Taking a nice, long road trip is the vacation of many travelers’ dreams.
Hitting the road, letting your whims take you where you want to go, and camping in an RV is the start of the trip of a lifetime.
For first-time RVers, there’s a lot to learn about RVs themselves, how to select one that suits your needs, and how to use it so you can enjoy your trip.
To Rent or to Buy?
When deciding to use an RV on a trip, you’ve got two main options: Renting and buying.
While many consumers automatically think they need to buy an RV, there are a lot of cases where renting is beneficial and even may be more worthwhile than renting.
When to Buy
Buying your own RV is a dream of many intrepid travelers. They picture themselves hanging up family photos, choosing the perfect curtains, and hitting the road in their home away from home.
This route may be right for you if:
- You’ve already rented an RV a few times and have some experience towing one around. There’s a learning curve with operating an RV, as well as all the additional maintenance and upkeep tasks that are required.
- You have somewhere to store it when you’re not using it, or you’re willing to pay for that service. In most neighborhoods, you can’t just have a big RV sitting in your driveway or on the street; you have to have somewhere to store it and keep it safe from the elements. If you’ve got an extra garage, or plan to budget for off-season storage fees, then you’re set.
- You’re ready for the up-front and ongoing costs. Purchasing your own RV isn’t an inexpensive venture, either up front or on a routine basis. If you’ve looked into the types of costs you can expect – registration fees, gas, maintenance, storage, and more – and are prepared to shoulder those costs, then you may be ready to buy.
- You plan to get frequent, long-term use out of your RV. If you want to make several long-haul trips a year in an RV, or you even plan to spend most of your time in one, then buying is going to be much more economical for you in the long run.
When to Rent
Choosing to rent an RV for your trip is a great way to get your feet wet and see if you really do enjoy the RV life. It’s also a virtually risk-free way to get the travel experience you want without putting out a lot of cash up front.
You may consider renting an RV if:
- You’ve never been RVing before. There’s a lot to learn about toting an RV and staying in one. It’s a lot less expensive to test out this travel method by renting.
- You don’t have a storage space. RVs need to be carefully stored during the winter months or when they’re not in use to protect them from damage. If you don’t have a readily available storage space, or you don’t want to pay to have your RV stored somewhere for several months of the year, renting may be your best option.
- You’re wary of the cost. There’s a lot that goes into purchasing an RV, both at the beginning and on an ongoing basis. If you don’t feel comfortable putting up that much cash, it’s probably better to rent.
- You won’t be traveling frequently. If you plan to use an RV only once or twice a year, or only intermittently, you’re not getting the best return on your investment by purchasing.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent an RV?
Renting an RV, like renting a car, is more than just the base price you get from a dealer.
There are several other costs to consider and factor into your budget when planning to rent.
Here is some of what you can expect to pay when renting an RV:
The base rental fee for an RV doesn’t stay the same year-round; instead, you can expect to pay different rates based on when you decide to rent.
If you’re looking to travel during peak season, which typically is between May 20 and September 16, prices start around $120 per night. For mid-season travel, from September 16 through November 30, plan for rates starting at $95 per night. Off-season travel, from December 1 through May 19, you can expect to pay around $86 per night.
Planning your travel for mid-season or off-season, if you can, can save you considerable amounts of money on your rental fees alone. Being flexible in your plans may help you get the best price on your travel.
Like renting a moving van, many RV rental places also charge you for the miles you travel. This helps them defray the costs of things such as oil changes, new tires, and other repairs.
At some rental outfits, such as Turn Key RV, you receive a certain number of daily miles free with your daily rental fee. Once you’ve put that amount of miles on the RV in a day, you’re charged an additional amount per mile or per block of miles per day.
For example, Turn Key gives you your first 150 miles per day free with your daily rental fee, depending on the length of your rental. After that, you pay 36 cents for each additional mile per day, or $325 per block of 1,000 miles.
Just as you have to pay to keep your car gassed up for that cross-country trip, you’ve also got to pay to keep an RV ready to go.
When planning for a gas budget, plan on an average of 10 miles per gallon, but this number does vary based on the model of RV you choose.
Don’t forget to plan for that final fill-up before you return the RV, either! Some rental places allow you to pre-pay for this last tank of gas so you can return the RV with less than a full tank, but bringing it back outside the prescribed range could mean you get charged a high per-gallon price to fill it back up. Many RV renters prefer to fill up at the gas station of their choice before returning.
Security Deposits/Cleaning & Preparation Costs
Spending time living in an RV, no matter how gently you handle things, means some cleaning will have to happen when you return it. The better you maintain the RV while you’re renting it, the lower the cleaning fee is likely to be, but you should still expect to pay at least something for cleaning or a security deposit.
Pets aren’t always allowed in rental RVs, and if they are you may have to pay an additional security deposit or extra cleaning fees. Check with your chosen service on their individual policies and budget accordingly.
Not all the creature comforts that many people expect from an RV come standard with a rental RV.
Here are some of the add-ons you may choose with your rental:
- TV/DVD system (approximately $6 per day or $35 per week)
- Bedding (approximately $20)
- Towel kits (approximately $20)
- Bike or cargo rack (approximately $3 per day or $18 per week)
- Camping chairs, 4 (approximately $20)
- Generator (approximately $30 per day plus fuel, or $140 per week plus fuel)
- Ice chest (approximately $3 per day or $18 per week)
- Delivery or pickup of the RV (starting at $150)
You certainly can trim some of the cost by opting not to select some of these add-ons, either by going without the item or bringing your own.
How to Choose the Right RV for Your Needs?
Shopping for an RV, either to rent or to purchase, is a lot like shopping for a car mixed with shopping for a house. You want to make sure that it has all the features you need, but also that it’s not going to completely break the bank to travel with.
Here are some things to consider when choosing an RV:
Number of Travelers
You’ll not only be in this RV during the day, but more than likely will be sleeping in it at night.
How many people do you want to be able to sleep comfortably inside the RV? Do you want people to share beds, or each have their own? Are you OK with people sleeping in bunks?
The average number of people you’ll be toting around in your RV will greatly determine the size and model you can select.
Some travelers plan to have a separate vehicle, such as a car or van, to take on side excursions to save on gas and make them more nimble.
If you want to be able to tow a vehicle off your RV, you need to make sure that the model you choose is capable of hooking up a tow and that you have access to all the necessary parts.
Motorhome Class A
Class A RVs are usually larger than other models, making them great for families. They measure anywhere from 21 feet long to 40 feet long.
These vehicles can comfortably sleep five or six people, and offer more storage space for luggage, toys, and other items that families may need. They also tend to offer a smoother ride, making them less frustrating for people preparing food, playing games, or trying to draw a picture.
Class A RVs largely run on diesel fuel, meaning you’ll spend more to fill up the tank.
Because a Class A is so large, it’s impractical to drive it around all day. Instead, most Class A drivers will want to park the vehicle and have a backup car in tow.
Motorhome Class B
This class of RV is slightly smaller than the Class A, measuring between 16 and 21 feet long.
Class B RVs look different than what most people expect in an RV, as they’re built using a van base and look more like a large conversion van.
They provide sleeping for between two and three people, making them better suited to couples or smaller families. Class B RVs run on traditional gas, so they’re less expensive to run. They’re also easier to drive and are great for beginner RV travelers.
Motorhome Class C
This designation of RV can be considered a hybrid, as they are built like a van as the Class B is, but are elongated and offer more space like the Class A. Class C RVs usually measure between 20 and 28 feet long.
Class C RVs can sleep between four and five people but offer less storage space than does a Class A.
Tips for a Smooth RV Trip
Traveling by RV means you’re free to make your own route, and aren’t dictated by making sure you find a place to sleep each night. This allows you and your family to go camping, explore state parks, or take a cross-country sightseeing trip on your own schedule.
To help you plan for the best RV trip ever, here are some tips to follow:
As soon as you know you’re planning to go on an RV trip, have set a budget, and have researched what type of RV you want, book your unit. This is especially important if you’re traveling during peak season, as many rental services sell out very quickly.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, be sure to get insurance to cover your trip.
Your traditional car insurance may not cover RV rental, so check with your provider if you can add-on a temporary policy or purchase separate coverage to protect you should you have an accident while on your trip.
Plan Your Route
While you can be much more free to explore wherever you want in an RV than with many other modes of transportation, that doesn’t mean you can completely wing your whole trip.
Your RV will need to be refueled relatively frequently, and you will want to dump the waste tank often.
Plan your route so that you always know where the nearest gas station is, and be sure to note all the dump stations on your way should you need them.
Tips for Driving an RV
There’s much more to driving an RV than just treating it like a big truck. These vehicles have a lot of unique quirks and must be driven carefully to protect them from damage and you from injury.
Make wider turns than you would with a car, truck or van. Pull into intersections a little – but not too much – before you turn and use your mirrors to watch the sides and back end of the RV.
This is the most difficult part for many new RV drivers. Always use a spotter when backing up, even if your RV has a backup camera.
If you’re towing an extra vehicle, be sure it is properly secured every time before you take off. Practice wider turns and longer, slower stops than you would use even if driving just the RV.
Before you take the RV out on the road, practice by driving around a large empty parking lot. This helps familiarize you with the dimensions of the vehicle, and allows you to get acquainted with the changes you need to make to turning, backing up, and stopping.
How to Use a Dump Station?
RVs allow you to be mobile, not having to stop every time someone needs to use the restroom. However, this also means you’ll need to learn how to use a dump station.
- Pull up to the dump station with your RV’s dump valve as close to the drain as possible.
- Put on disposable gloves and get out your sewer hose.
- Securely clamp the hose to the holding tank drain outlet and insert the other end into dump station hole.
- Check to make sure everything is secure. Pull open the black water tank first. You will hear an initial rush through the hose that will slow to a trickle as the tank empties. Close the black water tank valve and open the gray water tank. Allow it to drain.
- Close the gray water tank valve. Check that both valves are fully closed before disconnecting the hose from the RV dump valve.
- Hold the hose above the dump station hole and allow it to drain. If there is a non-potable water hose available at your dump station, run water through the hose to rinse it out.
- Remove the sewer hose from the hole and rinse the outside, as well as the area around the hole.
- Replace the cap on the holding tank drain.
Quality RV Rental in Oregon
If you’re wanting to hit the open road on your first RV trip – or you’re an experienced RVer who’s looking to rent a new model – Turn Key RV has what you need. We offer exceptional-quality vehicles at great prices, and our customer service is available 24/7 in case you have a problem on the road. Reserve your RV today!