Picking up your rental.
Now that you’ve decided what type of motorhome to rent you’ll need to pick it up and enjoy your trip. But wait! How do you do all this? It may seem common sensical but there are a few things that you’ll need to do to make your trip a wonderful adventure.
The first thing you must do when you pick up the RV is to learn about it. You need to learn how all the systems operate and if you haven’t driven a vehicle this large you’ll need to learn the particular navigating techniques for the type of RV you are going to drive. When you pick it up from the renter or agency you’ll fill out all the paperwork including insurance forms. In some cases you can acquire an insurance rider from your own policy and you just present that to the renter. In other cases you can acquire insurance form the renting agency. Some peer to peer RV rental website can also provide liability insurance.
This is the time that the financial details are taken care of including but not limited to the following;
Rental fees, Accessory fees, cleaning fees, and a Security Deposit. In some cases this may have been taken care of ahead of time and also fees like the cleaning fee might be refundable if the RV is returned in the same condition that it was delivered in.
The next step will be going thru the RV Rental orientation. This normally consists of going through a PDI or Pre-Delivery-Inspection. Below is a link to the form that we use when we rent our RVs through Outdoorsy.com.
As you can see it covers the basics that need to be reviewed. Some agencies may have more detailed reviews and some less. The key is to get yourself familiarized with the RV so that you can enjoy an error free vacation. Remember it’s all about the experience and you really don’t want to learn on the fly!
Finally you should take a drive with the owner, with the owner driving it first to point out any particulars for his/her coach, Then with the owner take the wheel to demonstrate your confidence with the coach. It’s ok to be timid at first if you haven’t driven this type of RV before. As long as you demonstrate care for the renters RV then the renter will be more confident with you. Remember in some cases that RV may be the owners baby!
Where to go and what to do!
This really depends on you, but you really should do homework and trip planing for your journey. It’s important to know where you can actually take the type of RV that you’re renting. For example, some large Class A motorhomes won’t fit in some State and National park campgrounds. You’ll need to be aware of the distance to your destination. Sometimes its a campground nearby, while for other trips it could be over a thousand miles away. Driving a RV is not like driving your automobile that you use everyday. It’t not like driving a pick up truck if you have one. Remember you have this big box behind you so your not going to be able to cruise along like you normally would with a car or pick up truck!
So plan ahead and look for campgrounds that will accommodate the RV that you’re renting in the area that you want to go. Figure that you’re going to drive a safe speed, most owners wpu;d prefer that you don’t exceed 60 MPH in their coaches, and calculate how long it will take to get to your destination including rest stops along the way. For lengthy trips that require more than a days travel you’ll need to factor in how far you want to travel in one day. Driving these things for extended periods of time can cause driving fatigue. Even long haul professional drivers stop to rest after a period of driving.
Using a GPS navigation device or a Rand McNally road atlas you can look at your route and find places to stop and rest along the way. There are businesses that will allow you to stop overnight such as Walmart and Cabelas, but it is always good practice to check with the staff and ask if is ok to park overnight. Some towns have ordinances against over night parking in parking lots, so be aware of signs that state so.
You can also look for campgrounds along the way and there is a plethora of online tools and apps that will assist you in finding the right campground for you. Allow yourself time to make use of the facilities that RV campgrounds have to offer. It doesn’t take long to hook up your electric, fresh water, and sewer lines, and then have time to prepare dinner and relax for the next day. When you wake up early the next morning, refreshed and ready to drive, take care to disconnect properly and do a walk around inspection of your RV to insure that it is safe to drive. This should be your standard practice everyday you plan to travel, even if you don’t hook up the night before. It’s always better to be safe than to discover a problem when you’re driving.
So you want to go to Yellowstone
You’ve picked out your destination already but you want to know where to camp while you enjoy your time at your destination. Remember the online tools and apps that I mentioned above? These can be excellent sources of information on finding the right RV park for you. They are informative and will list their amenities, campground maps and nearby attractions and businesses. Some of the best tools are Good Sam online, KOA, Allstays, Campendium, and many others. You can google campgrounds for the area that you are intending to visit and you will find websites that offer reviews of the campgrounds. Don’t forget our national and state parks have excellent campgrounds that are close in to many beautiful natural treasures. Many have full hook ups for you and are close in to natural activities like hiking and picture taking.
Also keep in mind who you are traveling with. If you have children you might want to look for a campground that has playgrounds and activities for children. KOA (Kampgrounds Of America) are well know for being kid friendly. Another campground chain is Jellystone campgrounds. If you are with adults then a RV resort may be best for you. Again use google to find RV resorts where you are going.
While you’re at the campground enjoy yourself, but always observe campground etiquette. Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi of RV Family Travel Atlas have an excellent podcast and forum section on the subject. They’re comfortable to listen to and informative.
Observe fire warnings in the area. Where we are on the west coast of the U.S. we have just had 5 years of drought and all the undergrowth in the forests is extremely dry. Many campgrounds won’t even allow campfires for fear that one wind gust could carry an ember that will start an inferno. The campgrounds will suggest that you use a gas grill instead of charcoal grills. Many RV’s have electrical outlets on the outside and you can plug in your electric grill and cook your steaks out in the open air. I know this takes some of the romance of camping out of your trip but if you seen news coverage of the fires that we’ve had in the west you will appreciate having that gas or electric grill.
There is so much information on RV vacations that would take up a book to go over so I won’t attempt anymore here. Having said that I would suggest going online to look for website that write about where you may be going to or how your’re traveling. I mentioned one website and blog above, but there are so many more great websites that will give you so much information for your trip. Look for those nuggets of advice that will take you off on the “less traveled road” and you’ll get the most out of your vacation.
Returning your home away from home.
This is probably going to be the shortest section of this blog, but it is important none the less. The home that you have occupied for your vacation is due for its return. Hopefully you have treated your home away from home as you would your own.
It’s always a big plus for you and the owner that you return it in the same shape that you took it. There’s a couple of reasons for this. First it’s the right thing to do, it fosters good will between yourself and the owners. Second it can be financially rewarding for you to hand it back in the same condition. Many owners require that you pay a cleaning fee and many owners also are willing to rebate a portion of that fee if there is less to clean because you have already done it. While it’s unlikely that you will recieve the full amount back because the owner wants to get it ready for the next person who will rent and has his or her own standards that they rent out there coaches. Try to have the fuel tanks at the same level as you received them and definitely try to empty your waste tanks before you return the coach or their will be a dump fee as part of the cleaning fee. If the owner has provided tank deodorant be sure to put some in the tanks before you return it. Remember that checklist above. You should have your copy so you can go over that with the owner when you return the coach.
After you’ve handed the keys back don’t for get your cameras and your memory cards so you re-live all your favorite moments of your journey. Then you can start planning your next trip in an RV that you will be comfortable with.