How to Rent RVs (and Still Enjoy the Adventure)
Season 10 of KYD is all about renting motorized RVs. And in case you haven’t seen the video about our Class B rental experience yet, here’s a spoiler: Marc has an experience that leads to us deciding that we’re done with renting.
That’s because we’ve got another surprise in store this season—but more on that another time.
To clarify: we don’t think the process of renting RVs is bad, just that it isn’t for us at this point in our RVing journy. We also believe that renters should know a few things before they hop into a borrowed rig and hit the road.
Here are our top three tips on how to rent an RV, avoid the bumps in the road, and enjoy the adventure.
#1: Every new RV makes you a newbie again
We’ve been full-time RVers for about five years now, and we still struggled every time we loaded up our gear into an RV that was new to us.
Partly, that’s because we haven’t done much motorized RVing before—outside of New Zealand, that is. But we think it’s also because any new RV is going to turn you into a little bit of a newbie again. We should be towable pros by now, and yet we’ve still made some mistakes with the Airstream, especially when it was new(ish) to us at the time.
When you’re renting, go into the experience with the expectation that things will feel uncomfortable, because they are.
Even if you’ve been RVing for years, you haven’t done it in the rig you’re renting. Everything will be slightly different, from the kitchen layout to the storage bays (and the ceiling height above the driver’s seat).
Take your time, go slow, and ease into it.
We’d recommend renting for at least 3-4 days, because the first day or two will be all about working out the kinks, figuring out how everything works, and getting settled in. Once you’ve adjusted, then you’re comfortable enough to decide whether you like it.
You wouldn’t think that as an experienced RVer, I’d not notice that the black and grey tank valves would be wide open. On the other hand, there is so much to adjust to with a new-to-me RV. Just take your time and know there will be some oopsies and hopefully no poopsies.
#2: Find Owners That Enjoy Renting Their RV
The best rental experiences we’ve had—except for the last-minute cancellation we experienced with the Class C—have been with private owners.
These are people who genuinely care about their RVs and the experience of the people who rent them. Private owners who rent out their personal RV usually put a lot of time and energy into keeping it nice and using it to make memories—and they want you to do the same.
A good example is the Class C we rented from a large company. Not only did it have a fair amount of wear and tear, it also looked like it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned since the day it came off the line. There was also the Class B van, which had been turned around so quickly that the sewer valve was left open after dumping.
If you can, use private RV rental plaltforms and rent directly from an individual owner.
Try to find out if the person you’re renting from is truly a private owner who puts care into the experience, or someone who’s just in the rental game to make a buck.
Trust us—the impact on your overall rental experience is night and day.
#3: Remember the Mission
When you rent an RV, you know you’ll only be in it for a few days. This means you’re not motivated to stick with it and push past the tough times in the same way you are if you’ve bought something outright.
Once you’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars for something, you’re much more interested in making it work than you are with a rental RV that’s out of your life by Monday.
Understand going into the rental experience that your trip isn’t necessarily a fair representation of the rig you’ve rented.
If you don’t have a good experience, it might not be the fault of the RV at all. This was clear to us when we rented the Winnebago Travato 59K—overall, we loved the van, but we didn’t have an outstanding rental experience. It wasn’t the van’s fault, though. With a bit more TLC on the part of the owner, we’d have walked away with a different outlook.
If you have a similarly rough experience (and we hope you don’t), remember your mission. Focus on the reasons why you’re renting an RV in the first place.
Maybe it’s to see which style of RV will work best for your family to invest in. Maybe it’s to visit friends across the country and have adventures along the way, or to spend more weekends outdoors with your kids.
Whatever your mission is, that is the most important thing—not the RV itself. Stay focused on that, and you’ll enjoy the adventure.