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RV Rental Advice - Read Before You Rent

So, you’re thinking about renting an RV? It’s a bit of a commitment, and as with any commitment, it requires a certain amount of due diligence. The RV rental market is an enormous one. Wading through it can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you’ve never rented before. But don’t get too discouraged – we have a lifeboat for you! We’ve put together some tried and true RV rental advice USA to help you get started.

RV Rental Advice – 10 Things You Need to Know

Before you start your great journey into the world of RV rentals, there are a few pieces of vital information you’ll need if you want to save money and avoid unpleasant experiences. Remember the following:

  1. There are different ways to rent. Commercial businesses, local businesses, and peer-to-peer networking are your three options. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. When shopping around for rentals, get quotes from each type and see which works best for you. Take a look at the different rental policies and benefits for each. Some may offer more comprehensive insurance; some may have better customer service; others may have the best rates.
  2. Pay close attention to the fine print, no matter where you rent. If you ask anyone for advice on renting an RV, they’ll tell you to look out for surprise fees. Check the rental policy for terms like mileage limitations, late return fees, tank dumping fees, no smoking/no pets clauses, and cleaning fees. Know exactly how, when, and in what condition you’re expected to return the RV, so you don’t run into problems.
  3. Be prudent; be thorough. RV rental companies run specials all the time; you just have to look for them. If you’re renting during an off time of year, look for seasonal deals. If you’re not dead-set on your destination, or your pickup location is flexible, look for area-specific discounts. If you’re only going one way, check one-way packages and factory delivery specials. Don’t be afraid to haggle if you found a cheaper rental elsewhere.
  4. We live in the information age! People want to trade stories of their amazing (or horrible) rental experiences. Don’t just go with a rental because the company says they’re the best on their website. Check out Yelp and Google for reviews from actual people. If you’re renting through RVshare, you can check renter reviews here, or in an individual listing.
  5. Budget more than you think you need. Renting an RV isn’t a fixed price; there are a lot of financial puzzle pieces that fit together. Fees for insurance, campground fees, gas, dining and entertainment, and mileage and generator fees are all things you need to consider. 
  6. Find the right RV for your family’s needs. It happens all the time – inexperienced renters don’t know the differences between the various RV types, so they just go with the biggest one they can find. Boy, is that a mistake! Not only does a bigger RV cost more money; it’s also harder to drive. Each class of RV differs in size, layout, and drive experience. Figure out which one will be the most comfortable to live in to drive before you commit. Check out our RV class guides for information on each type.
  7. Know what you’re doing before you drive off. One of the biggest pieces of RV rental advice that people ignore is to familiarize themselves with the RV before they hit the road. Sure, rental companies usually make you watch a tutorial video, but how many people do you think pay attention to it? The answer is not enough. Before you even pick up the rental, watch a few videos on driving an RV, dumping its tanks, setting up camp, etc. By the time you pick up the rental, you’ll already be a pro.
  8. It says it’s optional, but that’s where they get you – it’s actually stuff you need to live. Pots and pans, dishes, glasses, cutlery, can openers, flashlights, bed linens, towels… they’ll charge you for all of it, and it won’t be cheap. So, bring it yourself and save a couple hundred bucks. Here’s a trick: look at what’s in their optional kits (it’s usually on the website), so you know what to bring.
  9. The road may be calling you, but it’s your bank account that will answer. If you end up lost or get turned away from a campground, you’re going to put a lot of miles on the RV looking for a place to stop. Not only will that cost you in gas; but it will also cost you if you go over your daily mileage limits. Before you set out, you should at least use an RV trips planner to find your route and places to stay. If it’s the busy season, call campgrounds ahead of time and reserve a spot.
  10. Don’t hole up inside the RV. RVing is about exploring! Get outside and enjoy yourself, whether it’s going into town to check out the local culture, hiking through a national park, or relaxing on the beach. The RV is your home base to unwind at the end of the day, not a place to sit inside and watch TV.

RV Road Trip Ideas

RV road trip planning can seem a little overwhelming if you don’t have a preference for where you want to go. After all, there are as many road trip ideas as there are roads! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Overseas Highway in Florida keeps it short and sweet. This drive will take you through the Florida Keys across 42 bridges and 100 miles of winding highway. It may not be a long drive, but there’s plenty to do along the way, like diving, fishing, boat tours, or visiting one of the many state parks.
  • If you’re looking for a longer drive filled with history and scenic vistas, visit New England. From coastal fishing towns to quaint mountain villages, there’s no shortage of culture in the northeast. Check out Cape Cod, Massachusetts for beautiful beaches and a trip back in time. Head to Maine and enjoy the best lobster in the world. Then, visit the White Mountains in New Hampshire for some serious hiking.
  • Do you enjoy the mountains more than the sea? Then take an RV trip through the Rocky Mountains. You’ll pass through New Mexico and Colorado, where you can explore Native American heritage alongside the extreme terrain. From there, you’ll head north to Wyoming with a stop in Yellowstone National Park before reaching Montana. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue your trek and explore the Pacific Northwest, traveling across Idaho and into Washington, then down through Oregon and California.

RV Travel Tips for Beginners

It’s not over yet! We still have more motorhome rental advice to make sure your first RV trip goes smoothly. Keep these quick tips and resources in mind:

  • Use an RV-specific route planner like RVtripwizard to plan your route and calculate gas costs. It lets you customize your route and find interesting places to stop along the way. It’ll also tell you if you’re setting too many miles for one day, so you can avoid incurring mileage overages!
  • Allstays is a handy app for finding campgrounds. There are more than 29,000 campgrounds in their database, including affordable sites like State Parks, KOA, and National Forests.
  • GasBuddy will help you find the cheapest gas in any given location. It’s updated in real time, by real people.
  • Always call before reserving a campsite. There are two reasons for this: one, to make sure there’s a spot for you, and two: to make sure your RV meets their campground requirements. Some campgrounds don’t allow RVs of certain classes, ages, or lengths.
  • You can save a lot of money by cooking your own food and freezing it. Before your trip, make a batch of trail mix or other snacks so you’re not tempted to stop at convenience stores. When planning your meals, aim for food that you can easily thaw using either the gas stove or a campfire.
  • Boondocking can save you hundreds of dollars in campground fees. However, it can be a challenge. 
  • Check out this series of videos for an RV driving tutorial. Wand’rly has an excellent article on RV systems and how they all work together to keep you feeling comfortable and at home in your rig.

First RV Trip Checklists

Packing for an RV trip can be just as daunting as planning it! Even the most carefully planned budget can fall prey to forgotten supplies or a broken appliance. Below are several checklists for packing, along with safety checklists and setup/breakdown to-do lists:

  • This is an exhaustive list of everything you could possibly need on a trip. You probably won’t need everything on here, but it’s a good idea to look it over for things you may have missed. It’s a helpful list if you’re planning a trip that’s a month or longer.
  • Here’s a list of bare necessities for the average RV trip. Whether you’re road tripping for a few days or a few weeks, you’ll likely want to bring most of the items on this list.
  • This checklist is specific to kitchen supplies and food. Of course, you won’t need everything, but it will help you avoid having to buy kitchen supplies from the RV company. You can also use this meal-planner template to organize your grocery trips.
  • This pre-trip checklist ensures that your RV is safe and ready to drive, and that all systems are in working order. You should run through this before you head out and on the last day of your trip.
  • Here’s a to-do list to follow before and during your trip. You should use the “day of” and “departure” sections every time you leave a campsite, so you don’t end up driving off with your awnings unsecured!
  • Here’s another to-do list, this time for arriving and setting up camp. This is especially handy to keep around if you’ve never camped in an RV before.

A final note: depending on where you rent from, the company (or owner) may include a return checklist in your paperwork. It’s important to adhere to this to ensure you don’t get hit with any penalty fees. If there isn’t a checklist, ask the owner what you must do before you return the RV. Usually, it will include cleaning, dumping the holding tanks, and filling the gas tank.

Now Let’s Get Rolling!

Do you feel confident going forward with your RV rental now? You should! RV rentals aren’t as complicated as they seem once you have the right information in your hands. Hopefully, our RV rental advice has left you feeling inspired and ready to hit the road. From planning your trip to the day you return the RV, we’ve covered it all. We hope you have a safe and enjoyable road trip!