If you’re thinking about renting an RV for an RV trip but don’t quite know how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. We just took our FIRST 10-day RV trip in the great state of Arizona and loved it! It was such a great way to experience the outdoors in a new and intimate way, giving our family memories to last a lifetime.
But if you’re like us (RV newbies), you might not have a clue where to begin. That’s where we can help. I’ve put together information that will help you prepare for renting an RV and taking a successful RV trip.
This is probably the first question you asked yourself – and it’s a great one! The type of RV you should rent depends most on your expectations for your experience. We watched a hundred RV videos, but when it comes down to it, you need one that will fit your family dimensions. Here are a few crucial questions you should consider to determine the type of RV to rent while renting an RV for an RV trip:
We are a small family of three, so we didn’t need a huge RV for our trip. We also wanted one that was easy to maneuver and could park easily. But we both work remotely and needed some space to be able to work during the trip.
We ended up going with Cruise America’s Compact Plus 21 ft. RV – small enough to fit in regular parking spaces, but large enough to trek around in. It’s an ideal size for couples, a small family with one or two young kids, or single travelers.
TIP: Just because an RV says it sleeps a certain number of people doesn’t mean it sleeps that number comfortably. Make sure you see for yourself what the sleeping arrangements look like.
Renting an RV differs depending on many factors – RV model, size, luxuries included, number of days, high season vs low season, etc. Just as with renting a car, you’ll pay a daily rate for your RV rental. A good rule of thumb is – the bigger the RV, the more your daily rate will be. Many times, there are rental specials and deals on their websites, so check them out before you decide.
Some companies also factor in a per-mile and generator usage charge while others come with unlimited miles and usage. It’s important to check this out before you rent.
Prices can range from $60/night up to $200/night depending on the RV model you rent with the average being $150/night.
Besides the cost of renting an RV, there are other fees you should be aware of. More than likely, you’ll need to put a deposit down. This you’ll get back when you return the RV – unless there is damage to it. The RV also requires insurance, but with Cruise America, this is built into the fee.
You can also rent a Renter’s Kit that includes all the essential vehicle items such as kitchenware, broom, kettle, etc. for $110. They also offer a Personal Kit that includes towels, bedding, pillows, and more. These are great options for anyone coming out of state or country.
Budgeting for any trip is always a fun yet needed task. And planning a budget for your RV trip can be tricky. There are a variety of items you should take into consideration while planning your budget:
One thing you should expect upfront with renting an RV is poor gas mileage – it’s just part of the package. The average RV only gets between 8 and 10 miles per gallon. So don’t be surprised when you find yourself filling up more than you’re used to.
TIP: Outside of the RV rental price, our total expenses were around $1000 for our 10-day RV trip.
This is another great question, and your don’t want to find yourself in the middle of a campground realizing you’ve forgotten that all-so-important can opener (like we did). Even though some supplies come down to personal preferences, many of them are universal needs for your trip.
You’ll need bed linens (sheets, blankets, pillows) for each bed in the RV. You’ll also need cookware and kitchen supplies such as pots, pans, eating utensils, etc. It’s also important to bring a first-aid kit or basic tool kit with you for any emergencies you might encounter.
One of the benefits of renting an RV is that you can save money by cooking your meals instead of eating out all the time. Make sure you stock your fridge and cupboards with healthy and yummy snacks for your trip. We only ate out once during our entire trip!
If you’d like a full packing checklist for your trip, you can download ours here:
TIP: Just remember you are living in a smaller space than you might be used to, so pack sparingly.
Choosing campgrounds will be one of the most important aspects of your RV trip – think of it as where you’ll be living while you’re out. There are many types of campgrounds, ranging from basic functionality ones to luxury campgrounds. Depending on your budget and needs, you should choose ones that fit your requirements.
If you plan on using your RV amenities during your stay, you’ll need to look for campgrounds with full hookup capabilities. This includes electric, water, and sewer. Most campgrounds have dump stations on or near it. So if you don’t have one right on your site, you can use the public one. After staying at our first two sites, we realized that we didn’t need the sewer hookup on-site, which saved us some money.
During our RV trip, we stayed at four different campgrounds – two Arizona state parks, one national park, and one private park. All included hookups and restrooms, but only one had wi-fi. And the national park didn’t have any phone service at all.
TIP: Book your campsite way in advance! Some parks fill up months to a year in advance, and waiting too long might mean missing out. There were several sites we would have loved to stay at, but they were booked.
Boondocking is a great way to save money during your RV trip, but you need to really prepare in advance for this type of camping. This means staying somewhere without any water, electricity, or sewer hookups – it’s essentially backcountry camping or even parking in a parking lot overnight.
If you plan on boondocking for a night or two, you should make sure you have a full fresh water tank and empty grey/black tank (sewer and used water tank). A generator can be used that for electricity, but make sure you have a full tank of gas.
If boondocking is something you’d like to try, you can learn all about how to get started here.
I’m not going to lie – learning how to take care of our potty issues was the most intimidating. But once we did it a couple of times, it was super easy. Learning how to dump your tank will vary depending on your RV rental, but the concept is the same with most all RVs.
When you rent your RV, ask for a demonstration of how to go through the process of hooking up and removing all the hoses and tanks. You can also ask fellow campers if you’re unsure while you’re on-site. Most RVers will be happy to help you.
TIP: Bring disposable gloves with you to use while dumping. This was another item we didn’t originally plan for and had to get in the middle of our trip.
There are so many new things you’ll learn while out on the road – some that require learning while you go. The first rule of thumb of RVing is to BE FLEXIBLE!
At the very beginning of our trip, we learned the hard way about making sure everything is secured before taking off. While driving up to Flagstaff, we hit a tiny bump and heard a crash from the back. Low and behold, a container of salsa fell from the cupboard and exploded all over the floor – the RV smelled like salsa for days. Lesson learned. From that moment on, we made sure everything was safely secured in and out of the fridge before hitting the road.
There are so many apps out there dedicated to camping, RVing, and road-tripping – some great, some not so great. Here are the apps we used to enhance our RV Trip and ease the difficulty.
AllTrails: Are you a hiker? If so, this app is for you! I love this app and use it all the time (for trips and non-trips).
NPS: This is my go-to app for visiting any National Park in the US. if you’re going to explore NP’s, it’s a must!
GasBuddy: Shows the lowest gas prices wherever you are.
CruiseAmerica: When you rent an RV with Cruise America, you should definitely download their app for specific how-to videos for your RV model.
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