Son on his father's shoulders in front of their RV Andy Dean | Adobe Stock

Tips for Renting an RV for Your Next Family Vacation

See recent posts by Megan Johnson

Everyone knows travel will be different this summer. Traveling with kids adds another layer altogether, but don’t let that stop you from taking an exciting trip. If you aren’t keen on flying with your unvaccinated children, renting an RV is a great alternative to a traditional road trip. 

Why Rent an RV? 

Camper Driving Down Road in green mountains

Although it may seem expensive at first, when you factor in all of the costs you will be saving on (flights, hotels, meals out), it ends up being cost-effective. 

Convenience

You will be traveling, sleeping, eating, showering, and using the bathroom all in the same spot. No need to figure out where you are going to eat every day, and you will always know where you can find a toilet! Just think, when you hear “I have to go to the bathroom” coming from the back, you won’t scramble to find the nearest exit or rest stop, you will have to pull over to the side of the road, but at least you won’t have to get out and try to hide the fact that your child is going to the bathroom behind a tree. 

Flexibility 

There is no checking timetables, no getting to the airport hours early- you can get up and go whenever you like. Whether you find an RV Park or Campground near a tourist attraction (like New York City or even Disney World), you’ll love the flexibility that comes with it. Campgrounds usually do have a time they close to check-ins, so be sure to check before planning your trip. 

Comfort  

If you are like my family, you have split opinions about camping. Not every member of your family may like sleeping in a tent, so an RV rental will allow you to experience camping without roughing it in a tent, or having to use shared toilets and showers. When traveling with family, making sure everyone is happy is key. 

Related: 10 Essential Safety Tips for Camping This Summer

Things to Consider Before Renting an RV

Like renting a car, you need to be 25, and have a valid driver’s license to rent an RV. There are no other requirements, although you should familiarize yourself with driving an RV. If you know an RV owner, talk to them. See if they can take you out before you head out on your trip, so you can get the feel of it. If you don’t know anyone with an RV, once you get your rental, take it to an empty parking lot and try parking it, and just get used to being behind the wheel. Be sure to ask questions when you pick it up. 

Some mileage is often included with your rental, and after you hit the limit, there is often a price per mile charge. Some rentals do include unlimited mileage, just be sure to read the fine print before hitting the confirmation button. 

Size and Type

Depending on how many people are in your family, there are different options for sizes and types of RV’s. What size you get depends on how much room you need. If you need room for a car seat, you have to make sure there is a captains chair in the rear for safely securing the car seat, or get an RV that you tow, so the car seat can be in the truck that is towing. 

There are 3 classes of RV: Class A, Class B, and Class C. 


Class A RV – Best RV for Big Families 

Class A Motorhome driving through red mountains

Class A RV’s are your luxury RV’s. With all the bells and whistles, plus the biggest in size, you will definitely pay more for a Class A vehicle. However, for bigger families, this might be the way to go. Smaller RV’s may sleep enough for your family, but likely won’t have enough seating for everyone, so you would have to take a car along. Class A RV’s look almost like tour busses, and can be up to 45 feet long. 

Class B RV – Best RV for Families of 4

Class B Motorhome parked in front of a green forest

Class B RV’s are a lot smaller than Class A, and have a lot less amenities. They typically will only seat/sleep 3-4 people, so smaller families may consider a Class B RV. They are bigger than a camper van, but not by much. Some may have a pop up for extra sleeping space. If your family is smaller and you are worried about handling a bigger RV, a Class B is probably the best option. 

Class C RV – Best Overall RV for Renting

Class C RV in Capitol Reef National Park

Class C RV’s are inbetween Class A and Class B. Not as big as Class A, but with more space than the Class B, a Class C RV is excatly what you need. They typically seat 4-6 people, and often have enough seatbelts for a family of 6. Some will have more sleeping space, but not as many seatbelts. 

Plan Ahead

If you are planning a longer roadtrip to a specific destination, and will have to make one or two stops along the way, make sure you plot out your route and make reservations at the campgrounds ahead of time; you don’t want to be stuck without anywhere to park for the night. Some RV parks/campgrounds do have drop-in/first-come-first-served policies, but be sure to check ahead of time. Pack plenty of food for the trip as well, or check and see if there is a camp store nearby where you will be parked so you can stock up on supplies once you get there. Familiarize yourself with the manual of the RV, and ask questions when you pick up your rental. If you are hooking up to electricity and/or water, figure out how it works before you set out. 

Reservations at Campgrounds

If you have a campground in mind, be sure to check they allow RV’s. If you want an electrical hook up and/or water hookup, be sure to reserve a space that has a hookup, and find out how many amps the RV you are renting needs (RV’s need a 30 or 50 amp hookup), and ensure there is a dumping station. If you just want the RV for shelter, and don’t mind sharing toilets and showers, then you don’t have to worry about hookups, you just need to make sure the campground allows RV’s. 

Reserve America allows you to enter where you want to go, and has filters for hookups, size of RV, if pets are allowed, etc. Several National Parks use Reserve America for camping reservations. Nightly rates average about $25-60 per night depending on where you are, the location of the RV (waterfronts are more expensive) and what hookups you want. 

Related: 10 Best Extra Large Family Camping Tents

Best RV Rental Companies for Families

Family leaning out of the window of their RV

There are two types of RV rental companies: corporate and peer-to-peer. Corporate is like your usual car rental company (Hertz, Budget etc.) They have their own fleet of vehicles, and you rent one, and one-way rentals are often possible. Peer-to-peer rentals are where you rent from an RV owner, like airbnb but for RVs, and will have to return it to the same spot you rented from.

Here are the best RV Rental companies for families. 

1. Cruise America

Cruise America is a corporate RV rental company, and has locations throughout the US. They have 4 different types of vehicles: Large (sleeps 7, seats 5), Standard (sleeps 5, seats 5), Compact (sleeps 3, seats 3), and Truck Camper (sleeps 3, seats 3). Weekly rentals will cost about $2,000, not including insurance, mileage, or gas. One-way rentals are possible. Cost includes 100 miles per night, and 35 cents for additional mileage. 

2. El Monte RV

El Monte RV  does not have as wide availability throughout the country as Cruise America does, but they have a variety of RV’s available, and renting one-way is particularly easy. Pricing is similar to Cruise America, as a week rental averages $2,000. Mileage is $0.32-$0.39 per mile, or you can prepay in blocks of 100 miles for $29 each. 

3. Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy is a peer-to-peer RV rental company. Their website provides photos of each RV, as well as reviews. The search filters make it easy to find the exact RV for you- you can search by number of seatbelts, how many it sleeps, class, size, unlimited mileage, and various other amenities. Prices have a wide range, as the owners set their pricing. Outdoorsy has unlimited roadside assistance. Mileage coverage depends on who you are renting from. 

4. RVShare

Like Outdoorsy, RVShare is a peer-to-peer rental company. If you have a truck with towing capabilities, there are many towing options, although there are drivable RV’s as well. Unlimited mileage is available. 

No matter what type of RV you get, you are sure to have an amazing family trip

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