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RV Rentals?
Old 11-17-2012, 09:38 AM   #1
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RV Rentals?

Have never done the rv thing but am interested. Is renting a good idea to get the feel of it?
If we decide we like it, at what point does it make sense to buy one, if we make say 1-3 trips a year?
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:45 AM   #2
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I rented one once. The RV guy assured me I had everything I needed for an enjoyable camping trip. First night we get into campground around 7 in the evening. Go to plug the RV into power source and I have a 10' cord with the outlet 20' away. Go to the office thinking they would have one and it turns out they just sold their last one earlier that day. Guy said it was a common occurrence. Not sure if that was because his power outlets were poorly located or RV's routinely have too short a power cord. Anyway, after a 40 mile round trip to the nearest town and a $50 outlay we were good to go.

That was the only time I ever took an RV trip. All went well after the power cord incident though and we had a great time. Anyway, if you do rent, check the cord!
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:47 AM   #3
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We did one 5 years ago to see if we would take to RVing. The next year we boght a trailer. The rental was very helpful to get an idea plus it was lots of fun. Price a rental, price your preferred type of RV of RV, and break out the spreadsheet to see what makes sense.

We average 25 to 30 nights a year in our trailer. If I were not a working stiff it would probably be more like 50 to 60.
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Old 11-17-2012, 09:56 AM   #4
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I have not measured the cord of my RV, but I think it is perhaps 30 ft. I have never needed an extension. Usually, the power outlet post is situated such that a 10-ft cord will reach, but there are many exceptions.

Regarding renting an RV, after checking the rental price for a couple of weeks, and much soul searching, I decided that I would like RV'ing enough to use the rental cost towards buying a used one. The cost for a 2-week rental was something like $2K, while I was looking at the used class Cs in the $20-30K range. Still happy with the decision, after 4 summer trips of 4-6 weeks each.

If one is not sure of owning, or has in mind a new one that costs a lot more, then renting for check out is a good idea. I just checked and the rental cost for 2 weeks in the winter is much less, at around $1K.
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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I rented one once. The RV guy assured me I had everything I needed for an enjoyable camping trip. First night we get into campground around 7 in the evening. Go to plug the RV into power source and I have a 10' cord with the outlet 20' away. Go to the office thinking they would have one and it turns out they just sold their last one earlier that day. Guy said it was a common occurrence. Not sure if that was because his power outlets were poorly located or RV's routinely have too short a power cord. Anyway, after a 40 mile round trip to the nearest town and a $50 outlay we were good to go.

That was the only time I ever took an RV trip. All went well after the power cord incident though and we had a great time. Anyway, if you do rent, check the cord!
This reminds me of the time we were camping in our Coleman camping trailer in a commercial campground on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It was summer, but very cool at night. We plugged in to the electric hook up at our site. We turned on an electric heater and after a few minutes the site circuit breaker operated.

It turned out that the camper at the adjacent site shared the same site circuit breaker, which was either 15 or 20 amp (I forget). He was also running his electric heater. Very friendly fellow. Between the two of us we surmised that the breaker would not operate if both heaters were ON. but when either heater cycled on and off, the in-rush current caused the breaker to operate. We made it through the night after resetting the breaker several times.
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:29 AM   #6
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I guess my first question would be what kind of RV are you looking at and why? If you are looking at tow behind (not 5th wheel) travel trailers and you already have a reasonable tow vehicle (full size pickup for a decent size trailer) I would consider buying a slightly used tow behind as they are fairly cheap. If you don't like it, you should be able to get most of your money back in-season. If you are looking at motorized (ie, class A) motorhomes, I'd probably rent first to see if you like it. Remember, if you have a class A motorhome, unless you pull a toad (towed behind vehicle) every time you wanna go somewhere, you have to break camp.

One word of caution: be very careful about used campers or motorhomes. Most mechanicals are pretty easy to fix if you are handy, but freeze damage is difficult, and leaky ones should almost always be avoided.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:07 AM   #7
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Even with a class C, I have a toad. Else, going into town is a no-no. Making excursions with even a class C is a chore, due to the need to break camp and the hassle with parking it. And then, the poor gas mileage makes me cringe.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:35 AM   #8
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I'll say this much. It seems that every European touring in the wide open West rent an RV from places like RV America. The concept is very popular.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:49 AM   #9
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It has been awhile since we did it but Cruise America used to offer their best deals (50% off?) during their repositioning season--Fall and Spring. Check out their website for locations. Since they are HQed in Phoenix a lot of their units cycle through there for refurb. It would be a good time to consider a Spring trip.
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Old 11-17-2012, 06:38 PM   #10
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Used to own a Class B (van-based) motorhome. Enjoyed it lots at first. Nice to visit places without having to unpack/repack your stuff at each new spot. And finding decent motel in some not-so-remote areas can be tough (or impossible). That said we finally sold it after going last 2 yrs with minimal use. Just too busy at w#rk.

Suggest you read up on it & try to picture yourself doing it. Rent a unit you might like for 2-3 days for MID-week trip to see what it's really like & if you enjoy it. DW & I found busy weekends a huge PITA even with yrs of RVing under our belt.

FWIW- Currently DW & I do our traveling in minivan (plenty of space) & stay at motels/hotels or with relatives/friends. In a pinch have camped in the MV a few nights using air mattress (pretty comfy actually). Expense of RV seems wasteful now, but might feel different if we were FIRED.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:26 PM   #11
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I would not mind owning a B, although I wonder if the smaller water tanks (for fresh water as well as the waste tanks) would cause me some trouble. I am sure it would require some adjustments. But the one thing I am certain of is that we must have a "regular" toilet, and a shower. I am not sure I could handle emptying a marine toilet. Wet bath or a tiny shower is OK, however.

One thing for sure is that cost-wise, it is easier for a retiree who takes frequent and longer trips to justify ownership of an RV. If I were still working, I would be OK with a travel trailer, whose ownership and operating costs are lower.

Of course, if one has plenty of dough, then it does not matter. Still, I saw so many motorhomes for sale with such low mileage and high price depreciation, it hurt me even to think about it.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:59 PM   #12
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DW & I never found the tanks to be too small for up to 4 days or so (with reasonable conservation efforts). Ours had a regular (flush) toilet, tho only tight hand-held shower facility. It had Chevy chassis (305 V-8) good for ~10-11mpg @ 55-60mph, but was a bear to drive in cross-winds with no dual rear wheels. Much less stable than typical Class C.
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Old 11-17-2012, 08:28 PM   #13
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Yes, the B's I have looked at have all the amenities I care about, as you just described. And I would have owned one, if it weren't for the fact that they tended to cost more than the common C's, and were somewhat rare.

However, I am surprised that you did not get better gas mileage. I got 9.2mpg at 60-65 mph with this 26-ft class C, towing a car behind. Surprisingly, not having the toad only raised the gas mileage to 9.8mpg. The engine is a 460-V8. The gas mileage was averaged over long trips of 4000 to 5000 miles, and over the mountainous western states.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:07 PM   #14
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I think biggest factor in hwy mpg is wind resistance (cross-sectional area) rather than weight or engine size. As I recall that 305 was working hard in my old Class B- and that was with no toad.
If $$ were no object I might go for a Sprinter turbo diesel chassis, but even used those seem to command a big premium in current market.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:20 PM   #15
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Agree on the wind resistance. The toad is in the slipstream of the larger RV and does not add significantly to the wind drag. There is no other way to explain it.

Regarding a smaller engine that works hard, my experience is that a smaller engine when pushed hard may burn more fuel than a larger engine on the same job. That could be the drawback of your smaller 305 engine.

About the Sprinter diesel chassis, yes, I thought long and hard about it, but in the end decided that the price differential would pay for a lot of gasoline. I also was not sure that I would like RV'ing enough to pay that extra money. I still think I made a good choice with the lower-cost common class C that I bought.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:20 AM   #16
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We didn't rent before buying ours. I think rental is a good idea if that works for you. Renting didn't work that great for us because we wanted to travel with pets. In addition part of the reason for getting an RV was to carry our own food with us since I can't eat gluten.

I don't know that financially it ever makes sense to buy unless you are full time RVers. It is kind of like a boat or a sports car. You buy one because you want it, not because you will save any money in buying.

That being said we LOVE our RV. We bought an older one for $10K and have been all over to the national parks, camping in the national forest and touring the sights. We do not stay at RV resorts or commercial campgrounds.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:51 AM   #17
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For me, I am not a full-timer but can justify the cost because I love to travel. And as you noted, an RV allows one to get into places that are difficult to visit by doing a car road trip, unless they tent-camp. At my age, I need some creature comfort, plus my wife would never go along if some basic amenities are missing.

It took me a little while to get used to pumping more than $100 worth of gas at a time into the gut of the thirsty beast. The most I have spent in one fill-up was close to $200 in a recent Californian trip. Garhh! What made it even worse was that it was not the only fill-up that day. Arghh!

I had to remind myself that it offset the cost of staying in a motel, and having to look for a dining place. Yes, fine dining in a big city is enjoyable, but having to look for a roadside place every lunch and dinner is a chore. And, most importantly, it lets us stay in places that are not possible to do otherwise, such as sleeping beneath the giant trees in a national park.
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:27 PM   #18
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......I think rental is a good idea if that works for you. Renting didn't work that great for us because we wanted to travel with pets. ........
Similar experience here. The whole idea was to take the dog and all the trailer places near me explicitly forbid pets. I ended up buying a small fiberglass camper for about what 5 weeks of renting would have cost me. Fortunately I have enough property to store it in the back without offending the neighbors.

That said, renting makes a lot of sense if you only use the RV occasionally and have to pay storage on top of depreciation.
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:33 PM   #19
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We rented directly from an owner for a multi-state vacation. It was a great experience, and we'll probably do it again. The worst part for us was the long hours driving, and negotiating traffic/parking such as within a city (tree branches overhanging the roadway, lane changes in traffic, parking at Wendy's) and freeway on-ramps (it requires some cooperation in traffic). The best part was when it rained while we were at Old Faithful in Yellowstone. We went back to the RV, dried off, and waited in comfort until the rain passed. That was an unexpected convenience.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:11 PM   #20
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Talk about conveniences, it will be hard for me to go back to road trips with a car. With my motor home, we often pulled off to the side of a road when I needed some rest, to use the bathroom, or to have lunch. Because we often took highways that cut through forests or mountainous areas, the rest stops were usually by a stream whose valley was followed by the road, or under the tree canopy, or both.

In our last trip, which was up Californian Coastal Hwy 1, I needed to rest for lunch after a couple of hours of driving on that twisty road, so pulled over to rest on the shoulder and to have lunch with an ocean view, and a breeze blowing through the side window. After lunch, I decided to stay a bit longer as we had plenty of time to reach the next destination. I was about to doze off in bed when a patrol car stopped to see if we had any problem. After seeing that we were just resting, he drove off.

Ah, the hard life of a retiree with a gassed up RV! If my wife is not tied up with her familial duty and can travel more, who knows how much I would be spending in gasoline each year?
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