Friday, February 22, 2019

Wayne and Margy's Rental RV Adventure

Lessons Learned

Now that we are back to Bellingham and the RV has been returned to El Monte RV, there's time to reflect on our adventure. Here are some of the things we learned along the way.

Renting an RV 

Picking up our RV at El Monte RV in Ferndale, WA.

  • Review your options for price, services, style of RV and availability.
  • Size the RV to your needs.  Bigger isn't always better,
  • A 24' overall length is easy to drive and fits in most parking lot spaces.
  • Select a company that gives you phone and road assistance throughout your trip.
  • Select a company near your home to make loading and offloading easier.
  • When comparing costs, check for extra charges vs bundled pricing.
  • Pay for estimated mileage up front. It's less expensive that way.
  • Rental companies sell insurance, but your own company may provide coverage.
  • AAA and other insurance companies also provide RV road coverage.

Before You Leave
  • Let your credit card companies know you will be traveling to prevent freezes.
  • Fuel charges are large and frequent. Request no limits on gas charge amounts.
  • Have a plan for emergency contacts with family and friends.
  • Let someone know where you are going, especially if you will be off-the-grid.

    First Night Out

    Testing out full services at an RV park.

    • Stay in a full-service park the first night to check out all systems.
    • Rental company phone support is handy if the RV manual is hard to understand.
    • Ask park managers and neighbours for assistance. They usually want to help.

    RV Amenities

    Typical small RV kitchen area.

    • Propane appliances (stove, fridge, heater, hot water) make RVing comfortable.
    • A fridge with auto electric/propane switching keeps your food cold in all conditions.
    • Generators run 120AC outlets and appliances when camping without hookups. 
    • Generators are noisy. Follow park rules and be thoughtful of others.
    • Televisions operate in cable and aerial modes if near a large city. 
    • You have to scan for cable and/or aerial channels at each overnight location.
    • Some parks require cable provider boxes in order to connect.
    • Many parks offer wifi, but connections can be slow. Having cellular data is a bonus.
    • A propane oven isn't necessary unless you plan on baking.
    • A propane stovetop and a microwave are essential for cooking and warming. 
    • Schedule your propane refills and holding tank dumps at full-service RV parks. 

    Food Choices and Meals

    Fresh foods make RV meals simple.

    • Mix onboard cooking with eating out for variety.
    • On travel days, combine gas and late breakfast stops to save time and energy.
    • Keep snacks and simple meal items onboard. With a fridge, salads are great.
    • Grocery and big box stores have large parking lots that are RV friendly.


    Using an iPad for maps and weather updates.

    • Take a cell phone with voice and data to keep in touch and for emergencies.
    • Use a tablet with data service for weather, road condition and camping apps.
    • Use map satellite views to check out parking options at your destinations.
    • Take your laptop for financial and business communications.
    • Bloggers can have fun recording their trip online.

    Where to Stay

    Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona.

    • Choose from public and private campground and RV park providers.
    • Use apps like Allstays, Good Sam and KOA to locate overnight options.
    • Check Google reviews, but take them with a grain of salt.
    • Everyone has different preferences. Your #1 site could be someone else's worst.
    • Most public parks have online reservations, but only a day or more in advance.
    • Popular public parks fill up quick in the peak season. Reserve early.
    • Have a backup plan. That's part of the adventure.
    • We didn't have a problem finding a place to stay even during the peak season. 
    • If you arrive late, most campgrounds and RV parks have after-hours registration.

    Come Along on our Rental RV Road Trip

    Our Tucson, Arizona, Superbowl party.
    The next 14 posts are a trip log, from our pickup at El Monte RV in Washington to Arizona and back. The posts have be re-ordered for easier reading from start to finish. 

    Ride along with us to see what RV life can be like. You might enjoy it as much as we did.  Let us know what you think. - Wayne and Margy


      1. Lots of very good, practical advice. We always wanted to get an RV, used to camp in a tent and then a tent trailer, not sure if we would pursue it at this time in our life.

        1. We never thought about it before, it was just one of those ideas we got in the fall as we were planning our annual Arizona trip for softball and baseball. I'm glad it turned out so well, because we are considering getting one of our own in the future. - Margy

      2. It is also a good idea to upgrade your auto club membership to RV Premium- and use auto club BCAA or AAA travel insurance - at least enough to get a body home to Taps

        1. Very good addition to my list. We did upgrade our AAA plan to RV, especially after we learned that if you tow anything it is considered an RV, even a boat or quad trailer. Our AAA plan covers us in Canada as well. - Margy

      3. Good advice for someone renting an RV for the first time

      4. This has been a great series and nice memories for this old RVer (..we never rented though ...just did a whole lot of research reading and studying and going to RV shows before deciding . But rent or buy, big or little RV , research and study are so important for this lifestyle. Your blogs should fill the bill for “newbies”. (we had camped in a tent and them a small homemade camper in the past, so we already knew we liked traveling that way).

        1. Living in a float cabin is a bit like full-time RV life without moving around of course. We are in the research stage and will go to our second RV show in April. The upcoming one should be better since it isn't a single vendor doing the show like in Tucson. We've been tent campers forever so I know what you mean about already knowing we would like this type of travel. - Margy

      5. Very practical tips for first timers. Please post a link to this on the FB page "RV Canada on A dime." I am so happy it all worked out for you and you might join our ranks of RVers.

        1. Thanks Barb. You and Dave were so helpful as we were getting this all planned out. I did share the link on your Facebook page, thanks for the invitation. - Margy


      Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy