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07/28/2017 01:27 pm ET Updated Sep 01, 2017

What To Look For When Renting An RV

10 things to keep in mind before you buy.
YinYang via Getty Images

If you’ve been thinking about buying a recreational vehicle for your retirement, but can’t decide if you really want to be on the hook for everything that comes with it, consider renting one to test it out. There’s a lot that goes with it, obviously.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind.

 

  1.  Rent the size you plan to buy: Why rent a big bus-style RV, if you can’t afford to buy that size? Perhaps your price range is better suited to a mid-size motor home with slide-out room extensions to expand the living area when you’re parked.
  2.  Visit several dealerships: Research dealerships online and pick a few to visit, so you can see what your accommodations will look like. The quality of your rental can vary based on the dealer.
  3. Beware of hidden costs: Read the fine print to understand all costs involved with renting an RV. Find out about insurance, security deposits, return policies and taxes. Review the list of standard equipment and optional items to rent. For example, some agreements include bedding and towels while others charge an additional fee for them (e.g., $95 per person).
  4. Bring a generator: You can usually rent or take your own generator for your fridge and other necessities. You’ll need it if you camp in a wilderness area or at a state park that doesn’t have electrical hookups.
  5. Ask about pet policies: Have a pet? Dogs and cats are not allowed in certain rentals, while some dealers allow small, well-behaved dogs in a few units. Be sure to read all the details in any pet-friendly policies to see if there is a daily pet fee or a deposit required.
  6. Check for cleanliness: This seems obvious, but sometimes dealers might show you a vehicle that isn’t sparkling clean, and tell you it will be cleaned before you pick it up. But why wouldn’t they clean it before putting it on display?
  7. Pack for comforts of home: You might want to take your own bedding, pots and pans, a coffee maker, lawn chairs, kayaks and bikes, instead of renting them. Remember that anything placed in the RV needs to be secured against rough movement. Chairs and kayaks can be placed in the storage area, but what about that light coffee maker? Tip: Make coffee in French-pressed coffee mugs to keep in your cup holders up front.
  8. Consider bringing these Items: An outdoor mat helps limit the amount of dirt or sand that gets tracked into your vehicle from your campsite. Table mats mean you don’t have to put your items on a sticky picnic table, while an elasticized tablecloth provides protection on windy days. Cases of water, beer and wine can be stacked in the storage space. Camping World has lots of other ideas, such as canopies, grills and leveling blocks, if they aren’t included in your rental agreement.  
  9. Plan your meals: Decide in advance what you want to cook, so you know what staples and specialty items to pack. Most standard rental packages include steak knives, carving and paring knives, and pots and pans, but will they be sufficient for the meals you cook? Your fridge and freezer will be small, so you can purchase food along the way, but what about those special spices and sauces you enjoy?
  10. Educate yourself: Watch YouTube videos to learn how to drive a large vehicle, how to level an RV on a bumpy camp site, and how to deal with sewage. Many dealerships will also provide videos to help you make the most of your experience.
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