The benefits to renting an RV for your vacation are numerous – they often work out cheaper than hotels (especially if you have a large family), they’re more convenient as you don’t have to constantly move all your belongings, they give you the freedom to go wherever you want… the list goes on.
It’s clear then that renting the right RV is an essential part of your road trip. You’re going to be living in this home-on-wheels for the duration of your trip, so you want it to meet all your needs. You also want to get the best deal, so you’re left with the biggest possible budget for enjoying yourself on the road!
So, what should you be looking out for when renting an RV? Where are the best places to get a good deal, and what extras do you need? Before you start your search, check out these 10 tips for renting an RV, to help you find the perfect vehicle for your #vanlife adventure.
Book in Advance
As soon as you’ve decided on the dates for your upcoming trip (and confirmed the vacation time with work), the very first thing you should do is book your RV. Your whole trip depends on this, and you don’t want to commit to campsites, insurance or anything else until you’ve got your wheels sorted. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can wait for a last-minute deal. Whilst late deals are possible, they certainly aren’t guaranteed, and if you need specific dates you should book as far in advance as possible to make sure you get what you want and avoid disappointment. You’ll also have the most RV options available to you if you book in plenty of time – whilst ‘last-minute Larry’ will have to take what he can get! Ideally you should be arranging your RV hire 6 months to a year in advance, if your schedule allows.
Use a Peer-to-Peer Rental Site
The best way to rent an RV is to use a peer-to-peer rental site, such as Outdoorsy, RVshare or Campanda. These sites give you access to thousands of RVs being rented out by their owners (think of them like Airbnb, but for RVs!) This gives you the largest possible amount of options when it comes to the type (more on this below), size and location of RVs available to rent. They also generally include extras such as insurance and roadside assistance (again, more on these below), so you don’t need to worry about arranging these yourself. These sites have thousands of 5 star reviews from happy customers, so you can be assured your vacation is in good hands!
If you don’t fancy renting a privately owned RV, you could also use a rental company, such as Cruise America, which rents out their own fleet of RVs – however you will have a lot less options available to you than with one of the above peer-to-peer sites. It’s also likely to be the more expensive option, as you won’t have multiple renters competing with each other to offer you the best price.
Research the Best Type of RV for You
There are lots of different sizes and types of RVs available to you (providing you’ve followed tip 1 and booked well in advance!) so consider which type will best suit your needs. For example, if you have a large family or you’re embarking on a long-term trip, you might want to choose a Class A motorhome, which resembles a bus, is very spacious and includes much of the furniture and amenities you would find at home. If you want a slightly smaller and more manageable option, but still with all your modern amenities, you might consider a Class C motorhome, which is generally attached to the cab of a truck chassis. Both of these types enable you to ‘jump in and go’, and mean you always have your home with you.
Alternatively, if you want an RV you can tow, giving you the freedom to go off and explore in your car or truck during the day and return to your temporary home in the evening, you might want to think about renting a Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer – both of which are usually large enough to give you the feeling of living in a small apartment. Other types of RV include tent trailers (perhaps the most common, and great for newbies!) and Toy Haulers, which feature a cargo garage that can be used to transport motorcycles or other ‘toys’ – great if you’re going on an active holiday! If all of these options sound great, but terrifyingly large, a Class B or campervan might be for you. This one is pretty much the size of a normal van, so it’s only really suitable for couples or singles – but it is great for those #vanlife posts on Instagram!
Importantly, you should only hire a size of RV you are licensed to drive. In many states you only need a special license to drive an RV over 26,000 pounds (which most RVs aren’t), but in others you will require a Commercial or Non-Commercial Special License. This is something you should definitely check out before renting one. Ultimately, you should try to find a happy medium between an RV large enough for you all to be comfortable, and compact enough that you feel confident (and are legally allowed!) to drive or tow it. Check out reviews from owners and experienced campers to help you make an informed decision.
Consider What Facilities You Need
When deciding what type of RV you want to rent, also think about what amenities are essential for you to have – and which ones would be ‘nice to have’ for a more comfortable or enjoyable time. For example, you might want to consider the bed set-up. How many people do you need to accommodate, and where are they all going to sleep? Are you happy converting a bench in the living area into a bed, or do you need everyone to have their own space?
If your trip is in summer, you probably want air con; if it’s in winter, you’ll likewise want heating. If you have pets, you’ll need to take that into account and make sure you’re renting a pet-friendly RV. If you’re a smoker, you’ll need to check this is allowed inside the RV (or commit to only smoking outside). If you’re vacationing for a long time – or if you have kids! – a washing machine might be essential. When booking through a site such as Outdoorsy, you should be able to filter your search results by all these amenities, and more.
Get the Best Price
It goes without saying that you’re going to want to get the best possible price when renting an RV – they can be pretty costly. To do this, make sure you shop around and check multiple sites to compare deals. If it’s still coming out at too high, try altering your dates, or your pick up and drop off locations to get a better price. If you want your RV delivered to you, consider whether you could pick it up instead, as this is usually cheaper – even something as simple as a later pick up time might uncover options that were previously unavailable to you. Another tip, if you can, is to arrange your trip for during winter or the off-season. This is when the price of RV rentals is at its lowest, as there is less demand.
Beware Additional Costs
When booking your RV rental, always read the small print. Find out if there are any cancellation or amendment fees, in case you have to make a change to your trip. If you’re going to be sharing the driving (always a good idea, if possible), ask if there are any fees for additional drivers. Additionally, if you need any added extras, such as a GPS or generator, check the cost of this prior to confirming your rental agreement.
Some rentals include unlimited mileage, whereas others will charge after you go over a certain amount, so make sure you find this out in advance too. It’s also a good idea to ask how many miles per gallon you can expect from your RV. This will be dependent upon its type, age and size, and will affect how much you need to budget for your trip. Slowing down and driving economically will help you to maximize your mileage and get more distance for your money.
Get Insurance and Roadside Assistance
Depending on where you hire it from, your RV rental might come with full insurance, or you may need to purchase it as an additional cost – either way, do your research and make sure you’re covered. Insurance is essential in case you have an accident, but also in case you damage the RV. It will be inspected when you return it, so you won’t be able to hide any dents or scratches, and RV repairs can be very costly! Make sure you get a comprehensive policy, and that you’re covered for all the states you’re going to be driving in. You might also want to look at additional damage protection that will cover inside the vehicle – it’ll be worth it for your peace of mind!
Roadside assistance is also vital to ensuring you have the best possible experience of renting an RV. Nothing has the power to ruin a vacation like being stranded in the middle of nowhere in a broken down vehicle for hours or days on end – even when that vehicle has all the mod cons! Make sure you’re covered for all the locations on your trip, and have the number you need to call in your cell phone, just in case.
Get to Know Your RV
Once you’ve picked up your RV, you should get to know it. Ask him where he grew up, how many siblings he has… Just kidding. By this we mean, learn how your RV works, and find out where everything is. Make sure you know how to dump waste from your RV, where the generator is for power, how to lower and extend the antenna… the list goes on. Even if you’re an RV veteran, every make and model will be slightly different, so you should still familiarise yourself with your rental prior to your trip. Keep the number of the person or company you’ve hired it from close-to-hand, in case you forget to ask anything important and can’t figure it out.
Whilst not necessarily difficult to drive, RVs are a lot bigger and heavier than regular-sized cars, which means it might take some getting used to, especially if you’ve never been behind the wheel of something like this before. Once you’ve collected your new portable home, practice driving it in a quiet area first, such as an empty car park, before you hit the open road. Some general tips for driving an RV are to drive slower than you usually would, and to brake earlier, as an RV will take longer to stop than a car.
Plan Your Trip!
With the practical stuff out of the way, it’s time for the fun bit! Once you’ve chosen and paid the deposit for your RV, you can start booking campsites and experiences to make this your best road trip yet. Use Google Maps to plan your route, and apps such as Allstays and Passport America to find the best campsites to stay at. We also recommend checking out the numerous blogs and reviews online for inspiration. It’s a good idea to book campgrounds and attractions far in advance too, especially if you want to go somewhere popular!
So, there you have it – 10 simple tips for renting an RV that should take some of the stress out of planning your next vacation, and ensure you get the best possible rental deal. Follow these tips and we promise you won’t drive away disappointed!
- What is the Difference Between Class A, B & C Motorhomes? – Expedition Motor Homes
- RVING 101 | RV Types – General RV Center