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6 Things You Should Know Before You Rent Your First RV

If it’s your first time renting an RV, you’ve probably got some questions. How much will it cost to rent an RV? Not sure exactly what type of RV or trailer to rent? What should I bring with me? We have answers to your RV inquiries so that you can hit the road this summer with confidence. RV leasing has become a trendy pastime in the era of socially distancing family vacations. Here are some recommendations to help you prepare for your first RV journey.

1.  Licensing

“Will you need a specific license to operate an RV?” is a question many people have. RVs weighing less than 26,000 pounds do not require a specific license in all 50 states. There are two sorts of RVs: drivable motorhomes and towable motorhomes, as well as subcategories within each. Most of which are under the 26,000-pound threshold. There are three sub-classes, which are Class A, Class B, and Class C. Class A vehicles are the only ones that can theoretically weigh more than 26,000 pounds and require a special license. The average weight of a Class A motorhome is 13,000–30,000 pounds. But with so many alternatives under 26,000 pounds, it’s easy to avoid the heavier ones.

So, how do you distinguish between the three?

  • The largest RVs are known as Class A RVs and typically resembling coach buses. They range in size from 21 to 41 feet and weigh an average of 13,000–30,000 pounds. Even though they provide the largest capacity in the motorhome category, I wouldn’t consider renting a Class A for your first RV vacation. You need at least to have driven a bus-sized vehicle before. Due to their size, parking them might be problematic, and you’re limited to the areas they can fit in.
  • Class B RVs, commonly known as camper vans, are the smallest and require the least practice to drive. Because they’re smaller, they can accommodate fewer people, and the accommodations aren’t as luxurious. They have smaller mattresses and kitchenettes rather than full kitchens. If there is a bathroom, it’s usually merely a tiny bath and an outdoor shower. Class B motorhomes are suitable for one or two persons but not for a family or group of friends.
  • For first-time RVers, Class C RVs are an excellent choice. You’ll have more space than a Class B but more maneuverability than a Class A. They weigh between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds on average, so that you won’t need a special license. They range in length from 20 to 38 feet. Class Cs, often built on a truck chassis or van frame, are similar to driving a medium truck.

2. RVs can be towed

As the name implies, you can tow towable RVs using a Sport – utility or pickup truck. So unlike motorhomes, you don’t sleep in the same spot as you drive. Fifth wheels, folding trailers, toy haulers, and utility trailers are all towable RVs.

Because folding or pop-up trailers are small and light, you can tow them using most trucks, SUVs, and even cars. They have canvas sides that fly up, allowing you to sleep, cook, or hang out. Some have showers and toilets, but the majority do not.

Fifth wheels require a unique hitch that can only be attached to the bed of a pickup truck. Because they are so much heavier than other types of travel trailers, you cannot tow them using just any truck. It must be pulled by one with a large towing capacity. Fifth wheels have a split-level floor plan that gives them a homey feel. The kitchens in most fifth wheels are large enough to accommodate islands and full-sized appliances.

3. Where can I rent an RV?

When renting an RV, you have many alternatives, just like when booking regular accommodations. You can rent an RV through a typical rental company like Avis or Enterprise or a peer-to-peer rental site like Airbnb.

 Peer-to-peer renting service.

Outdoorsy and RV Share are the two most popular peer-to-peer RV rental sites. RV Share rents out RVs in all 50 states, while Outdoorsy does the same but rents out RVs in Canada and Australia. On our last three RV excursions, my family has rented from Outdoorsy. They dub it the “Airbnb of RVs,” and we’ve had nothing but positive experiences with it. They rent towable RVs as well as motorhomes.

4. What You Should Know About Campsites

When traveling by RV, you’ll still need to book campsites just as you would a hotel. Various campsites are available, ranging from the most basic that provide a place to park to premium campsites. Premium campsites offer lake views, resort-style pools, 18-hole golf courses, and more. The average RV site costs $35–$50 a night, but the more luxurious the camp, the higher the price. Camping sites can easily cost more than $100 per night, particularly now that they are in great demand.

Several sites offer weekly and monthly discounts, lowering the cost for people who stay for extended periods. Also, keep in mind that campsites might sell out months in advance. Famous national parks like Rocky Mountain National Park, the Grand Canyon, and others sell out quickly.

Consider what they provide and what is important to you while looking at campsites. Is there drinking water, dump stations, electricity hookups, TV, internet, bathrooms, and other amenities? Does your RV require a 30 or 50 amp electrical connection, or does it have a converter that allows you to connect to both? This is vital to consider when making a reservation, as is selecting if you need a pull-through or a back-in location. Pull-through spaces are often hard to come by. It is, however, easier to park.  You can draw into the space and then drive ahead to leave rather than back the RV into the space.

What about sanitary concerns?

Everyone always wonders if dealing with the toilet is unpleasant. It’s a good question, but the answer isn’t complicated or time-consuming. When touching the black tank pipe, most RV rentals provide gloves. If you don’t have any, go out and get some. Dumping your tank takes around five minutes. The person who rents you the RV should give you a detailed tour; most RVers are friendly and will assist you if you get lost.

Boondocking

Consider boondocking for a night or two if you want to save money on campsites. This is your wilderness camping or merely staying in a parking lot overnight. It can also be the campsite you’re staying at doesn’t have hookups meaning you can’t connect to water, power, or sewer.

However, just because a campsite doesn’t provide specific amenities doesn’t imply you can’t or won’t have access to them. You can fill the RV’s freshwater tank with water before boondocking. And if the RV has a propane tank, you can use it for electricity. Just keep in mind that neither of these items will last indefinitely. Most freshwater tanks carry 20–100 gallons of water, while a 30-pound propane tank typically provides 24 hours of generator use.

5. Costs of renting an RV 

How much does it cost to rent an RV? RV rates vary widely based on the time of year you travel. The cost of living in the location, the number of people the RV can accommodate, and how luxurious the RV is, determines prices. You can use these average costs as a guide. Keep in mind that prices will fluctuate, and high demand may result in even higher pricing.

$175 to $275 per night in Class A

$100-$200 per night in Class B

$150-$200 per night in Class C

The cost of a night in a travel trailer ranges from $50 to $125.

Nightly rates for a fifth wheel range from $60 to $150.

$50 to $100 a night for a pop-up trailer

Also, keep in mind that a per-mile charge may be necessary. You may have a set number of included miles, and then they charge a cost for each mile traveled beyond that. Other rentals include unlimited miles.

6. RV insurance

Standard insurance includes the RV’s share costs, but you can choose to add on additional coverage. According to the company’s website, standard coverage provides up to $200,000 in comprehensive and collision coverage. The basis is on the RV’s value and complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance, towing, and tire service.

While RVing, there are a few apps that can come in handy.

FreeRoam is a website that lists free RV campgrounds and overnight parking. It also provides information about traditional RV parks. It displays user evaluations and assigns scores based on their crowded cell service, safety, and accessibility.

Gasbuddy: This app displays the cheapest gas prices in your neighborhood. You may even look for gas by brand and type. Its travel cost calculator comes in handy for budgeting when planning.

RVing is a great adventure that I believe everyone should try at least once. Recognize that RV rentals and sites are in high demand.  Now is the ideal time to try out this mode of transportation across the country.