Motorhome Rentals and Camping Vacations
We have two motorhomes that rent one full time and the other part time, and we thought it would be helpful for prospective renters to know what to expect when they go to rent an RV for their family vacation.
There is, first, the process of searching for and renting an RV. Since we have motorhomes we’ll discuss renting those, Renting trailers involves some different aspects of the rental itself and how to transport and live in them. With motorhomes you will first need to know the particulars of driving them. Some, like Class B Vans are similar to driving a minivan. They are taller than the average minivan and also longer by approximately 5-8 feet. Others like Class C and especially Class A require a different approach to driving if one is new to RVing.
Class C Winnebago Minnie Winnie 31K
The Class C coaches are based on medium truck chassis. The width of the body presents sight-line issues that you’ll need to adjust to if you haven’t driven one before. You also need to be aware that the longer the body is, especially behind the rear wheels that you’ll need to be careful with curb heights when entering or exiting lots. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard that dreadful sound of the tow receiver dragging on the road or the entrance. Since the Class C chassis usually rides on 16″ wheels this is a common problem. Even SUV’s have taller wheels than the average Class C. They generally are powered by Ford V-10 or Chevy V-8 engines. Some are even powered by diesel engines. They can be smaller built on Mercedes Sprinter Chassis/Ford Transit Chassis or can be Super C’s built mostly on a Freightliner chassis.
The largest motorhomes that you can rent are the Class A’s. These consist of gas powered and diesel powered, usually rear called “diesel pushers”. They are similar to the buses that you’ll see on the highway. They have what is called a bus style profile and sit much higher than the other classes with the exception of Super C’s.
Class A Damon Intruder M375XL Ford Gas
The gas powered Class A’s are mostly on Ford F-53 truck chassis. A raw F-53 chassis can be a handful when you consider that there’s a giant box mounted on it. That box adds weight to the chassis and acts like a sail in crosswinds or with a 40-50 foot long Semi passing on the highway. The suspension is made of leaf springs, shock absorbers, and hopefully a couple of stabilizer bars for the front and rear. Newer Class A “gassers” have better driving characteristics due to design improvements by Ford, and some coach manufacturers add suspension components that aid with handling and comfort. With ours, which was made in 2002, we immediately upgraded the suspension to make driving longer distances more comfortable. Without adding airbags, which are common in diesel pushers, ours is as close to that type of handling and comfort to a DP that you can get.
Now, having said that, the scream of a V-10 gas engine climbing a 4-6% grade is something else but on more regular roads it’s fine.
Class A Fleetwood Revolution Diesel Pusher
The Diesel Pushers are considered Kings and Queens of the road. Even entry level DP’s are more comfortable to drive than the gassers of the same vintage. With a some exceptions they ride on one of two chassis. One is made by Freightliner and the other is Spartan. Then these can be strengthened by the coach manufacturer to add stability to the house on top. They come with four to eight airbags that can be adjusted for ride comfort. Some will have independent front suspensions and steering upgrades to make driving very comfortable and enjoyable.
The big difference between Class A’s and the other classes are the wheelbase and the height of the coach. With Class A gas coaches the engine and front axle and wheels are in front of the driver and the wheelbase on the F-53 chassis (or Workhorse w/Chevy) is longer requiring a greater turning radius. The DP’s have the front axles and the wheels behind the driver and of course the wheelbase is generally longer than what a new driver would be used to. Again these have greater turning radii. Not only will you need to be aware of where your front wheels are in relation to the corner (what road-racers refer to as the Apex), but you’ll also need to be aware of where the rear axle is in relation to that Apex. In order to turn the corners successfully you need to start your turn on any corner, but specially tight corners.
So much for the motorhomes but how do you go about renting them and from who. The latter is the easier question to answer. There are national rental firms such as Cruise America, Road Bear, and El Monte. Around the country there are some excellent local RV rental companies who can give you tips on the local attractions and RV camping areas. In the San Francisco bay area we have Family RV, Orchard RV, Arnones, and a few others. Some like Family rent all types of RV and other specialize in Motorhomes only. The bottom line is that you need to call around and talk to the rental firms to see if they fit your needs and will provide the service that you expect. We do need to disclose that our Class C Winnebago Minnie Winnie 31K is at Family RV in Morgan Hill CA.
Another great source that is new on the scene is RV renting on the internet. It can be as simple as going to Craigslist and renting directly from the owner. There are some risks that you’ll need to be aware of with these types of rentals. The main one is that you will need to provide your own insurance and there can be some liability issues on both sides that can get sticky in the event of an accident or damage to the RV.
The new technology on the RV rental scene is Peer to Peer RV renting on the internet. This is similar to the concept established by Airbnb. There are websites such as Outdoorsy.com, RVshare.com, and others. They connect renters with RV owners and provide the platform form which you can rent an RV easily. The RV owners are already vetted and for the RV owner the renters are vetted. Each party is responsible for their end of the rental, the renter providing financing and insurance per the rules of the website and the owner providing the RV in proper working order. The good peer to peer companies, like the two that we mentioned, provide liability insurance, roadside assistance, and trip planning. Again we will disclose that we rent one of our RV’s thru Outdoorsy.
In our next post, coming soon, we will go into picking up your RV. We’ll go thru the check-out procedures, and tips on where to go and what you can do. So be sure to check back with us as we’re sure that you’ll find the information very useful to having a wonderful vacation.