Facts & Tips for your first RV Rental Road Trip
If you are interested in renting an RV for the first time but are not sure what are the best options, where to rent, what to expect, etc. you are about to learn all you need to know about an RV Rental Road Trip.
Before you start running your Google search for ” RV rentals near me” make sure you understand what exactly you are looking for first. I am a big fan of road trips, and I have done many road trips around the world, but this was my first RV rental road trip too.
I did tons of research about what RV size to rent, what are the best options for renting an RV, how much are the RV rental prices….and I am here now to share with you all I have learned from my experience.
Below you will find information and tips on how to find the perfect Recreational Vehicle rental for you, average prices for renting an RV, and what to expect to go on a road trip with an RV in the USA, such as going on an East Coast itinerary or explore the Weast Coast National Parks.
These tips are shared by an experienced traveler, but a beginner RV traveler and will be very helpful for you to make a decision if an RV road trip is for you and how to have the best experience.
Enjoy this guide, and safe travels!
BONUS RESOURCES: In this guide on how to rent an RV for first time, you can find all the best tips and practical information you need. In the end, you can find a bonus section for all the TRIP RESOURCES you need to plan and book your RV road trip adventure, and to make your experience as easy, safe, and fun as possible.
RV Rental Traveling style
I consider myself an expert on road trips around the world.
I have traveled to many countries and visited many places on road trips before such as a road trip in Namibia, a self-drive safari in Botswana, and drove the whole Ring Road in Iceland – but definitely, an RV road trip is different. In a good way!
Here I am listing some of the RV traveling styles, as I believe this is a good start to see if and RV rental road trip is a good fit for you:
Traveling in an RV during a Pandemic
Of course, I had to start here. I went on my RV trip in December 2020, during the pandemic. Since I had to cancel all my traveling plans, I found an alternative to travel safe, without having to face airport crowds, long flights, lockdowns, and try to visit hidden gems and less touristy places. During an RV trip, you can travel inside your “little bubble” and control your environment. You cook your own food, you have your own bathroom and you can visit less crowded places, respecting social distancing. It is all a win-win.
Traveling in an RV for the adventure travelers
I have to address this one, as I was planning to go on an RV road trip a few years from now. I am a very active person, and I love to go on adventures and active trips around the Planet. I had the misconception that an RV road trip was more of a laid back travel style. But I have learned that you will make any trip as laid back or adventurous, as you want. I spent little time at the RV campground, and as much time on the road and doing outdoor activities as I could such as going on some of the most incredible hiking in Arizona.
Traveling in an RV with pets
I did travel with my two dogs, Cooper and Pingo and they loved it! And I loved to travel with them too. I have traveled by plane with my dog before and it is not a joke! Traveling with your pet in an RV is much easier and flexible. You will need to make sure the RV rental and the RV campground accept pets.
Traveling in an RV with the family
Go on an RV road trip is considered by many as an ultimate family trip. It is a much more cost-effective way to travel if you compare it to book flights and hotels for the whole family. Also, you are much more flexible with the activities everyone wants to do, when, and how.
RV Rental prices
This was the first question I had when I have decided to rent an RV for my road trip – and also, the first question anyone asks me too.
For this reason, I have decided to write a blog post to help to understand the RV rental prices and how you can plan better your budget.
The rental prices for an RV fluctuate based on many factors such as seasonality, location, what type of RV you want to rent, the size, the length of your trip, etc.
If you are looking for a budget option, you can choose a smaller RV such as a Class B, which usually is cheaper than Class A and a 5th wheel.
Some places offer a discount, and you can do some more search on what type of discount you can get.
To make it easier to understand how much it costs to rent an RV, on average you can expect to pay $175 to $275 per day – with RV rental pricing could be up to $450 per night on luxury options.
But the daily rental is not the only thing you pay, so I have prepared this post to help you to understand all the costs associated with an RV rental, and how you can better plan your budget.
RV Rental what are the options
This is the first decision you will need to make, what are the RV options and what type fits your need best.
Do you need just a bare minimum, or do you need a little more luxury? You will certainly find plenty of options to choose from. It will depend on your desire and budget, how easy it is to drive and park, etc.
The best option for you should be something that is the right size for your party trip, something within your budget, and renting an option that you feel comfortable driving and parking around.
Class A RV Rental
The RV class A is a bigger-bus-looking motorhome with normally good living space, even if they don’t offer as much living space as some trailers or 5th wheels. But it offers a good driving experience.
Class B RV Rental
Normally Class B is a step up from a van. It is a great option if you are planning to travel around solo or have two people at the party.
Class C RV rental
This option is more compact and the one I rented for my RV road trip – bigger than Class B but smaller than Class A. It is easier to drive and park since it is on a truck frame. With sleeping area, bathroom, kitchen, and storage above the driving area (normally also sleeping area). If you are renting an RV for the first time and don’t need extra space, this is a great option for you to start and a good size for a family of 4 people.
5th Wheel RV rental
5th Wheels usually offer more living space. Similar to a trailer, but they are a step up and most like an apartment on wheels. But as far as driving and parking, you need to consider that the 5th wheels RV option is going to most likely be very large. You need a truck and the setup to tow it.
Travel Trailer RV Rental
If you are considering renting an RV trailer, you will need to have a vehicle that is equipped to tow it. Normally the RV trailers offer some very nice setups inside and it is a great option if you are considering to leave the trailer at the campground and have a car to drive around.
Camper Van Rental
It is a great option as you can get anywhere. Easy to drive and park, but with the limited living area inside. This is my next option for a road trip, as I would love to try one for a while, and if I love it, maybe I will invest in my own van next.
RV Rental Take a tour
RV Rental find a reputable RV rental company
Finding the best option for you to rent your RV can be a little intimidating at first, with so many options, and finding a reputable RV rental company that is right for you.
While Outdoorsy and RVshare offer great options, and you can rent your first RV direct from the owner, I decided to rent from Cruise America.
The reason I chose to rent my RV from Cruise America is that it was the best fit for me:
- They accept pets
- The vehicle was newer (2020 model)
- The additional cost per mile was affordable
- I was planning to drive long-distance (thousands of miles) and I like the idea to have assistance 24/7 while I was so far from home.
- Also, I was able to get a 20% discount coupon which brought the price lower than renting from a private source.
But again, the best option for you will depend on what you are looking for. I recommend doing your research starting from these RV rental company options.
RV Rental plan your road trip
RV Rental Oriention
Make sure that before you go on your first RV road trip, you have a thorough walk-through and orientation on your Recreating Vehicle, as well as an operating manual for questions once you’re on the road. The orientation should cover electric, water, and sewer hook-ups, appliances, heat, AC, fuel, propane, and anything else you’re not familiar with.
Driving an RV is not like driving a car
Consider when you rent an RV, it will drive slower, you will need to do more stops to fill up the tank and you will need plenty of room for pulling through, parking, backing, and turning.
RV road trip Itinerary Planning
I prepared just a simple route of the National Parks that I targeted to visit during my trip, and I preferred to have some flexibility along the way. For 2 weeks I drove way too many miles, from Florida to Utah, and visited 15 Parks (between National, Historical, and Monument) –
I drove an average of 600 miles a day, it was just crazy, I know!
The recommended driving with an RV road trip is 300 miles – or about 4-hours a day. With this time you can enjoy more the places you visit and/or spend more time living in your RV.
I wish I had more time to travel slower, but I still don’t regret my itinerary. Just keep in mind that I do a lot of crazy road trips all over the world and I don’t mind spending long hours driving.
You don’t need to have the whole trip planned and booked, especially if you are traveling offseason, but I recommend to have at least a good high level of places you want to visit and plan accordingly the hours you want to drive, and places you want to spend the night.
Be flexible with your RV road trip
Something will likely go wrong—you’ll get lost or move at a slower pace than you thought – just like any other trip.
Try to embrace these unexpected obstacles, and enjoy the “adventure” it adds to your RV trip. You never know what you might discover on the road or about yourself dealing with it.
Having a backup plan is a great idea. For example, I traveled during the Pandemic, and I already knew that some of the places I wanted to visit, were closed or in lockdown and I had a list of places around that I decided to visit instead. This gave me the opportunity to explore many off-the-beaten-path places.
Also, was “blessed” with not only one, but two snowstorms. Once in Arizona, and again in Texas – I planned to be in my RV working on my blog, playing with my dogs, and cooking a slow dinner, while I very much enjoyed my wine.
RV Rental options for RV camping
Another big question for a first RV road trip is where can/ should I camp?
There are four primary places to stay when RVing: RV Campgrounds, National and State Parks, Harvest Stays, and Boondocking locations.
But if you are going on your first RV road trip, the best way to camp is at the designated RV campgrounds.
Some RVs have 30amp hookups and some have 50amp. Usually, the larger rigs have 50amp, and if you are going somewhere hot where you will want to run both AC’s in the rig you will want the 50amp.
Find campsites that are easy in and out – preferably pull-through, have a paved parking area, offer amenities like shower, laundry, dog park, playground and have knowledgeable staff to answer your questions.
Your biggest challenge is most likely going to be setting up camp, and that’s why the orientation is so important. After parking and leveling your RV, electric and water (grey, black, and fresh) systems need to be hooked up.
For first-time RV renters, you’ll want to go with the easiest out there. Stay at a fully-loaded RV park or campground that has full hookups, a dump station, and staff on-site is the easiest and safest experience.
Even if I love adventure travel, having the peace of mind that I will have water, electricity, and a designated area to park, cook my dinner and get a good night’s sleep was the best feeling.
I have used mostly KOA, as you get exactly what you pay for. They have great facilities, I felt very safe and they are well-located.
National & State Park
Some National Park and State Parks offer campground options. Check it when you are planning your road trip, and if possible, I really recommend this experience, as the location and the views are incredible!
I had a great experience spending a couple of nights at the Glenn Canyon National Recreation Area, and they had full hookups and even better? It was for FREE since I have the annual National Parks pass.
But be prepared as there may be no hookups at all or just electric. Not a big deal, as you can be prepared and fill up with water when you get there, as they all have water fill stations, and then, be careful with water and tank usage.
Harvest Host Stays
First, you have to join Harvest Host. Then once you do you can stay at wineries, farms, breweries, and golf courses around the country for free! Most of them don’t have any hookups so you are boondocking and there can be size limitations so you need to call ahead to make sure you can fit and they have availability.
I have stayed on a couple of farms, and it was a great experience too.
You probably already heard that you can spend the night in free places, where you basically spend the night without any kinds of hookups and other amenities. You park and sleep, but you cannot just do that anywhere.
I had a bad experience, as my first night I had driven over 10 hours and I was exhausted, so I stopped at Walmart for groceries, I cooked my dinner and decided to spend the night at the parking lot. I woke up at 6 a.m. with the security guard asking me to move. I got confused. So after a little research, I learned that each Walmart has its own rules, depends on its store managers.
Also, finding wilderness areas to camp on is one of the most popular ways to go RVing. This is a great way to connect with nature while enjoying serene vistas and it is usually for free. I haven’t done this on this RV road trip, but I have done it before in Africa during my 10 days camping in Botswana.
RV Rental Final thoughts
I had some misconceptions about RV road trips, that it would be a slow and laid back type of road trip.
But I hope this guide has helped you to understand that an RV rental road trip can be a very adventurous experience.
Although your first RV road trip might be a little intimidating, if you do your research, and decide to go on the road with your rental “house in wheels”, you may fall in love with your experience, as I did, and I cannot wait for my next RV road trip.
The main take ways for renting an RV for a road trip for the first time are: finding the right size for you, plan your budget accordingly, have the desired itinerary for your road trip, make sure you do the RV rental orientation, and that you are comfortable driving and operating your vehicle.
When you wake up to a sunrise over the coast or hike back to your RV doorstep for dinner, it’ll be so worth it!
Now that you can rent an RV safely, affordably, and easily, visit the Trip Planning Resources below and start to plan your RV rental road trip.
TRIP PLANING RESOURCES
PLANNING AN RV ROAD TRIP
If you are going on an RV rental road trip, pre-planning, research, and understanding what you are looking for will help make your travels far more successful and safe.
Here is some further information I think you might need to plan your RV rental road trip:
- Ideas for USA Travel Itinerary
- New Mexico to Arizona Road Trip – My incredible RV Itinerary (coming soon)
- How much it cost to rent an RV, and how to travel on a budget
- What to pack for an RV rental road trip (coming soon)
- Best Places to go hiking in Arizona
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR RV ROAD TRIP
If you have experience camping or backpacking, packing for your first RV road trip should be easy. As I always say, pack light and smart!
Pack essentials like warmth and rain resistance layers of clothing and adventure gear like a backpack, first aid kit, headlamps, hiking shoes, etc.
One of the best things about RVing is that you can pack some of those luxury items you usually leave at home, like toiletries and towels, favorite foods, kitchen items, camp chairs, and firewood. You’ll have more room to store things and spread out than you’re used to in a tent.
Also, remember to pack for your pets or kids – Check the printable packing list for an RV trip I have prepared.
BEST APPS FOR AN RV ROAD TRIP PLANNER
One of the best resources you can have and use on your first RV road trip is to have the right apps. Here I have listed some that are very useful and highly recommended:
KOA – A free app that you can search for KOA (Kampgrounds of America) RV parks based on location, amenities, and attractions. You can use the app to book online and they offer a 10% discount if you rent a Cruise America.
The Dyrt – This free app provides information on thousands of campsites all across the United States.
Google Maps – This is my go-to navigation app, and quite possibly the most-used navigation app.
Accuweather – It is the most accurate weather app out there and helps your RV road trip planning.
Road Trippers – This app helps you to find fun things to do and see along your route.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR YOUR RV ROAD TRIP
It doesn’t matter if you are traveling around on a van or a luxury Class A. Things can go wrong on any trip, and never travel anywhere without having travel insurance.
I recommend reliable travel insurance through World Nomads before your road trip.
ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST RV RENTAL ROAD TRIP
- Check and double-check the RV rental insurance policy
- Check and double-check how the Roadside Assitance work and if they offer 24/7 roadside assistance
- Be aware of their cancelation policy
- Make sure you will need a GPS integrated into your RV rental
- Check to see if the RV rental option has rear an side view cameras to help in parking and turning
- Do the RV rental offers options to rent kitchen supplies, pillows, towels, etc?
- Respect the number of people that are going on the trip, if the RV size is for 5 people, it doesn’t mean that 5 people will fit comfortably inside it.
- Does the RV have AC and/ or heater? Depend on where you are going, you will definitely need it.