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If you’ve been dreaming of an RV vacation, but you’re not quite ready to purchase the vehicle, then a perfect solution for you is RV rental. It’s a flexible way to enjoy the RV lifestyle without committing to the responsibilities of owning an RV. However, to get the most from your first RV rental, there are a few things you should know. That’s why we’ve created this ultimate guide with 15 tips for renting an RV, which will help to make the process for you as smooth and easy as possible.
Tips for Renting an RV
1. Know How to Find an RV Rental Near You
Finding a good RV rental may seem intimidating, but with sites like Outdoorsy and RVshare, the whole process is actually very easy. There you can find rentals from RV owners that are located all over the country. Moreover, all their rentals come with good insurance and free roadside assistance.
These sites also offer the widest range of options, so you can pick the RV rental that would be the most suitable for your needs and preference. On these RV rental sites, you can browse options by location, type of RV, and its features. Then, once you’ve picked your travel dates, you can book your rental.
Alternatively, you can also rent from RV rental companies, such as Cruising America and El Monte RV. They also have multiple locations across the US and they also offer the option of one way RV rental. However, the downside with them is that they often charge higher.
2. Know the Different Types of RVs
One of the most important parts of the rental process is choosing the right type of RV. Think of where you’ll be going and how many people will be coming with you. This would help you choose an RV with the right size for your needs and the roads you’ll be traveling on. So, here’s a breakdown of the most common types of RVs.
- Class A motorhomes. These motorhomes are like giant homes on wheels. They are the perfect choice for those who are looking for luxury RV rental. They offer the most amenities and they come with lots of space to stretch out and get comfortable. Due to their large size, they are also great for those who need to accommodate a big family. However, this type of RV also has its downsides. They are usually more expensive, not very fuel efficient and they limit the road options that you can travel on.
- Class C. If you’re looking for a mid-size option, consider renting a Class C RV, which is a smaller type of motorhome that is built on a truck chassis. It’s a good choice for families and large groups that are looking to rent on a limited budget. These RVs offer similar amenities to Class A motorhomes, but on a smaller scale. The smaller size makes them more maneuverable, which makes them perfect for remote exploring and camping.
- Class B camper vans. For couples and singles, there is also the camper van option. Many manufacturers cleverly use the limited space to provide all the essential amenities, such as kitchen, dining area, bed, and sometimes a bathroom. Even though you get a limited amount of space and amenities compared to the other RV options, camper vans also offer plenty of benefits. They are very easy to drive, even on narrow roads. They have better fuel economy and they are easier to fit into camping and parking spots.
- 5th wheel campers. This type of RV is the biggest towable option. Their massive size offers luxurious living space, making it perfect for extended trips. They are called the 5th wheel because of the coupling that is mounted onto the bed of a tow truck. They also feature a section overhanging the coupling, which provides additional interior space. This type is best for those who want to have all the amenities of Class A motorhomes, but would rather have a towable option. The advantage of this is that you can unhitch when you reach a campsite, detaching your towing vehicle for daily travel.
- Travel trailers. This is another towable type of RV, which is towed by a hitch that extends from the front of the trailer. They come in all sizes, from tiny to massive. This means that there’s something for everyone. However, if you choose a travel trailer, make sure that your car or truck is capable of towing the weight of the travel trailer that you wish to rent. For smaller trailers, you can pull by an SUV. But for bigger ones, you’ll need a large truck.
- Truck campers. These are perfect for off-road adventures. They work best for a maximum of three people due to the limited living space. Since the entire living section sits on top of the truck bed, you don’t need to worry about towing anything behind. Due to this and to the fact that they often offer four-wheel drive capabilities, you can enjoy more flexibility and freedom on the road.
3. Pick an RV That Is Newer
When renting an RV, also keep in mind that newer is always better. Older RVs might have issues that are not easy to spot, which could lead to your RV vacation being spent dealing with repairs rather than enjoying the trip. Even though some RV rental companies offer small discounts on their older vehicles, it still might be better to choose a newer option. It will give you peace of mind that there’ll be less chance of something breaking.
4. What Gas Mileage to Expect
RVs typically have terrible gas mileage. However, depending on the type and size of the vehicle, it will still be higher and lower. It’s best to ask the RV owner what kind of gas mileage you can expect. This would help you budget for gas costs.
5. How Much Does It Cost to Rent an RV?
When choosing the best RV rental it’s also important to consider the price. You will pay a daily rate for your RV rental and the price will vary depending on the size of the RV, the distance of your travel, and time of the year.
You can create a budget and look at options within that range. However, remember that there are also a few other considerations when calculating the RV rental rate.
If you rent an RV weekly or monthly, the cost is usually lower. Also, consider what is included in the rental rate. For example, how much mileage does it include?
Each RV rental owner or company sets its own base mileage. For example, it can be 100 miles per day with an additional charge for every extra mile. However, some RV owners offer unlimited mileage.
If you’re planning a long road trip, unexpected mileage fees can add up quickly. Try to plan out your trip and calculate the mileage that you’ll be driving in order to understand if it’ll be under the covered limit.
If you plan on going boondocking, check also if there’s a charge for generator usage. RV rentals often allow only a certain number of hours of generator use. For the additional hours, you’ll have to pay an allotted amount. And it’s good to be aware of these costs ahead of time.
Other RV rental add-ons can include bedding, kitchenware, and more. If you’re renting a local RV near your home, you can just bring your own stuff to save money. Otherwise, if you’re flying, add these to the rental cost.
6. Understand the Insurance Coverage
Most RV rental companies will provide insurance, which will be included in the rental price. However, if they don’t provide it, you should get it on your own. This will give you peace of mind that no matter what happens, you’ll be covered.
When renting the RV, ask what sort of insurance coverage is included and whether you need to get your own insurance. You should ask how much it costs and does it cover all states.
Driving an RV, you’ll be driving a vehicle that you’re not familiar with. In addition to that, backing up and maneuvering these large vehicles is not an easy task. Due to these reasons, it’s important that the RV rental comes with good insurance coverage.
7. Check the Pet Policy
You should also research RV rental policies regarding pets. Not all RV rentals allow pets. And if they are allowed, there’s often a pet deposit. Pet friendly RV rentals can also have an extra fee for cleaning if you return it with pet hair. It’s better to be aware of all the extra charges before signing the rental contract.
8. Book in Advance
This is especially important if you plan on traveling during peak season. Booking in advance will help you find the best options and will allow you to get the most out of your RV rental. Renting last minute, on the other hand, can leave you with no available options for your time frame.
9. Know the Cancellation Fees
Another important thing to know about renting an RV is the cancellation policy. If something unexpected happens and you need to cancel your vacation, it’s better to know ahead of time what will be the costs.
10. Know the RV’s Capabilities
Find out the amenities that the RV rental comes in order to understand if they will meet your needs. For example, most bigger RVs will have a bathroom with a shower, but not all camper vans will. Secondly, some RVs will have a generator, while others will require a hookup at a campsite.
If you’ll be staying at campsites, then you don’t need to worry about it since you’ll be able to hook up to both electricity and water. However, if you’ll be boondocking, then the RV should have some way of generating electricity, such as using an RV generator or solar panels, and it should have fresh water capacity.
11. Learn How to Operate All the Components of the Camper
After you’ve rented your perfect RV, learn how to operate all of its components before you set out on your adventure. Ask the rental company or the RV owner how to empty tanks, how to use the generator, how to lower and raise the awning, etc. This is especially important if you’ve never used an RV before.
12. Plan Your Route
The next thing you should do is decide where you want to go, so you can plan your route. When doing so, take into account the weight and height of your RV. You can use an app for this, which uses that information to find the best routes for you. This will help you avoid bridges and overpasses that are too low for your RV.
13. Research RV Parks and Campgrounds
Once you’ve got your route planned, it’s time to start researching campsites and parks. As we’ve mentioned early, take into account your RV’s width and length. Consider also other important factors, such as available amenities, location, cost, pet, and children policies. Keep in mind also that there are different types of campsites, such as campsites with partial, full, and no hookup.
Many campgrounds offer membership. If you’ll be traveling long term, this can be a good way of bringing down the cost of camping. The price for a yearly membership is usually not that high, so for many, it makes sense to have it.
14. Create an RV Checklist
Having an RV checklist will ensure that you have everything you need on your camping adventure. Think of the food, clothes, hiking, and any other gear that you will need. If you do forget something, though, you can usually find a general store at most campgrounds.
Consider also creating an additional checklist for the RV set up and take down. For example, before driving, you would need to uncouple the water and power, shut off the sewer line, put away anything that could roll around and break.
15. Download RV Apps
To make your RV trip as smooth and simple as possible, consider downloading RV apps. They will help you plan your trip, save money, find the best campsites and make new friends.
- Allstays Camp & RV for finding national parks, campgrounds, and overnight parking.
- KOA app for campground information.
- Roadtrippers for planning and organizing your trip itinerary.
- Sanidumps for finding dump stations.
- My Pilot for finding gas stations and rest stops.
- GasBuddy for finding the cheapest gas prices.
- RV Checklist for always having a list at hand of all the things that you need to remember.
Questions to Ask the RV Rental Company
- How much is the rental deposit? When planning your budget for the RV rental, consider also the cost of the rental deposit. Typically, it will range from $500 to $1000. This payment is refundable once you return the RV undamaged. Moreover, to get the full deposit back, most often you’ll also need to dump the waste tanks and clean the RV.
- How does the insurance policy work? Ask if it’s included, what does it cover, and how does it work.
- Does the rental include roadside assistance? This would ensure that you will get help in case of emergencies, such as a flat tire.
- What is the length and width of the RV? This information will come in handy when you’ll be researching campsites for your stays. Some campsites allow RVs only under a certain length. The average permitted size is 27 feet, so if you rent a longer RV, your campsite options might be more limited.
- Are there specific fuel requirements? Don’t let yourself be caught off guard by unexpected costs of fuel requirements, so it’s better to ask ahead of time.
- Will I get charged for mileage?
- What is the RV rental’s pet policy? Are they allowed and is there any fee?
- What is the cancellation policy? Do they offer a full, partial, or no refund?
- How many miles per gallon should you expect? This would help in creating the budget for the trip.
- Do you need a license to drive an RV? In most states, you don’t need a special license for driving an RV that is under 26,000 pounds. However, it’s still better to ask the RV owner or rental company, if there’s a requirement.
- How many passengers can ride in an RV? This would help you understand if it will be able to accommodate your group.
- Does the RV have an air conditioner? It might be important, depending on where you are traveling to.
- Does the rental offer bedding, pillows, and kitchenware? Or do you need to bring your own?
- Who to call in case of emergency?
- Does the RV have a GPS?
- What do you need to provide for RV rental? You will typically need to provide a copy of your driving license, signed contract, payment, and deposit.
- Can the RV rental accommodate those with disabilities? For example, you can find some handicap accessible RVs for rent on RV share.