Traveling by RV offers nearly endless vacation opportunities while spending time together as a family. There is no time wasted rushing through the airport or having to deal with delays. You will have total control over your destination plans, including when you depart, where you go and what you do during your family vacation. Plus, planning an RV vacation is more affordable than one might think, even if you do not own an RV and have to rent one.
Why Rent an RV
Renting an RV offers you many opportunities traditional methods of traveling do not. This method of traveling offers families everything they need right in one location. Renting an RV means:
- There is no need to unpack at every hotel
- There is always a place to sleep
- There is always food available without having to stop
- The kids can nap comfortably anytime they want
- You can prepare meals instead of eating out all of the time
- There is no special license required to drive a standard RV
Tips for Renting an RV
Determine if you are looking for a high-end RV with all of the bells and whistles or just something basic. The more basic you go, the less expensive the rental costs will be. However, do not be afraid of getting the biggest RV available. This will offer your family more room and comfort on the road and while parked.
Book your RV well in advance, especially if you pan to travel over the summer or over the Memorial and Labor Day weekends. These are the busiest times of the year.
Pre-select a few destinations and take a look at your budget. Though the cost of parking the RV for the night is less expensive than staying at a hotel, the costs for mileage can add up quickly. Have a destination in mind before calling the RV rental company and ask for a total estimate, including rental fee and average mileage charges. Ask for a few different destinations so you can compare rates and finally pick a place to go on vacation.
Ask the RV rental company if you can stop by before your vacation and take a test drive. You want to make sure you are comfortable with driving the vehicle and make sure there is enough space for everyone in your family.
It is important you understand your rights before signing the RV agreement. Here are some things to ask when renting an RV:
- What are the responsibilities of the renter and the rental company?
- What is the renter’s liability?
- What are all of the costs associated with the rental?
- Is insurance included?
- Is there are 24-hour emergency phone number?
Purchase extra insurance or make sure you are covered under your current car insurance policy. This will protect you should anything happen while on the road. Paying for the extra insurance upfront will be far less expensive than after you get into an accident with the RV.
Before pulling the RV out of the parking lot, you need to check to make sure everything is there and works. Check for any manuals that can help answer questions along the way and look for any noticeable damage. Make sure to point out any damage or missing items to the rental agency before leaving. This way you are not responsible for the items.
Ask the rental company to go through any operational questions you may have, including driving, parking and hookups (electrical, water and sewer). Make sure you know how to hook these up before you leave on vacation.
Planning the Trip
Take time as a family to plan out what you will be doing and where you plan to stay. With an RV, you will be free to travel from campsite to campsite, however, spending a few days at one place will give you time to relax and enjoy what the area has to offer. Include the kids in all of the trip planning decisions. Get their opinions and find out what they would like to do.
Put together a navigational guide, including maps, travel documents and destination guides. Map out the route you plan to take and estimate the cost in gas. Knowing the route will help reduce the amount of gas wasted in getting lost and having to turn around.
Make sure to plan for several opportunities to get out of the RV for a bit. Kids can get bored and cramped in the back of an RV. Give them time to run around at a rest stop for a while as you take a break from driving.
Make a list of everything you need for your RV vacation, including what to bring and what to do before leaving. Below is a list of items you should pack for your upcoming road trip.
There are many destinations you can go as a family when taking an RV road trip. These types of vacations make it possible for families to enjoy the great outdoors, see historical sites and spend time together sitting around the campfire. When selecting a destination, it is important to check to make sure there are plenty of things to do for everyone in the family.
Keep in mind that the West is an excellent destination for families traveling in an RV. There are plenty of monuments and national parks to enjoy. Due to the popularity of East Coast destinations and the draw of the Atlantic Ocean, campsites on this side of the country tend to be a bit more crowded.
Some of the more popular U.S. destinations for those planning an RV vacation include:
- Fairbanks, Alaska
- Bisbee, Arizona
- Red Bluff, California
- Yosemite, California
- Key West, Florida
- Hill City, South Dakota
- Virgin, Utah
RV Rental Companies
Choosing the right RV rental company will take a lot of research and price comparison. Before selecting a rental company, take time to speak to each company in your area to get a price quote and find out what is included with the rental.
RV rentals are available through both local and national companies. Conduct a “Google” search for those companies that are locally owned. To find out if the local company is reputable, it is a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no major complaints against the company.
Many national and state parks offer campgrounds on site, but not all have activities for the kids to enjoy. There are also campsites owned and operated by national companies. KOA and Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Campgrounds are two of the more popular national campground chains.
When selecting a campground, look for one that has everything you will need in a single location. Check for planned activities, things to do and what amenities are available. Some amenities you should check for include water, power and waste disposal hookups. Some campgrounds offer modern bathrooms with showers, Wi-Fi and plenty of recreational activities, including sing-a-long campfires, pools and games for the kids to enjoy.
What to Pack
Taking a vacation in an RV means you will have everything you need with you at all times. Below is a list of what you should pack and have in your RV during your next road trip:
- Bedding: sleeping bags, sheets, blankets and pillows
- Kitchen Equipment: plates, bowls, mugs, silverware, utensils, cookware, dish soap, condiments, linens, aluminum foil, paper towels, napkins, food storage containers, garbage bags and a broom
- BBQ Grill and Supplies: fuel, charcoal and matches
- Clothing and Personal Items
- First Aid Kit
- Camping Essentials: camping chairs, sunscreen, insect repellant, Swiss Army knife, travel alarm clock, hammer, saw, canteens, compass, whistle, ropes, duct tape and firewood
- Entertainment: outdoor games, cards, board games, reading material, guide books, radio and portable DVD player
- RV Items: tire pressure gauge, toilet cleaning chemicals, wood blocks and levelers, flashlights, battery jumper and screwdriver
- Food: pack all of the food and snacks you will need to prepare meals during your vacation.
Keep in mind that some of these items may be included with the RV rental. Check with the RV company to find out what will be included inside the RV so you can plan and pack accordingly.
Taking an RV family vacation makes it possible to see sites that would normally be missed if flying to a destination. It is a great opportunity to experience extended amounts of time in some of the most breathtaking national and state parks in the country. So when you are trying to decide on your next family vacation, make plans to rent an RV, pack up the kids and hit the road.
Related: Money-Saving Tips For Camping
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.