Renting an RV, Part One

If you are considering a family road trip and you’ve never rented an RV, consider it! Traveling in an RV is very different from traveling in other types of vacation travel. With an RV, you can head off to a faraway vacation destination and you don’t need to worry about finding a hotel. After all, it’s like taking your house with you! In this two part article we will give you the basics  on what you should know if you want to take the plunge and rent a RV.

Renting an RV
Image by Jody Halsted

What type of trip?

There are two general types of RV vacations: a road trip or a destination-based trip.

Many families opt to make their vacation a road trip. The vacation, to some degree, is the trip itself. You will be traveling as you would in a car but instead of looking for motels or hotels to stay at, you look for campgrounds and other overnight spots to park it for the night.  You may even want to leave your RV for several days at the campground and use public transportation or bicycles to get around.

The other type of RV vacation is destination-based. The RV is still your home on wheels but a certain destination is the goal – think Disneyworld. Large venues such as Disneyworld will have plenty of RV parking sites and there will be shuttles to the parks and to other local areas. Since local hotels and accommodations can be expensive at big-name vacation resorts, you can potentially save some money by using an RV while you are there.

What to rent

According to Hoffman CDJR of Hagerstown, MD, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer,there are three general types of RVs to choose from:

  • Class A: These are the RVs that resemble buses. Often called Motorhomes, they are usually 23 to 40 feet in length and have huge front windshields. Typically Class A motorhomescontain a kitchen, bathroom, sleeping and dining facilities. Comfort systems usually include electricity, heating, air conditioning, water and propane gas.
  • Class B: These vehicles are based on a van body; the outside literally looks like a van.Class B RVs can have the amenities of the larger Class A motorhomes but are usually are much smaller inside. Not all Class B motorhomes have bathrooms onboard (there just isn’t enough room.)
  • Class C: These RVs are 20 to 31 feet long and are built on van or truck cabs and chassis. The living area is accessible to the driver’s area and they often have sleeping quarters above the cab. These units sleep two to six people. Class C RVs often have the features of the Class A motorhomes but are more economical to operate and easier to drive and park.

Driving an RV

A question first-timers often have is: “Do you need any special skills to drive one?” RV rental companies say no, and you certainly don’t need a trucker’s license. The Class B and C models are mostly like driving a car. But the Class A rigs, well they are like buses sodriving one is like driving a bus. As a rule of thumb, the longer the rig, the more you’ll need to keep in mind clearances when making turns.

Fuel Mileage

Despite the size of the RV you rent and the size of the engine in it, you aren’t going to get much more than 10 or 12 miles per gallon with a gasoline powered RV. Be aware that older models might even get less than that. If you rent a diesel-powered RV, you may get a bit better fuel mileage but diesel costs more per gallon and may not be easily available during your trip.

In the Part Two of this article, we will take a look at the costs of renting an RV and suggest some places you can rent them.

Written by

Eric J. Leech is a born and bred auto enthusiast who has been a gear-head ever since he crawled out of his crib and got his Kool-aide stained mitts on a 67 Camaro SS (red, black bucket seats, no air-conditioning). He's since become an automotive journalist for a variety of sources, including DUB Magazine, American Auto Press, Import Tuner, Turbo & High Performance, and has also worked as a content provider for the Discovery Channel's, Mean Green Machines. Follow Eric J. Leech at Google+

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