Renting an RV? The Savvy Roadtrippers Guide to Highway Nirvana

renting an rv

Renting an RV and cruising through the countryside is a refreshing experience.

For the unfamiliar, RV is an abbreviation for a recreational vehicle. That is a bit of a misnomer in an era when recreation on four wheels means drifting around narrow hairpin bends and other similar pursuits.

But, travel in an RV has a flavor of its own that is hard to replicate.

Without further ado, we share with you the secrets of RV rental for beginners.

Tips For Renting An RV Which Suits Your Needs

1. There Are Many Types of RVs

There are several types of recreational vehicles and classifications depending on the size and number of axles.

An RV can refer to a standalone vehicle, or a trailer towed behind a car or SUV.

Most beginners prefer standalone vehicles because they are easier to drive. Towing a one-ton trailer down the highway past an eighteen-wheeler can be intimidating.

Standalone RVs are known as Class A and Class B motorhomes. Those that are towed are called trailers, or fifth-wheels.

Class A Motorhomes are large and roomy. They can be quite luxurious too. RVs made by SpaceCraft Mfg are outfitted with the best of everything, from a generator and solar-power rig for air conditioning and water purification, to a full-sized bed and bathroom. At $400,000. they cost as much as many homes, and are no less comfortable.

Class B Motorhomes are for two to three occupants, including a driver. There is a driver’s area in the front, and a small bed, kitchen, and toilet in the aft compartment.

There is also the Class C cabover type that is quite small. There are also fifth-wheel campers, which can only be towed by pickup trucks.

For someone driving these vehicles for the first time, a Class B would be the most suitable choice. Class C motorhomes are too small for most families, and Class A RVs are quite a task to drive, being the size of a large bus.

2. RV Rental, Deposit, and Insurance

How much does it cost to rent an RV? Don’t worry, it’s reasonable. RV rental prices can vary between $100 and $200 per night for medium-sized vehicles. For a Class A, expect to pay up to $400 per night.

The rental depends on the age of the vehicle. You might pay half as much for a decade-old RV, but it will also rattle more, and may have outdated amenities such as old televisions, lack of Wi-Fi, etc.

Most rentals are for at least four days. You typically cannot get one just for an overnight trip.

For each night’s rental, you are allowed a certain number of miles. Usually, you can drive no more than 600 miles for a four-day rental. Any further and you have to pay extra for gas and depreciation.

You also have to put up a security deposit that is typically 4-6% of the depreciated value of an RV. For an old RV, it might be as low as $1,000. It will, of course, be refunded at the culmination of the trip, provided you return it in the same condition as when you rented it.

On top of that, there is a $100 insurance fee.

These are approximate figures, and vary considerably depending on the amenities provided, and location.

In a way, it’s similar to renting a hotel room. There are all types of RVs for every budget, and you get what you pay for.

Also, expect to fork out more in summer when demand for RVs is at its peak.

3. Driving an RV Takes Skill

Knowing how to drive an RV competently is an acquired skill that’s necessary when renting an RV. It is not the same as driving a large SUV.

Lengthy RV road trips require a lot more diligence and hard work from the driver due to its enormous size and weight.

Here are some pro RV driving tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep to the rightmost lane. An RV is slow and cumbersome. It is neither as maneuverable as a sedan, nor has the power of a big rig. Do not pass anyone unless it is essential.
  • Drive slow. Horrified that your top speed is a mere 45 mph? Get used to it. That is as fast as you should go. RVs are sedate, since they are under-powered compared to a passenger vehicle.
  • Many RVs run on diesel fuel. Most American drivers are unused to diesel engines. Diesel engines produce more torque at lower RPM. This makes them ideal for hauling loads and climbing mountain roads, but not fast sprints.
  • RVs are not only long, but also wide. A turning radius of 40 feet is usual. On a narrow bend, you might have to go forward and reverse several times to fit inside the curve. Don’t get agitated by loud honking behind you.
  • An RV has a lot of momentum because of the weight. The brakes kick in a long time after you squeeze the pedal. Keep several hundred feet away from the vehicle in front when you are on a highway. At 50 mph, it will take at least 400 feet for you to come to a complete stop.

Remember These Factors

  • Remember the height! Ask the owner how tall the vehicle is. When approaching a bridge or overpass, watch out for height signage. If unsure, approach at crawling speed, as you don’t want to collapse the top of the RV. Imagine the damages you would have to pay!
  • Remember the tail swing! An RV has a large overhang behind the rear axle. When you turn right, you may bump against the car on your left with the tail. The rearview mirror and cameras are your best friend.
  • Remember the wind! The side of an RV is huge and acts as a sail. A strong crosswind can make you veer sharply, and even flip the vehicle. Avoid driving in severely windy conditions.

Bring Your Supplies

We have become so used to hotels and motels, that most have forgotten how to pack for a self-sufficient trip.

These are items you have to carry. The list is about bare essentials and not all-inclusive.

  • A laundry basket
  • Detergent, broom and dustpan
  • Folding chairs
  • Outdoor grill
  • Cooking utensils and flatware
  • LED Lantern
  • Pillows and linens
  • A large first-aid kit

Buy Travel Insurance Before Renting An RV

Though an RV is generally safe, an accident is not completely out of the question. It’s not so much the accident you cause that you should be worried about, but the one you suffer because of others’ carelessness.

While auto insurance can pay for the damage to the RV, there might be medical costs that have to be funded out of pocket. If you’re in a foreign country, your domestic health insurance likely won’t provide coverage. A sunny summer vacation can end up bankrupting you.

No cause for worry, though. Travel health insurance purchased before your trip can make sure that even if things go awry, you don’t have to suffer financially. Insubuy offers you a large number of policies that are affordable and provide comprehensive coverage. Browse and buy the one you like with a click on the Insubuy website.  

Parting Advice before Renting an RV

Remember that you cannot dump sewage wherever you please. Use RV-specific websites and forums to know about paid and free dumping stations.

Keep a list of campgrounds nearest to your route handy. It’s unsafe to park on the side of the road for the night. Truck stops are not ideal, but are far better than the middle of nowhere.

Renting an RV and driving cross-country with your loved ones is a fabulous exploit. Get insured, fuel up, and get going.

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