Top Tips for Renting an RV
By Nicole Wakelin
When it comes time for your next vacation, switch things up by renting an RV and hitting the open road. Not only can it save you money, but it offers a whole new perspective on vacation travel. You’ll get to enjoy the freedom of exploring without having to worry about where you’ll sleep at night, and you can even bring all the comforts of home along for the trip.
Not sure how to get started? We understand, and we want to help! These tips will walk you through the essential considerations, so your first RV adventure goes off without a hitch.
Set a 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. Bigger might seem better, but don’t get carried away when you see all the choices. A smaller RV offers similar benefits without the larger rental cost, leaving you more money for fun activities.
Plan your trip. Planning a trip in an RV is more than simply picking a destination. Map out your travel route and decide on any overnight stops before you head out. Also, check to see if there are any size restrictions that could limit your RV choices or require an altered course. Keep an eye out for highways with bridges that have height and weight restrictions, or smaller roads with weight restrictions. Many public parks also have limits on the size of RVs so double-check that you don’t rent one too big for the parks you plan to visit.
Pick the right RV. There are three classes of RVs. Class A models are the largest of the lot and can be up to 45 feet long. Class C models are one step down and can range up to about 33 feet. The smallest RVs are in Class B. While bigger RVs offer more living space and are often more luxurious, smaller RVs are easier to maneuver and won’t be hindered by size restrictions. Consider where you plan to drive as well as the number of people you’ll be taking along when you choose your RV.
What to pack. Make a list of the things you need and be sure to check to see what’s included with your rental. There are also usually a variety of packages you can add on so you don’t have to worry about the essentials. Kitchen packs take care of pots, pans, and utensils. Bedding packs add sheets, comforters, and sleeping bags. There are even bike hitches, lounge chairs, and cleaning packs that make renting an RV easy. A basic tool kit that includes eye goggles, work gloves, hammers, and wrenches should also be on your list.
Rent early. 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. Once you know when and where you want to go, make reservations.
Managing electricity. Learn how to use the electrical hookup and make sure you have the necessary power cord 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. It’s as simple as not turning everything on at once, especially appliances like your microwave, coffee maker, and air conditioning. Instead, stagger usage of those items to keep a nice, even power flow.
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, and try to spread out that load so weight is evenly distributed throughout your RV.
Using 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. A good way to check is to turn on a hot water faucet and let it run until it no longer sputters. Once you have a nice steady flow of water, then go ahead and turn on the water heater.
Take a test run. Head out for a practice run on the streets you already know before you go explore someplace new. See what it’s like to drive on the highway, side roads, and 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. Don’t forget to spend some time getting to know the ins and outs of your new home away from home. This includes how to secure the awning so it doesn’t end up flapping in the breeze while you’re on the road. Getting comfortable with the layout of your RV ahead of time will put you more at ease when you set out on your first trip.
Make sure you have insurance. Most private auto policies do not cover RV rentals. So, to make sure you’re protected throughout your trip, it’s wise to purchase insurance for the RV you’re renting directly through the RV dealer or rental business.
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 that evening campfire.