By the New RVer staff

Vacation travel can often be fraught with hassles, especially for the very young and elderly. But traveling in a recreation vehicle (RV) lets anyone feel at home, even as the view out the window constantly changes. There are no lines to wait in at airports or motel lobbies, no luggage to pack and unpack, and you sleep in the same comfy bed night after night. At mealtime, stop by a cafe along the road, or just pull over and prepare your own meal.

RV rentals come in all sizes. Who rents them? Families with young kids, grandparents with grandchildren, couples, and sometimes friends, who split the cost.

If this sounds good, perhaps your next vacation should be in an RV. But before you rush out to buy one, how about taking one out for a spin – as a rental? Renting is a great way to see if you are truly suited to the RV lifestyle.

When you rent an RV, you have the flexibility to make your own schedule as you travel in comfort.

Renting an RV is a great way for prospective RV buyers to take an RV on an extended “test drive” with their families and belongings. More than 400 national rental chain outlets and local RV dealerships offer state-of-the-art, late model year vehicles. Most renters choose a motorhome, but travelers on a budget can opt for a smaller truck camper or a easily-towed pop up trailer. Although compact, these units are packed with amenities and a good option for couples.

The nation’s largest motorhome rental companies are Cruise America and El Monte RV.

Typical tour packages include services such as airline and railway connections for fly-drive and rail-drive plans, one-way packages, off-season rates, vacation planning and guided escort tours. Campground discounts also are available from some rental dealers.

Driving an RV is easier than many newbies think and, for nearly all RVs, require no special license. Automatic transmission, power brakes and power steering are typical equipment in today’s vehicles. With proper attention to the difference in vehicle size, height and weight, experienced car drivers will find it easy to drive an RV.

There is a lot to learn, though, about operating all the systems on a rental RV including how to use the appliances, how to hook up the rig at a campsite, how to dump wastes, how to fold out beds, how to run the generator, how to make sure the toilet doesn’t smell, and how to deal safely with propane. The only instruction about how to use a rental RV that we know is a VHS home video from RV Education 101 that fully explains and illustates how to drive and use everything on the RV.

The motorhome remains the most popular rental model. However, travel trailers, folding camping trailers (also called pop up campers), truck campers and conversion vans are also available. RV rental costs are dependent on season, region of the country and size of the unit. Most motorhomes rent from $90 to $200 per day; pop up campers and travel trailers average $35 to $65 per day. Package deals of three to seven days often include mileage and reduce the per day rate. Because of the growing consumer demand for RV rentals, advance reservations are essential.

For an additional fee, some RV rental companies offer housekeeping packages that include linens, cookware and other necessities for life on the road. Larger dealerships operate an extensive emergency repair network and a toll-free renter’s assistance and information number.

In addition to allowing non-owners to experience RV travel, rentals help prospective buyers determine which type of unit best suits their needs. They also are the answer for those who already know and enjoy the RV lifestyle but don’t want the responsibility of ownership.

According to the Recreation Vehicle Rental Association (RVRA), the rental segment of the RV market is booming. RVRA members are expanding their rental fleets each year as rental demand grows.

Vacationers interested in renting an RV locally should consult their Yellow Pages under “Recreation Vehicles – Renting and Leasing.” Consumers with Web access can locate most of the major RV rental companies with the click of a mouse.

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