Renting an RV for the first time can be both exciting and a bit intimidating. We’ve set out to create the ultimate list of tips for first time RV renters so that you can ease any worries knowing you’ve properly prepared for your trip. Do you have any tips you’d like to add? Please let us know in the comment section below the article!
1, The newer the rental the better
Let’s face it, when it comes to renting anything, being concerned with how new it is, is rarely a thought people have. The first thing you should know when renting an RV is that newer is always better! When you are renting an older RV to save some money, it could end up costing you more in the long run. Most companies have discounts for renting units that are more than 10 years old, which is fine if you are aware of the risks. Older RVs could have issues that aren’t the easiest to spot. With a newer RV, you can be sure everything is up to standards and gives you peace of mind that we all crave when we are renting an RV!
2, Know the different types and which will suit your trips needs.
When you have decided on how new you want your rental to be, the next thing you need to decide is which type of RV will accommodate your group the best. RVs come in all different shapes and sizes and offer different features that could make or break your trip. The first thing to determine is the needs and wants of your group. If you have a smaller group, using the RV to sleep for the night and maybe cook, you might not need all the features that a fifth wheel or motorhome can provide. Allow us to take a quick look at the different types of RVs that you can rent!
– Travel Trailer – A mid-sized towable trailer that is perfect for medium sized groups of 3-6 people. Some travel trailers can be small so make sure that you know the specs before you go with one to rent.
– Fifth Wheel – Perfect for groups of 4-8 or smaller groups that want to have tons of great features. If your group is one that wants to cook often and sleep in the RV with some luxury items, a fifth-wheel could be for you!
– Pop-Up Camper – Perfect for 1-3 people who need a place to rest and maybe cook. Pop-ups don’t have tons of room or features, but are great for sleeping and cooking.
– Class C Motorhome – If you don’t want to mess with towing anything and don’t need a lot of room, a Class C motorhome is great for you. Not as big as a Class A, Class C motorhomes are perfect for groups of 3-6.
– Class A Motorhome – If you need a lot of space and have a large group, Class A motorhomes are for you. You will have storage space, entertainment options, sleeping options and a living room as well. It is basically a small apartment on wheels!
– Class B Motorhome – Camper Vans are great for groups of 2-4 that don’t want the bulk other motorhomes have. Camper Vans usually are easy to handle and don’t need a lot of training to be able to drive.
Check out the link below to watch a short video with more information about the different types of RV’s to meet your travel needs.
3, Organize all your resources before departing.
Organizing resources before your trip rather than during not only will save you time, it will save the group from anarchy as well! There is nothing worse than being the driver and having multiple people argue about where the next turn is. With that being said, it is important to not solely rely on your phone’s GPS function. Cell phone service can be patchy or nonexistent in some parts of your road trip. I know it may sound crazy, but bringing a paper map isn’t going to hurt anyone! Double checking GPS and making sure you are on the right route will put everyone at ease and not to mention will get you there faster! Besides GPS, plan what all you will need in the RV as well. Do you want to use the bathroom and shower? Plan on cooking meals? These are all things you need to consider before the trip. Organizing your resources can also be a fun activity for your group to get everyone excited about the trip. The more people involved in gathering resources, the better!
4, Pay attention to turning obstacles
Although you don’t need a special license to rent motorhomes or RVs in general, there are tons of differences that if you aren’t prepared, could cost you. If you have never driven an RV before, we highly recommend practicing before hitting the road. Turning an RV is something you can easily practice in an abandoned lot or large parking lot. It might look silly, but putting up cones and making sure you get the turning down right is very important. For a closer look at how to make sure you turn like an RV veteran, check out our video on handling an RV!
5, Know your height and width and pay very close attention to overhangs and tight spaces.
Knowing the height and width of your RV is a very simple task that can go a long way to making your trip safe and sound. When you are researching RVs, you can look up the specifications of each unit’s height, length, width, weight, etc. While you should be fine on most major interstates, it is when you get into those unknown areas where knowing your rig can help you out tremendously. When you get off main roads, or are trying to park your RV into tight spaces, you need to be aware of what your RV is capable of. When parking or navigating overhangs, we always recommend having as much help as possible. Have one of your group get out and direct you into spots that you feel are tight. There is no harm in having as much help as possible!
6, Plan for more space than you think you’ll need.
Space is one of the main things that gets taken up very quickly on an RV trip. Depending on what type of RV you choose to rent, you may not have as much space as you think for luggage and other items you may need to bring. If you are towing an RV, pack your car before the RV. Beds are made for sleeping, and showers for showering. While those are options for storing things on the way out, you need to make sure you have room to put everything when you park and want to start utilizing your RV. If not, a lot of stubbed toes and frustration could be in your future. An RV can get very crowded when everyone is trying to store their stuff in addition to trying to live out of the RV, so make sure everyone understands how much space you will need.
7, Create an RV Checklist before you start packing.
Checklists are always important, especially if this is your first time renting an RV. There are tons of things that most people don’t think about when renting an RV, which is why we have a checklist we think is a great tool for the RV renter. Check and then double check to make sure you have everything you are going to need. If you do forget something, most campgrounds have a general store that you can purchase small items or food from.
8, Organize contact info for any mechanical problems
You are all packed, everyone is ready to go, you get on the road and then POP. It happens. The worst case scenario. A tire blows on the RV and you don’t know how to change it or where to get help. Having your contact info straightened out before you hit the road will save you from sitting on the road for hours. When renting, make sure you know if the company has preferred mechanics or numbers to call. If not, ask questions on what to do if mechanical or tire issues arise. Being stuck on the side of the road trying to figure out how to get help will certainly put a damper on the trip. Be proactive and know what to do ahead of time!
9, Planning ahead can save you hundreds on campgrounds
When searching for campgrounds, the sooner you book, the more money you can potentially save. Campgrounds can be like hotels in that the closer to the date, the higher the rates are because most of the spots are probably booked. If you know the dates you are going, try searching and comparing prices. Also look up if they have any seasonal specials that happen to be when you are going. A lot of campgrounds run winter and summer specials to try to attract people to come to their campground. Take advantage and ask around to try and save money!
10, You don’t need full hook-ups but you need to know the capabilities of your unit.
RVing is designed to let you be able to use amenities without needing hookups for a short period of time. Most come with a fresh/grey water tank and a generator that can be used without hookups, but it sucks gas. But when you do want hookups to take all the showers you want, cook or watch TV, knowing what your RV has is crucial. Partial hookups will usually just get you electricity and water. Full Hookups will give you sewer, electricity, water and more. If your group wants to spend a little more money to be comfortable, full hookups are what you might want.
11, Where to rent?
Finding a place to rent from is always a big part of the rental process. The first thing we would suggest is to do your research. Reviews will tell you a lot about how well a dealer will handle any potentials issues. Read up on what people are saying! As far as chains versus independent dealers go, chains tend to have limited inventory and poor customer service, but could be good for one-way rentals. Chains also can be cheaper on the surface, but could have add-ons making it not cheaper in the end. Again, these are things that need to be researched. Independent dealerships usually have a wider selection and will be more willing to work with you on dates, pricing, etc. They want to keep your business, and will usually go above and beyond to make sure you have a great experience.
12, Know your Insurance
Just like in life, you should always know your insurance plan and what is covered. You don’t go into the doctor’s office or have surgery without knowing what your insurance is or what is covered. The same should be practiced with RV Insurance. Most insurance plans are pretty good and not that expensive, but a suggestion would be to always be over-covered. Protection against the unknown is always a tough game to play, but trust us, the peace of mind that being over-covered provides is worth it. No matter what might happen, knowing that you are covered is a great feeling to have.
13, Always read the small print
We aren’t saying this because something may be hidden, but we are saying to read the small print because you need to know everything about the rig and what you should and shouldn’t be doing. You don’t have to highlight and read it word for word, but it would be wise to know as much information as possible so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. The small print can also help you! It could have contact numbers and additional details on who and how to call for questions or more information.
14, Ask questions
You know how your teachers used to say, “There is no such thing as a dumb question.” They were right! Look we get it, not everyone has taken an RV trip before, but we want to make sure that RVing is enjoyable for everyone because we love it so much! So if you think you are asking too many questions or that you might seem like you don’t know anything, don’t worry about it! Ask away.