We all know that the ultimate road trip can only be possible with an RV. An RV is not just for driving – it also doubles as your temporary living space when you’re out traveling. Imagine all the incredible sights and a lot of fun you can experience when you travel in an RV. It’s great to own one, but if it’s not suited to your budget and you won’t use it all the time, the perfect solution is to rent an RV. With a rental RV, you can get to see all the sites you want to visit while enjoying its comforts without committing to the responsibilities and high costs that come with owning an RV.
However, renting an RV for the first time can be overwhelming. You need to have an idea about what you will be dealing with to be adequately prepared. Here are some tips to prepare you for the ultimate RV rental experience.
Book in advance
When it comes to rental RVs, it’s better to book months or even up to a year in advance. There’s nothing that can put a damper on your vacation plans quicker than finding out there’s no more available RVs to rent on your preferred dates. Always advance your booking, especially if you’re planning a trip for the summer, the holiday season, or winter school breaks. Booking in advance increases your chances of getting the RV you want on the date you want it.
Determine what type of RV to rent
Once you know who is going with you, you can choose the right size of RV to rent. You will need an RV with enough space to lounge, enough sleeping space for everyone, and enough storage space to bring along everything you need.
RVs come in different shapes and sizes. Each type has different features. Here are the common types of RV for rent:
- Class A motorhome – This is the largest type of RV with a lounge, kitchen, dining area, bathroom with shower, and separate bedroom. It’s excellent for large families and groups that need a lot of space. But this luxurious and roomy accommodation comes with a price, and it has a bigger rig that’s more difficult to drive.
- Class B motorhome – This is RV is built on a van chassis. Most are fitted with essential kitchen appliances, a dinette/bed combo, and sometimes a toilet. Its small space makes it suitable only for couples or singles.
- Class C motorhome – This one is built on a truck chassis with an extra cab over the driver’s compartment. It comes with the same amenities that a Class A motorhome can offer, but with smaller space. Often, the dinette converts into a bed.
- Travel trailer – This is an RV pulled with a truck. It comes in all sizes, and interior features vary depending on its size. You only have to make sure that you have a vehicle capable of towing the size of trailer you wish to rent.
- Fifth-wheel camper – This is a towable RV that needs a fifth-wheel hitch mounted on your truck’s bed. Usually, this type of camper have full-sized beds and bunks, and also comes with a kitchen, dinette, and bathroom.
Compare prices and budget accordingly
It’s best to make inquiries on different RVs that interest you so you can best compare prices. Different RV sizes come at different prices. And just like any mode of transport, the rate of renting goes up during peak seasons. RV rental prices also vary by location and distance of your trip.
When renting an RV, you will need to pay a daily rate for your RV rental, and the bigger the RV you get, the more expensive your daily rate will be. Budget your expenses accordingly. Take note that you will also need money for parking and campground fees, amenities, gas, spontaneous excursions, meals, and activities. Also, budget money for miscellaneous expenses, for you will never know what might pop up along the way that requires extra spending.
Be aware of potential fees
There may be extra fees you need to pay, besides the deposit and the daily rental fee – from additional items, extra deposits for pets, cancellations, or use of the generator, propane, linens, kitchenware, and more. Be sure to inquire of these ahead of time to prevent unexpected costs that can ruin your budget.
Be clear with deposit terms and insure your RV
When renting an RV, you will need to pay at least one deposit. Some rental companies will request a deposit for reservation. There’s also a security deposit that is refundable, as long as you return the RV undamaged for the trip. Make sure that you’re clear on when and where to bring the deposit and be wary of those who ask for large deposits over the phone or through the mail.
Insurance is another significant expense when renting an RV. Some rental companies may provide insurance, resulting in an additional fee. If the rental service doesn’t offer insurance, you need to get it on your own. Insurance is a must-have when renting an RV, so you must take it seriously. You don’t know what might happen, so the peace of mind that being covered provides is worth it.
Choose a newer RV
The newer the RV, the better. When you’re renting an old one to save money, you might spend more in the long run. Most companies offer discounts for renting units that are more than ten years old, and it’s okay if you’re aware of the risk. Older RVs might have issues that are not easy to spot. You will have peace of mind with a newer RV as you can be sure that everything is up to standards.
Practice driving the RV
Remember that driving an RV is different than driving a car. RVs are longer and wider than your average vehicle. Make sure you’re comfortable driving the RV before you rent it. You can often test drive the RV before taking it home, as the rental company will also want to know that you’re at ease driving an RV before renting.
Practice turning, backing up, and braking. Use your mirrors on the sides and back end when turning, use a spotter when backing up, and always keep a safe distance between a vehicle in front of you. Since RVs are heavy, they need extra time to stop. Also, remember to slow down and avoid over speeding to avoid accidents. Parking is another challenge for RVs, so if you’re having issues, have one from your group get out and direct you to the right spot. You may also ask for help from the park staff when you arrive.
Familiarize yourself with the RV dimensions
Knowing the height and width of your RV is a simple yet invaluable task that can help make your trip safe and sound. When researching for RVs, look up the specs. When you go on main roads or try to park the RV into tight spaces, you must know what the RV is capable of.
Plan your trip in advance
Once you found the right RV to rent, plan your trip. Maybe you have a specific destination or a general route where you want to make several stops along the way. Have a travel plan to make a less stressful travel experience.
Plan your campgrounds
Choose the campground to stay in and book them in advance. Campgrounds can be like hotels that can get fully booked as you get closer to your target date. You can’t just go inside and park your RV, especially during peak season. Try looking up any seasonal specials, which can give you a great deal. Private RV parks and campgrounds are often more expensive.
Build an RV checklist
There are many things that people forget when renting an RV, so make sure you keep a checklist, so nothing is left behind. Check and double-check so you can be sure that the things you need are packed in the RV. Inquire ahead of time about the things included with the RV rental, like kitchen items, linens, towels, grill, etc. so you don’t have to bring yours. If you do forget something, campgrounds have a store wherein you can purchase small items or foods, but expect the prices to be higher than your local grocery store.
Be prepared to get dirty
It’s a luxury to have a toilet within a trailer or a moving vehicle, but the not-so-glamorous part is emptying them. There is no way to avoid this unless you consider going without tanks for the trip and use public restrooms and showers on the campground or RV park instead. Dumping an RV wastewater tank can be messy and dirty. If the rental company offers dump services (or the campground or RV park), go and pay for it to be less of a hassle for you. If you opt to do it yourself, watch tutorials, ask for help, and be prepared for things that might go wrong.
The most important thing to remember is to wear surgical gloves at all times, as you do not want to touch the germs from feces. You may also need masks so you can cover your nose.
Expect poor gas mileage
You might already be aware that gas mileage is terrible with an RV, so be prepared to spend a fair amount of money for gas, especially during the summer. During those warm months, gas prices skyrocket. Gas stations along busy stretches of highways are also expensive. Have an idea of the gas mileage you can expect from the type and size of your RV so you can estimate your gasoline costs.
Consider the space when packing
Space can be taken up very quickly on an RV trip. You may not have as much space as you think for the items you need to bring and your luggage. Check out the storage options inside your RV so you can have an idea if you have room to put everything you want to bring. If you bring too much stuff, you can expect a lot of stubbed toes and frustration. Make sure that everyone on the trip understands the space limitations to avoid bringing unnecessary items.
Know the capabilities of the RV
RVs are designed to let you use amenities without needing hookups for a short time. Most are equipped with a water tank and generator that can be used without hookups, but it uses gas. You may need to do RV hookups to cook and watch TV, and take all the showers you want. Partial hookups may get you electricity and water, but full ones will give you water, electricity, sewer, and more. If you’re going to get more comfortable with the RV, you may want to opt for full hookups.
To be aware of how to connect to hookups, check the manufacturer’s manual that comes with your RV rental. It’s best to ask the dealership to explain how you can hook up to electricity, water, and sewer. Once you arrive at the campground or RV park of your choice, you may also ask for help from the park staff. Don’t try to connect to hookups if you’re unsure, as you may damage the electrical system or cause waterline issues in the RV.
Plan meals for your trip
The great thing about RVs is they are equipped with kitchen and cooking essentials so that you can save money on your meals. A motorhome usually comes with a refrigerator, so you can keep your raw foods edible. Consider stopping at a grocery store on your trip to get supplies. Be sure to pack snacks, drinks, and ingredients for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You may eat out only when you must, so plan it ahead of time as well.
Consider sleeping arrangements
The sleeping arrangement for RVs must also be a major consideration. An RV rental listing might list that it can sleep six people, so you might leave it at that. Often, RV beds are convertible or hidden, so it’s good to know how large each bed is ahead of time. This way, your 6-foot dad won’t get stuck sleeping on the five-foot converted dinette bed for a week.