Hope you have had enough time to gather some information from the previous article about things to know before you rent your first RV/Campervan Part 1 split the article into two parts so that you could give yourself time to do the following:
- Set your expectations right and seek the best way to rent an RV in the country you intend to visit. Is it over the internet or you would rather call the rental company?
- Know what to expect when renting an RV.
- Know the generic charges with RV dealers in the country you intend to visit.
- Learn how an RV orientation works.
Then let’s proceed.
How to find dump and water stations for RVs?
Obviously, RVs have limited water and waste storage capacity. Ask your rental company if you can be provided with a map of water and waste stations in the country or better still, google up if there is an app which could help you with the same. To make your life easier, in Australia and New Zealand, one could use an app on your smartphones named CAMPERMATE. This app provides lists all RV parks, water, and waste stations throughout the country and is colour-coded from free to pay for facilities. In Alaska, we had to use the app named ALASKA – CAMPGROUNDS and RV PARKS which was similar to Campermate.
The best practice would be to empty your waste tanks and fill fresh water every day, once you find a free of charge facility. It will cost you nothing but a few extra minutes of your time and leave you stress-free without having to worry about running out of fresh water or filling up your waste tanks.
Note: A pair of reusable latex gloves will always come handy while dealing with waste tanks.
RV performance and fuel efficiency
Most Class A and Class C RVs are built on fairly powerful engines which run on Gasoline/Petrol or Diesel. However, acceleration and braking may not be as quick responsive as your car’s. That’s because there is much more weight than you can determine just by looking at the appliances and facilities. There would be water pumps, massive water, and waste tanks, and of course, a massive fuel tank etc., that is out of sight but is installed on to that RV. Expect, slow acceleration, braking and have an idea about your momentum while speeding. Gather only as much momentum that’s under your control.
Start off by driving easy and slow, allow yourself time to get accustomed to the dimensions and the engine power. The RVs fuel efficiency totally depends on how heavy your foot is on the throttle. And anyway, why would you want to speed past the beautiful landscapes and not enjoy them?
Limitations with RV/Campervans:
Even though most RVs are built on fairly powerful engines, sometimes even 4×4 drive trains, it’s not worth off-roading in an RV. Firstly, you wouldn’t want broken crockery and secondly, it’s not worth damaging the RV components. Hence, stick to paved roads.
And also all of the 220V power sockets and all electrical appliances like coffee maker, microwave and TV would run only when you are plugged on to a power source at an RV park or when there is a generator installed on board. Depending on the make your RV, the refrigerator might run on Propane/LPG or Electricity which might cause a bit of a hiccup. In Alaska, our RVs refrigerator worked on Propane/LPG which was totally stress free. But in New Zealand, the RV refrigerator worked only when plugged to a power source so we couldn’t boondock much.
What is Boondocking?
Remember the mention about BOONDOCK in Part 1, under the topic of Generic Charges. This could save you a lot of money through your holiday if you are able to do it.
Boondocking or Dry Camping means, just pick up an isolated spot to park your RV and stay there for as long as you like. Of course, there will be no external power supply, water or waste stations. Planning and preparation will be of the essence. Stock up on groceries, fuel and any other necessities that you may need depending on how much time you intend to stay there.
Most RV operating countries will allow boondocking as they want to promote their beautiful natural landscapes. However, there may be restrictions inside city limits. In Alaska, we noticed that most RV parks were available around cities. There were free RV parking bays at supermarket parking like Walmart and Fred Meyers. Free Water & waste stations were also somewhere around at a gas station. Outside the cities, there were numerous campgrounds operated by the Department of Conservation which open to use with a very nominal parking fee of around $5-$10 per night. Boondocking at the freeway turnouts was absolutely fine as long as traffic flow was not compromised. Ankita and I boondocked pretty much every day in Alaska. The onboard generator fitted on our RV turned out to be a real blessing as we could operate our appliances whenever we wished to.
But in New Zealand, we couldn’t help but spend for RV parks for more than half of the holidays because we had to pull up to RV/Motorhome parks as the free designated RV parking, inside the city limits, would run out of space before sunset as they were occupied on a first come first serve basis and we were left with no choice. Outside city limits, there wasn’t much option either as their Highways were fairly narrow and shoulders and turnouts didn’t have much room either. Also, our RV here did not have an onboard generator installed and keeping perishables inside the refrigerator was a task.
So like I said, plan and prioritize, and you could save a lot on RV park bills.
Things to Carry with yourself:
This list could be long but not exhaustive. Thanks to our airline job and a very generous baggage allowance, Ankita and I choose to carry even groceries and toiletries. However, this might not be the case with everyone, hence, this decision will rest with you.
Here is a list of few things we strongly suggest you carry or at least pick them up at your first supermarket stop in the country before you hit the roads. This is from a Handyman’s perspective.
- Duct Tape – RVs are built on the composite material, you never know when a crack develops and you have to tape it to stop spreading.
- Flashlight – always useful when boondocking or dry camping when there is literally no light source apart from the one from your RV.
- Multihead screwdriver/ Swiss Knife – RVs are purpose built on a chassis. You might have to tighten a few screws here and there that might get loose.
And of course, being resourceful never goes to vain.
Let’s run through a few myths and facts that could help you through with hiring an RV/Campervan.
1. Myth – RVs have smelly toilets.
Fact – Porta Potty to your rescue. These are toilet chemical pouches and are super powerful in keeping toilets smell free for days, even if you have not emptied your waste. Make sure to throw one into your toilet waste tank after every waste dump.
2. Myth – RVs cannot be driven on car licenses.
Fact – Most rental RVs can be driven on car license even though they are built on truck chassis. Unless you choose to hire one built on a heavy truck chassis, then you may need a truck driver license depending on the local laws.
Both Ankita and I could drive this size RV on a car’s licence. (24 feet long)
3. Myth – RVs can be parked anywhere.
Fact – Check local laws for RV/Campervan parking. Of course, never compromise on your safety.
4. Myth – All electrical appliances work on the RVs battery.
Fact – All household appliances will need a 220V supply. Be it plugged at an RV park or you’re on board generator. Gas stove, refrigerator, water and room heaters are designed to run on LPG/Propane, depending on the make of your RV/Campervan.
P.S. – While we were returning our RV after the holiday got over, we got into talking with one of the associates at the rental depot and out of excitement asked her what would be the cost of owning an RV of a similar size? She answered, “It could be anywhere between $500,000 – $800,000 depending on the facilities you choose to install.” She, in turn, asked us a riddle, “Do you know which are the two happiest days with an RV?” After some thinking, when we could not answer, she answered, “Its the day when you buy it and the day you sell it.” She elaborated with some real facts which a lot of people don’t consider before investing in an RV, like the heavy maintenance involved and the high insurance costs etc. Thus, in my opinion, it is always advisable to rent an RV than investing in one.
Do we hope this article helped you figure out how to rent an RV for vacations and the technicalities associated with RV rentals and vacations? Let us know what your decision was. Like mentioned earlier I will be around to answer all your questions RV related as much as I can or will direct you to the right link if need be. Do follow us on any of the below social media & stay connected. Safe travels & do not forget to share your experience we love to be a part of your experience through pictures. #taletrips.