Things to know before you rent your first RV/Campervan – Part 1
That’s right!!! Let’s get rid of the hassles of hotel and car bookings and combine both. Has the thought of renting an RV or Campervan ever crossed your mind, but the uncertainty of the things to know before you rent your first RV has stopped you? If yes continue reading, we will ensure we clear all those uncertainties. How does the idea of checking in once into your holiday home, the home takes you around the holiday destination, and check-out straight on the last day, sound to you? Super exciting right!!! It’s time to cool our excitements just a couple of notches down, do a good reality check, then set out for adventure so that a few wrong choices don’t spoil our holidays.
An RV/Campervan holiday can be really fun. In fact, Ankita and I loved the concept so much, after we did it in New Zealand, that we did it again for our next holiday in Alaska, and I’m sure we will seek this option for every holiday, wherever possible. The idea of pulling over anywhere you like, stay overnight in the wilderness without having to worry about camping gear, wake-up every morning to breathtaking views, is very lucrative. But, we have had our fair share of spoilers which could have spoilt our holidays.
In this article, we will run you through a detailed idea of how an RV experience could be. Do’s and Don’ts, things to keep in mind, expenses etc., which one should consider, so that your RV holidays stays as happy as it sounds.
1. Set your expectations right:
If you are a kind of person who likes breakfast at the bed, housekeeping service to your room every day, buffet lunch and dinners, let’s be blunt, this is not for you. However, if you can do all of these things by yourself, there are very few things you should worry about.
Firstly, if you have only driven cars till now, driving an RV with a capacity of 4 people or more can be a bit overwhelming. However, it’s just a matter of a few minutes of driving one till you get used to it. It is always a good idea to have a confident driver drive through cities with more traffic as manoeuvring an RV through busy streets will challenge all your driving experience, at least for the first time.
Secondly, figure out how many people do you need the RV for, choose the one with at least as many seat belts, if not more as safety is always paramount. How many children with you? are you okay with little room to move about or space is something you cannot compromise on? RV rental companies offer way too many variants and it is normal to get confused. There could be choices from RVs which can sleep 6 people to ones which have room only for 2 people with numerous different room layouts. Also, it is very difficult to make a real picture of the RV interiors, looking at pictures on the internet. So you will have to leave a bit of leverage there. Ankita and I preferred some extra room to move about and not keep crashing into each other, so we chose an RV which could sleep 4 people for both our holidays and it turned out to be a blessing.
And thirdly, be prepared to do your housekeeping, cooking and sanitation yourself. And if anything needs a quick fix, yourself is the only handyman available. But trust me, this will be least of your concern & all in all it would maximum add into your travel experience.
Now that you might have made up your mind for an RV holiday, let’s talk about what to expect when you start to look at RV rental companies.
2. What to expect:
The moment you google for RV rental companies in any country, there will be quite a few which pop up. Bear in mind that only 3-5 companies will give you the best value for money. Having said that, there is no cheap and best policy for RVs. If someone is offering you a deal which is unbelievably cheap, it should ring a bell. Here’s why? RV’s have a lifespan. The newer the RV, the more expensive it is, as the interiors will be spic and span, no worn out upholstery, and most importantly, newer the engine, the more fuel efficient it will be. Also, there is a charge written in a tiny font, around the rental price. It should read like $0.20/mile or kilometre. This is called a mileage charge. This may not sound a lot but does add up to a fair amount of money. For example, for every 100 miles driven, you will be charged $200. This charge is unavoidable as every company charges this pretty much all around the world. The only thing that may be different could be the rate and currency. So plan up your itinerary very precisely, use Google maps to find out the total distance you plan to travel, add a couple of hundred miles extra to it and multiply to the mileage rate. This is something rental companies charge over and above the rental price.
Note – Countries like New Zealand have an additional odometer installed on one of the wheels which they refer to calculate mileage. In the USA, the odometer in the instrument panel is enough.
3. Generic Charges:
Like any other car rental, you will be offered full or basic insurance. Full insurance is always suggestable as it decreases your liability. RVs which have a generator fitted, there might be a charge for generator running hours, so use it wisely.
Also, keep in mind that every time you pull up to an RV park, it will cost you money depending on the country’s regulations and the facilities provided. For example, in New Zealand, RV parks would charge by the number of people on board ranging from $10-$25 depending on facilities provided like fresh water supply, toilets and showers, kitchen, entertainment, wi-fi etc,. But in Alaska RV parks charge per vehicle ranging from $40-$60 plus taxes, depending on what they call Full Hook-up or Partial Hook-up. The difference between the two being, Full Hook-up offers a 220V power supply and a water and waste station right at the parking slot so one wouldn’t have to pull up to the park’s waste dumping station to empty waste every time. Partial Hook-up does not offer a waste station at the parking slot.
If you choose not to spend a lot of money on RV parks, you could choose to BOONDOCK. Continue reading to learn more about boondocking.
Once you have made up your mind and booked your RV, the day of reckoning finally arrives. You will feel an immense Adrenalin rush the first time your agent will walk you to your RV. You will just want to take the keys and hit the road. Like discussed earlier, some nervousness is common as RVs are definitely bigger than a car and the thought of you being able to drive this thing will cross your mind. Relax… all will be fine.
It can take up to 1 hour for an associate to take you through an RV orientation depending on the size and make of the RV. Take all the time to run through the orientation. Initially, it could be overwhelming with information overload, but listening will be key here as it is not practically impossible to remember all of the system troubleshooting. As long as you can figure out the information manual and pages to refer to in case something goes down. Pay special attention to RV waste disposal and water filling systems and it is always advisable to try your hands on to practice attaching hose pipes, supply regulators for LPG/Propane, door and stowage locks, 220V power ports and how to attach them, how to turn on the generators if you have one, etc.
If you have people in your group who are not involved in the orientation, you could delegate them to do the unpacking and save some time before hitting the road on your home on wheels. Always ensure that all stowages and loose items are secured before starting to drive as you wouldn’t want things to go flying every time you make a turn.
The next few points could be your good companion on the road, so stay connected and check out, First Time In An RV/Campervan? Part II.
Till then we will leave you to set your expectations, plan your budget & take a decision. We can ensure you one thing, this holiday will be your best holiday if you plan the RV trip. Let us know what your decision was. Did this information help? I will be around to answer all your questions RV related as much as I can or will direct you to the right link if need be. Do follow us on any of the below social media & stay connected. Safe travels & do not forget to share your experience we love to be a part of your experience through pictures. #taletrips.