The Ultimate Guide to Renting an RV
The Ultimate Guide to Renting an RV© (2022 Update)
by Go RV Rentals™
Renting an RV is a great way to travel but you should be aware it’s a little more involved than renting a car, hotel and/or vacation home. RV rental is a big commitment and the quality of your trip relies heavily on doing your homework. If you’re new to RV rental, it’s important that you go into the process with some prior knowledge to assure you get exactly what you are looking for in order to make your trip the best that it can be. Before you rent an RV, here are some tips to keep in mind.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent an RV?
This is a big topic and by far the number one question asked by newbies. We’ve written the authoritative article on the cost to rent an RV and the key points about RV rental prices are summarized starting on Page 5 of this article.
Find Out About the RV Rental Deposit(s)
Find out how much the deposit is going to be as soon as possible. Sometimes there is a reservation deposit and a security deposit. Make sure to inquire about whether the deposit is part of the total charges, when it is due and if it is given back as a refund when you return the vehicle without any damages.
Make RV Rental Reservations Early
Sometimes RV rentals book up months in advance as do prime campsites, quantities are limited so act accordingly. Therefore, making early reservations, especially on and around major holidays, during summer, spring break and special events like concerts, festivals and auto races. This early action increases your chances of getting the camper rental you really want. Book it today!
Ask About the Cancellation Policy
Travel like anything that is planned, it is subject to last minute changes. When shopping around for rental providers, find one that seems to have the best cancellation policy for your situation. Some policies are strict and some are more forgiving. Look for the amount of days in which you can cancel while still receiving your full deposit or credit back and make sure to read all of the fine print when it comes to canceling.
Get a Comfortable Size Camper Rental
While it may be tempting to go for the smaller size camper which is usually less expensive, you must be honest with
yourself in regards to the size that is actually necessary. Consider how much clothing, gear and equipment you are packing, how many people (and pets) will be living out of the RV and how much space you need to be truly comfortable before choosing a size. It may cost a little extra for a size upgrade but it may be well worth it when it comes to the comfort of your journey. On the other hand, if you are one of the growing legions of minimalists, then a small campervan rental will be a great fit for you and perhaps lighter on your wallet.
Ask About Amenities
Some RVs are more equipped than others with appliances and amenities that may make your journey easier, more enjoyable and comfortable. Evaluate what is best for your trip and then
decide whether you want TVs, slide-outs, outside cooking, entertainment system, generator, awning, leveling equipment, towing equipment, GPS navigation, backup cameras, in motion satellite TV, microwave, water heater, air conditioner, fridge/freezer, stove and furnace. This is just a partial list of possible amenities.
Get Acquainted with the RV Inside and Out
The size, space and weight of an RV may be completely different than the vehicles you are used to driving. And, since you are going to need to drive or tow it in order to get anywhere, it’s important that you feel comfortable. Find out if you can walk through the unit prior to renting. Also, find out if there is an orientation given by the rental provider on operating the vehicle and its amenities.
Inquire About the Electronic Hook-Ups
If you plan on camping, you are eventually going to need to hookup to gain some power or use a generator. Find out
about the wattage and the energy that will be needed to power your RV before you start taking it to a campground that has a certain amperage limit. Is the RV electrical system 20 amps, 30 amps or 50 amps? Will you be dry camping (i.e. no hook-ups) and need a power generator or run off solar? Note with a power cord adapter you can make it work. For example, a 50 amp RV with the proper adapter could use a 20 or 30 amp campsite power but may have limited usage of equipment (i.e., might not be able to run two A/C units but could run a heater, lights and maybe the microwave). However, a 20 amp camper would not work on 30 amp or 50 amp campsite without an adapter.
Make Sure You Understand the Policies – Your Responsibilities
To ease your mind during the trip, make sure to ask the rental owner exactly what you are responsible for in regards to the RV and its maintenance. What happens if you have a tire blowout? Ask about the return policy (i.e., can you return the RV on Sunday afternoon or early?), insurance requirements and cleaning responsibilities. Also find out if they offer roadside assistance. What is their pet policy and is there a separate pet deposit? Who can drive the RV?
Ask the Rental Provider How Often They Service Their Vehicles
Before even deciding on a rental, make sure to question the provider about the frequency of their RV maintenance. You will want to make sure that tires are in good shape and everything is in proper working condition before trusting the RV to keep you and your family safe.
Ask About Mileage Charges
In order to avoid going over or stressing about your mileage during the trip, make sure to ask the rental owner about the mileage policy. Find out how many free miles are offered to you (if any) and what the cost is per mile over that limit. Depending on how far you are planning to drive, the miles policy could really help you choose which RV to go with. Would you like the RV delivered to a location? If so, how much is it?
Find Out About Additional Charges
Before you commit to a rental, find out about additional charges, if any. It happens quite often that the daily rental rate does not include other fees and you may be in for a surprise when you go to pay. Charges typically include things like prep fees, insurance, taxes, propane, kitchen kit, linen kit, cleaning and roadside assistance so get a detailed breakdown of what exactly you are expected to pay for.
Find Out About Towing Policies
If you plan on towing a pop-up camper rental or travel trailer rental, you will need to find out about the regulations and policies on this from the provider. What size hitch and light connector is required? Do you need a brake controller? Ask about the weight of the RV and its
carrying capacity. You will certainly need to know the towing capacity of your own tow vehicle. Is it within safe weight limit? If renting a motorhome, ask if you can you tow an automobile/trailer and if there is any additional charge or insurance requirements.
Ask if There Are Any Restrictions on Places You Can Take the RV Camping
Some RV owners prefer that you don’t drive the RV to certain places or beyond a certain distance from their location. For example, some rental owners in the U.S. ask that their renters avoid places like Death Valley National Park or other desert areas during the summer. Also, there may be restrictions on travel outside of the U.S. to Mexico and Canada and vice versa.
The Road Less Traveled
Don’t try to go too far too fast—-stop and smell the roses when you can because that is the beauty of RVing. Many first timers cram pack their itinerary and spend most of their RV vacation on the road and miss out on some interesting things at stops and in route. Realistically, you can average about 50 miles per hour with stops. So, if it takes an hour or two in the morning to get going and another hour to setup at your destination, then if you go 300 miles you’ve spent most of the day traveling which doesn’t leave much time for other activities. Sometimes you do have to travel to get to your destination which may be why you’re traveling—-the point is slow down and be spontaneous—less is more.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent an RV?
Whether you are planning a long weekend at a state park or you plan on driving across the country for an entire summer, renting an RV is a fun and adventurous way to travel. While an RV rental saves you a lot of money compared to simply purchasing the vehicle outright and it compares favorably to driving /flying and renting hotels/cabins, the actual breakdown of cost to rent an RV will vary based on several factors.
Indeed, comparison shopping for an RV rental is not always easy because each provider has their own rate structure and policies. Go RV Rentals facilitates an “apples-to-apples” comparison for renters by breaking down the cost components. Here are a few things you should know about the cost to rent an RV to help you find an RV to meet your needs and budget:
What Class RV Rental Do You Want?
Not all RVs are created equally and they typically are classified into three main types: Class A, Class B motorhome, Class C motorhome, and travel trailer. Travel trailers come in several types: bumper-pull, pop-up, fifth-wheel and toy hauler. The type of RV that you choose will be one of the biggest factors in what your daily rates are for an RV rental.
Class A Motorhome Rental
Class A motorhomes are typically higher end RVs that you drive like a car and offer many luxury features. If you plan on traveling with a family or entertaining and you want to have the feel of being in a home, a Class A might be the best option. To have these extra amenities and room, though, you are going to have to pay more for it. Class A motorhomes are typically the most expensive type of RV rental.
Class B Motorhome (a.k.a. Campervan or Camper Van Rental)
Class B is a drivable RV that looks like an over-sized van. Its size is somewhat in the middle of Class A and Class C. They normally don’t have slide-outs. These may be fully self-contained with mini bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The cost varies greatly and may cost more than a Class A or less than a Class C.
Class C Motorhome Rental
Class C motorhomes are usually built on a van frame, are typically smaller than Class As, have less of the luxury look and feel but are very nice and ultimately a cheaper option. If you still want to have a traditional RV experience but want to keep costs lower, choosing a class C motorhome for your RV rental is a great choice.
Travel Trailers Rental
Travel trailers are quite different than both Class A and C motorhomes because they are pulled by your vehicle instead of being driven. Travel trailers are generally less expensive than a motorhome to rent and you get an added benefit of having a separate vehicle to drive around at your destination. If you want to take a camping road trip and keep costs as low as possible, travel trailers might be the option for you.
How Long Will You Be Renting an RV?
Most RV rental providers have a minimum rental period that can vary but is commonly three days. If you are only renting for a short amount of time, you can usually expect to pay a higher daily rate than what you would pay if you are taking a longer trip of one week or more when discounts may be offered.
When Do You Need An RV Rental?
Some RV rental providers keep the same daily rates year around. However, some may charge different rates during peak season, special events and off season. Rental rates vary this way due to simple supply and demand mechanics—during peak season, more people want an RV rental so the prices may go up; during off season there are more unrented RVs to choose from and prices may go down. Peak season is traditionally during the spring and summer months because that is when many families have extra time for vacation due to school being out.
To keep costs lower, consider taking your RV rental road trip during off season months, in the late fall and winter when some RV rental dealers offer lower rates. This is a lot easier to do if you do not have children that are in school. Just be careful to consider holidays as some providers may increase rates during these times.
Additional Fees for RV Rental
The cost to rent an RV is not always made up of just a daily rental rate. Oftentimes there will be additional fees and charges that you will have to pay. These can vary a lot so it is important that you find out the details before you rent. Some of the additional costs may include:
Mileage costs are typically associated with motorhomes and not travel trailers. A few RV Rental dealers offer unlimited mileage on their RV rentals. Other RV rental dealers offer a daily mileage allowance and additional costs are only added if you exceed a specific cap. For example, you may be given a daily mileage allowance of 150 miles. Anything over that would be charged at $0.38 per mile. If you rent your RV for 7 days and you drive a total of 1,500 miles, you would be 450 miles over your allowance. That would result in an extra $171 to your final bill.
You will also need to budget for gasoline or diesel fuel expense. Most motorhomes get somewhere around eight to ten miles per gallon and you can expect to get a few miles per gallon less on your vehicle than normal when you pull a travel trailer/ camper.
If you plan on staying in an area that does not have any type of hookups to use for electrical power and you want to use electronics you are going to have to use an electrical generator. Unlike a travel trailer that typically utilizes an external generator most motorhomes have an onboard generator. If you are in popular RV campgrounds this may never be a problem, but be aware some campsites do not have any electrical hookups. Some providers include unlimited generator use or charge a flat daily rental fee and others offer an allowance of so many hours per day. In this case, you will be charged an hourly rate for your generator usage over the allowance.
Equipment / Miscellaneous
Unless you plan on taking your own bedroom and bathroom linens, utensils, and other kitchenware you are probably going to have to rent these items from your RV rental provider. Kitchen supplies are typically a single fee for a kit and linens are charged based on a per person rate. In rare instances, these items are included for “free”.
Several other areas for possible miscellaneous charges include prep fees, pet fees, propane usage, cleaning and tank dumping. These fees may or may not be included in the base daily rate so be sure to ask.
Reservations and Deposits
Typically the RV rental owner will collect a reservation deposit to hold the RV for you when it is booked. This deposit is then applied against the amount you will owe for the RV rental charges and depending on the dealer’s policy may or may not be refundable if you cancel your reservation.
Additionally, in advance of picking up the RV and/or when you pick-up the RV, the provider may charge or process a credit card authorization for the rental and/or security deposit to cover fees and potential damages to the vehicle. Most, if not all, of any deposit will be refunded to you (or the credit card authorization released) after you return the RV, provided it’s not been damaged and you’ve satisfied the terms of the rental agreement.
Regardless of what type of RV you want to rent for your trip, make sure that you communicate with your RV rental provider to understand the fees and policies they have for mileage and generator use, the cost of linens, other equipment and miscellaneous fees. Also, you should get a good understanding what their policy is on deposits and refunds should you have to cancel your reservation. Finally, and most importantly, always get a written quote for your planned trip from your RV rental provider to avoid any misunderstandings and surprises. You will be a happy camper!
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