How do you pick the perfect RV for your personal needs? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.
But before we get into the meat of the post, let me take a step back …. a few weeks ago my daughter wanted me to meet the parents of one of her friends. You see, these folks were contemplating selling their house and moving into an RV full-time, but didn’t know the first thing about RVing …. total newbies.
After a three-hour luncheon, I had inundated this couple with so much information that their heads were spinning. To make a long story short, eventually, I recommended that they rent at least one RV. They wouldn’t have to travel far, just spend a couple of nights in a nearby state park and test things out. Figure out what they liked, didn’t like, and how they felt about the overall RV experience.
RVing is not for everyone, and buying the wrong RV can be a very costly endeavor. Remember, RVs are a depreciating asset. It’s really easy to get caught up in all the pretty bells, horns, and whistles on an RV Dealership lot, especially with an encouraging salesperson eager to spend your money, only to walk away with something that doesn’t fit your personal goals and will lead to unhappy travels.
Try before you buy
An RV is a hefty investment. And, like any good consumer, you should do your research before investing in one. While RVs offer a freer, more fulfilled lifestyle, they can also be a significant strain on your bank account. If you purchase one frivolously, it could turn out to be a nightmare of an expense that you’ll be paying off for many years to come. Thankfully, renting an RV before you commit is a great way to find out if ownership is right for you.
Various ways to rent an RV
More than 9 million Americans own RVs. More people are buying RVs today than ever before, but sadly, roughly 90% of RVs sit unused for most of the year. The RV’s gather dust while ownership costs accumulate. A peer-to-peer rental networks like RV share.com or Outdoorsy.com can help owners and renters alike. Owners can rent out their RVs and supplement their income, and renters get to try before they buy.
You wouldn’t buy a house without making sure it met your needs first, would you? Therefore, it’s really important you do your research when buying an RV. Considering that some RVs can cost as much as a house or more, it makes sense to rent an RV first. Here’s why:
● Renting an RV isn’t difficult or expensive. Depending on the type of RV you rent, you can find rates starting at $80 per day. It’s a small price to pay for the experience.
● You’ll start learning to see through the eyes of an RV’er. Whether you’re considering buying an RV to live in or to use for weekend camping, you’ll need to know how to downsize and prioritize. Renting an RV for a few days will help you change your perspective and learn how to pack for RV living.
● You’ll learn a lot about how RVs work. This is knowledge you absolutely must have if you want to buy an RV. You need to know how to dump and clean the tanks, maintain the batteries, make minor repairs to appliances, use the slide outs and leveling jacks, and much more. Even a short weekend RV rental will enlighten you to the necessary skills you need to own an RV.
● You’ll figure out which type of RV is best for you. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars on an RV, only to find out it’s too difficult to drive or too small to fit your family? By renting an RV, you’ll get to try out a variety of different types and sizes, so you can determine what you like and don’t like.
● You’ll get some driving (and lifestyle) practice. Traveling in an RV is a skill in and of itself. You need to plan your routes and campground stays carefully; but you also need to be able to adapt to changes quickly. Taking a road trip in a rented RV will teach you how to be organized and prepared, and how to think on your feet.
How to Choose the Right RV to Rent
Before you rent, you should narrow down your list of potential RVs. There are millions of different RVs out there, each with their own features, floor plans, and price points. Ask yourself the following questions to help you find some good rental candidates:
● Would you rather tow or drive your RV? Towables are more affordable, roomier, and can be left at the campground if you need to run into town for errands. On the other hand, motorized RVs are much easier to drive, and thus more comfortable for many.
● How many people will travel with you? Small trailers and Class B vans are perfect for two people, plus they’re affordable and easy to drive.
Mid-sized RVs, usually between 25 to 30 feet, are good for three or four people. Anything over 35 feet in length is considered large and good for big families or if a couple is considering living in the RV full-time.
● How important is privacy to you? RVs with separate bunks and bedrooms (like Class C’s and large Fifth Wheels) give everyone their own personal space. If privacy isn’t an issue, convertible dinettes and sofa beds might be enough.
● Do you plan on dry camping a lot, or do you prefer campground stays? Maybe you’re not sure. If you like the idea of camping under the stars and away from the crowds, you’ll want an RV that’s adequately equipped for boondocking. Features like solar panels, large holding tanks, and a good-sized generator are key.
● Finally, how do you plan on paying for your RV? Generally, you won’t be able to finance an RV that’s 15 years old or older. So, while older RVs are more affordable, you’ll need to either pay in cash or take out a personal loan to buy one. New RVs can be financed, but can cost close to $100,000 or more. If you’re looking for a middle-ground, look for RVs that are about 10 years old and come with financing. But keep in mind, some private RV parks have RV age restrictions. Usually the cutoff is around 10 years old. The park will want to make sure your RV still looks good before guaranteeing a site.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, start looking for two or three different RVs to try out. Experiment with different types of floor plans and features. Maybe you test out a large Class A with slide outs one weekend, then rent a mid-sized Class C the next. This way, you’ll get a sense of how it feels to drive different types of RVs and how well the layouts suit your needs.
Hit the road and explore
RVing is a great way to travel and see the country, but the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I, personally, can’t imagine traveling any other way. Have you ever rented an RV to test out the RVing adventure? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thank you for supporting this site and shopping Amazon affiliate links.