5 Things to Consider When Renting an RV

three RVs parked along coastal cliff

Written by Alison Kotch on

Alison Kotch is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn.

three RVs parked along coastal cliff

Have an urge to travel but want to avoid the airport? An RV rental might be the perfect solution. Here’s a checklist for newbies so first-timers can select the best RV for the trip planned.

If the first thing that comes to mind when you think of RV’s are giant, gas-guzzling vehicles that are a hassle to rent and an even bigger pain to park, it’s definitely time to rethink that perception! Recreational vehicles are becoming more popular with a diverse range of travelers, according to Curbed: Forty-one percent of RV travelers enjoy camping, and the average age of RV owners continues to get younger, as these first-timers tend to favor travel trends such as overlanding.

Recreational vehicles are also a popular budget travel option for families: A study published by the RV Industry Association and CBRE Hotels Advisory Group found that renting one can help a pair of travelers save as much as 53 percent on their travel costs, while a family can save up to 64 percent. That said, you probably don’t have the cash (or desire!) to own one, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rent an RV for your next cross-country drive.

No matter what your travel plans are, “consider test driving a few different models before making a decision to better understand the features you’re looking for in an RV, and how confident you’ll feel driving it,” says Gigi Stetler, CEO and Founder of RV Sales of Broward, the US’s first female-owned RV company, and founder of RV Advisor Consumer Association (RVACA), a non-profit which provides RVs to healthcare workers who need a safe space to quarantine and isolate. Here are five tips to ensure that as a first-time RV renter, you rent the best one for your travel needs.

1. Research (And Befriend) Your Dealer

Unlike the brand loyalty or prestige some travelers look for when purchasing a car, these don’t make a difference in the RV world. That’s because the number of options is more limited, and you’re looking for the right size for your trip instead of something that’s aesthetically pleasing. “It’s really about the dealership the RV is purchased or rented from,” Stetler says. “Build a relationship with [them], and they will lead you in the right direction.”

2. Remember That One Size Doesn’t Fit All

You’ll want to choose a vehicle that is roomy enough to accommodate your travel companions. And while it doesn’t necessarily need to be packed with features, it should be comfortable. Class A motorhomes are up to 45 feet, making this option perfect for families. “If you have children of varying ages, you can even hold school in one part for school-age kids, while the others do their own thing elsewhere.” Couples and childless travelers should opt for class C, which are less than 30 feet long, less expensive to rent, and easier to drive

3. Select Your Destination Before Renting Your RV

According to Cruise America, RV rentals are popular for drives to America’s National Parks—which, depending on where you live, might require a cross country trip. Stetler recommends researching accommodations and campgrounds beforehand to ensure the model you ultimately select will fit your needs. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to pack efficiently for the days spent on the road: The ORV Trunk 30 is a compact, stylish way to transport gear.

4. Prepare for the Worst

Allow us to state the obvious: Driving a recreational vehicle isn’t the same as a car. First-time RV renters should get familiar with the rig by finding an empty parking lot to practice. In addition to backing up, three-point turns, parking, leveling and stabilizing your vehicle, make sure you know how to work the generator, waste water system and onboard appliances. Additionally, prepare for flats: “It’s almost inevitable that your RV will get a flat tire at some point. Debris, nails, potholes, and worn out treads can become hazards; the extra weight of an RV also puts you at high risk for blowouts,” Stetler says. Inspect your treads and replace tires that show damage.

5. Consider Renting From an Owner

Unlike traditional RV’s that are covered in retro-looking swoops, modern RV’s have come a long way in the aesthetics department. Outdoorsy and RVshare are basically Airbnb for RV’s, letting you choose from campervans, trailers, class C’s, and class A’s. The latter two are perfect for couples and small families; the former are great for couples who want a quick microadventure or backpacking trip.

Regardless of which RV you choose, we’d love to hear about your travels. Tag us with your best tips on Instagram or Twitter.

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