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While we’ve traveled a lot we’d never had the pleasure of taking a Southwest RV trip through Arizona and Utah. As excited as we were we knew it would be different than any other trip we’ve been on and might call for more preparation. Here are some things we learned planning and during on our trip that will be useful for other first time RVers.
You Don’t Have to Buy an RV to Get the RV Experience, Just Rent One!
Did you know you could have an RV experience without owning an RV? Renting an RV is really simple! We rented ours from Outdoorsy, it’s like an Airbnb for RVs. The process was easy and the owner we rented from told us everything we needed to know before we drove off. We recorded what he said and showed so we could reference back on in case we forgot something on the road. You can sign up here to save $50 on your first rental.
Average Cost of Renting an RV
- Class A: $175 to $275 per night
- Class B: $100 to $200 per night
- Class C: $150 to $200 per night
The Different Types of RVs and How to Choose the Right RV for You
There are three different types of RV: Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A RVs are the biggest ones and resemble coach buses. In all honesty they probably aren’t the best option for first timers unless you’re used to driving tour buses or tractor-trailers.
Class B RVs are camper vans. They are sprinter vans that have been converted into a living space. This means the bathrooms and walking space is extremely tight. Your shower and toilet will be in the same space and the max sleeping capacity is typically two people.
We rented a Class C RV. It is a motorhome on the chasse of a truck or a van. They provide a good amount of space and come with multiple beds, dining table and full bathroom. Here’s a glimpse of the one we rented but you check out more on what vacationing in an RV looks like.
In addition to the motorhome RV’s there are also 5th wheel RVs. These are motorhomes that you pull with a truck and the home cannot be accessed from your vehicle.
Do You Need a Special License to Drive an RV?
In most states RVs weighing under 26,000 pounds don’t require a special license. Be Class A RVs are the only ones that could potentially weigh more than 26,000 pounds so if you plan on driving a Class B or C RV you should be find. You can double check with the states DMV for updated information and these rules sometimes change. Search below for RV rentals in your area.
Know The Height of Your RV
Why is knowing the height of your RV important? Depending on where you are driving you may have to go through tunnels or drive under bridges. Your hood scraping the ceiling and you getting stuck is not the time to learn your RV is taller than the height limit. While driving through Zion National Park there is a tunnel that RVs over a certain height can only go through during certain times of the day. If you need to drive through and miss the cut off time the roundabout way adds 2 hours on to your journey!
Making RV Camp Reservations: Do You Really Need To and What Type of Spot Should You Reserve?
I am a big planner so naturally I wanted to make sure we had all of our RV camp reservations secured before getting on the road. Was this really necessary? I think it depends on when and where you are going.
We traveled out West in late November when the weather starts to get very cold. While the weather meant there were less RVers and making a reservation wasn’t really necessary to get a spot it also meant not all RV camps were open. When calling some closer to Bryce Canyon I discovered they were closed for the season. Had I not called ahead to make a reservation we could have been left in a situation of having spotty cell phone service making it difficult to find another RV camp to stay at. The nearest one open one was actually 90 minutes away so I’m really happy we planned ahead.
When making your reservation some parks will give you the option of a pull-through or back in spot. Always go with the pull-through, they are much easier to get in and out of.
Some RV parks have different hook up options. When booking your RV Park you need to know if your RV is 30 or 50amp to make sure you book the correct spot. Some RVs do come with an adaptor to hook up to either but many don’t so make sure ahead of time if you’ll need one or not.
Know Where You Can Replenish Your Propane Along Your Route
Depending on the RV you have your stove and central air including the heat may run on propane only. This means even if you are hooked up to electricity without propane you will not be able to cook or stay warm in the winter. Filling up the propane in an RV can only be done by a professional and not all propane refill stations service RVs. It’s imperative you know where you can fill up alone your route or you could be hungry or freezing!
Double Check Your Destination Has RV Parking
If you’re not pulling a fifth and have a true motor like us parking can be a little tough in some locations. Make sure each of your destinations has parking for RVs. Even if they do space might be limited so always give yourself extra time to find parking in case you have to go to a different RV parking lot.
These tips should help make your first RV trip one without many hiccups. One thing we learned was the RV community is very helpful. When in doubt just ask a fellow RVer and they will gladly assist you. Enjoy your first RV trip and good luck with not wanting to immediately purchase one when you get back home! We loved our first RV trip so much we ended up going on a two more a few months later. The second time around we did a California road trip visiting Huntington Beach, Oceanside and Anza Borrego Park. Our most recent RV trip was a Nevada road trip, read that itinerary here.
Apps to Help Before/While RVing
You May be Interested in Reading: 18 Best RV Apps for Trip Planning, Navigation & More
FreeRoam: Provides information on free RV camp locations and overnight parking. It also shares information on regular RV campgrounds. It shows reviews and gives ratings on how crowded they are, cell reception, safety and ease of access.
Gasbuddy: This app shows the lowest gas prices in your area. You can even search based on brand and type of gas. When planning, its trip cost calculator comes in handy for budgeting.
RV Checklist: Helps with pre-road trip preparation and packing. It offers checklists that are great for first-time RVers who don’t know where to start.
Free Zone Wi-Fi: This app provides information on 5 million hotspots in the U.S., maps to guide you there and automatic notifications when you’re in range of a signal.
Coverage: Depending on where your RV adventures take you, you’ll quickly learn all roads are not created equally when it comes to cell service. This app provides a complete cellular coverage map for popular carriers across the United States.
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