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Renting an RV: The Ins and Outs

Renting an RV: The Ins and Outs

Many travelers love the freedom of touring the country in a rented motorhome, because it allows them to see the sights without increasing the mileage of their own vehicle. This is also an economical way to test out the RV lifestyle before purchasing a rig of your own. On the other hand, if you aren’t planning to live at least part of the time in your RV, it is much less expensive than buying, maintaining, storing, and insuring one you only use a couple weeks each year.

Related Read: Your Guide to the Best RV Rental

With a variety of national outlets and local dealers, renting a late-model or even a classic unit is easy. Many even offer reasonably-priced housekeeping packages for the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen, so you don’t have to provide your own towels, bedding, and dishes, etc. Here are a few things to consider before renting a recreational vehicle.

Why Are You Renting a Motorhome?

If you’re goal is to try out a brand and eventually buy a new RV, obviously you will limit your search to those. If, however, you’re renting for a vacation, you want one that’s big enough to accommodate everyone without being too big for you to drive comfortably. Plus, larger units often have features that you may not really want or need, but that will result in a more expensive price tag.

If you plan to spend most of your vacation time outside or visiting nearby attractions, you may not need an elaborate Class A; a travel trailer or a Class C would do just fine.

Related Read: Understand the Differences between Class A, B and C Motorhomes

Estimate the Cost

In addition to the size, brand, and amenities, there are several factors that determine the overall cost of a rental. Along with the security deposit and daily rates, many companies charge taxes and mileage similar to a car rental company. Some offer vacation packages with flat, all-inclusive rates at an overall cost of anywhere from 45 to 300-dollars a day. Plus, most motorhomes get between 7 to 12-miles per gallon, so make sure to budget for that, as well.

Related Read: 10 Tips for Boosting your RV MPG


Keep in mind, if you’re going to be staying in RV parks or campgrounds, they’ll cost an additional 12-dollars to (in some rare cases) 400-dollars nightly. Always research and reserve, especially if you’re a newbie.

Choose the Right Size

Generally, the larger the RV, the more expensive it will be, especially when you add in RV fuel. Plus, the bigger the vehicle is, the harder it is to drive and find places to park. Not every campground has sites for big rigs. Class Cs, camper vans, and travel trailers are easier to handle on narrow, windy roads and finding parks that accommodate them is a breeze. Basically, rent the smallest unit that’ll comfortably accommodate all of the members of your party. You can always pack a tent so you can spread out later.

Find an RV Near You

Once you know what you are looking for, check with local rental companies and verify their reputations with Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau, or YELP. The following, national rental companies have proven track records, as well.

Cruise America: With a fleet of compact to large-sized Class Cs in over 119 locations throughout the United States and Canada, Cruise America is probably the most well-known. Reservation, security deposit, and estimated rental fees are assessed and charged before departure and then reconciled upon return. Plus, the company offers two kits to make traveling easier, or you can choose to use your own supplies. The first is a personal kit of bedding and bath supplies. The other kit has pots and pans, dishes, and a few cleaning supplies. Additionally, Cruise America offers caravan packages.

Not only does a staff member spend up to an hour acquainting you with the vehicle, but they also offer an orientation video.

El Monte RV: With a variety of rigs that range from campers to bus-style Class As, El Monte RV has locations in 27 states. Costs are based on a security deposit and down payment dependent on the vehicle and vacation package. They also offer two convenience kits. The first consists of bedding and bath supplies, as well as a table-setting for one. The second provides everything else you would need including a coffee pot, Dutch oven, corkscrew, and even a toilet brush.

The company provides an instruction manual and orientation video to introduce you to the vehicle.

RVShare: Many RVs are left vacant and in storage most of the year. This company matches would-be renters with nearby RV owners for the benefit of all. They have a catalogue of everything from folding camper trailers to Class Cs and fifth wheels in all fifty states. The owners set the per-day and per-mile price for their unit, but online rentals are backed by a 10,000-dollar guarantee from RV Share.

Since these units are rented directly from the owner, the orientation process varies. Just a word of advice: ask lots of questions.

In Conclusion

A couple of final tips: pay attention during orientation and return the rig as you received it. The small investment of time learning how the RV works is much less annoying than hours of trying to figure out how to hook up the sewage tube or work the slide-outs.

Lastly, it’s not only good manners, it’s likely more economical to top off the gas or diesel yourself before returning it. Fill the water and propane tanks, dump the waste, and take out the trash. Most companies charge an extra fee if they have to do this for you. Since you may want to rent from them again; it’s always best to leave on good terms. This may be the first step in your next big adventure.

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Carrie Todd

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Carrie Todd

Initially, Carrie became a freelance writer, editor, and artist to support herself doing something she loves that also allows her to travel. Living in her Tourmaster coach, she has spent no more than five months in one place since October 2013. This ensures that she gets to experience the constantly changing scenery that accompanies the yearly seasonal changes, as well as meet new people across the country. She has since become a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Consultant, as well to further this endeavor. In fact, Carrie considers herself fortunate, as most people have to be of retirement age to enjoy the sort of freedom she has, with every day bringing something different.

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