How to Rent an RV

When it’s time for your next vacation, switch things up by renting an RV. Not only can it save you money, but it offers a whole new perspective on vacation travel. Not sure how to get started? These tips will walk you through what you need to know, so your first RV adventure goes off without a hitch!

Recreational Vehicle Renting Tips

RV trekking has become very popular lately, with the industry as a whole contributing over $114 billion dollars to the US economy in 2019. If you’re new to RV-ing, renting before you buy is a great idea — you’ll get a feel for what size rig works for you before your road trip. Here are a few things to consider before you rent an RV:

Pick the right RV

The term “RV” typically refers to two types of recreational vehicles: motorhomes and campers. Motorhomes are motorized vehicles that can have bathrooms, kitchens, beds and living spaces. There are three classes of motorhomes: 

  • Class A: The largest models that are usually a motorcoach built on a commercial bus chassis
  • Class B: A camper van or a van that has built-in sleeping and eating facilities 
  • Class C: Often called a “mini motorhome” because they resemble a compact version of class A’s with an attached cab section.

Campers are trailers that can be towed or attached to the back of a vehicle. They have sleeping and eating facilities and are used for temporary quarters when camping or on vacation. Common types of campers include: 

  • Folding camping trailers: These fold down for travel and are towed behind your vehicle 
  • Conventional travel trailers: These have rigid walls and are towed behind your vehicle 
  • Fifth wheel trailer: These big trailers are equipped with a hitch designed to mount in the bed over the rear axle of a pickup truck
  • Recreation/cargo campers: These include sleeping facilities and a special cargo-hauling compartment to transport ATVs, motorcycles and more 
  • Mounted truck campers: These fit over the bed of a pickup truck and are equipped with temporary sleeping and eating facilities

Reserve your RV well in advance

Don’t wait until the very last minute to rent your RV. Busy seasons like summers and especially holidays tend to book up quickly. The same goes for campgrounds. Don’t assume there will be a spot for you when you arrive.

Plan out each leg of your trip

Map out your travel route and decide on any overnight stops before you book your RV. Also, check to see if there are any size restrictions at your RV parks that could limit the type or class of RV you rent. Keep an eye out for highways with bridges that have height and weight restrictions. Some national parks also have limits on the size of RVs they allow, so be sure you don’t rent one that’s too big.

How Much Does Renting an RV Cost?

If you’re thinking that you may be able to save a few dollars by renting an RV for your next vacation, you may be right. Although the costs to rent an RV vary by type, according to RVshare you can save anywhere from 27 percent to 62 percent when compared to traditional vacation alternatives.

RV Class
Average Per-week Rental Cost
Large Class A Motorhome and Luxury RVs
$1,500 - $4,000
Large Class C Motorhome
$1,000 - $2,500
Large Travel Trailer
$900 - $1,500
Large Fifth Wheel
$1,000 - $2,000
Class B Vans
$500 - $1,500
Small Travel Trailers
$500 - $750

Build out a vacation budget

A key part of any vacation is setting a budget. Figure out how much you can afford and then choose an RV that fits within that budget. Larger RV rental groups will have an online RV rental calculator you can use to help build out your budget.

Budget for gasoline now

Don’t forget to consider how much money you’ll need for gas. Mileage will vary significantly depending on which RV class you select. Ask the rental group about the gas mileage your RV gets before you rent.

How to Prepare for Your RV Trip

Getting organized is key to getting into the great outdoors. In addition to renting an RV and securing a place to park it every night, you’ll need to ramp up on RV maintenance.

Tire inflation and loading

Proper tire inflation is important for both safety and improved fuel efficiency. Periodically check to see if you need to add a little air. Also, be sure you don’t exceed manufacturer’s load guidelines.

Filling the water heater

High-end RVs may have a tankless water heater, but most still use a water tank. Make sure it’s full before you turn on the heater.

Managing electricity

Get familiar with the electrical hookups before you set out. Campsite hookups have either a 30-amp or 50-amp capacity, so you may not get the same power flow at every site. Lower-amp hookups may require a little power management on your part.

Do You Need a Special License to Rent an RV?

It’s important to have a firm idea of where you plan to travel before you hit the road. You’ll also need some details on the type of RV you’ll be renting, like its weight and size. But, maybe most important, is knowing someone is legally able to drive the rig.

Your RV rental company will work with you to verify that the RV driver has a commercial license — if one’s needed when renting. Generally speaking, you won’t need a special license to drive an RV. Check in with a state’s DMV to learn about their latest license requirements.

Class of RV
Type of License
RVs over 26,000 pounds
Commercial driver’s license (CDL) – some states
Most class B vans and vehicles/trailers with a combined weight less than 26,000 pounds
Standard driver’s license

Head out for a practice run before you book your RV. See what it’s like to drive on the highway, side roads and in parking lots. If this is your first time with an RV, ask for a training session so the experts can teach you the basics, or sign up for a class and save on your insurance when you become an RV owner yourself.

What Do You Need to Rent an RV?

In addition to having a valid driver’s license, there are usually some other things that RV rental groups are going to need. Here are the key things to keep in mind when you rent your RV:

You’ll need a valid credit card

Much like renting a car, a certain amount of money on your credit card will be placed on hold as a deposit. In the event that the RV is damaged, these funds will be used to make repairs.

You’ll need to be of a certain age

Most RV rental companies require the RV driver to be at least 25 years old.

Do I Need Insurance to Rent an RV?

Yes, to rent an RV you should make sure you’re protected throughout your trip with insurance. You may be able to purchase insurance for the RV you’re renting directly through the RV dealer or rental business, but chances are you’re able to insure the RV through your normal home and auto insurance company instead.

American Family Insurance offers rental motorhome and camper coverage to provide protection for a rental motorhome or camper unit. This provides comprehensive and collision coverage to the rented motorhome or camper and is available for up to 30 days. Connect with your local agent to learn more about this coverage and how you can protect your rental RV. 

Renting an RV is a wonderful way to explore the country. Following these tips will help ensure you have everything you need for a safe and fun adventure, whether you’re on the road seeing the sights or kicking back and relaxing at an evening campfire.

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Related Topics: Recreational , Boat , Snowmobile , RV , ATV