Tips For Renting An RV
There are various reasons why campers and vacationers rent RVs. Amongst them are: they like to take a camping trip once a year and don’t want to invest in purchasing an RV; they want to try out the RV lifestyle before purchasing their own unit. Whatever the reason there are things that all RV renters should know to increase their awareness about the experience to make it a positive and memorable one.
Renting an RV is more complicated than renting a car. There will be some homework to do (like watching instructional videos) and paperwork to complete, but all of this is for the driver’s – and passengers’ – overall safety and enjoyment. Nowadays there are free and helpful RV trip planners and apps people can tap into. If you want to bring along any pets ask the dealer or RV owner if this is allowed; there may be restrictions and additional fees.
Compare pricing, ask about seasonal deals and book well in advance – with the RV rental market being so hot you may not have an option.
CHOOSING AN RV/MOTORHOME
Top 5 Questions
- How many people will be staying in the unit, where will they sleep and what is everyone’s ‘needs and wants’?
- What’s your budget to put towards a rental?
- Where do you plan on driving and what kind of terrain will you be navigating?
- What size of RV / motorhome are you comfortable driving?
- Will you need to tow a second vehicle?
Types of RVs/Motorhomes
The four basic types are:
- Class A (deluxe, all-in-one unit good for families and large groups, many have ‘slide-outs’ to increase space);
- Class B (campervan style, popular with couples);
- Class C (built on a truck chassis with a cab bed over the driver/passenger area; sleeps 6-8);
- Travel Trailer (RV that you pull with a truck; available in many size options).
The RV will allow for either partial of full hookups; partial is for electricity and water and full is for sewer, electricity, water and more. This will likely determine what kind of campsite you require.
Answering the five questions above will help you to select the best RV choice for a camping trip. Go RVing Canada has a list of RV types; note that each rental agency will have various types of RVs but may not stock all.
Where to Rent an RV/Motorhome
Vehicles and units are available from commercial rental companies, RV dealers and, more recently, from RV rental networks. If you fly into Vancouver or Calgary you can make arrangements with the major rental companies to be picked up from the airport and dropped off at their regional RV rental office (or via a hotel for one night should this be required). Some companies allow renters to collect and return motorhomes to different locations throughout BC or Canada. Visit our interactive map to find rental locations throughout the province.
- Insurance and Driver’s License
Almost all RV rentals come with insurance. Ask the dealer/owner’s advice and check with your car insurance company to see if additional insurance is required or recommended. Some dealers have VIP or premium insurance packages available for an additional charge. Always read the fine print to understand your coverage and know where the insurance papers are in case of an accident.
A standard class 5 driver’s license will cover most rentals; drivers generally need to be a minimum of 21 years of age or a maximum of 75 years. If coming from overseas an international license may be required so confirm this ahead of time.
- Making a Reservation
Most RV rental agencies will require a deposit to book the RV/motorhome. Drivers must have a valid credit card (for the deposit), which is refunded upon return of the motorhome.
Carefully review all policies and cancellation information before officially making a reservation.
What’s included in the fees or basic trip mileage package? What other mileage options are there?
Inform the dealer or owner of your travel plans as some restrictions on highways or backroads may apply; additional charges may be added for toll roads or private highways.
If driving to the dealer/rental office ask about storage of your vehicle for the trip duration.
- What Else is Included?
There will be a rental handbook with reminders on equipment and features, helpful tips and perhaps even checklists. Other items to consider are:
- Are there ‘convenience’ or ‘housekeeping’ packages? These generally include dishes, cookware, utensils, kettle, broom/dustpan, and may include bedding and towels (but never enough tea towels!).
- What about room for your gear? Find out about racks or storage space options for bikes or bulky outdoor equipment.
- Does the rental include a camping cooker or portable BBQ?
- Does the dealer offer any travel and tourism discounts?
- Is there access to WiFi (this may be an upgrade/additional cost) or a built-in GPS?
- Is there a tire pressure monitoring system? If not, where is the tire gauge?
- Is there a safety vest and reflective triangle in case of a roadside emergency?
PICK UP AND DROP-OFF OF RV RENTAL UNIT
- Allow yourself extra time to fill out necessary paperwork.
- Expect an orientation – generally an hour or so long – with a staff member. A private owner will have his or her own method of instruction/handover.
- Pay attention to the inspection checklist regarding the RV’s condition (upon return the same process will take place). Take photos of any scratches/dents.
- Make sure you are comfortable with the RV. If you have questions, ask them!
- Still unsure? ASK for a test drive before setting out on your holiday.
- Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page for questions on sani dumps and propane safety.
- Refuel just before you return the rental otherwise you may be charged a premium.
- Double-check that everyone has their belongings. Open cupboards, drawers, side panels, etc.
- Go over the inspection checklist.
- Hand over the unit in the same condition as it was rented.
- Pay any remaining fees, finalize contract paperwork and get deposit fees back.
‘Hindsight is 20/20’ as the saying goes. Here are some helpful comments from past renters:
“If you have reserved online, it’s worth going to the dealership prior to booking to confirm that the rental is the right fit for you and your family.”
“When you make reservations at campgrounds you need to know the length and class of the RV so you get the right space.”
“Make sure you REALLY know how to work the specific functions in the RV like the hook-ups, air conditioner and convection oven.”
“Find out what’s in the convenience package. We wish we had brought a doormat, tablecloth for picnic tables and an axe for chopping wood.”
“Get into a routine at each stop: Who’s going to back the rig in? Who’s going to be the navigator? Who puts the awning out? Who gets the drinks ready?”
Most of all: BE SAFE and HAVE FUN!