Tips and Suggestions for Renting an RV
Below we offer some tips on renting an RV and address the most Frequently Asked Questions. For those interested in more tips regarding planning a road trip, with tips for newbies, then we suggest visiting our RV Tips & Suggestions page.
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Embarking on a vacation in a Recreational Vehicle is a great experience, below we look over the basic questions that may arise during the rental process:
Basic Motorhome Rental Information
License and age requirements
Any person 25 years of age or older with a valid driver license and a credit card can rent an RV.
An International Driver's License is not needed. If you are allowed to drive a car, you are allowed to drive a motorhome, regardless of its size. By the way, they all have automatic transmission.
Do your research, check out special offers (unlimited mileage, freebies) and make your choice. Ask all the questions that you may have before booking your RV. It is better to find out sooner than later what you can and cannot do during your trip.
Learning how to operate your motorhome is critical and you will be given a "familiarization tour" or shown videos, where you will learn how to operate the components of your RV. Drivers will also be shown how to run the vehicle.
The rental rate is on a per-night basis and only covers the rental of the unit. All other things are charged as extras.
The prices depend on the season, the location and also the availability. It is better to book early and get a lower price.
Taxes may apply and also the charges of any Kits that you include (as well as the generator).
Return the vehicle with a clean interior, cleaning fees can exceed $200.
Damages or loss of equipment will be paid by the renter.
Gray and Black - Sewage Water tanks should be emptied before returning the vehicle or a dump charge ($50) will be levied. Fill the gas tank too.
Insurance and Supplemental Insurance
Mileage can be purchased in packages of 250 to 500 miles usually non refundable.
Generators are charged at around $3.50 per hour (they have a time meter). You can avoid this cost by staying at campgrounds with electrical hookups.
One Way Rentals extra Charges
They have an extra charge. You should advise your intention upon rental to ensure availability of your motorhome. Estimate $200 to $700.
Notify your intention of taking a one-way trip, to ensure availability of your vehicle.
Check the Rental Agreement of your RV rental company for complete coverage details.
The Agreement may include basic insurance, others may require you provide your own (which can be complicated for International visitors).
The rental company's insurance may offer coverage for property damage, personal injuries or liability claims, limited by the minimum financial limits defined by the state where the incident occurred. But some claims may exceed those limits and it is the renter's responsibility to assume them.
The Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) will give you additional coverage and limit your liability to around $1,000 per incident of damage or vehicle loss (of course, as long as you comply with the Rental Agreement terms and do not incur in illegal of prohibited activities).
It may also cover expenses due to mechanical breakdown where you are not able to use the vehicle.
Just like a hotel, a Rental Days are the number of nights that the vehicle is used. Take note of the pick-up and return times of your rental company.
Rates are around 34 cents per mile and estimated at 100 miles per night for a round-trip and 250 miles for one-way rentals. Upon drop-off the excess mileage will be refunded, or any extra mileage charged at the same rate.
Pick up and return
Late returns will be charged (around $25 per hour), so arrive on time and advise if you are running late. Check the drop-off times. Early returns (If you return it before due date) are usually non refundable.
Down payments are refunded in full if you advise within a certain notice period (i.e. 1 or 2 weeks), shorter notice or one-way cancellations usually entail loss of deposit.
It is always a good idea to purchase Travel Insurance to cover cancellations.
How much gas mileage does an RV get?
Motorhomes average between 6 to 13 miles per gallon; depending on the weight and size of the vehicle, your speed and whether you are towing anything.
Deposits and Payment
A down payment is required upon confirmation of your reservation, it will be applied towards your rental charges (around $300).
When you pick up your RV you will be asked to leave a security deposit (around $500) and the estimated rental fees of your journey will be paid at departure. Credit Card almost always is required.
One-way rentals will usually pay an extra fee (about $200 to $700) upon pick-up to cover the return costs of the vehicle.
When you return the motorhome the balance will be adjusted for any extra charges or refunds.
There are all types of RVs, choose one that can fit your party comfortably.
Capacity: How many passengers?
The capacity of motorhome depends on the model or size.
A Compact motorhome can fit up to 3 people, a Standard RV will fit up to 5. Intermediate motorhomes can carry 6 people while a Large one will carry a family up to 7 members.
Never exceed the maximum capacity posted in the vehicle (this capacity includes the vehicle, the occupants, luggage and fluids).
Kits and gear
You have to rent your pots, pans and bedding linen. Do this with time as advanced reservations are usually needed.
Personal kits (pillow, sleeping bag, flat sheet, towels) cost around $55 per person.
Cookware kits cost about $100 per RV and include can opener, broom, cooking spoons, forks, plates, coffee cup, spatulas, kettle, bowl, etc.
All items must be returned in good condition and clean at the end of the trip.
Hand brake controls are usually available, check with your Rental company.
Can I bring my pet along?
Pets are usually welcome, but you must clean up after them or face a hefty clean up fee. Check with the motorhome rental company.
Children should use child safety seats where applicable. All passengers should buckle up and fasten their seatbelts. Nobody should sleep in the overhead areas while the RV is in motion.
During travel the vehicle should be safely secured (doors locked, entry step stowed, compartments latched). Use common sense and good judgment.
Parking your car at the rental center while you travel
Parking space may not be available and if available it will be at your risk, you should check in advance to see if it is possible. A safe bet: secure parking nearby.
Leaving your luggage at the rental center while your travel
This is usually allowed, but it will be accepted at your own risk. Check space availability.
Towing your car or a boat behind the motorhome
Towing is allowed and motorhomes are equipped with a hitch only (no tow bar, you will have to bring your own). You should inform the company that you intend to tow something and guarantee that you will respect tow weight restrictions.
Towing charges will be levied.
Consider insurance as the rental company will not provide collision or liability coverage for the towed object or cover any damages caused by it to third parties.
Motorhomes are usually "winterized" between mid-October and March in the areas where winter is tough. Winterization means draining pipes and tanks to keep them from freezing and bursting.
So a "de-winterizing" fee will be charged so that you can use the water system (shower, toilet, sink). During the rental period you will have to take care to avoid the pipes from freezing.
If they are damaged it will be your responsibility to cover all repair costs. Check with the RV rental company about their Winter Policies.
Road Trip Vacations in an RV
Leaving the US in an RV
In general US RVs can enter Canada and return to the US and Canadian registered motorhomes can go and come from the US.
One-way rentals between countries is not allowed.
Travel to Mexico is in general not allowed. Check with your RV rental company.
Are there places I cannot take my RV?
Insurance coverage may be voided if you travel on certain roads or access certain areas. Check with your RV Rental company which areas are prohibited.
Some examples: non-public roads, trails which may damage the RV, access to deserts like Death Valley in Summer.
If you violate these restrictions, vehicle recovery cost and damages to tires or repairs in case of a breakdown will be at the renter's own cost.
Some items and services may not be available either for rental or sale, check with the motorhome rental office to see if they are available or not:
- Baby cribs, baby safety car seats may not be available.
- Bike racks
- TV set
- Rollout awnings
- Transfers to and from Airports or Hotels in rental locations
Water from the RV tank may not be potable, as it is filled in different locations under differing conditions. It is always safer to drink bottled water for both drinking and cooking. The tank water is fine for washing and showering.
Road Assistance Service
Most major rental companies provide 24-hour toll free assistance to report any problems. Verify with rental company before allowing your RV to be towed or repaired.
Don't climb onto the roof, for safety reasons and also, to prevent damage to the RV.
Storing items on the roof of the motorhome or on its exteriors is usually forbidden.
You will be responsible for checking fluids (oil, coolant levels) when you refuel and if you detect any mechanical failures, you should report them immediately.
You may be held liable for mechanical damage due to negligence if you do not provide the normal maintenance as recommended.
RV Rental Agencies
We will be including an online booking link for motorhomes on this page but until it is operational we invite you to visit the leading U.S. RV Rental Agencies listed below:
- Cruise America Rentals: www.cruiseamerica.com/
- El Monte RV: www.elmonterv.com
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.