The RV lifestyle is truly unique. You have the freedom to go wherever you please, whenever you please. To millions of Americans, it’s their dream life, and they couldn’t imagine living any other way. But what about people who are on the fence about RVing? Is there a way to try before you buy? The answer is yes, and it’s a lot easier and more affordable than you might think.
Three Ways to Rent an RV Before You Commit
You’ve probably heard of RV rentals before. In fact, you’ve most likely seen a commercial rental RV cruising down the highway or parked at a campsite. RV rentals have been around for a long time, but it’s only recently that the industry has seen a renaissance. Now, there are more rental locations and more ways to rent than ever. Here’s what I mean:
Commercial rental companies are the big businesses that everyone knows. Their RVs are usually covered in murals, advertisements, phone numbers, websites, etc. – Like a billboard on wheels. Renting an RV from a large chain is a toss-up; it might be the perfect vacation, or you might end up with a dud of an RV. The biggest advantage of commercial companies is their ability to offer factory delivery specials. If you happen to be going to that location, or if you don’t mind where your destination is, you could save a lot of money on a one-way deal.
We all love to shop locally, right? Local, privately owned rental companies are just about everywhere these days, and they offer a few advantages over the competition. First off is customer service. You just can’t compare the personal service of a small company to the faceless service of a large chain. Another advantage is flexibility. A lot of local companies offer long-term rentals, delivery, and other deals. However, much like large rental services, small companies have limited inventories. If you’re hoping to try out a specific class or model of RV, you’ll have to do a little extra searching.
RVshare is a new and somewhat unique way to rent RVs. It’s an online marketplace where RV owners and potential renters work together, one on one. You get the customer service of working with a small business, but with all the perks of a big-name company (like liability insurance and roadside assistance). Since it’s online, you won’t have to look far for a rental. There are hundreds of thousands of RVs for rent across the United States. I’d say, check here first so that you can compare prices and offerings.
What to Look for When Renting – How to Test if an RV is Right For You
If you’re trying out the RV lifestyle, you’re obviously going to want to rent a rig for more than a few days. Whether you’re debating buying a certain type of RV for weekend use or you want to see if full-timing is right for you, you’ll need to spend a good chunk of time in the RV before you can make a decision. During your trip, ask yourself the following questions:
Is the RV the right size for you? Get a sense for how everything flows through the bedroom, living room, and kitchen. Are you always stepping on each other’s feet? Is accessing that one cabinet a pain in the rear? If and when you buy an RV, little annoyances like these will become permanent, so make sure you rule out as many as possible in advance.
Are you comfortable driving or towing the RV? Some RVs, like vans and Class C’s, feel more natural to drive and thus are less strenuous. However, if you’ve never driven a Class A or towed a trailer before, you might feel exhausted after a day of driving. Pay attention to how you feel after you’ve been behind the wheel for a few hours. If you’re wiped and over-stressed, you might want to look for a smaller RV or a different class of RV.
What will your typical itinerary look like? After a few weeks in your rental, you’ll start to see what your travel style is, like whether you prefer staying in campgrounds, or if you’re more apt to stay somewhere that’s free and away from the crowds. You camping style plays a big part in deciding what RV you like. For example, if you rent a 40+ foot motorhome, you’ll likely have to pay to stay in big rig campgrounds. If you like dry camping, you’ll want an inconspicuous RV that’s equipped with solar panels and other energy-saving features.
Another important factor is, of course, your budget. During the rental period, you’ll notice that your budget fluctuates. Perhaps you spent a little more on campgrounds and gas then you wanted to, or maybe the overall cost of the rental was more than you expected. Here’s a tip: your budget will always change, even when you own an RV. After all, it’s a home on wheels – it can have just as many problems as a sticks and bricks house. My advice to you is to note every extra thing you pay for during your rental, so you can be more prepared to create a budget should you buy an RV.