RV travel has increased in popularity over the past few years! More young couples and families are chasing adventures than ever before. RVing allows you to explore so many new locations from the comfort of your own place.
While RVing appeals to many, it isn’t for everyone. Purchasing your own RV is a commitment. If you’re interested in taking the road less traveled and chasing adventures in an RV, we recommend you rent one first through an RV rental service, like Good Sam RV Rentals.
Why You Should Rent an RV
As RVing grows in popularity, you may start to wonder if RVing is a good choice for you. Renting an RV is a tried and true method to get a glimpse into the RV world. The ability to rent hasn’t always been around, but it’s a good thing it is now! Keep reading to find out the steps to choosing the right RV and what you should do on your rental trip.
Choosing Your RV
When it comes to your rental trip, you will want to choose an RV that fits your needs. Some things to consider are the type, size, and layout of the RV. If you’re thinking about buying, we recommend renting one similar to the kind you’d like to buy someday. Think of this trip as a test run. The good news is if you don’t like it, you aren’t stuck with it permanently. There are always other classes and layouts to try.
Choose an RV Class
There are so many different classes of RVs with each having its own pros and cons. RVs vary from drivable motorhomes like Class A, Class B, and Class C to towable campers like travel trailers and fifth wheels. Are you planning on driving your RV or do you already have a truck and want to tow it? These are some of the questions you’ll want to ask yourself to help you choose the right class of RV.
Decide on a Layout
Once you determine which style suits you, you’ll want to find one with a layout you like. Aside from the class of RV, the layout you choose is one of the most important things when deciding on an RV. What’s important to you in a future RV? Do you want a huge bathroom, a quiet office, or an awesome area to entertain guests? Any of these dreams can be possible just by selecting the right layout.
The options are endless, so it’s a good idea to browse through them and choose one that fulfills your needs. Taking an RV rental trip will let you experience the layout firsthand and really gives you a chance to see if this layout is best for you. Renting is the best way to find out how much you like or dislike a layout rather than purchasing an RV and having buyer’s remorse.
The Right Size
When it comes to RVs, size matters! If you plan on hanging in RV resorts all the time, larger rigs can typically be accommodated. However, if you plan on heading off-grid or want to camp in National Parks, smaller RVs will be better adapted. With our 30-foot travel trailer, we’ve never had issues at campgrounds except for a few National Parks that could only accommodate smaller RVs. Just make sure to choose a length that can comfortably sleep all of your family members.
Planning Your Trip
Now that you’ve selected the RV you want to rent, it’s time to start planning your trip! Whether you enjoy the beach, mountains, desert, or all of the above — plan a trip that you and your family will love! Planning is half the fun and the feeling of anticipation is addicting.
Start out by looking up some areas you think you’d enjoy exploring. Once you decide on a few locations, start researching. In no time, you’ll have lists of campgrounds, restaurants, attractions, things to do, and more that will allow you to fill your trip with things everyone will enjoy.
Taking Your Trip
Once you’ve successfully selected your ideal RV and planned your trip, it’s time to go! Here are seven things you should do on your RV rental trip if you’re thinking about buying.
1. Test Drive
This sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s more to it. If you choose only one destination for your trip, we definitely recommend that you do the driving there and back. The convenience of having the RV delivered directly to your campsite is tempting, but you’ll want to get the full RV experience. For those not looking to buy, delivery is a great option. But if you are looking to buy, we highly recommend that you take it for a spin, just like you would test drive a vehicle before you buy it.
Taking a test drive can quickly reveal if you’ve chosen the class of RV that best suits you. If you thought you wanted a fifth wheel, after towing one you might realize you’d rather have a driveable RV instead. There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind and adapting your style. This is why it’s important to try it out first.
2. Practice Parking
Aside from traveling with your RV rental either by driving or towing it, you will have to park it. When it comes to parking, practice makes perfect. Sometimes you can get lucky with a pull-thru campsite, but it’s best to be prepared to back in your RV. To practice parking, we recommend taking your RV rental to a wide-open parking lot and practicing maneuvers. When we first brought our RV home, we went to an empty church parking lot and practiced backing into spaces.
Backing in a towable camper is the opposite of what you’re typically used to when backing up. The direction you turn the steering wheel controls the direction the back of your camper goes, which is the opposite direction the back of your tow vehicle will go. There’s a learning curve to this. Practicing in a wide-open space with no one watching will make you feel more confident when parking in a campground.
Driveable campers are like backing up every vehicle you’ve ever parked, but much larger! The biggest difference here is that you will have to account for height and width. Otherwise, there isn’t much of a learning curve. It’s still smart to practice so you look like a pro and have confidence when you hit the road.
3. Use Full Hook-Ups
After you successfully park your RV at your campsite, you’ll start hooking up your utilities. Full hook-up sites have electric, water, and sewage. You will need to connect all of these when you arrive and disconnect them when your trip ends.
During your trip, you’ll learn what appliances you can use at the same time and which ones you can’t. In some RVs, you can’t run the AC and microwave at the same time. If you do this, you’ll trip a breaker. This also depends on the number of amps your RV has. When we first got our 30 amp RV, it took us about a week to learn what appliances we could or could not run at the same time. Like most things with RVing, there’s a learning curve!
This is one of the less glamorous parts of RV life. Regardless, it has to be done and done right! When RVing, it’s important to keep your black tank (sewage tank) closed. When you flush the toilet, water flushes and fills the black tank. Keeping the tank closed helps give waste a chance to break down. When the tank is full and ready to be emptied, the water from flushing the toilet will help carry residual waste out of the tank and into the campground’s sewage system. During your week’s stay, you will likely have to do this once or twice. No one really wants to do it, but it’s a required part of RV life.
When staying at RV parks, you can connect to city water. This means endless water for dishes, drinking, cooking, showering, and flushing the toilet. Any water that goes down the sink or shower ends up in the grey tank. Toilet water ends up in the black tank.
Like the black tank, it’s good practice to keep the grey tank closed. It’s not as crucial to keep it closed, but the extra water in the tank helps out with emptying the tank. Most RVers keep the grey and black tanks closed to reduce smells and help fully empty their tanks when dumping.
Just because you have endless water doesn’t mean you have unlimited hot water. Unless your RV is equipped with a tankless hot water heater, you’re going to need to get used to quicker than normal showers. It’s a good idea to test this out on your rental trip because it might impact what size hot water tank you want in an RV. You also might decide that a tankless hot water heater is the best route for you too.
4. Spend a Week In It
Staying in an RV for a night or two will give you a taste of RVing. If you really want to see if RV travel is for you, you should live in it for a full week! A week is a good amount of time to become comfortable with the RV and see if it suits your needs.
During this time, you will have a chance to see if the class, size, and layout work well for the needs of your family. Most RVers may use their RV on weekends or 1-2 week trips here and there, while others full-time in their RVs. Whatever length of time you plan on spending in your future RV, spending a week in a rental should be enough time to help you make some decisions.
5. Cook Your Meals
Trying local restaurants is an exciting part of traveling to new destinations, but it can get pricey over time. Eventually, the time is going to come when you will crave some home-cooked meals. If you’re thinking about becoming an RVer, you’ll want to try cooking in your RV kitchen. Meal prepping in your rental RV will help you determine if the countertop and prep space are sufficient for you.
Remember, every RV has different features and appliances. Some RVs have ovens while others have convection microwave ovens. Some have small refrigerators while others have residential sizes. There are even some RVs that have both indoor and outdoor kitchens! All of these are important when choosing the right camper. We personally love to do the majority of our cooking outdoors when we can, so an outdoor kitchen is a must-have for us!
6. Keep a List of Likes and Dislikes
On your rental trip, we recommend that you keep a list of likes or dislikes for the model and type of RV you rented. This will help guide you when deciding on your next RV rental or when you’re looking to buy your own RV. On your list, take notes about everything.
Here are some examples:
- I loved having the outdoor kitchen to cook meals
- Having a dinette instead of a table and chairs was nice because of the extra storage
- I love that the couch folded into a bed
- The counter space wasn’t enough for meal prepping
- I didn’t like the window shades
- I want a larger bathroom
Keeping a detailed list of things you love and things you don’t will help guide you on what to look for in your next RV rental or when you are RV shopping.
7. Talk With Your Neighbors
If you’ve never RV’d before, it won’t take you long to realize that the RV community is so friendly and helpful. Most fellow campers are more than willing to swap stories around the campfire with you. We learn so much from talking with our RV neighbors all around the country. Taking the time to chat about RVs, places to travel, the latest and greatest gadgets, and so much more is an important part of RVing. There is so much you can quickly learn from talking with others who are also doing it.
After Your Trip
When your rental trip comes to an end, it’s important to reflect on your trip and everything you’ve learned. This is where referring back to your “likes/dislikes” list is key! After reviewing your list and evaluating your trip, did any of your initial wants or needs change? Maybe a different class RV or layout is more appealing to you now.
That’s the best part about taking a rental trip! It was a test run and now you can use all of the information you gathered from that trip and use your newfound knowledge and experience to help you find the perfect RV for you. If after your rental trip, you found that the rental you booked wasn’t exactly what you wanted, we recommend trying again.
If your rental RV trip went perfect and you realize that the RV was the right class, size, and layout — head over to your local Camping World and take a look at the amazing RVs they have available. I’m sure there is one that will suit your needs. Happy camping!