The RV lifestyle is one that attracts thousands of newcomers each year. Whether it’s the lure of living simply and freely, or the promise of having fewer bills, people all across the United States are trading in their sticks and bricks houses for homes on wheels. However, full-time RVing can be a gamble if you’re not experienced. The thought of packing your bags, ditching your hometown roots, and living life on the road can be an intimidating one for most people. Luckily, there’s a way to try before you buy: renting an RV.
From Corporate to Neighborly – Your Options for Renting an RV
Americans love having options. When it comes to renting an RV, you have options aplenty. So many, in fact, that you might not know where to start. You can rent an RV in one of three ways, and each way has its own strong points:
- Large RV rental chains benefit from their size. With dozens of branches across the country, rental chains are able to offer one-way specials and other location-specific deals. They’re handy if you want to rent an RV just to get you from A to B, and not back.
- Local RV rental companies offer personalized customer service and occasional deals. They’re great if you want to have the RV delivered somewhere, or if you’re looking for specials that coincide with specific events, like music festivals. You might also find a few companies that specialize in certain vehicles, like vintage buses or luxury trailers.
- Peer-to-Peer networks are something like a hybrid between big rental companies and small ones: you have the widespread inventory of a big rental chain, with the individualized offerings and customer service of a small company. P2P networks like RVshare put RV owners and renters in touch with one another using an online platform.
Why P2P Might be The Best Choice For RV Newbies
We like the idea of starting your “trial period” search with a P2P site for a few reasons. For one, you’ll have access to a much larger inventory than you would with any other rental option. Like, seriously large – there are hundreds of thousands of members across the U.S.! Second, you’ll be helping out individual RV owners who don’t have the time to use their RVs as much as they like anymore. Don’t you want to support your fellow RV enthusiasts? In addition to feeling warm and fuzzy inside, there are several tangible benefits of renting from a P2P site:
- There are a ton of different types of RVs! They have everything from tiny, pop-up campers to oversized motor coaches. It’s the perfect solution if you have a few types of RVs in mind, and want to test each one out before you commit to buying one.
- You’ll probably find cheaper rates than you would elsewhere. Most RV owners are trying to offset the cost of storage fees with the possibility of making a little extra income on the side. Therefore, they tend to set their prices lower than the competitions’. Keep in mind though, owners can charge whatever they want, so if you find an overpriced RV, don’t get discouraged – just keep looking!
- You don’t have to worry about feeling safe while you’re on the road. P2P websites offer up to $1 million in liability coverage. RVshare also offers free, 24/7 roadside assistance. You might even be able to buy additional auto insurance directly from the owner for a small daily fee.
- RVshare offers 5% cash back rewards on rentals, which is quite helpful if you plan on trying out several RVs!
- The platform has a review and rating system integrated into each listing. You can check out *REAL* customer reviews, without having to search through Yelp or Google Review.
- Lastly, the biggest benefit from working directly with the owner is the ability to find deals that cater to your needs. You might find discounts on long-term rentals, off-season rentals, unlimited mileage, and more. Or, you can use the messaging feature to try and hash out a new deal with the owner!
Hot Tips for First-Time RVers
Okay, so now that we’ve covered where and how to rent an RV, we thought we’d offer a few tips for beginners. These tips will help you save money and travel comfortably:
- Always plan your campground stays and travel routes ahead of time. Check with the campground to make sure your RV is allowed, since some campgrounds only accept RVs within certain age or size ranges. The goal is to avoid getting lost or turned away from a campground, which wastes a lot of gas. Use Roadtrippers to plan your route, and Allstays to find nearby campgrounds.
- Gas is a major expense when you’re RVing, regardless of whether you’re vacationing or living in your RV. The GasBuddy app helps you find the cheapest gas in any given area, updated in real time.
- If you’ve never driven an RV before, you’re probably a bit nervous. The DMV website has some excellent tips for driving large motorhomes or pulling trailers. If you really want to get into it, you can watch a video tutorial here.
- The RV owner will show you how to use all the systems in the RV when you go to pick it up. But, knowing how to correctly dump your tanks is imperative, so it might be helpful to bookmark this step-by-step walkthrough in case you need it later.
- Packing for an RV trip can be a bit of a compromise. You don’t want to bring too much stuff and weigh down the RV, but you also need to make sure you’ll have the appropriate supplies for any kind of situation. Here’s a good list to get you started. Try to bring linens and cooking supplies if you have room since most rental services will make you buy them if you forget.
What Are You Waiting For?! Let’s Hit the Road!
Testing out the RV life has never been easier. Whether you’re thinking about buying an RV for vacations, or you’re considering becoming a full-timer, renting an RV is an affordable, convenient way to try before you buy. We hope to see you on the road soon! Have you rented an RV before? Share your experience in the comments section!
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