Want to rent an RV for your summer road trip? Here’s how to save

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If you’re up for a new type of vacation, a RV adventure may be worth considering. Not only does renting a recreational vehicle let you take your hotel with you wherever you go, but it lets you get off the beaten path and even make several stops in a single trip. (If this is your plan, make sure you check out this list of the best small towns to visit in every state that you could add to your itinerary.)

While RV rentals have a reputation for being expensive, they certainly don’t have to be. Plus, renting an RV can save you money on other components of your trip, like airfare or stopping for dinner. But before you book an RV rental of your own, it helps to know about the best ways to save money and costly mistakes to avoid. Consider these tips.

 

Shop around for the best price

Make sure you shop around for the best deal. A website like GoRVing.com can be a powerful resource for your search because it lets you compare RV rental prices across all the different rental companies in your area. However, you can also check prices on RVShare.com — the Airbnb of RV rentals. This website lets you rent RVs directly from owners in your area who may be willing to strike a deal.

 

Living in an RV might be a way to cut expenses or have a minimalist lifestyle, but not all RVs are created equal. Did you know there are multi-million dollar ones bigger than apartments with more luxuries than most homes? Imagine road trips across the country in motorhomes with heated floors, king-size beds, unlimited hot water, and a garage to bring a car along for the ride. You won’t be living stingy in these luxury condos on wheels. You’ll be living large in one of the world’s most expensive RVs.

 

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This $3 million 732 square foot RV is recognized as the world’s most luxurious motorhome. Larger than the average Tokyo apartment, the Palazzo Superior comes with an automatic lifting roof deck offering a panoramic view and radiant floor heating. Indulge in a 13-foot couch within reach of a bar, a wine cabinet, an icemaker, and a large screen TV.

 

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This $2.6 million RV features custom granite countertops, stunning flooring and finishes, an aquahot heating system, and a 360° birds-eye camera. In addition, the Millennium living room has a 46” LED TV with a home theater system, which is perfect for relaxing and tuning into your favorite show just like you would be doing at home.

 

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This brand new $2.6 million Featherlite Vantare Monterey has a quad slide configuration to maximize living space when parked, even accommodating a king-size bed. With its high-grade finishes, teak floor, Carrara tiles, and quartz counters, it is filled with details and materials that live up to its price.

 

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Marathon Coaches custom builds RV over a 16-week timeframe and 10,000 hours of craftsmanship.  No two are ever the same and range in price from $1.8 to $2.5 million. Bringing the luxuries of mansions on the road, its exterior entertainment bay allows you to entertain outdoors while the theater mode automatically dims the lights, closes the blinds, and turns on surround sound.

 

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Specialized for your family needs with seven different base models to choose from, their $2.2 million custom RV can sleep up to 10 people. The A.C.E. model even has a mudroom to clean up from a messy bike ride or a muddy hike with the dogs while keeping the luxurious interior clean.

 

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RV kings can customize a one-of-a-kind Newell coach for $2 million.  Known for its driver’s cockpit with advanced electronic instrumentation,  intuitive touch screen controls, and a luxurious dashboard, its driving ease is best-in-class. With a wide range of materials to choose from, you’ll feel like your customizing a new home rather than a motor home.

 

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Offering a two-story expandable RV with 1,200 square of living space feet it’s not a surprise that Anderson’s RVs are named mobile estates. A celebrity favorite, they’ve worked with Jim Carrey, Will Smith, and others to bring $ 2 million mobile home fantasies to life.

 

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For those dreaming of becoming a digital nomad with multiple streams of passive income, the EarthRoamer HD is the all-season RV for long-term travelers.  The $1.7 million EarthRoamer is built for adventurers to be safe and comfortable without any water, sewer, or electrical hookups, even far off the beaten path. Featuring a solar array for hot summer days and a powerful turbo-diesel engine to drive through the snow in the winter, full-time RV living is possible with the Earth Roamer.

 

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Driving the $1.7 million Volker Mobil Performance S is described as gliding on the roads, even when carrying a car in the luxury RV’s garage. The patented central garage hydraulically lifts a vehicle into a lower garage eliminating the need to tow a car.

 

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The $1.5 million Foretravel Presidential series is reserved for a select number of people a year, keeping the model a well-kept secret. With ultra-high-end quartz countertops, a motorized luxury king-size mattress, and massaging spa, you won’t even feel like you’re living in an RV.

 

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The Newmar King Aire is the epitome of luxurious travel, and pricing starts at $1.37 million. This RV is built to withstand any weather with a fiberglass roof and an integrated gutter rail. Featuring Italian full-grain leather furniture, stainless steel refrigerator, a convection microwave, and European-style cabinetry, you’ll feel like a king no matter where you’re parked.

 

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The Variomobil Signature  RV has a Mercedes-Benz branded exterior, an extensive driver assistance system, and a large car garage for a small vehicle or gear. In addition, this $1 million model offers plenty of space for separate sleeping areas and four to six beds.

 

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Think RV living means cramped quarters and short cold showers? Well, not with Liberty Coach’s $ 1 million Elegant Lady. Want to watch one show in the living room while your partner watches another in the bedroom? This RV comes with a 49” 4K Bedroom TV and a 65” 4K LED Outside E-Center TV. In addition, you’ll never have to worry about running out of hot water with a tankless water heater and a hot water return system to all the faucets and shower valves.

 

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Tiffin’s four decades of experience in building motorhomes shows with the $700,000 Zephyr 45PZ.  With its Electronic Stability Control and Onguard Collision Mitigation System, you’ll feel safe on the road. The dinette doubles as a co-working space with a computer workstation, power solar privacy shades, and a Keurig coffee center.

 

This article originally appeared on Savoteur.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Rent only the space you need

Remember, you’ll still pay a premium for larger rentals and added amenities. One strategy that can help you save some cash is renting an RV that is ideal for your family size — not one that is overly big. You’ll pay more for RVs with additional living and sleeping space, and that goes for what you’ll pay at the pump as well.

Plan a thoughtful itinerary

Planning your stops ahead of time is especially smart when you’re renting an RV. Not only can you map out an itinerary that passes the sights you want to see, but you’ll be able to price shop and compare RV campsites. Depending on where you’re traveling, this may be more important than you think.

While an RV rental spot with hook-ups may be cheap at state parks or basic campgrounds, prices can run sky-high for luxury campgrounds or resorts with pools and other amenities. By shopping around ahead of time and deciding where you’ll stop, you won’t be stuck overpaying for a place to park and get some sleep.

Hookup fees aren’t probably a regular line item on your budget, but that can be OK if you plan ahead. Here are some other hidden summer expenses to budget for.

Use technology to save on gas

Because RVs are notorious for getting terrible gas mileage, you will want to do all you can to pay less for your road trip. And, of course, there are apps for that. Apps like the Gas Buddy offer an easy way to search for low gas prices along your route — and even when you’re in the midst of your trip. Some GPS systems offer this feature as well.

Bring food & basic staples along

One of the biggest benefits of renting an RV is the fact that you’ll have a kitchen or kitchenette at your disposal. This makes it easy to bring along most (or all) of the food you’ll need for your trip, including ingredients for cook-outs, campground breakfasts and easy lunches. The more meals you can make at “home,” the more you’ll save during your trip.

Also make sure to bring plenty of snacks and basic supplies, like aluminum foil, a lighter, paper plates, plastic bags and condiments.

Need budget friendly meal ideas? We’ve got a $1.50 burger and a summer side dish that costs less than 50 cents per person. How could it get any better than that?

Pack your own cookware & bedding

Most RV rentals charge a base price then tack on extra charges for added amenities. Believe it or not, some of the “extras” they charge for include things like dishes, pots and pans, pillows and bedding. If you have these items at home and you can bring them along, you can skip those extras altogether. Make sure to check with your RV rental company to see if you can have these items removed from your bill.

Leverage credit card rewards

Don’t forget how easy it is to leverage the power of credit card rewards for an RV rental. There are several ways to do this, but they all include signing up for rewards cards that offer cash-back, travel rewards or flexible travel credit.

Some rewards cards even offer extra points on fuel or travel. By getting a card with these bonus categories, you could rack up considerable sums of cash-back you can redeem for statement credits when you get home.

Looking for other vacation budget hacks? We’ve got 11 ways to lower the cost of your summer trip in five minutes or less.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

I’ve been a full-time RVer for over three years now, and it’s definitely the life for me. The idea of going back to living in a stationary house makes me restless. And I know a lot of people are exploring RV travel for the first time this summer, imagining a vacation filled with drive-through destinations or a family National Park road trip.

But if you go into RV life thinking it’s going to be Instagram perfection, you’re likely to wind up frustrated and disappointed. I am a firm believer that if you know the downsides, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying RV life and coming back to it again. The truth is, you’re going to hate some parts even if you love RV life overall. There are definitely things I still hate.

 

So let me share some things I’ve learned over the past few years — here are 14 reasons you might hate RV life.

 

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We spent a month on Lake Fork in East Texas a couple years ago. Overall, it was a magical experience, with one exception — our next-door neighbor in the RV park. Every time we stepped outside, he’d invite himself over and tell us about his camping adventures in Terlingua. He would say the word “Terlingua” over and over again, sometimes stopping mid-sentence to repeat it.

Terlingua. Terlingua. Try it. It gets strange.

And that’s a mild case. If you’re RVing to get away from it all, be aware that you’re only going to be a few feet from other people in an RV park. Although those people can sometimes be wonderful, they may also be annoying or poorly mannered. (Although, truth be told, “Terlingua” has become a favorite joke in our household that I wouldn’t trade away. But I don’t feel the same about the intrusive guy with the leaky sewer hose.)

 

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If you’re considering RV travel this summer due to COVID-19-related closures, be aware the shutdowns heavily impacted RV parks as well. Similar to hotels and restaurants, RV parks may continue to open and close.

Truthfully, this isn’t all that different from regular RV life. You can’t always predict how far you’ll drive or if a government-run park takes reservations. You never know when you might arrive at a campground and have it be full. And, trust me, sleeping in the Walmart parking lot is entertaining only the first few times. If you hate unpredictability, RV life might be rough on you.

 

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Chances are if you’re traveling in an RV, you’re trying to be closer to nature. But it may also be a kind of nature you’re not familiar with. Visiting new areas can introduce you to natural things that can run the gamut from endemic diseases to irritating plants to poisonous snakes. In our time on the road, my husband and I have caught West Nile virus and Valley fever between the two of us, and we recently learned about juniper rash (the hard way).

Learning about new places is one of the best parts of RV travel. You get to see the ground truth about an area. But make sure to educate yourself on the area and the necessary precautions to take if you want to stay safe and not hate it.

 

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RVs are small. Even the biggest RVs are small compared to most people’s apartments or houses. And strangely, RVs are often not designed with much in the way of storage. Typically the cooler-looking your RV, the less functional the space is.

That means anything you need will always be under or behind every single other item you own. That sweater you need for that cool beach breeze? It’s in the back of the “closet.” And that pot you wanted for the baked beans? You’ll find it behind every food item stuffed in that “pantry.”

Remember, RV travel is a way to enjoy a minimal life. If you’re going on a summer trip, pack light (and maybe don’t insist on wearing clean pants every day), and you’ll enjoy it more. If you’re going full time, you’ll need to go full KonMari if you don’t want the chaos to overwhelm your joy.

 

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I won’t even qualify this one. It’s not that you have to take short showers or that RV showers are small. It’s that showers, in general, are a problem.

Depending on your RV, you’ve probably stored some stuff in the shower or are using it to keep the cat’s litter box from sliding into the living room while you drive. So every time you want to get clean, you have to relocate the cat poop first. It’s a super fun sequence to live out.

And, yes, RV showers are small, and you do have to take short ones.

But maybe you’re not that dirty? Perhaps RV life is a chance to liberate yourself from daily showers. Or maybe the campfire smell is comforting in your hair when you fall asleep at night. Maybe RV life is a chance to appreciate your home shower more when you return to it.

 

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Never believe an RV park when they say they have WiFi. It’s not true. You won’t be able to connect to the WiFi most times, and if you do, it will be so slow you can’t even check your email. They may even tell you when you check into the park that you’re not allowed to use it for streaming.

If you want to keep your kids busy with videos or check your social accounts, you’ll need other ways to connect. If you plan to go on extended RV travel and you’re going to work from the road, prepare to dump a lot of money into your internet setup.

Our phones and internet equipment are two of our largest expenses, and getting the right equipment put together can feel technically overwhelming. I’m lucky my husband is a gearhead. If you’re not, be prepared to throw a chunk of money at this issue.

 

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If you’re thinking of full-time RV living, even for just a year, be aware that mail delivery is a major obstacle in RV life. We are residents of South Dakota, but our mail forwarding service is in Texas. Having two different addresses almost made it impossible for us to qualify for a car loan due to post-9/11 regulations.

And pieces of our mail, including packages, disappear pretty regularly. My husband ordered a set of reading glasses that we’re pretty sure are still somewhere in the depths of the Kingman, Arizona, post office. You’ll learn quickly that ordering things online and not knowing if they’re being sent USPS, UPS, or FedEx means you shouldn’t even bother. That’s because you can’t get UPS and FedEx sent general delivery, and some RV parks won’t accept USPS. If you love to shop online and get things delivered daily, you’re going to hate this part of RV life.

 

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RV life is a little bit like having kids or animals. If you’re going to be an RVer, you’re going to have to accept that dealing with poop is part of your life. You’re basically driving a fully functioning bathroom with tanks you have to empty and hoses you have to touch. It’s something many people hate (or fear) at first. Even as comfortable as you get with it, you’re never going to love this part.

 

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Even if you’re going on a short RV trip, you need to understand that your house is actually a vehicle. Vehicles have engines. Vehicles have lots of things that can break. And unlike your regular home, your motorized home might be in the middle of nowhere when it breaks down.

Even if your RV operates pristinely for a long time — which it won’t, even if you buy it new — you’ll still need to understand how to make it go when it breaks. That involves making the power systems work (like, what’s the difference between a converter and an inverter anyway?), checking the tire pressure, knowing how to attach the RV to your vehicle if you’re towing a trailer, etc. If you hate mechanical stuff, RV life could literally be a long haul.

 

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If your house moves, then everything inside your house moves — sometimes in different directions than the house itself is moving. A lot of things break this way. At this point, I’ve broken nearly every single sentimental item I used to own.

My trip-preparation motto is “momentum is the enemy.” Pack your cupboards in a way that nothing can slide around and pick up speed. And drive carefully — always allow plenty of room to maneuver and plenty of time to brake.

Do not ever believe the Instagram photos of all the open cupboards and glass items left out on counters. Either those people don’t actually move their RVs, or they’ve broken all those things and aren’t telling you about it.

 

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On the upside, no matter how many coffee mugs you break, you’ll always have plenty to spare. I can’t explain why this one happens, but it does. The moment you start RVing, everyone in your life will start buying you cute coffee mugs with kitschy sayings about camping and maybe some line art depicting bonfires and marshmallows.

 

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While we’re on the topic of what other people think RVing is like, prepare for the fact that nobody else will have any idea what your RV looks like. The world thinks there are exactly two types of RVs: Airstreams and Class C motorhomes. (If you’re not sure what a Class C is, just picture an RV in your head — there’s a 90% chance you’re imagining a Class C.

Your friends will also start tagging you on videos of million-dollar RVs and telling you how cool your life must be. But you know what? If you’re traveling in an RV, then your life is cool, so your friends have the most important part right.

 

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We’ve learned that Sunday mornings are prime times for getting through urban areas. We’ve also learned you should never drive an RV through El Paso, Texas, ever. Also, driving through Salt Lake City is kind of like being inside a pinball machine. Maybe you’re into that. I’m not.

Whether you’re going to RV for a weekend or a year, you have to learn how to be a safe driver for your sake and for everybody else on the road. People will cut you off. People will make rude gestures and yell crazy things at you because you’re driving the speed limit (yes, I’m talking to you, white-BMW-just-outside-Phoenix-guy).

As an RV driver, you’ll feel pressured to make risky choices, or you’ll get stressed and forget your house doesn’t turn well or stop quickly. Don’t succumb to the pressure or the road rage — the consequences are too great. Smile and wave at the angry people, go your own speed, and you’ll enjoy RV life more. Remember that you’re literally doing this to live life at your own pace.

 

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Many people look to RV life as a way to retire affordably or escape from drowning in debt. But if you try to RV like the people on TV and Instagram, you’re going to spend a lot of money. Staying at a new park every night and driving hours a day will cost you a lot in reservations and fuel. If you think RV life will be automatically less expensive, you’re going to hate how often you have to pull out your wallet.

save money at RV parks in two ways:

  • First, I travel slowly. We stay for a month or longer at every location. This gets us a better rate (just like at an extended-stay motel), and it also saves fuel because we aren’t constantly moving.
  • Second, I use rewards credit cards for all my expenses. Many of the best travel credit cards include RV parks in their definition of travel, and certain cashback credit cards earn rewards on both gas and groceries.

With a couple of credit cards in your pocket, you can save a lot of money, and you’ll have a better chance of loving RV life.

 

 

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If you’re considering RV travel for the first time this summer, I’m genuinely excited for you. And yes, despite these 14 things, I believe you can have a fantastic experience. But it’s essential to go into it with a clear mind:

And lastly, but most importantly, remember to have fun. RV life is unpredictable, and it comes with different challenges than other modes of travel. But that’s also what has the potential to make your trip a memorable adventure.

 

This article originally appeared on FinanceBuzz.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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Featured Image Credit: ewg3D.

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Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a contributor at PolicyGenius.com