Renting a motorhome or a Recreational Vehicle (RV) and taking to the road is ideal for those who want to embark on a self-sufficient driving holiday where your vehicle is actually your home.
While RVing is not for everyone, even an inexperienced driver can take to the road on a motorized holiday and have lots of fun. Below we give some tips and advice on motorhome and Recreational Road Trip Vacations.
Below we outline how to Plan your trip, When to travel and What to bring with you. Enjoy the process of planning your journey along US 66
Road Trip Vacations in an RV
Renting your RV or Motorhome
Motorhome rentals are a great idea if you want to go on a driving holiday. Finding the right motorhome rental can be a long process so you should do your homework well in advance so that you know what type of vehicle is necessary and what sort of rental package you will need.
Book your RV with plenty of time
You know the RV you want to drive, and you want it to be available for your trip, then make your booking well in advance.
Some RVs can be booked up to a year in advance, especially if it will be driven during peak season.
Summer holidays are peak season and also Spring and Late Summer: from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It coincides with school summer holidays so this is the period when everybody takes their vacations, both Americans and visitors from overseas.
Other holiday dates include Independence Day (July 4), Thanksgiving (Late November).
Size does Matter
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A motorhome is a large vehicle and you should consider the RV height or size just in case you face restrictions along your road trip.
Maybe some road you want to travel along has bridge height restrictions or very sharp curves that you cannot negotiate with your RV. Check with your rental company about this (in other words, know a rough sketch of your itinerary when you are booking your motorhome).
Ask about RV GPS, which chart courses along roads suitable for your RV clearance
Ask about travel restriction, some companies have them (i.e. Death Valley in Mid Summer).
The size of your RV will depend upon the sleeping capacity. Book one that can fit your group.
If you will travel during Winter or Fall, bad weather can keep you indoors and crowded quarters can be a nuisance.
If you are flying in, and you have plenty of luggage, you will need space to store all those suitcases. Check storage capacity beforehand with your RV Rental company.
Remember your RV will be your home on wheels. It should be the right size to fit you, your party and all your luggage.
Insurance is fundamental. You will need insurance, just like any other vehicle rental, motorhomes require insurance.
Ask your Rental company about the different insurance they offer. All reputable RV rentals will provide insurance as part of the package, find out what it covers (fixing a flat tire on an RV can be a real pain in the neck, roadside assistance is important too).
Renting your RV
Knowing the type of motorhome you want, and having a good idea of your needs and itinerary, you should contact an RV Rental Company and begin an in-depth research that will conclude with the actual Rental of your Motorhome.
>> Learn more: RV Rental information
Renting an RV. Questions to Ask
- What is covered by the rental?
What is included in the rental?
The daily rate usually only covers the rental of the vehicle. Everything is extra and is paid for separately. The companies offer kits: housekeeping kits, starter kits, kitchen kits on a per vehicle or per person rate. A full propane tank, extra chairs a generator... these may also have a separate cost. However most companies provide an All Inclusive Package.
Learn all about these packages and pick the most convenient for your vacation.
- Mileage: How many miles are included in the plan; What are the fees for additional miles? What mile packages are available?
- What are the One-Way rental restrictions?
Pick up your motorhome at point A and drive to point B where you drop it off. Simple, convenient yet... it has a cost:
Some companies have a minimal rental time of one week. Extra fees are charged for a one-way trip. The fee may be standard (a fixed price between $200 and $700) or depend on the mileage between pick up and drop off depots. Should you change your mind, are they refundable? Ask about them.
One way rentals may also have some availability limitations, offset them by renting your motorhome well in advance.
- What is the cancellation policy? Refunds?
- What is the scope of the insurance offered?
- What roadside service assistance is offered? Does it include towing?
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- Is the motorhome equipped with a GPS that includes navigation for motorhomes?
- What about services: oil changes for instance?
- The technical details of your RV:
- Towing capacity. Is there an extra cost for towing?
- What gas mileage can be expected from the RV?
- What is the sleeping capacity? (see a detailed plan of the unit).
- What is its size (width, length, height) and weight?
- What are the items included in the vehicle?
- What are the "extras" (generators, awnings, TVs, chairs etc.) and what is the cost of each of those items?
- For smokers: is the RV smoke free?
- For those traveling with pets: are pets allowed? Is there an extra fee for pets?
- Do they offer transfer to and from airport to depot or hotel? Free of charge?
- Is there a charge for cleaning the vehicle upon return?
- Return requirements and charges (i.e. full tank of gas)?
Cost of Fuel in the US
The website of the Energy Information Administration - EIA provides updated Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Prices
Pick Up of Rented RVs
Some RV Rental companies require that clients spend their first night in the US in a hotel, same day pick ups are not permitted for those customers arriving on an international flight. This is sensible: you should be well rested before taking the wheel of an RV.
Motorhome Vacation, by Motorhomes
- Passports with US Visa (if required). See our US Visa information.
- Your Motorhome Voucher
- Air tickets
- A valid driving license for all those who will be driving the RV
- Credit Cards
- First night accommodation (before pick-up) and also, at least a first night RV Campground on the road.
Arrival and Pick Up Depot
Upon arrival call your local RV depot and confirm your pick up date and time. If local transfer is offered by the rental company, inform your hotel details.
At the depot you will fill in the forms and guarantee your rental with your credit card to complete the rental formalities.
Briefing and training session
You will be shown a video (in English and other foreign languages too) to learn about your motorhome. You will be shown around your RV by the staff, who will give you driving guidelines and answer your questions. You will receive a Manual covering all aspects of the RV.
The tank will be full and you will receive instructions on the rental company's roadside assistance program.
Learning about your RV
If this is your first time with this particular model, or if you have never driven an RV before pay special attention during the training session.
Ask for the session to include training on driving the RV -important with large ones where parking or taking corners may seem more difficult for a beginner.
Test Drive your RV. As with any other vehicle, you should feel comfortable driving your RV. Learn its size, become acquainted with its maneuverability.
Adjust the mirrors, detect any blind spots. See how it brakes, try parking it, reversing it. Take a drive around the block, feel it turn; change lanes.
Learn how to hook up at a campground: sewage, waste, water, electricity. How to deploy the awning, open latches, etc.
Film a video and record the instructions, it will help you later.
Learn how to use the appliances (cooker, microwave). Ask the instructor, it will avoid problems later.
Ask where the First Aid kit is, and where are the warning devices stored in your RV; you will need to get to them in the event of an emergency stop along the road.
First things to do...
Before hitting the road, you should buy food. The RV rental company will surely provide you with a local map and indicate which nearby supermarket is easily accessible with your RV.
Once you have stocked up, head for your first destination, take it easy, don't rush. Enjoy.
These first few miles will allow you to become familiarized with the RV. Drive cautiously and build up your confidence.
Head for your first Campground, which you have booked in advance close to your pick up point, with plenty of daylight left so that you can hook up your new and unfamiliar RV at the RV Park.
See below how to Return your RV.
For peace of mind you should at least book in advance your first night on the road at some Camp Ground.
Full Hook Up
Most RV facilities offer "Full Hook":
Full Hook Up means connection to water mains, electricity (for your air conditioning and sockets) and also waste.
At some Campgrounds it may also include cable TV for those motorhomes equipped with a TV.
During high or peak season (summer holidays or Bank Holidays) you should have a detailed plan for your route including as many advanced bookings as possible at your stopovers, it will avoid the frustration of finding your choice Camp Ground being fully booked.
Most Campgrounds can accommodate all types of RVs and motorhomes.
First timers: book "Pull-Through" Campgrounds. Which allow you to drive in one end and straight out the other, without having to reverse your RV. It will relieve some stress on the newbie driver.
For your first night on the road, try to get to your campground as early as possible, that way you can become familiar with the "hook up" process in daylight.
Some information on Campgrounds
- Kampgrounds of America www.koa.com
- Reserve America www.reserveamerica.com
- Camping Friend www.campingfriend.com
- National Parks Service www.nps.gov
At the RV Park or Campsite
This symbol is used by the National Park Service to mark RV Campsites.
Cost to stay in campgrounds
Campground rates vary depending on the season and the facilities offered. In general they charge between $10 and $50 per night.
They offer electricity, water and sewer hook-ups, washer and dryer service. Swimming pool, BBQ pits and on-site convenience stores are common.
You should always use RV campsites or sites marked as adequate for RV usage.
Follow the campground policies.
Motorhome Campsite, by Finchlake 2000
Park on a flat and level spot and place blocks around the wheels to keep the vehicle from moving.
In summer park in a shaded place. In cold weather park it in a spot where it is protected from the cold north and west winds.
Safety: only light a campfire where permitted and keep your campfire under control at all times. Place it at a safe distance from your RV.
Wildlife: be aware about the threat of bears or other wild animals. Follow safety guidelines given by park rangers. Keep your campsite free of food and garbage, they attract bears. Place food in bear-proof containers on inside your RV with the windows closed. Stay clear from bears and other wild animals.
Dispose of your garbage correctly, never leave trash behind when you leave camp. Leave no traces, pack out your litter if you cannot dispose of it at the site.
Your Road Trip
Our Tips for a Great Road Trip are valid for an RV road trip, please check them out.
These are vacations and as such they are a time for relaxing, connecting with nature and enjoying. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy your destinations, nature, natural beauties.
Drive less, enjoy more. Do not set unrealistic mileage goals. Do not force yourself to drive to many miles. An RV is not a car, so you will move slower.
Setting up and taking down camp at the RV Park takes time (about one hour every day), factor it into your journey plans
Give yourself time to enjoy the trip, to get to know the sights and attractions in depth and to unwind.
And, allow for changes in your plans... take the unexpected detour to visit some new sight. Appreciate the great outdoors!
This is the best advice we can give you. A safe journey is the best journey. Follow the rules, keep calm and drive safely:
- Obey the rules of the road
- Do not tail gate
- Respect speed limits
- Leave yourself plenty of braking space (a big RV requires space to brake)
- Drive defensively and be cautious of the other drivers
- Use your mirrors, detect any blind spots. Signal before changing lanes
- Check your vehicle: oil, water, tire pressure. Underinflated tires overheat, break apart and are a risk when taking curves.
Never drink and drive. Rest when you are not driving
Switch drivers every few hours it will let you unwind and enjoy the scenery too.
Stop at regular intervals to stretch your legs. All passengers can take a break too.
Make sure the driver is alert regularly.
If you feel drowsy, stop immediately at a safe spot and rest.
Stay hydrated, drink water in summer.
Keep an eye on the weather, it may be prudent to pull over and park in a safe spot during a heavy downpour.
Returning the RV
You will have to return your RV to the defined return point with a full tank and empty gray and black water tanks. There is a charge for topping-off your fuel tank and emptying your waste water.
Make sure you have not left any personal belongings in the RV when you return it.
You can check beforehand if there is a transfer service to the local airport or to nearby hotels.
Image by National Park Service, Public Domain.