Hey, just so you know ... This post includes affiliate links. That means if you use them to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. You can read my full affiliate disclosure HERE.
There are so many RV rental options available today that it can be difficult to decide exactly what you need. To help you choose the best RV rental possible for your next vacation, we’ve compiled a list of the most important considerations to keep in mind.
1. Decide Where You’re Going
Your destination has a big impact on which type of RV rental you should choose for a couple of reasons.
First, if you are traveling to a location that is relatively nearby, it makes sense to rent an RV locally, drive it to your home to load up your supplies, and hit the road. However, if you are aiming for a far-from-home destination, it can make more sense financially and time-wise to fly into the nearest city and then pick up the RV closer to your destination. Or, if you are planning an epic long-distance road trip, you can opt for a one-way rental and fly the other leg of the journey.
Next, consider potential weather conditions, road quality, and size limitations of your destination when selecting your RV rental.
For instance, the very popular Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park has a length limit of 21 feet, and driving through the tunnel in Zion National Park requires a $15 permit if your vehicle is over 11’4” tall or more than 7’10” wide. Be sure to check all size limits for your destination to ensure that the RV you choose will be allowed to pass.
Other potential hazardous conditions like snow, rain, narrow roads with no turn-around points, and so forth can also play a role in whether a 4×4-equipped RV is your best option and the maximum advisable length of your RV rental.
2. Create Your Budget
RV rental pricing has several components that can make it tricky to calculate the total cost.
Rental companies often have a daily rate as well as a weekly rental rate, where the weekly rate gives you a better price per day. This rental rate sometimes includes a base mileage per day and if you exceed that (or if there is no base mileage in your rental agreement), you will be charged roughly between 35 and 50 cents per mile.
You can estimate the total cost by multiplying the daily rate by how many days you plan to travel in the RV rental, and add in your mileage costs by estimating with a tool like Google Maps how far you will drive. Keep in mind that rental prices change based on the season, availability, and even the rental location.
Of course, you’ll also have to pay for fuel. Most manufactured RV rentals (think Cruise America rigs) run on unleaded gas, but if you rent a custom or DIY RV from a platform like Outdoorsy, some may require diesel. Either way, you can expect to get anywhere between 6 and 20 miles per gallon and the fuel tank size will vary between about 20 to 55 gallons depending on the size of the RV you select.
Since fuel costs can vary drastically day-to-day and across different locations, it can be hard to calculate exactly how much you will spend, but you can consult apps like GasBuddy to research how much fuel costs near your destination and find the cheapest available fuel.
You may also need to factor in equipment rentals, such as a generator, bedding, cooking and eating utensils, as well as dump station fees, groceries and supplies, nightly campsite costs, national park entrance fees, and other incidentals.
3. Consider Space Requirements
RVs range in size from tiny truck bed campers to massive Class A motorhomes, which can be up to 45 feet long.
One of the main considerations is how many people will be on your trip with you because you will need to choose a rig with the appropriate number of seats as well as adequate sleeping and living space. Most RVs come with a surprising amount of storage space built-in, but be prepared to bring only the essentials.
It can be an adjustment to do everyday tasks in a super small space, especially with multiple people. If you have a large group of people, you might consider renting two smaller RVs to have double the capacity for seating, sleeping, and cooking.
4. Decide Between Driveable and Towable
You can choose between renting a travel trailer (towed behind a vehicle) and a motorhome (driveable RV).
Travel trailers obviously require a vehicle that’s capable of towing, but if you have a truck or plan to rent a vehicle for this purpose, it gives you more freedom to explore while leaving the trailer behind in camp, whereas a motorhome is your sole vehicle in most cases. However, it’s more difficult to drive a vehicle while towing a trailer than it is to drive a motorhome.
If you’re inexperienced with towing, you will probably want to go with a small motorhome on your first trip to get a feel for driving a big rig. Travel trailer rentals are usually significantly cheaper than motorhomes, but again you will need a tow vehicle.
5. Other Important Features
There are many other features and options available for RV rentals that you will want to consider.
For instance, some RVs are equipped with solar panels and composting toilets, which allow you to go off the grid so you do not have to camp at a developed campground. This capability can increase your destination options significantly, but it will be more of an adjustment from everyday life than an RV that’s designed to be hooked up nightly at campsites.
Other amenity options to consider are RV bathrooms and kitchens. Depending on the size of the RV, it may have a full bath where the shower is separated from the rest of the bathroom, or it might have a wet bath which is a more compact bathroom where the shower and toilet share a space. Whenever you take a shower in a wet bath, the entire bathroom will be wet, including the toilet and the floor.
Kitchen facilities also vary, ranging from very simple (a cooler and a propane camp stove for outdoor cooking in some small campervans) to luxurious (a built-in oven and stove, a fridge and freezer, and possibly even a microwave).
There are also add-on services available from some renters like roadside assistance and trip insurance, and individual renters through services like Outdoorsy might offer additional packages as well.
6. Browse On RV Rental Sites
If you have no idea what the best RV rental is for you, then a good way to start is by browsing available RVs on a few different rental sites. That way you can compare RV styles, prices, amenities, and so forth. If you prefer to rent a ‘typical’ manufactured RV with all the standard amenities, check out big rental services like Cruise America, or if you want to check out more unique rigs, look through Outdoorsy’s website.
7. Read Reviews
Reviews can give you a great idea of how a certain RV handles on the road, what the amenities are like, and the overall quality of the rental service. They can inform you of what to look out for, which RV models are the most popular, and which rental agencies are the most user-friendly.
Additionally, if you are getting your RV from a rent-by-owner site, you can read reviews from past RV renters. These testimonies will give you an idea about how well the rig is equipped and how helpful the RV owner is.
8. Talk To The Owner
This mostly applies if you are renting from a private owner, because all of the systems in their RV may be unique.
Most RV owners are more than happy to show you how to operate all of the systems onboard and give you a crash course in the RV lifestyle. Even with big RV rental services, a representative can definitely point you in the right direction if you describe your ideal trip. They’ll be able to recommend which is the best RV rental for your specific needs.
If you have never taken a trip in an RV before, be sure to ask the representative for pointers on driving the specific rig, how to fill and empty all the tanks on board, and any other questions that come to mind.
Making sure you choose the best RV rental for your needs doesn’t have to be a stressful process. As long as you take into account the points listed above, the exact details of the RV you select won’t be as important as enjoying your epic road trip!
- Reasons Why an RV Rental is the Best Way to Travel in 2020
- What To Look For in a Pop-Up Trailer Rental
- RV Types: Which is the Best for You to Rent?