventory that’s available will vary, depending on the dates of your trip. So look when you’re choosing from the inventory and find your travel dates first. Then select your RV.
- If your travel dates are flexible, look for those with discounts. Sometimes you get reduced rates for one-way rentals, relocations, longer, or off-season rentals.
- Check for restrictions, such as how many miles you can drive per day and how long the generator can run. Exceeding these limits will cost you extra.
- Check for how many people are allowed to fit in the RV.
- Check for what you’re responsible for before returning the RV, such as dumping the holding tanks.
- The service you choose will most likely allow you to reserve the RV online.
- Expect to pay a security deposit. Getting it back when you return the RV is determined by the rental terms.
- Be mindful of additional fees. RV rental services often offer additional amenities. But you have to pay for them. That includes, propane, generators, linens, kitchenware. That may sound like quite an add-on, but it’s often less expensive than those provided at campgrounds and RV parks.
- Understand that you need insurance with the RV. While rental services generally provide liability insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance, you should also have auto insurance. A temporary binder may be available from your insurance carrier. If not, your RV rental service can sell the needed coverage to you.
- If you’ve ever rented a car or moving van, you’re already familiar with what to expect from renting an RV. When you arrive to pick it up, the service associate walks you through the vehicle, checking for damage and showing you how to use the systems. After signing paperwork and receiving the keys, you’re on your way. When you return the RV, the service associate will inspect the vehicle again to check for damage and overages.
Prepare to Use RV Hookups
Before you head out on the road, make sure you’re comfortable using the RV Hookups. Study the instruction manual that’s included in your RV rental. Also make sure the service associate walks you through the procedure of hooking up to water, sewer, and electricity. If you still need help when you get to your campsite, ask your fellow RVers or the staff. Being uncertain about what you’re doing could damage the RV electrical system or cause water and sewer issues.
Keep in mind that dumping your RV wastewater will be the least fun part of your trip. And it’s a dirty job. You might want to consider paying extra for dump services if your RV park or rental company offers it. You might also prefer using public restrooms and showers available at your campground or RV park and foregoing the water and sewer hookups, altogether. This could save you the possibility of making a hookup error and free up some of your trip budget for other things.
With some research and planning, you’ll find that renting an RV is one of the best ways to have a memorable vacation, enjoy the countryside, and take in local flavor – all while enjoying the freedom of the road.