Ever see that classic movie The Long, Long Trailer about newlyweds, played by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, hoping to make the honeymoon last as they travel across country in, well, a long, long trailer?
Their RV dreams didn’t go exactly as planned but RV travel has come a long, long way since then. Especially with the need for social distancing and a sharp rise in the number of people working remotely, the RV experience is appealing to travelers who never considered it before. From young couples looking for new experiences to parents eager to make memories with their children to seniors enjoying their retirement freedom, people are hitting the road.
You can park your RV at a campsite in a national or state park or a 5-star RV resort. And, if you’re not ready to buy your dream home-on-wheels, no problem! Rentals are available for you. Want to know the ins and outs? Read on…
Where Can I Rent an RV?
Renters have two primary options: A major rental company that owns a fleet of its own RVs (e.g. Cruise America) or individuals who rent out their personal RVs when they aren’t using them (e.g. RVshare, the Airbnb of renting RVs).
What Do I Have to Choose From?
You can rent everything from a tricked out van with no bathroom to a home on wheels complete with kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and all the amenities.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent an RV?
Simply put, as much as you want to spend—from a small RV rental to a luxury RV rental. Just to give you a ballpark, I found a drivable RV that sleeps 6 on RVshare.com for $179 a night or $1759 for 7 nights, including taxes and fees.
Are There Additional Fees Besides Taxes?
Most of the rentals have a mileage charge and some have a generator fee. At Cruise America, for example, the mileage fee for a 400-mile trip in a standard motorhome was $140. A kitchen kit (your dishes, pots, and pans, etc.) costs $110 if you add that option, though you can skip it and bring your own; the same is true of a personal kit (very basic linens, towels), which costs $60 per kit. With those additions, a four-night rental with a base total of $620 inches up to over $1000 by the time you add standard fees and taxes. And then there’s the damage deposit, though with any luck, you’ll get that back.
How Do I Know What to Rent?
That depends on your needs and your comfort level as a driver. Are you an off-the-grid adventurer happy to rough it or a family of five requiring a bathroom and a shower? More than two people would be cramped in a truck camper or souped-up van while a Class A motorhome can sleep 7 to 10.
There’s an awful lot to choose from out there, but basically, RVs break down into two main camps (no pun intended): towable and drivable.
- 5th Wheel: Requires a fifth-wheel hitch in your truck bed and a truck with sufficient towing capacity, a three-quarter-ton or more.
- Travel Trailer: Attaches via trailer hitch and comes in different sizes, suitable for SUVs and pickups.
- Popup Camper: Pull it behind just about anything. It expands (i.e., pops up) to give you more space once you reach your campsite.
- Class A: Think “big-as-a-bus house on wheels”
- Class B: Think “oversized van”
- Class C: Think “cab over driver”
(Why the smallest RV is a Class B and the mid-sized RV is called a Class C, we have no idea. It’s just one of those mysteries of the universe.)
Cruise America’s fleet includes large, standard, and compact RVs, as well as truck campers, all of them attached to the truck or chassis cab you’ll need to pull them. RVshare offers both drivable and towable RVs which you’ll rent from the owners. (You’ll need your own vehicle for the towable ones if you drive it yourself; some owners will deliver to the campsite for a fee.)
The attraction of recreational vehicle travel is to see the country, visit new places, meet interesting people, and experience the freedom of the open road.