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Vacationing in a rented travel trailer is becoming more and more popular. It’s a smart choice if you own a vehicle that’s capable of towing. Or if you’re planning a destination camping trip and want your rig delivered and set up for you. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of travel trailers and how to choose the best one for your needs.
Advantages of Travel Trailer Rentals
Travel trailers are often significantly cheaper to rent than drivable motorhomes, and they’re generally cheaper and more versatile than staying in a hotel. The average daily rate for staying in a hotel in the United States in 2019 was $131 and the average cost for renting Class C-A motorhomes is roughly $100 to $275 per night, while renting a travel trailer usually costs between $50 and $125 per night.
You can also conveniently detach a travel trailer from your vehicle when you arrive at your destination and leave it set up, which reserves your campsite and allows you to go on adventures or run errands in your vehicle without worrying about towing the trailer everywhere. If you opt for a motorhome, you’ll have to pack it up into ‘drive mode’ every time you want to go somewhere and potentially navigate parking lots and narrow roads in a large RV, while leaving your campsite empty.
Hotels may be more luxurious, but you most likely won’t have as many kitchen amenities in a hotel room as you would in a travel trailer. And you won’t have as much adventure and outdoor time as you will have by camping in a travel trailer.
Who Are Travel Trailer Rentals Best Suited For?
Travel trailers are a great option if you’re traveling with kids, since you can drive to your destination safely in your vehicle with any car seats that you need, and then have plenty of space for everyone to sleep in the trailer. Since they’re available in many different lengths, you can find an option that is suitable for a couple or for a large family — some travel trailers are up to 38 feet long and can sleep 10 people!
It also makes sense if you’re planning to stay in a central location for a few days and make short trips from there.A trailer does require a bit of work to set up because you need to find a flat place to park it, detach it from your vehicle, level it, chock the wheels, and set up any support legs. And then you need to do all of that in reverse when you want to move it again.
So, a camping trailer rental may not be practical for trips where you are moving every single day, but it definitely makes sense if you plan to spend a week at the lake.
How To Choose a Travel Trailer Rental
There are several factors that you will need to take into account when you are selecting a trailer.
Choose Your Destination
If you are heading somewhere relatively nearby, it will probably make the most sense to rent the trailer locally, drive it to your home, load up all your gear and supplies, and hit the road.
However, if you are going to be driving a significant distance, consider renting the trailer nearer to your destination. That way, you will get better gas mileage on the drive over and you won’t have to worry about towing a trailer over any difficult terrain like steep mountain passes or areas of high wind.
If you plan to go somewhere exceptionally far, consider flying there and possibly coordinating with the owner so that they have the trailer set up for you at your destination, so you would just need to rent a small car at the airport and head out to your campsite.
Also, consider any length restrictions of the campground you plan to stay at. Some campgrounds only have a few sites that can handle big rigs, or they may have width restrictions that limit the number of slide-outs you can have on your rental trailer.
Set a Budget
The first item in your budget will of course be the trailer rental costs, which vary based on the size and amenities included, how many nights you plan to rent it, whether there are other fees involved in your rental agreement like service fees or add-on rentals.
Keep in mind that your vehicle’s fuel economy will probably dip significantly when you are towing a trailer so factor in extra fuel costs, especially if you will be driving a significant distance with the trailer.
Finally, you will need to factor in costs like your campsite fees, dump station fees if applicable, groceries and supplies, any fees or state or national parks that you may plan to visit, and other incidental costs.
Determine How Much Weight Your Vehicle Can Tow
This is the biggest factor in determining what size of travel trailer you can rent. Obviously, your vehicle needs to be equipped with a bumper hitch in order to tow a trailer. You can check how much weight your vehicle is rated to tow in your owner’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website.
Keep in mind that travel trailers have both a dry and gross weight rating. Dry weight refers to the weight of the trailer when it’s shipped from the manufacturer totally empty. The gross weight is the total weight of the trailer when it’s fully loaded with fuel for appliances, water, equipment, and supplies. Be sure that you are checking the gross weight (NOT the dry weight) of the trailer against your vehicle’s tow rating.
Most sedans, hatchbacks, and small SUVs are not rated to pull travel trailers, although they may be suitable for smaller pop-up trailers.
Standard SUVs like Ford Explorers and Honda Pilots usually have a maximum towing capacity of about 5,000 pounds and can handle small travel trailers that are less than 20 feet long. Large SUVs like Chevy Suburbans may be able to tow up 8,000 pounds depending on the tow package, and can usually pull a trailer that’s between about 20 and 26 feet long.
For anything bigger than 26 feet, you will need a pickup truck. A heavy-duty diesel pickup can tow up to around 18,000 pounds with a bumper hitch, which is more than enough to handle a 38-foot trailer. For anything longer, you will need to have a fifth-wheel hitch installed in your truck bed, which is unlikely if you don’t already own a trailer. However, fifth wheels can be up to 42 feet long.
Decide How Much Space You Need
Once you’ve determined how much weight your vehicle can tow, you can look at the various options available in your weight range and decide on a layout and length. Some models may be the same length, while one layout prioritizes amenities and water storage and the other provides sleeping space for 10, so the weights may be significantly different. Keep in mind how many people are traveling with you, and choose the trailer that is just long enough for your needs. Larger trailers will affect your gas mileage more and be more difficult to manage while driving.
Look at Additional Features
Shop around to see what kind of amenities you’d like to have in your travel trailer rental. This can include things like a full bathroom versus a wet bathroom (where the shower and toilet share a space), full-sized kitchen appliances, slide-outs for more living area, a toy-hauler trailer with space for outdoor gear in the back, and so forth.
Not Sure What You Want?
If you have no idea what type of travel trailer you are looking to rent, take some time to browse a few rental sites just to get a feel for your options. You can find pictures of different styles of trailers with lists of amenities and features as well as read reviews from others who have rented that type of trailer previously. If it’s a peer to peer rental site, you can also ask the owner any questions you have about their trailer.
Keeping these things in mind, you should be able to find the right travel trailer rental for your next RV adventure.
Tell me, which of these factors are you going to consider when you rent a travel trailer? Do you have any other advice for RV renters?
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