Updated: May 21, 2015
All About RVs / Recreational Vehicles / MotorhomesMention the word recreational vehicle, or RV, and most people think of retired folks living in an RV park somewhere. But RVs have become more and more popular (despite rising gas prices - these things don't get great gas mileage), especially in an age of increased fear of terrorism and increased domestic travel. Modern RVs provide comfortable, and sometimes luxurious, accomodations. Many families who love camping find an RV makes the trip happy, comfortable, and enjoyable for all, while many retirees who want to see the country in the comfort of their own surroundings find motorhome travel the ultimate way to do it. See below for information on RV and motorhome purchase and rentals.
Types of motorhomesAll motorhomes include permanently installed: cooking, refrigeration, plumbed bathroom facilities, self contained heating and air conditioning, drinkable water systems, and electric power system. There are several defined types of classes of motorhomes. A conventional motorhome is called Class A. These are the units that look more like buses, with the entire unit built around the vehicle frame and chassis. They range in size from 21-45 feet and sleep up to 10 people. These are the most luxurious and expensive type of RV. Camper vans are called Class B. They are factory built for camping purposes with sleeping, kitchen, and toilet facilities. Class C mini motor homes are shells built onto a small truck frame, what most people would call a camper. They usually have an overhead compartment built over the cab which is used for sleeping and storage.
Rental RVs - Where can I rent an RV?Since most people with regular jobs only have a week or two of vacation per year to spend on RV vacations, for most people it makes more sense to rent an RV rather than buy an RV. CruiseAmerica.com is one of the best RV rental companies - you'll see their RVs and their logo all over the road if you look hard enough. They have 130 motor home and RV rental locations in the US. Mid-June through mid-August is the busiest rental time of the year since most families vacation during that time. Renting off season can save you as much as 70% from peak rates. Checking rates on a mid-April 2 week rental came up with $1860 for the standard sized, 5 person RV and 1500 mile allowance. Additional miles are billed at 29 cents per mile (these RVs average 7-13 miles per gallon, so calculate your gas expense as well). Keep in mind that you can sleep and eat many meals in your traveling hotel/RV, saving you at least $150 per day in lodging and meal expenses, maybe more. So 14 days at $150 = $2100 you would have spent otherwise on food and lodging, making the rental expense seem a pretty reasonable alternative. What's included in a standard rental RV? It's a 23-25 foot long Class C motor home, with a cab over design (sleeping loft hangs over the top of the cab), featuring: 14 gallon LP gas tank that powers refrigerator, furnace, gas cooktop stove, microwave, air conditioner; gas generator, combination shower, fresh water flush toilets, and sleeping space for 5 (double bed over cab, private double bed in rear, and two bench sleepers).
A larger model is also available for $350 more over this sample 15 day trip - it is 28-30 feet long and can sleep 7. When you rent, they give you complete instructions on how the RV operates, and they are available by 800 number phone support 24 hours per day if you have questions or problems along the way on your trip. There are also optional expenses for equipping the RV - $35 per person for sheets, towel, sleeping bags, etc. and a $85 provisioning kit for plates, silverware, flashlight, etc. The motorhomes do NOT come with TVs, so plan on bringing your portable DVD player if you are looking for entertainment options. They allow pets on their rental vehicles, making it an easier rental choice for many families. They include pretty comprehensive insurance coverage in their prices, which other rental companies will try to tack on at time of rental, often costing $20 or more per day.