RVing for Dummies
The RV rental world is a vast and confusing place. This can leave many new RVers feeling completely lost and overwhelmed as they attempt to plan their first RV adventure.
Obviously, this isn’t how anyone wants to feel when planning a fun getaway, and we don’t want you to feel that way either. For this reason, we are going to use this article as a guide for those who are completely new to RVing. Here you’ll find all of the most important RV basics in one place so you can start out your RV trip with confidence and finish strong.
RV Basics 101: Choosing an RV Rental
The first section of the RV for dummies guide will cover how to find and rent the right RV for you and your travel party. Whether you’re a solo RVer looking to escape off the grid, a family with kids heading to a local campground, or a group of friends planning an epic cross-country road trip, there is an RV rental out there for you, and we can help you find it.
Types of RVs
All RV 101 articles should start by introducing the types of RVs, and that’s what we’re going to do right now. Understanding the different RV classes and what each one offers will help you get a feel for which type of RV will work for you. This helps narrow down the pool of possibilities, making the rental process a little less overwhelming.
The RV classes include:
- Pop-Up or A-Frame Trailer — Very lightweight pull-behind RVs that pop up to create more space.
- Bumper Pull Trailer — Hard-sided pull-behind trailers that tend to be mid-sized.
- Fifth Wheel Trailer — Hard-sided trailers that hitch in the bed of a truck and tend to be on the large side.
- Class C — A mid-size motorhome that usually includes and over-the-cab bunk.
- Class B — A small sized motorhome that can also be referred to as a campervan.
- Class A — The biggest of the motorhomes, these look like buses and are often called coaches.
To learn more about the various types of RVs, make sure to check out our article on the subject.
Choosing the Right RV Rental for You
Now that you know a bit about the types of RV, you need to decide which one is best for you, and what you need to get out of whichever specific RV you rent. To do this, you need to consider a few different factors.
Try asking yourself the questions below and use your answers to narrow your options:
- What kind of camper am I? Do you like to rough it, or do you prefer to camp in style? Are you traveling to see sights or enjoy nature? Read this article to figure it out.
- How many people am I traveling with? A couple can be happy in a tiny camper. Meanwhile, a large family will need something bigger.
- What is my budget? Obviously, you will need to find a rig in your budget.
- How often will I be moving? If you’ll be moving often, a motorhome is much more convenient than a trailer.
- Am I comfortable driving an RV? If the answer is no, an RV that can be delivered is a must.
Read this piece to learn more about what you should be looking for to ensure the rental RV you pick is the perfect one for you.
Where to Rent an RV
Considering this is an RV 101 article, it’s likely that you aren’t even sure where to look for a trailer or motorhome rental. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.
There are two main routes you can take in terms of who you rent from:
- Nationwide Rental Companies — Nationwide rental companies are chains with locations in various places across the country. Some of the better known rental companies include Cruise America and El Monte RV. These are an okay choice for some, but do have a good number of drawbacks.
For starters, they don’t have locations in every city, meaning you may not have easy access to a chain rental company. Additionally, the RVs rented by these companies tend to be very basic, offering none of the plush amenities or variety in floor plans that many are looking for.
- Private RV Rentals — The other option is to go with a private RV rental. In some cases, you can find rentals through local RV dealerships. That said, it’s much easier to find a suitable private RV rental right here on RVShare.
RVShare is a peer-to-peer rental site. We have thousands of privately owned RVs available for rent in nearly every city in the country. These RVs come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and floor plans, and with all kinds of extra amenities to choose from, making it easy to find the perfect rig for you and your family.
Things to Check
Figuring out what kind of RV to rent and which floorplan is ideal for you is quite a lot to think about. That said, there are a couple of other things you’ll want to look for when shopping around for an RV rental.
One of these things is roadside assistance. Lucky for you, RVShare makes this easy by offering one of the best RV roadside assistance programs out there. This will ensure your RV adventure will not be ruined by a mechanical problem, so you can travel with peace of mind.
The other thing you absolutely must have before hitting the road? Insurance, of course. One of the most important travel trailer and motorhome basics is ensuring your have good insurance before traveling. Once again, RVShare makes this easy. The RVShare RV rental insurance policy is top of the line, meaning you can rest easy knowing you are protected while using the motorhome or trailer of your dreams.
Camper Basics 101: Using an RV Rental
The next thing we will discuss in this RV for dummies piece is what to do after booking your perfect rental RV. Obviously, you’re going to want some sort of plan beyond what RV you’re going to use and where you’re going to get it.
Picking and choosing these things, finding the info you need, and knowing what to plan can be a little much for those still learning camper 101-level info. Fortunately, this article has all the tips you need.
Where to Go
First, sometimes before you even pick out a rental, you need to decide where you will go. This depends entirely on what kind of camper you are and what you enjoy doing.
If you want to spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors, national parks are the way to go. Those who prefer a very traditional camping experience will probably like what a state park has to offer. Meanwhile, those who are RVing to check out attractions along their route or at their destination might prefer RV parks and campgrounds closer to the sights they are seeing.
Of course, you will also want to consider…
- How far you plan to travel.
- Whether you will travel with the RV or meet it at your final destination.
- How much you can spend on lodging.
Many find that this article on how to pick the best RV park is quite helpful when they aren’t sure where to stay.
What to Pack
Another important aspect of RV basics 101 is what to pack. Clearly, you can’t set out on your journey with an empty rig. You need to fill it with all the things you will need on your trip.
Unfortunately, not everyone really knows what they might need during an RV getaway. You will, of course, need clothes and toiletries, but what else is needed for a comfortable getaway? This article on what to pack for a weeklong trip in a camper might be extremely helpful for those who are new to RVing.
Driving an RV
If you won’t be having your trailer or motorhome delivered, you will have to drive it and park it at the campsite yourself. Those who are traveling to more than one place will have to do this more than once.
As you might imagine, driving an RV is quite different from driving a regular vehicle, and certain RVs can even be very different from one another in terms of how they drive. Although the RV owner will almost certainly give you a quick rundown of how to operate their vehicle, it’s a good idea to gather some information on how to drive the RV you’ll be renting before you hit the road.
Some of our favorite tips include the following:
- Leave plenty of distance. Big rigs don’t stop as quickly as smaller vehicles. Leave yourself plenty of extra room to put those brakes to work.
- Look ahead. Because braking can take longer, make sure to always be watching as far ahead as possible so you can anticipate stops.
- Take turns wide and slow. Turning in a large vehicle or when towing is tricky. Make sure to slow way down and take turns wide in order to avoid hitting trees, poles, and curbs.
- Avoid low bridges and steep grades. Low clearances and steep mountain sides are recipes for disaster in an RV. Avoid these troublesome obstacles by using a trucker’s atlas to plan your route.
- Know how to hitch up properly. Doing a poor job hitching up could be a huge problem down the road. Make sure your vehicle is rated to tow the trailer in question, and then hitch it up correctly before you pull out. (Of course, this assumes you’ll be going in a travel trailer or fifth wheel instead of a motorhome.)
- Watch the weather. Driving an RV in high winds, snow, or even rain can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, we recommend watching the weather and avoiding days that could be problematic in terms of weather.
One super important travel trailer 101 lesson is how to back up a trailer. This is incredibly tricky at first, and since you need this skill to pull into almost any campsite, learning ahead of time is ideal. We recommend checking out this piece on how to back up a trailer.
How to Budget
Last but not least, you will want to make sure you budget your trip well. Keep in mind that in addition to rental fees, eating out at restaurants, campground fees, and attraction admissions, you will also have to pay for fuel to get from point A to point B, as well as groceries and any other necessary household items for the RV.
Fortunately, it is possible to cut costs quite a bit, making your camping adventure pretty budget-friendly. Try the tips below to save on your next trip:
- Use reciprocal memberships to save on attractions. The “America the Beautiful” national parks annual pass is one of our favorites. We also love the ASTC and AZA reciprocal programs, as well as the Cedar Point and Six Flags reciprocal memberships.
- Use camping clubs and memberships to save on camping fees. Those who will be doing a lot of camping in one region might like the Thousand Trails Zone Pass. Meanwhile, those who take shorter trips might prefer Passport America. Learn about all your options in this article.
- Save on fuel. Do this by using the discount offered through Good Sam Club and other gas discount programs, as well as GasBuddy.
- Camp during the off season. Many campgrounds and attractions will give discounts to those visiting during the off season. You might even be able to find a small discount on your RV rental.
- Use Groupon. Groupon offers lots of awesome discounts on attractions and restaurants. Take advantage of the website!
Now that you know RV basics 101, you can head out knowing exactly what you’re doing and have the trip of a lifetime without the mishaps usually experienced by newbies. If that’s not exciting, we don’t know what is!
Why not get your adventure started right away by renting an RV for your vacation today?