Renting an RV

Your RV Lifestyle - Try It First! by Jill Ferrer

Whether you are contemplating an RV purchase or an RV lifestyle, it's critical that you know what you are getting into. As fulltime RVers, did a lot of research before we jumped in. We really talked through what we wanted, and took steps to "try it on for size" before we made major decisions. Renting an RV was one of these trial techniques.

RV Rentals are a great way to travel by RV without actually owning one. You can vacation, see new places and learn more about your RV lifestyle firsthand. It's a good idea to rent an RV before you buy.

Here are some tips for renting an RV:

Plan where you want to go. Consider places you want to see, and how much time you have. Depending on season and popularity of your destination, you may need to make campground reservations.

Decide on the right mix of travel time and stopping time. We suggest you allow some "down" time with no particular agenda. Moving everyday or constantly driving long distances, leaves little time to relax or fully explore your destinations.

Remember the interests of everyone going on the trip. Perhaps you have a mental picture of enjoying the great outdoors, fishing in peaceful solitude. You envision old-fashioned good times and bringing the family closer together. Before you get too carried away...make sure the rest of the family is on the same wavelength. Otherwise, your trip will be less than ideal.

Consider the type of RV you want to rent. If you can rent a model that is similar to one you are considering for your RV lifestyle, your "trial" will be more realistic. Most RV Rental companies rent motorhomes. Class C "cab over" motorhomes are typical, but smaller class B (camper vans) and larger Class A motorhome rentals are often part of the line-up.

Pop-ups (tent campers) can be rented from many places. Towable fifth wheels and trailers may not be as prevalent, but can be found at a growing number of companies.

And many companies rent RV units designed to tow large gear (some brand names include Fun Mover, Toy Hauler and Raptor), which have space in the back of the unit for motorcycles, ATVs, golf carts, maybe equipment or inventory you use in a job on the road. More lifestyle choices!

Research RV Rental Locations: Are you going to rent near your home? Or will you travel to a pick up location?

What are you going to bring? This might make a difference in where you go, as well as where to rent. Note that many RV rental companies rent RV livability packages -- which include kitchen utensils, pots and pans, linens, towels, and the like. Some also rent bicycles, folding chairs and grills. And some RV rental companies accommodate fly/drive renters by providing helpful transportation from a nearby airport.

Will you need a separate car?
If you do, ask your RV rental company if they allow you to tow one behind the motorhome -- some companies do not permit towing, or have limited liability.

If you do tow a car with a rented motorhome (or it's your car/truck towing the rented RV), educate yourself on weight limits and safe towing equipment. If your RV rental agency allows towing, they should be able to help you.

Compare -- Collect some price quotes and start comparing. Note what you are getting with each quote, and add in additional expenses you will incur, so that you have an apples-to-apples comparison.

Compare the things you care about:

  • Can you tow a car for day trips?
  • Does the RV rental firm allow pets?
  • What mileage is included?
  • Add in your estimated fuel expenses.
  • Are insurance costs included? What is covered?
  • What's the deductible?
  • Is there optional coverage available?
  • Check your personal insurance policy to avoid paying for coverage you may already have.
  • What is the deposit and deposit return policy?
  • Are there prep, cleaning or other additional fees?
  • What type of air conditioning and heating?
  • Is there a generator? Do you care?
  • How big is the rental RV? Does it have slide- outs? It's good to have adequate space for the number of people traveling.
  • How many does it sleep comfortably?
  • Is a TV, VCR, or Tape/CD player included?
  • And so on.

Read the rental agreement before you book the reservation, and make sure you understand the terms and conditions.

Make sure you know the refueling policy for the return, so you don't have any surprise costs at the end of your wonderful trip.

Pay close attention to the walkthrough of the RV. Your rental company should spend sufficient time with you to explain how everything works. They should run through things like hooking up at a campsite, starting the generator, how to use appliances, and everything else in the RV. Take notes, ask questions, ask to have things repeated. Know where to find the manuals on various components.

Have the phone number(s) for the RV rental dealer, including a number to use in emergencies.

If you have questions or need a bit of help on the road, just ask a fellow RVer. If you have never been RVing, the one thing that is sure to stand out is just how friendly and helpful "RV people" are.

Copyright 2005 Your RV Lifestyle, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author

Jill is the editor of www.your-rv-lifestyle.com, where you can find more advice for choosing, affording and enjoying your RV lifestyle.