RV Rentals: Things You Need to Know, Do Before Renting an RV

If you haven’t tried renting an RV (recreational vehicle) for your holidays, it may be worthwhile to give it a shot. Being on RV provides flexibility on your travel and virtually gives you home in wheels so it becomes a very convenient utility vehicle to have especially when you are on a road trip.

Perhaps you have explored a map of itineraries and bringing along an RV offers more flexibility and cost-effiency than your traditonal car and hotel/motel option. Basic information such as number of passengers, travel itinerary, length of your travel and type of planned activities will help determine what type of vehicle is most suitable, or whether or not RV is the best option moving forward.

Besides knowing these conveniences and fun adventure an RV brings, the following bits of information should help you make the right decision on RV rentals.

Types of RV rental companies
There are several channels where to rent an RV.

  • Through RV rental company chains. There are several companies such as Camper Rentals USA, Cruise America, and Motorhome Republic are among those that fit this category, which is generally advantageous if you look for deals and relocation specials. However, be aware that inventories available are often limited, and customer service may vary from one branch to another.
  • Through family-owned RV rental businesses. These service providers, such as AdventureQuest RV Rentals, are likely to offer you more personalized service and staff will go out of their way to satisfy customer needs. However, be prepared to compare price quotations as they may charge higher than others to cover overhead costs.
  • Through RV network. Such peer-to-peer RV rental network such as RVShare offer the widest range of RV selections, reasonable rates and responsive customer service. However, if you are looking for one-way rentals or good deals, maybe there isn’t much to see here.

Your selection will eventually depend on how you plan your excursion and which features matter to you most. For example, if you are looking for a specific RV model, try the RV network. If you plan to drive across the country and fly on your way back, rental chain companies are more suitable.

Types of RV and which one is right for you
It seems a little daunting at first, given the variety of RV types and configurations. To address such concern, here are some basic things to know:

RVs are classified as Class A, Class B, Class C, travel trailers and fifth wheels, each with its own distinctive features.

  • For those new to RV, Class C may suit best since driving them is familiar to those driving other types of vehicles. They range between 25 to 30 feet, though “Super Cs” can be as long as 45 feet. They are built on a truck’s chassis and have beds over the driving area. They are often seen for rent at large RV rental chains.
  • For those looking for space and luxury, Class A RVs could be best for you. They are long — up to 45 feet — and looks and drives like buses. They often have slideouts that allow adjustment for more spaces when parked and setup for the night. The experience driving this vehicle might be new to some drivers so it’s advised to take one for test drive before proceeding.
  • For those that have fewer passengers (two max) and prefer a more compact built, Class Bs or converted vans may be best for you. Measured at just 25 feet or less, a camper van is likely not self-contained, meaning a bathroom, kitchen and place to sleep is likely not part of the vehicle.
  • For those who want the biggest size possible, travel trailers fits the bill. Since there is no driving area — the entire vehicle needs a truck to pull it — travel trailers are more spacious. However, they can be difficult to tow and not suitable for certain terrains.
  • Fifth wheels are like travel trailers which are towable. However, fifth wheels, which range within 25 to 40 feet, attach into the bed of a truck, right over the axle, making it easier to tow. And like travel trailers, fifth wheels are typically larger than other RVs so giving them a test drive before deciding on them is highly recommended.

Given the different types of RVs out there, our choice will be based on the size of your party and driving experience.

Renting an RV
At this point, we’ll assume you have picked an ideal RV to use. But regardless what your selection is, the process of renting an RV will be similar across the board.

Depending on your options (location, travel dates, etc), a list of RVs will be presented to you. Longer rentals, deals done on off-season often come with special deals and discounts but make sure to look for them if they’re not conspicuously provided.

Check for restrictions. Limits on certain parameters such as number of miles you can travel, how many people can fit in or how long you can run the generator are displayed at the RV rental company’s website. Exceeding such limits mean extra surcharges. Also take note how you can return the RV or what you need to do before returning it (such as dumping the holding tanks).

Reserve the RV through an online form. Once you have picked an RV based on your needs and agreed on terms, you may need to put down a security deposit which you may or may not get back when you return the vehicle depending on terms agreed in the contract.

Get auto insurance. While RV rental companies include liability insurance and round-the-clock roadside assistance, you’ll probably need auto insurance as well. You can directly apply for one through the rental service, or through your own insurance service provider.

Get a demo. When picking up the RV, make sure to get a walkthrough and orientation on how to use the systems. RVs may serve the same purpose, but each RV might come with a specific characteristic every driver using it should be aware of. Before signing the papers and getting the keys, check if there is no obvious defects (tires, leaks, towing trailer connection, etc). Upon return, it is expected that the condition of the RV is the same as when you got it.

What else do you need to know before renting an RV

1. Be certain of your travel plans. Get the final number of members of your group, identify your itineraries and activities (eating, fishing, etc), define your route and where to park for the night. You don’t want to confirm an RV rental only to find out it is not suitable to some sections of your journey.

2. Get a commitment from everyone. Make sure that everybody joining the trip is committed to taking this mode of travel. While not everyone may not be comfortable, at least there is no dissenting voice that will come back and pin the blame on you and other members of the party if things won’t go as planned (rainstorm, hard mattress, not enough sleeping space for everyone, discomfort using the toilet, etc). A word of advise, just because the agent says an RV sleeps six it sleeps six; take a tour and inspect if it really does sleeps six comfortably.

3. Pick destinations everyone will enjoy. Imagine the convenience an RV provides! Without the need to go to airport or wait for your scheduled train ride, an RV takes you virtually anywhere you want: national park, beach, campsite or at an RV resort. Ensure that such destinations will be suitable to members of your group: young children, elderly with mobility concerns, and everyone else.

4. Be aware of other expenses. Just because you skip the hotel fees or extra transport costs doesn’t mean you won’t spend anymore on the road. You need to include in your budget expenses for gas, spontaneous excursions, dine-ins and unplanned activities at each destination, park and campground fees. Also, RV rental companies provide extra amenities such as kitchenware, generators, linens and fuel for a fee. You can also research for cheaper places to get gas within your route especially when prices skyrocket during summer months.

5. Check RV parking destination. It is important to know what to expect before arriving at an RV park or campground. Get to know its policies, type of RVs it can accommodate and security it offers. Also, read online reviews of such facilities and look for other options (maybe cheaper but less convenient places are also available nearby).

Renting an RV to experience it the best way to find out if it is suitable for you and your traveling party. Although it’s not the cheapest way to get around, it provides another option to get away different from your usual vacation options, and in the process make memories in a different way.

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