RoadTrip America

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How to Rent an RV, by Alice Zyetz

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Each month Jaimie Hall or I write about the joys of the RV lifestyle. But what if you don't own an RV? How will you ever know what it's like? The solution is to rent one. This month we'll look at a variety of ways to temporarily acquire an RV (including partial ownership) for specific vacations, what you need to know, some advice to prevent problems, and how to locate the companies.


Even during this summer of record-high gas prices, RV trips remain the least expensive type of vacation, according to a new study comparing vacation costs. PKF Consulting, an internationally recognized consulting firm with expertise in travel and tourism, recently found that "typical RV family vacations are on average 26 to 74 percent less expensive than other types of vacations studied."

"Affordability is a key reason why RV travel appeals so much to families," says David Humphreys, president of RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association). He adds, "but there are other key reasons to travel by RV, too. RVs are a comfortable, convenient, stress-free way to travel, enjoy the great outdoors, and spend quality time with family."

Many people rent before buying to see if the lifestyle is right for them before making the commitment. Others do not want to invest their money for purchase, insurance, maintenance just to use the RV for a fraction of the year. Many foreign visitors fly to the U.S. and travel in their rented RVs for part or all of their American vacation, generally visiting our national parks and scenic recreation areas. In a similar vein, Americans who live far from their destination and have limited time will find it worthwhile to fly to Phoenix, for example, from Maine, and rent an RV to vacation in the Grand Canyon. For additional fees, the rental company will provide a fully stocked RV so that you can just load in your clothes and family and start your vacation.

Two major rental companies dominate the field with branches throughout the U.S. and Canada: El Monte RV and Cruise America. However, many small companies populate the market in specific areas. Find more rental resources at RVRA (Recreation Vehicle Rental Association) or Go RVing. It is easy to find additional companies by doing a Web search.

Next> What kinds of RVs are available and how much does it cost to rent?
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Alice Zyetz

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