Questions to ask before renting an RV

What to Know: Renting an RV for a Family Road Trip

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Renting an RV for the first time can be exciting yet overwhelming.  Terms like slide-outs, hookups, power sources, and blackwater tank may be unfamiliar.  You need to know all these things and more before you rent an RV for a family road trip.  Based on experience, I will cover the basic questions you need to ask before renting an RV. 

We started RVing when renting a class C motorhome in Canada. We had no idea what we were in for and the learning curve was steep. Now we own a travel trailer and currently are renting it out to other people on Outdoorsy and RVEzy. We know all the questions you should be asking based on years of RVing experience.

We have another article dedicated to questions to ask before renting a travel trailer in case you are considering a trailer

 This article is part of our series on renting an RV.  Where we teach you everything you need to know to rent a camper, how to rent an RV, and have an epic vacation. You may want to check out the other articles (don’t worry I’ll give you the links at the end too)

This is part 3 ~necessary questions to ask before signing a rental agreement and putting money down on an RV for a road trip.  Answering all the FAQs about renting an RV. 

Part 2: Where to Rent a Cheap Camper

Part 4: Tips for Your First RV Trip RVing with Young Kids

There are so many companies that offer RV rental that you can use on your vacation, but the conditions differ. So to be on the safe side, make sure to ask lots and lots of questions. Asking the right questions will keep you from incurring additional charges and making costly mistakes.  You want to be prepared for your family road trip!

Key questions to ask before renting an RV for the first time (info-graphic)
Key questions to ask before renting an RV for the first time (info-graphic)

Do You Have Any Discounts or Coupons?

Frequently the companies will have seasonal discounts or coupons for special events.  In fact, we rented our first camper with a 50% off discount.  The way I found out about the coupon was by simply calling them.   Always ask if there is a discount or coupon. 

This is the first hack to finding the best deal on an RV in our article –  Foolproof ways to Find a Cheap RV to Rent. 

Plus, we have a coupon for you for your first rental at Outdoorsy -use this link for $50 off applied at checkout. 

How Much Is the Deposit and When Is It Returned?

Damage deposits are collected by RV rental companies to cover any damage or additional work on the vehicle after you return it.  You should expect the deposits to range between $500 and $1000.  The deposit on more expensive motorhomes might even be higher to cover the cost of damage.  

The company that you rent from will have different policies on when the deposit is returned.  Frequently it is between 2 days and a week after the rental is returned.  Also, it’s essential to know that the deposit you make is always equivalent to the RV owner’s insurance deductible. 

How Much Is the Insurance and What Does the Insurance Cover?

The process of renting a car can be easy as you can opt for rental agency insurance, have coverage from a credit card or use your automobile insurance. However, when it comes to campers, these insurance policies may not apply. You want to keep your family safe in case of accidents or misfortune during the journey.

Therefore, ask RV rental company if they have any insurance that can cover you during the vacation. Furthermore, the company must state clearly the insurance costs that are covered under the insurance plan. The additional daily insurance rates will be added to your final bill.

Outdoorsy, for example, has 3 levels of insurance that you can buy along with an RV rental. Each level is cleverly named Peace of Mind, Essential, or Risk Taker.

If the RV Is Damaged, Who Repairs It?

The cost of repairing a damaged RV can be very high, so it’s advisable to know what kind of contract you have. Companies have unique agreements about the use of their rigs in case anything happens. So, it’s a good idea to read and understand the terms and conditions before signing the RV rental deal. 

Tip: When you pick up the RV you will do a walk-around with the owner.  I suggest a video or taking pictures of the inside and out before you drive away.  

What Mileage Is Included and What Are the Overage Charges?

Guide to Boondocking Finding Free RV Camspites

The average mileage allowance is 100 miles a day free but some companies might offer fewer miles or unlimited miles.  If you drive extra miles that aren’t included, you will have to pay for that additional cost. Added mileage charges vary from $0.35 a mile to $2 a mile. 

Even travel trailers will have additional mileage charges to cover wear and tear.  Frequently, owners will add a GPS somewhere on their rig so they will know where you took their RV. 

Can I Bring My Dog? What Are the Pet Policies?

One benefit of RVing is taking your beloved pet with you. Some companies or owners have pet-friendly rigs and others do not allow pets on their RV. Rental companies and owners that do allow pets require that you meet certain conditions. The policies may include an additional pet deposit, added fees per day, the cost of extra cleaning, and more. Also, you may find that your dog is too big if they have restrictions on the breed or size of your pet. 

When you search Outdoorsy or RVShare, you can filter RVs for ones that are pet-friendly. 

How Many Passengers Are Allowed?

Beyond the number of people a camper sleeps, the number of passengers in a motorhome is essential to your trip. You must ask the number of people allowed to travel on the RV and ensure the number of seatbelts. Many campervans and compact motorhomes usually hold only 2-3 passengers.  

You can rent a large motorhome if you have a family of seven or more.  RV intermediate sizes will hold about six people. The number of seatbelts and spaces for children to ride is essential for a trip with toddlers. (Like a large family, I have to pay close attention to this issue.)

Read more tips for your first family RV trip with a toddler

What Are the Cleaning Fees and What Is Covered?

In general, a standard cleaning fee from $25 to $100 will be added to your rental.  This fee is very basic (sanitizing and laundry) and you will be expected to return the RV in the clean condition that you picked it up. This means that you are responsible for the basic cleaning of the RV

You may also have the option of adding an extra cleaning fee to the trip so you don’t have to worry about the dirt and dust from boondocking.  If you do return the RV dirty without prior arrangements, the additional cost to clean it will be deducted from your deposit. 

Am I Responsible for Dumping in Flushing the Holding Tanks?

RV sewer line hooked up at campground
RV sewer line hooked up at campground

Many times, the black and gray water holding tanks must be returned empty and clean. Don’t worry because your initial training will show you how to do this. You will be hooking up the sewer lines at a campground anyway.

If you are not at a campground and are boondocking, you might not want to deal with finding a place to dump the tanks. In this case, the owner may take care of this for you for an additional fee.

What Are the Fees for the Generator?

The truth is you need a generator to power your devices when you are not connected to shore power. So, if the RV contains a generator, ask if there are extra costs tied to it.

Generally, there is a cost associated with the time (run hours) that you use the generator.  Some companies may have a flat fee or others offer a set number of hours free.  

What Is the Power Supply for the RV

RVs generally are powered by two different systems, an AC system when plugged into power at the campground and a DC system when running on the battery. The AC system is either 15 Amp, 30 Amp or 50 Amp. The larger Amps are for RVs with larger power needs.

The campsites with power will either be 15 Amp, 30 Amp, 50 Amp or multiple options. 50 Amp is less common and not always offered with 30 Amp, so many are sure to know this before reserving your camp spot.

How Do I Learn to Fully Operate The RV? 

For the first-time RVers, all the different things on an RV can be confusing. Without proper knowledge of how RVs operate, you may not know how to use things, or worse you may damage things. Therefore, when you contact your RV rental company, ask if they offer this training.

RV components like generators, awnings, and tanks, among others, must be handled carefully and it is easy to forget how. Look for their online videos that can help you understand how to operate a recreation vehicle and its components.  

How Long and Wide is the RV?

The average width of a class A RV is 8 ½ feet and the average of a travel trailer is 8 feet wide. However, some compact travel trailers may be between 6 and 7 feet wide.  Vehicles may not be wider than 8 1/2 feet though. 

Some campsites, especially private campgrounds in highly desirable areas or towns, can be very close together.  The spots are just wide enough for each RV. (In the smallest of places, the awning may touch).  You will need to know how wide your RV is to reserve campsites. 

How Big Are the Slides and How Many Slides?

Slideouts are a wonderful addition to a camper because it makes the inside so much roomier. Motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels can be designed with a room that slides out to enlarge the space.  Slides can be located on the driver’s side, the passenger side, or both.  

In addition, slides can be from 2 to 4 feet, with 3 feet distance being the average.  The slides on our travel trailer are large at 4 feet.  

You will need to leave room for this additional space on the outside within the trailer.  When reserving a campsite you will need to have the information about the slides. 

What Additional Items Are Included in the Rental?

When you rent an RV it will be stocked with some of your basic needs. It is not unusual for large companies to have standard items for you to use, but charge extra for things such as linens, cookware, utensils, and other items.

RV rentals through Outdoorsy and RVshare from private owners are more likely to have everything you need for camping already included, similar to an Airbnb.

You can frequently rent additional camping items such as camp chairs, kayaks, life jackets, and more with your rental.  We have extra gear that we use personally and if someone asks we will throw it in our rental too. 

Is the RV Equipped with Cooking Supplies like Pots and Pans? 

Family RV Kitchen and Cooking Supplies print and download checklist
RV Kitchen and Cooking Supplies

Preparing food is a great benefit to traveling in an RV.  So, you should ask specifically if the vehicle has pans and pots, and other cooking utensils.   Some electric appliances, like a water kettle, griddle and crockpot are very helpful at a campground that has power. I leave my beloved insta-pot in our trailer for renters to enjoy.

This will make your cooking experience easy. However, not all RV rental companies will include such items for free, but you can choose those provided for a cost. 

What Are the Pick-up and Drop-off Times?

RV rentals generally have a specific pick-up time in the afternoon and a drop-off time in the morning. Unlike car rental companies, where are the clock starts when you pick up the vehicle, an RV is charged by the night similar to a hotel. 

Depending on the company or private owner, the pick-up time may be more stringent or more flexible. In addition, you may be able to arrange an early pickup or late drop-off for a small fee.  Either way, consider the pickup and drop-off times like an appointment, that you need to be on time for. 

Wrapping up the FAQs for Renting An RV for a Road Trip

Renting an RV for a family road trip is an unforgettable experience, especially the first time. You are likely to make a few mistakes along the way. By being prepared and asking these questions before renting an RV, your vacation will go much smoother.

This is part of our series on renting a camper and planning your amazing RV vacation. In the first part we teach you where to find the cheapest RV rental. I’ll give you a coupon here and let you check out all the other secrets on that post. Use this link to Outdoorsy for a $50 off your first rental applied at checkout.

This is part 3 ~necessary questions to ask before signing a rental agreement and putting money down on an RV.  Answering all the FAQs about renting an RV. 

Part 2: Where to Rent a Cheap Camper

Part 4: Tips for Your First RV Trip RVing with Young Kids

Are you worried to go over budget? Simple tools like planners and journals might help you, check our Etsy Store now.

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    Shauna Kocman founder Family Travel Fever
    Shauna Kocman founder of Family Travel Fever

    Hi, I’m Shauna – Welcome to Family Travel Fever.  We are a large family, that was bitten by the travel bug!  I take the kids by myself because I don’t mind flying or driving solo with my crew to discover the coolest places.

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