How to Rent the Best RV for Your Vacation

Why buy when you can rent? There are several reasons a person might choose to rent a motorhome. First, even if you don’t want to own one, it’s a great way to take a vacation. Personally, although staying in a hotel can be fun, I find after relocating a few times I start contemplating how many other people have slept in the bed before I did. Second, staying in an RV saves time and money. Not only do you avoid carrying your belongings in and out of wherever you are staying, you can cook many, if not all of your meals there, as well. Third, it’s a great way to ascertain whether or not you in fact want to buy one, and if so, what kind. It’s really the ultimate test drive.

If you aren’t planning to live in your RV at least part of the time, it might make more sense than spending money on the purchase, maintenance, and insurance for a rig you only use a few weeks out of a year. With so many local dealerships and national outlets, renting a classic or late-model unit is easy. Some even come with optional housekeeping packages for the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom that you can rent for a reasonable price. That said, here are a few things you should know if you’re considering renting a recreational vehicle.

Assess Your Needs

The first step is to take a look at why you want to rent an RV. If you were test-driving one with the intent of eventually purchasing something similar, obviously that would dictate which models you would consider. If you want one for a vacation, however, there are a few factors you would want to weigh to ensure you get one that is big enough for your comfort and provides what you need without being too big for you to comfortably drive.

What Type of Vacation Are You Planning?

Trips in a motorhome are as unique as the individuals who take them. For some, the RV merely provides transportation and a sort of “home base” for sleep. Their daytime active hours are spent exploring their surroundings or visiting nearby locations for entertainment.

These individuals or groups may be happy using the campground’s laundry and shower facilities and cooking outside over an open fire. For them, a smaller camper or trailer is a reasonable option. For others, having the ability to cook and shower in the unit is ideal and worth the additional expense of a larger model. Those looking for a multifunctional home away from home or a hotel room on wheels probably want a fifth wheel or a diesel-pushing Class A.

How Many People Need to Be Accommodated?

Motorhome designers are geniuses for making the most of the space available. Sleeping accommodations are often multifunctional or hidden when not in use, such as in the form of pullout sofas, futons, and bunk beds.

That said, the larger the motorhome, the more expensive the experience will be, especially when you add in fuel costs. Therefore, it is a good idea to rent the smallest RV that will comfortably house the members of your party. Depending on your plans, bringing a tent or two for kids or outdoorsy companions allows you to rent a smaller model than you wouldn't be able to otherwise. Additionally, the specified number of occupants a camper fits is usually much higher than it comfortably does, so a good rule of thumb is to reduce the maximum occupancy specified by half. So if the maximum capacity is eight, the motorhome will likely, comfortably house four.

Find Your RV.

Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, check out a couple of rental options to find the one that most fits your needs. Check with local rental companies. Depending on your location, there may be many. It’s advisable to inquire into the reputations of each with YELP, the Better Business Bureau, or another watchdog company like Angie’s List. There are also a few national rental companies and rental brokers that can help make your dream vacation come true. Here are just a few of them:

Cruise America
With over 119 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Cruise America owns a fleet of compact, intermediate, standard, and large-sized Class C camper style motorhomes. When renting from them, a 300-dollar reservation fee charged to your credit card goes toward the rental charges. Before departure, you must pay a security deposit of $500 to $1,000 depending on the form of payment and the estimated rental charges, which are based on the number of days and miles you anticipate driving. The mileage rate is 35-cents per mile. Upon return, the fees will be reconciled. You will be refunded any excess mileage that you paid or charged for additional miles driven. These charges are balanced against the security deposit.

The company offers two types of ready-made kits to make traveling easier, or you can forgo them and use your own supplies. The first is a personal kit that rents for 55-dollars a person. It comes with a comforter or sleeping bag, pillow, pillowcase, and sheet, dish towel, bath towel, and washcloth. The second kit is equipped with vehicle provisions for 100-dollars per RV. It has a set of pots and pans, mixing bowls, can opener, and teapot; dishes, bowls, silverware, cups and glassware; a flashlight and a broom. Additionally, Cruise America offers travel packages and vacation ideas.

Before departure, a Cruise America staff member will spend 30 to 60-minutes acquainting you with the vehicle. You can further prepare by watching the provided orientation video. It is their goal to make you as comfortable using their motorhome as possible. This minimizes risk to the renter and vehicle, and increases the renter’s enjoyment making it more likely he or she will rent from them again.

El Monte RV
Available in 27 states, El Monte RV owns a variety RV types, including bus-style Class As, camper-like Class Cs, travel trailers, and fifth-wheels—all in a range of sizes. The cost of the security down payment varies depending on the style and size of the recreational vehicle and ranges from $1,000 to $5,000-dollars. Additional costs are assessed based on the many different trip plans they offer.

They also offer two convenience kits. The first is 50-dollars per person and consists of two blankets, two sheets, two pillowcases, and a pillow; two dish towels, two hand towels, two bath towels, and two wash cloths; one set of a bowl, plate, saucer, two glasses, one cup, and a silverware set for one. The other provides a broom, mop and bucket, toilet brush, and two clothes hangers; a teapot, coffee pot, three pans with lids, frying pan, platter, Dutch oven, mixing bowl, and water pitcher; a can opener, corkscrew, potato peeler, and a strainer.

Before leaving with the RV, be sure to read the instruction manual and watch the orientation video to ensure you are confident and comfortable.

Available in all 50 states, RVShare is a motorhome broker that pairs prospective travelers with owners who want to rent their RV out when it isn’t in use. They have a huge catalogue of Class As, Class Bs, Class Cs, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, sport utility trailers, and folding camper trailers. Each owner sets their own per-day price, per mile price, and nightly generator use price for their unit. Plus, each online rental through the RVshare payment system is backed by a 10,000-dollar guarantee. You can filter your search by state or style and compare RV rental prices, features, reviews, and more.

It benefits everyone for the renter to be thoroughly acquainted with the vehicle before taking it out on the road. Each one is different; therefore, the orientation process is up to the owner and the renter.

Since so many RVs are left unused the majority of the time, and many families and couples want to try out the RV lifestyle, this company provides a great service.

Final Tips

Although each company is different, there are few things about the method of renting an RV that are fairly consistent among them. Therefore, consider following these tips throughout the process from the initial search to the final return of the motorhome to ensure you have a good experience and successful trip.

Choose an Appropriately Sized RV
Make sure to rent a rig large enough for the comfort of your fellow travelers, but don’t just opt for the biggest one you can find. Although they’re impressive, the bigger the vehicle, the harder it is to drive and park. Smaller options like Class Cs, camper vans, or travel trailers (assuming you have a vehicle that can pull one) are much easier to handle on narrow, winding roads and when driving on windy days. Finding a campground that will accommodate them is a simple process, and navigating through city streets and parking lots is, as well.

How Much Does a Rented RV Trip Cost?
In addition to the security deposit and daily rates, most companies also charge taxes and miles. Although some vacation packages offer a flat, all inclusive fee, the overall cost is often around $45 to $300 a day. Plus, if you’re planning to stay in RV parks, you will need to add that cost, which varies from $12 to over $400 nightly during peak seasons. Also, most RVs get around 7 to 12 miles per gallon of fuel, so that should be budgeted for, as well.

Is a Special License or Extra Insurance Required?

Most people rent a Class C motorhome, which is built on a truck chassis, so it drives like a truck. Fortunately, your regular driver's license is all you need; Plus, the insurance works the same as when you rent a car. In other words, you are probably automatically covered through your auto insurance company or your credit card, though it’s a good idea to check with both to find out exactly what your responsibilities are.

Thoroughly Orient Yourself With the RV
Do not ignore vehicle orientation. The 30-minute to hour-long tour or instructional video is a minor inconvenience to sit through as opposed to hours of figuring out how your sewage system works or your slide-outs retract. The small investment of time early on saves the major investment of time and potentially money when you don’t know what you’re doing.

Return It as You Received It
Just like you would with a rental car, it is good manners and more economical to return the RV in the same condition you got it in. Make sure to top off the gas or diesel. Fill the water and propane tanks and dump the waste. Take out the trash and clean up any messes you made. Most companies charge a fee for having to refill the tanks, pump out your sewage, or clean up after your pets.

In Conclusion

Many people love the freedom of touring in a motorhome. It allows them to see the country without increasing their own vehicle’s mileage or moving their belongings into one motel after another. It’s also a great way to determine whether the RV lifestyle is right for them before buying one.

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