4 of the Best Tips for Renting an RV for the First Time

Great tips for renting an RV for your first time on the road

Renting an RV
••• Renting an RV for a family getaway will lead to memories that last a lifetime. Jacob Wackerhausen/E+/Getty Images

Renting an RV isn't like renting a car, especially the first time you do it. It's more complicated than you'd expect. You have to account for gas mileage, travel distance and what type of RV you need. You may need to tow a trailer; you may drive a motorhome. It's possible you will have to deal with repair or maintenance on and off the road, too. Here four points to keep in mind the first time you rent an RV for a family vacation.

4 Tips for Renting an RV for the First Time

Sticker Shock of Renting an RV

Before you rent an RV, you need to consider the price involved. Renting an RV is expensive. While it may seem like the better idea than buying an RV outright – and in some cases, it is – it could cost as much as a traditional family vacation. If you're okay with the cost and can come to terms with it, renting an RV can be a valuable experience for you and your family. It will also help you determine if owning an RV is the right choice.

Where to Rent an RV

A majority of RV dealers throughout the United States rent RVs. Some car rental agencies rent them, too. We recommend staying away from the latter, along with private renters. There's too much that can wrong when renting through a car rental agency or private dealer. When renting through an RV dealer, they can help you get set-up, address any concerns you have and help you feel comfortable before you drive off the lot.

Pro Tip: Two of the most popular RV rental companies in America are Cruise America and El Monte RV. You can rely on them across the nation for your RV rental needs.

You rent an RV like you rent a car. You can set up a reservation online or over the phone. You choose the model you want, you put down a deposit, and you pick up the rental on the day you need it.

In most cases with RV rentals, you have to return the RV back to the original dealer where you picked it up.

Choosing an RV to Rent

The biggest mistake you can make renting an RV is to choose the largest on the lot. The most expensive rental you invest in will be the biggest. Find something small or in the middle, if possible. While the RV will be your travel accommodations and sleeping arrangements for your trip, you'll be surprised by what you can get by with on the road when it comes to size.

Pro Tip: Bring everyone traveling in the RV with you when testing out different makes and models. Let everyone get comfortable before choosing an RV to rent for best results on and off the road during your trip.

What Not to Do When Renting an RV

  • Don't over pack. If you're used to traditional vacationing, you have to rely on what's in your suitcase to get by. Use that same principle when renting an RV. The worst thing you can do is over pack and not actually bring anything you need.
  • Read the materials. If you rent an RV from a dealer, they'll provide you with instruction on how to get started RVing. This might include a video or a manual. Make sure to read it or watch it from start to finish. Even seasoned RVers forget the basics.
  • Check your surroundings. Always be aware of what's going on around you when parked and when on the road. If you're not used to driving or towing an RV, you might not be as comfortable with what's going on around you in such a huge vehicle.
  • Never, ever rush. RVing happens at your own pace. You spend a few nights at one RV park; you spend the next on the road. You want to take advantage of what an RV offers you. Don't speed through your trip or else you'll miss how an RV makes a difference.

If you're looking for a way to try out RVing or just don't want to buy one, yet, renting an RV can be the compromise. Renting an RV is expensive but no more or less than a traditional family vacation. If you only want to RV here and there, renting is the solution you've been looking for.