If you’re planning on renting an RV for the first time, take a look at these RV tips for beginners to get you started. It’s one of the top holiday trends this year, worldwide!
I’ve rented four different campervans now, with four different companies, so I wanted to take you through my top tips for renting a campervan or RV, and what you have to look out for.
RV tips for beginners
1. Think about the size of vehicle you’re comfortable driving
The motorhome we rented in the Peak District felt wide, it was also too long for a parking space. Obviously it was great having a toilet and shower on board, but when you hire a large vehicle, what you gain in flexibility you lose in manoeuvrability.
Think about what’s important to you, and what you’d like to gain and what you’re prepared to sacrifice in return for that.
2. And how easy the RV is to drive
Obviously a newer model is going to be easier to steer, get in gear and reverse. Old RVs are cool and all, but will you be able to drive it confidently? You can always ship your RV to your camping destination in order to minimize the amount of driving that you will need to do.
You should also check the reviews to see what others thought of the RV you want to hire. Take a look at Camping World to see what the customers there think.
3. Work out where you want to sleep
With an RV you have a bit more freedom when it comes to the toilet. If you’re planning on staying on campsites anyway, then you don’t really need the extra drama or hassle of having a toilet on board.
The kind of place you camp over will impact the cost of the trip, and what you’re willing to spend.
The campervan sites we stayed at in Wales were another £32 on top of the cost of renting the campervan, for the night, for two. On the third night we tried an app our friends had told us about, called Park4theNight. Brilliant app!
It marks the car parks and free areas to park around the UK. We stayed in a nice car park in Cardiff for £17.
4. Rent to suit the sleepers
In all my experiences the sleeping capacity of the RVs and motorhomes has been four, but there have only been two of us. I genuinely don’t know how you’d fit four in them! I guess with families you get used to it, but I wouldn’t have wanted to share the space with any more adults, to be honest.
They might take four people, but none of those four people will be comfortable. Sometimes you can sleep on the roof, or you can take a tent for the extra people. I’ve never done this so can’t really recommend, but you can ask.
If you’re going as a group of friends, I’d definitely recommend discussing sleeping arrangements beforehand.
5. How much do you want to spend on top of the RV?
So you have the campsites and car parks to consider, but you also have food.
I’ve found on all my campervan, motorhome and RV trips that we haven’t spent that much on food. It’s so nice to just have a BBQ at the campsite or a picnic, rather than eating out all the time.
Cooking in the RV is fun, but the gas definitely makes me edgy.
Obviously the more facilities you have in the campervan, the more expensive it’s going to be.
6. Plan your first day route carefully
You don’t want to be too far from the RV pick up point in case you have difficulty driving. If this is the first time you’ve rented a campervan and the first time you’ve driven it, you might want to just book something an hour away for your first night.
Thanks to traffic at 3:30pm on a Friday between Chippenham and Bridgend in Wales, when I set up Google Maps when I got in the campervan it showed as 2 hours 30 minutes to our destination. And didn’t go down for about half an hour. Three hours of driving the campervan felt incredibly overwhelming.
8. Know your allowed mileage
They didn’t mention it on our other two bookings, but with the VW campervan you could only go a certain amount of miles. Make sure you check this before you start planning your routes.
You may have to pay extra if you plan to go further.
9. Think about the geography of the area you’re visiting
When we rented a motorhome in the Peak District the width of the roads was great – not too many hills either. A few weeks later I was in Cornwall, driving in my car, and every time I saw a campervan or motorhome trying to squeeze by in those little lanes, I felt so bad for them.
Personally, I wouldn’t hire anything as big as a campervan to see Cornwall, or Devon. The roads are too small, too steep and there are too many potholes.
If you want to hire an RV, I’d recommend doing it in countries like Australia, New Zealand, the US or Canada. Just somewhere that has the roads wide enough for it.
10. Find out about the exact drop off details
If you can, have it in writing. When we had the motorhome in the Peak District we forgot to ask, and they never mentioned, that we needed to fill up before return. We ended up paying a premium for them to do it as the thought hadn’t crossed our mind.
We were ready with a full tank when we dropped back our rental campervan from Wales!
11. Don’t pack too much
Space inside a campervan and motorhome is absolute premium, you don’t want to be packing too much. When I rented a campervan with Goboony, the owner sent an inventory of everything they were going to give us along with the campervan. This was really useful as it meant we didn’t need to take chairs etc.
Find out what’s included in the base rate of your campervan rental so you don’t have to bother using your own stuff.
12. But pack the right stuff
I’d definitely recommend taking your own bedding. We learned from our Peak District motorhome experience to take our own bedding with
A phone holder
A mini speaker
I’d definitely recommend going to a supermarket to stock up with essentials. Pull into a space you can drive through so you don’t need to reverse out!
13. Make sure you know how everything works
Here’s a quicklist for you
– Do you know how to lock the campervan rental?
– Do you know how to use the light blockers?
– Are you confident with the gas cylinder, and how to turn it off?
– What do you do if there’s an accident?
– Where does the petrol go and how do you get the cap off?
– Does the van have heating and do you know how to turn it off and on?
– Do you know how the leisure battery works? And the electrics?
– Where are the lights, and the hazards?
– Can you confidently do a hill start?
Some of these questions might seem super obvious, but you don’t know what you don’t know!
Campervans I’ve rented…
- VW California modern campervan with . We went to Somerset.
- Benimar Motorhome with Hey Campers . We went to the Derbyshire Dales and the Peak District.
- VW campervan with Goboony . We went to the Heritage Coast and the Gower Peninsula in Wales.
READ MORE: Which Campervan / Motorhome Should I Rent?
Renting an RV
Renting an RV or campervan is really fun, and makes for a great introduction to that #VanLife.