Expert Tips for First-Time RV Renters

New data coming from search site VacationRenter shows that RV bookings are up by more than 300 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is working to keep leisure travel primarily terrestrial for the time being.

After enduring months of stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, plenty of Americans are ready to take advantage of opportunities to hit the road, but not all of us had previously been particularly savvy about how to road-trip efficiently and enjoyably.

For first-timers considering renting an RV to embark on a new, alternative kind of vacation experience, industry organization RVRD advises opting for the newest model available for whatever type of vehicle you select. Acquaint yourself with the different types of RV to find the one best suited to your purposes:

Travel Trailer – Ranging in length, but generally mid-sized, these towable trailers typically sleep groups of three to six people.

Fifth-Wheel Camper – A larger option, designed to be towed by a pickup, filled with amenities and sometimes luxury features, this one’s good for groups of four to eight occupants.

Pop-Up Camper – A smaller, towable option that provides extra interior space when expanded, pop-ups are good if you just need a spot to sleep and, perhaps, cook for between one and three people.

Class A Motorhome – This option will have ample space to accommodate a larger group, with sleeping and living areas, entertainment options and storage space.

Class C Motorhome – A mid-size option between a Class A and Class B, good for groups of three to six, without the hassle of towing.

Class B/‘Camper Van’ – Despite the alphabetical discontinuity, these are the smallest of the three classes, and offer few amenities, but great efficiency and maneuverability, even fitting into regular parking spots.

Zander Buteux, VacationRenter’s Head of Organic Growth, and an RV-life aficionado himself, also weighed in with some expert tips for first-time RV renters, devised during his past six years spent traveling the U.S. in his own trusty van, “Layla”.

Things to Consider:

Driving size

Buteux advises first-timers to start by considering the type of trip and routes they are planning to take, and allow that to dictate the size of the vehicle they’re renting. Different sizes and classes of RV will handle differently, with taller types requiring higher clearances and even rocking slightly as you go down the road. Take into the account whether you’ll be traversing steep or narrow roads, and the degree of maneuverability you’ll need and how much room you’ll need to park.

Living Size

When selecting an RV, keep in mind that camper interiors are crafted foremost for efficiency. Buteux says, “While the exterior might look tiny, the interior is likely perfect for its use. Sometimes all you need is a little nook the size of a quad tent.” Obviously, bear in mind the number of people you’ll be bringing, but also the length of your trip and how that will affect the amount of space you need. And, when shopping interiors, also remember that the exterior size will determine what types of roads you can take.


If you want a remote adventure and plan on pursuing any paths away from paved roads or highways, always ask the RV’s owner about whether this is an option. “Just because it looks capable of clearing rocks, ruts, and mud doesn’t mean it truly can or wants to do so,” says Buteux. “One of the ways to ask this is by saying, ‘I was thinking of disperse camping off the BLM roads in the National Forest. Is that okay? Have you done that before?'”


Take into account where you plan on eating, be it campgrounds with built-in grills or a spot deep in the woods where you’ll need to bring along everything for cooking. Your eating arrangements will partly determine what type of RV you get, as some come with kitchens and dining nooks, while others aren’t equipped with any such amenities and will require that you bring your own grill or stove setup along. There’s also the element of having to wash up afterward and where to store your food.


Generally, you can operate most sizes of RVs with a regular driver’s license, but there are exceptions. Do your research about the legality of driving your intended type of RV and be sure that you’re comfortable behind the wheel, as well. “Some Class A Campers are so massive on the road you need a CDL license. Before you get excited about that ‘sleeps ten’, make sure you are legally allowed to drive,” advises Buteux.

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