If you’re enthusiastic about road tripping in a recreational vehicle, you aren’t alone.
Crossing the country in an RV is in the midst of a massive revival. Road warriors, old and new, are trying to explore from camper vans to shining silver Airstreams, large Class A RVs, to teeny teardrop trailers, and are answering the call of the open road.
You are virtually free to do whatever you want like a fall foliage road trip, jumping in an RV for the holidays, planning a spring or summer RV exploit, or just want to cross the country with an RV.
The good thing about this is that this mode of road tripping is much more waterproof than camping. More so, if you prefer an RV with air conditioning or heating, which are the norm in newer models.
So much about RV cruising that was always celebrated hasn’t changed. This includes driving through stunning landscapes, drawing your overnight accommodation with you, all while several things have improved, including the types of vehicles now available to you.
For first-timers or individuals who haven’t tried road tripping in an RV, we’ve assembled a primer on what renting an RV is like at this time. Here’s your full guide to renting an RV trip for a significant road trip adventure.
Reasons for Renting an RV for a Cross Country Trip
If you like to cross the country in an RV, then renting your own rig would provide you more flexibility for your ventures and help you to save some money.
Instead of stopping and staying in a hotel during your trip, why not travel at your own pace? This will give you greater control over your trips and help you save money on accommodations. Traveling in an RV also enables you to enjoy the warmth of home, including the capability to prepare your own meals. And when traveling for long miles, such as on a cross-country trip, this can prove to be very cost-effective.
Furthermore, you can avoid being jammed into a passenger vehicle, which can be really annoying during long travels. Instead, everyone in your travel party can have sufficient room for stretching out and getting cozy.
How to Rent an RV?
Renting an RV is an excellent way to try out different models and see which one works best for your travel style. After all, the prospects for renting an RV are more abundant than you might realize.
Renting an RV or RV trailer can sometimes range from $50 per day all the way up to $800 per day, depending on the size, brand, and model. Most of these vehicles fall from $100 to $250 per day.
You can also arrange for the rental company to have it delivered to your home or your destination. RV rental companies like RVshare and Outdoorsy incorporate an option to have it delivered to your campsite and get everything ready for your arrival, so you don’t have to deal with driving the RV if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.
For those who are doing a long cross-country trip or for individuals who are relocating, you can arrange a one-way RV rental as well.
If you like, you can also do a walk-through of the vehicle, which you can arrange from the company you are renting from before setting out. This is to make sure that you know how to set up and dump water and sewage hoses and tanks, adjust the heating and cooling to your preferred level and find the electrical hookups.
Even tasks that may seem simple like lengthening and collapsing the awning which can be complicated and vary from one vehicle to the next. Several rental companies automatically offer virtual walk-throughs as well.
Companies That Offer RV Rentals
Billed as the Airbnb of RVs, Outdoorsy lets their customers rent out their vehicles to would-be road-trippers. Their list includes Airstreams, camper vans, teardrop trailers, and Class C RVs with all the bells and whistles. Outdoorsy is easily accessible in 14 countries and allots more than 50,000 RVs and trailers.
What better way to drive an RV than to rent one from someone who lives in your area? That’s precisely what RV rental site RVshare enables you to do. The site highlights more than 100,000 vehicles extending from Class A motor homes to small travel trailers.
If you want to do a more thorough search for RVs, go to VacationRenter, which pitches vehicles from both RVShare’s and Outdoorsy’s lists. This is an excellent one-stop shop for obtaining local RVs to rent.
Cruise America is one true classic. This RV rental company records back to 1972 and concentrates on renting out four different models of Class C RVs. This eventually extends to truck campers that rest up to three persons to a cabover motor home that sleeps up to seven.
All their rental vehicles have their own toilets, a gas stove, air conditioning, and are pet-friendly. Cruise America has 128 offices in 33 U.S. states and in five Canadian provinces.
Peace Vans Rentals
Seattle, Washington–based Peace Vans Rentals focuses on renting out Volkswagen camper vans equipped with new or rebuilt motors. Its fleet comprises cult picks such as Vanagons (Westfalias and Weekenders), Eurovans, and Mercedes-Benz Metris campers.
Road Trip Oregon
Road Trip Oregon, based in Portland, focuses on renting out Volkswagen Eurovan campers, built-out Land Rovers, Mercedes Sprinters, and Ford Transits.
Here, you can rent Ram ProMasters (to two extents) or a Dodge Grand Caravan camper van in Denver, Salt Lake City, or Las Vegas from Native Campervans. Most are furnished with a sink, a fridge or cooler, a gas stove, cooking equipment, and a foldaway table.
Road trippers from New York City can rent refurbished Ford E-350 camper vans that are furnished with a bed, gas stove, and refrigerator from Wayward Campers.
Mistakes to Avoid When Renting an RV for a Cross Country Trip
As favorable as renting an RV for a cross-country trip, it’s essential to make sure that you don’t make some of the following common mistakes.
For one, some people think that they should go for the biggest RV for a long trip. But in reality, you might find it better to just rent a smaller one, as long as it provides the number of people traveling with you.
As a bonus, a smaller RV is typically much easier to drive, especially when progressing on mountain overpasses or narrow, twisting roads. Additionally, a smaller RV can work better on open highway stretches, where heavy winds could tend to push your RV.
Another common mistake you should avoid is not using the time needed to get to know your RV. Try not to make the mistake of thinking that you’ll figure it out as you go on the road. You can take a few minutes to practice driving around the parking lot, feel the wheels, read the vehicle, and ask any important questions before you start your trip.
Avoid the temptation to carry too much stuff on your trip. Always try to only bring the basics that you will need throughout your journeys. That said, double-check everything to make sure that your rented RVs come with all the stuff you need. This includes dishes, bed linens, and towels, although some companies require an extra charge for these items.
Don’t Overdue Your Itinerary When RVing
Also, try not to pack too many destinations into your itinerary when planning a cross-country trip. This is one of the most common misconceptions, particularly among those who are new to the RVing lifestyle. You will want to make sure that you have lots of time for enjoying the views, which can be hard to do if you attempt to put too much into your list.
Best RV Rental for a Cross Country Trip
Figuring out what kind of RV is right for you might be one of the most overwhelming parts of the process. There are two main categories of RVs: RVs and RV trailers.
RVs are all-in-one recreational vehicles. Meaning, you’re driving the vehicle that also serves as your accommodation. RVs can range from more compact camper vans to behemoth motor homes. RV trailers, on the other hand, are an attachment that you tow with your car.
It’s essential to make sure you choose the best RV rental for a cross-country trip. While there are many different types of rigs to choose from, many are more appropriate for shorter trips.
For a long road trip, there are essentially two choices: The fifth wheels and motor homes.
With a motor home, you have the benefit of a steering wheel and a driver’s area inside the vehicle. If you need to access the rest of the RV, you can do so without needing to exit the vehicle. You can also tow a car behind a motor home.
By comparison, a fifth-wheel hooks into the bed of a pickup truck. This means that in order to access the living quarters of the RV, you’ll need the vehicle to pull the trailer and enter from the outside.
RV Types to Consider
Trying to figure out what kind of RV suit you best might be one of the most overwhelming parts of the process. There are two main categories of RVs: RVs and RV trailers.
RVs are all-in-one recreational transports. This means that you’re driving the vehicle that also works as your accommodation. They also vary from more compact camper vans to behemoth motor homes. Meanwhile, trailers are an attachment that you pull with your car.
It’s necessary to make sure that you choose the most reliable RV rental for a cross-country trip. While there are several different types of rigs to pick from, there are those that are suitable for shorter trips.
For a long road trip, there are basically two choices: The fifth wheel and motor homes.
With a motor home, you have the advantage of having the steering wheel and a driver’s area inside the vehicle. If you want to access the rest of the RV, you can do so without going out of the vehicle. You can also draw a car behind a motor home.
By comparison, a fifth wheel connects into the bed of a pickup truck. This means that to enter the living quarters of the RV, you’ll have to get outside of the vehicle to enter the trailer.
Class A RV
When you notice something wheeling down the road that seems like a rock band’s tour bus, it’s likely a Class A RV. These huge vehicles typically extend from around 20 to 45 feet in length, which can sleep up to 10 people. However, they can be a major gas guzzler.
Driving them can surely take some getting used to, but if you want a lot of convenience and comforts and are planning a long road trip and longer-term stays, a Class A is surely worth a try.
Class B RV (aka a camper van)
These tricked-out vans have erupted in demand and it’s not hard to see why. Their innumerable compact size makes them much more manageable to drive!
They may not have all the amenities of a larger Class A (or even a Class C RV) but they’re typically furnished with a small kitchen, a bed, and storage. Some (but not all) have toilets, too. Their smaller square footage makes them perfect for one or two adults, though some can clutch in a few more people which depends on the layout.
Class C RV
These medium-sized RVs are manufactured from a regular truck body, which makes them the best RV for starters. They’re more manageable to drive than the monster Class As, and also comes with more features than the more compact Class B.
“The most well-liked type of RV for first-timers is the ever-manageable Class C,” Jon Gray, CEO of RV rental company RVShare, told AFAR. “They are reasonably priced and can accommodate up to six persons. With a little bit of practice, they can be easy to drive. They also come with all the amenities like beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen, all onboard.”
RV trailers are RVs that you hook up on a car. When scanning into trailers, make sure that you know what type of tow vehicle you need. Varying on the size of the trailer, you may require a more robust tow vehicle, for example, a larger truck or SUV.
This is the most all-encompassing type of trailer. Travel trailers can extend considerably in length and layout.
Also called “tent trailers”, these are frequently smaller or flat trailers with canvases on the sides that either pop-up or can be assembled. While they’re lighter and more compact while on the road, they still require a bit more work on arrival, and they usually don’t come with a heater or air conditioning.
Fifth wheel trailer
The biggest of all the RV trailers, fifth-wheel trailers normally require a particular type of tow hitch that fits into the bed of a truck (not really beginner stuff). These can rival Class A RVs in both size and amenities.
Technically, these are just small types of travel trailers, but their size makes these shell-shaped beds on wheels an alluring choice.
Where to Park Your RV?
No matter where you’re going, campgrounds and RV parking areas often require early reservations. If you’re planning to take a trip to popular destinations like U.S. national parks, they may be reserved well in advance (even for some months out).
Keep in mind that parking an RV is not like hurling a tent. If you want to gain easy access to water, power, and sewage, you will be required to book a campsite outfitted specifically for RVs. Make sure that the campsite allows bonfires unless your RV is equipped with a stove.
In addition to the plenty of RV-friendly campsites designated within national and state parks (you can book these through each park’s website), Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is one of the great options. The KOA network is huge and there are more than 500 KOA campgrounds scattered throughout the United States and Canada.
If you’re scanning for something a little less traditional, the booking platform Hipcamp features a list of unique public and private camping sites across the United States. Options include parking your RV on vineyards, farms, ranches, and on magnificent and picturesque plots of land. Hipcamp also has a convenient mobile app for when you want to book one of the 300,000 convention-breaking campsites.
For those who aren’t certain which campground they want to settle into, The Dyrt is a camping, RV park, and lodging review site and mobile app that grants user-based photos and reviews of more than 300,000 listings.
Remember to pack as light as possible. While driving cross-country, the RV is going to be well used, and an over-packed vehicle is sure to get messy. Thus, we recommend that you only pack household stuff.
This includes dishes, cleaning equipment, and basic foods and drinks. You can buy other necessities along the way.
Establish a tentative itinerary to determine how many miles you are going to travel and what stops will be made. Websites like GasBuddy.com or Google Maps can help you determine how many miles you are traveling in between destinations.
Keep in mind that some rental companies charge by the mile, so it’s crucial to know how far the trip is before you rent an RV.