So you’ve decided you want to go on your first RV adventure. Or perhaps you camped in a RV (also known as motor home or campervan) when you were younger, and now you want to go with your own kids. Either way, this unique but popular way to travel offers the fun and flexibility of a road trip, but also gives you a home on wheels. The following tips and tricks will help you find that perfect RV for your adventure.
Determine what type of RV you want to take on your RV adventure. There are 3 styles to choose from, Class A (or bus style), Class C (or cabover style), and Class B (or sprinter van).
- Class A – These RVs are considered the nicest of the options, however, Class C and Class B RVs can be just as luxurious. Class A RVs usually have 2-3 slide outs (this is where part of the wall expands outward when parked) and can usually sleep 4 to 8 people. There is either a king or queen size bed in the back, dinette and couch convert into beds, and some models have a retractable bunk over the cab (similar to a Class C style) and/or bunk beds. Class A RVs usually start at around 30 feet and can go up to 45 feet.
- Class C – These RVs tend to be very popular rental units. Some models offer sleeping areas for up to 8 people and usually offer 1-2 slide outs. There is a queen size bed in the back, dinette and couch convert into beds, and there is a queen size bed over the cab., and some models come with bunk beds. Class Cs start at around 22 feet and tend to go as big as 35 feet.
- Class B – A great option for two people. These are not a great option for larger groups. Class B RVs usually have a bed in the back of the van, or a dinette that converts to a bed at night. Some have a bathroom/shower, and if not you will use the campground showers and restrooms. The biggest perk of a Class B is it is easy to drive around sightseeing as they are usually under 24 feet. While Class Bs can still be luxurious, they are considered no frills because there isn’t much room to roam inside. A Class B is ideal for those who really want to let the outdoors be the center of attention.
Pro Tip 1: Unsure of what type to rent? Tour the motorhome before you rent it! Companies and even private owners will usually allow you to tour the coach before you rent.
Pro Tip 2: Bunk beds are great not just for sleeping, but also extra storage. If you’re going with a smaller group consider these if you will have lots of luggage.
Pro Tip 3: Unless you are traveling with small children, do not count the dinette conversion as a full bed. It is wide but will be very short. A couple of smaller children can easily share this bed, however, a full grown adult or even a tall teenager will be cramped.
Pro Tip 4: I found a lot of articles that will tell you to meal prep before you hit the road. This is a great option for 2 or 3 people going for a weekend getaway, however the refrigerator in an RV is very small and you will quickly run out of room if you fill it with dinners for a 10-night trip. There are lots of wonderful articles on how to cook while camping, and even cooking Dutch oven style over a campfire!
How big of a RV to rent?
This could be the most important decision you’ll make when renting an RV. How big do you need/want? You want to make sure the RV has enough seatbelts and beds for everyone. Check out the floor plan – do you like where the bathroom is located? Is the door convenient to get in and out if others are sleeping? Do you want slide outs? Is there a dinette table, couch or chair for sitting? What extras do you want such as a TV, charges for your electronics, DVD player?
You need to consider how big of a RV will you be comfortable driving. While a 45’ Class A is an impressive sight, you need to consider where you are going to park that large of a RV when you are sightseeing. Some places you may wish to visit do not have large parking lots so parking that large of a RV can be a challenge. You may want to consider renting a car if you choose a large RV. Whether you rent a 45 foot or a 22 foot, be sure the campground you will be staying at has sites large enough to accommodate the RV. You also need to consider your route – does it have bridges, tunnels or roads that are not RV friendly?
Additionally, RVs do not drive as fast as a car. If you are using a standard GPS it is calculating your driving time as if you are in a car. It will take longer in a RV.
What type of camping are you wanting for your adventure? If you want a rustic experience in a State Park setting, then a smaller RV is mandatory as most of these types of campgrounds have a size limit of around 30 feet. If a big resort is more your style, then most likely they will have sites that accommodate large RVs. Be sure to check websites or call if you aren’t sure.
This will likely be an ongoing process as you create a budget and make decisions on renting, activities, necessities and so on. Your budget should not only include the RV, but extra fees (see RV Fees), campground fees, National Park entry fees, gas, toll road fees, activities/sightseeing, and food.
The nightly cost of the RV rental is just the beginning. There are other costs to consider when renting a RV. There is a deposit to secure the motorhome, plus a security deposit to cover any damage if you have an accident (usually $1000-$2000), and if you are traveling with a dog, there is usually a cleaning fee. RV insurance is required on all rentals; check with your car insurance to see if they cover the rental of a RV, if not, you will need to purchase this insurance through the rental company or through a company that will provide you with RV insurance. If you live nearby, you may want to load the RV with your own personal items. You can also rent linens, bedding and kitchen items. Additional rental items that may be offered include camp chairs, outdoor carpet, outdoor table, propane grill, bike racks and more. There are fees for mileage, generator use, propane, chemicals for toilet, cleaning the RV and dumping all tanks before you return the RV. Some companies offer a No Fuss Return – you just bring the RV back and they take care of the rest. Make sure to discuss this with whomever you are renting from so you aren’t surprised.
What kind of camping experience do you want?
When considering what RV to rent for your RV adventure, also consider the type of camping experience you want to have. If wine in front of the television is how you like to relax at night, or you are more of an indoor person, perhaps a larger RV would be more to your liking so you have room to stretch out. If being outside enjoying nature, the stars, roasting marshmallows over a campfire with the kids, then maybe a smaller unit with less amenities would suit you.
RVs are big, and do not get great gas mileage. While working on your budget, consider that RVs typically get about 8 miles to the gallon. A large Class A can have a gas tank up to 100 gallons. A medium Class C can have a gas tank of about 50 gallons. A Class B typically has a gas tank of about 25 gallons (and will generally get better gas mileage since they are smaller – about 15-20 miles per gallon).
Driving an RV
Make sure that you’re comfortable driving an RV before you rent one. You can always ask the owner or company for not only a tour, but also a test drive. Go slow, take your time, and get used to the size difference. While you may be intimidated at first, most people get the hang of driving an RV by their second day on the road. For more tips, read our articles My First RV Drive and Driving a RV Safely.
Don’t Worry About RV Hookups
While RV hookups can be confusing the first time, they’re not as tricky as you think. The owner or company you rent from should go over how to hookup and unhook your RV in great detail. Not sure? Ask lots of questions. Get stuck? Campground staff and campers are some of the friendliest, most helpful people you will encounter. Ask a fellow camper or one of the staff for help hooking up your rig. If you are unsure, do not hook anything up. Hooking up an RV improperly can lead to electrical blow outs or cause waterline issues.
- Pro Tip: Water pressure in any RV is not the same as at home. If this is important to you and your campground offers showers, use them. Take water shoes with you as the floors can be slippery.
Get On The Road
Finally, get out on the road and on your way! Enjoy this experience and everything that comes with renting an RV. You may end up loving it and buying your own to keep the RV adventure going.
RV TRIP PLANNER
For those who are still unsure of what type of RV to rent for their RV adventure, where to go and how to plan your RV trip, what activities are available and which one to choose, not sure if you can pick the right campground and ensure it is safe, are overwhelmed with the amount of work it takes to plan this trip, then reach out to RV Adventure-USA. We will assist you in planning that perfect first RV trip. We are just an email or phone call away!!