Tips for renting an RV

2021 will be the year of camping and outdoor travel! One of the safest ways to see the country this year is by renting an RV, where families can have their own bathroom, sleeping quarters, and kitchens while easily socially distancing from other travelers.

Tips for renting an RV on your next family vacation. Safely travel and social distance!

Ready to rent an RV?

We rented an RV from CruiseAmerica, which has rental locations across the US. Our destination was Zion National Park, so we flew in Las Vegas, renting an RV from the location in Henderson, Nevada. We are RV novices, but we found the experience easy and not intimidating!

Tips for renting an RV this spring or summer:

Plan a route that allows you to return the RV to the same rental center. Just like if you rented a car, you significantly reduce the cost of your RV rental if you’re returning it to the same location from which you picked it up.

Plan your transportation to the RV rental center. Cruise America does not allow for any overnight parking, so if you’re driving to your RV rental center, have a plan for where you’ll park your car while you’re on your RV trip. Take an Uber from the airport, or, if you’re lucky like we were, get local friends to pick you up!

Choose you RV size carefully. The bigger the RV, the more intimidating it is to drive! But you definitely need room for everyone to spread out. A 19-foot RV is perfect for a couple (you can either convert the dining room table to a bed or sleep in the berth above the cab), but for families with kids, you’ll want more sleeping space.

Double check the amenities offered at the campground. Does the campground offer full hook ups (water, electricity, and dumping)? Or, in our case at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, only electricity? Your RV rental will come with a tank of water to be used for showering, hand washing, dishes, and flushing, but it’s not unlimited if you don’t have water hook ups. Get acquainted with the levels gauge in the RV so you can keep an eye on how much water you have left. If you need to refill your water tank, remember that you’ll also need to dump.

Allow yourself extra driving time. You’ll drive slower in an RV, and you’ll need to plan your stops carefully, avoiding narrow turnarounds and difficult-to-navigate parking lots. Look for rest stops and truck stops!

Bring as much gear from home as possible. You can rent sleep and kitchen kits from Cruise America, but if you have camping gear at home, we recommend packing it. It will be better quality and you’ll already be familiar with your stuff. We managed to fit all our camping gear (including small folding chairs, kitchen gear, sleeping bags, and pillows) into two checked bags.

Remember that you fly to your destination, you won’t have ALL your camping gear. For us, this meant sacrificing some of the outdoor camping gear we like to bring on camping trips, like extra lanterns and lights, bigger camp chairs, and picnic supplies.

If you rent the smaller RV size (19-foot), remember you will not have an oven. You will have a microwave and a stove top only to cook your food. We simply planned our menu around this.

Use campground facilities to save water and dump less. If your campground has clean bathrooms and showers, use these facilities to save water in your RV. After all, you already paid for them!

Plan on much higher gasoline costs. Our RV cost $100 to fill up in Utah and Arizona in spring of 2021.

Renting an RV can cost a fraction of the price of hotel rooms, and allows the family to safely travel during the pandemic. If you rent an RV, have a great time!

About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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