Family trip planning season is upon us and many families will look to the great outdoors. Naturally a road trip is in the future of those families, some of which will choose to rent an RV. In fact, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association in a recent survey, 62% of respondents who have never owned an RV said they also thought RVs are the best way to take a family trip.

You might think that renting an RV is daunting, but it only takes a little thoughtful planning. Renting an RV with family and friends offers the fun and flexibility of a road trip with your home on wheels.

First, let’s look at renting your first RV.

There are many local RV rental dealerships that rent small to large RVs, travel trailers and more. You can find the most comprehensive listings through RVnGO, a trusted peer-to-peer site that will connect you to the right RV. Platforms like RVnGO offer a full-service solution including RV rental insurance which is unlike auto insurance and is required to rent an RV.

Before we get into renting an RV, you have to answer the question: How many people will be staying in the RV? Let’s say it’s a family of 4 – 5. Maybe you are traveling with family friends – it’s likely they would have their own RV (at least most would).

RV Rental Options

For most first time RV renters, choosing a Class C is most appropriate for a family of 4 – 5. A Class C RV is built on a truck or van chassis that is designed for a motorhome. They have an attached cab and most have an overhang that extends over the top of the cab. The length of a Class C range between 21 to 41 feet and offer many amenities of the larger Class A motorhomes.

Selecting a Class C is a good size for a small family and isn’t intimidating or overwhelming which is perfect when you’re wanting a fun family vacation. You don’t need a special license to drive a Class C – remember, the front is similar to a truck or van.

Other Considerations

Now that you know what’s suitable for your driving style and trip, let’s talk about cost. Nightly rental costs range between $75 – $250 depending on the length and amenities that are included. In some cases, there is a booking deposit that goes toward the total cost of the rental. Some hosts also ask for a refundable damage deposit which is returned when you return the RV without damage.

24/7 Roadside Assistance is a must for first time RV renters. There is a small cost but it’s well worth it. The RVnGO coverage by CoachNet covers breakdowns, trouble shooting and campsite repairs. When you’re on your first family RV trip, you don’t want to have to worry about having any issues that you can’t fix.

Many rentals include mileage per night within the package. If you exceed what is included, there is a small fee for excess mileage. So, for your first RV experience, make sure you know the roundtrip distance to your destination and plan accordingly. In some cases, you may find a reduced rate by pre-paying mileage beyond what comes in the package.

Depending on where you’re camping, you may need a generator. Some packages include a specific number of hours in the base rental costs but if you need more than what is offered, you can add additional hours upon your return. If your camping at a site where there are hook ups, it’s likely you won’t need to worry about additional hours on the generator.

You’ll also want to account for the cost of gas. According to RV Blogger, the average gas mileage for a Class C RV is 8 – 10 miles per gallon. The biggest factors that affect RV gas mileage are speed, weight, grade, wind and ethanol. The RV Blogger breaks all that down and how you can improve the mileage.

There are a few more things to consider like kitchen kits and personal kits that include sheets, towels, pillows and blankets. Some hosts offer them as add-ons but to save, you can bring your own or stop at a store along the way to pick-up the food and supplies you’ll need.

Regardless of what you choose to add on, all hosts provide education on how to drive, use and setup the RV. In fact, some offer a video walk thru that’s required prior to pick up.

One last point, it’s important to book your RV early. During the spring and summer months, you may find less rental options.

Your RV Trip

Now on to the fun stuff…where are you going?

More than 331 million visitors enter a National Park every year. The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this generation. This is a easy way to incorporate some education into a family vacation (not to mention that most parks are breath-taking for adults too.)

KOA (Kampgrounds of America) offers beautiful campgrounds near National Parks. Their comprehensive lists include easy to find campgrounds near some of America’s greatest natural wonders. These campgrounds can serve as your base camp for exploring not only the parks but what’s around them. For a first time RVer, these RV sites include pull through sites with full hook ups. Some even include private patios with in-ground fire rings, chairs, grills and tables.  Some camp sites include full amenities like a community pool, laundry facilities and much more.  (Photo credit: KOA)

Before you head out to your destination, check the campground’s website to make sure there won’t be any issues with the RV getting into the campground. Some have alternative entrances for RVs to prevent potential damage.

Once you’ve got a destination, the rest is like everyday living so it’s time to get packing.