Here are the lessons learned from our first RV trip taken in 2018 to explore the American Southwest. We rented the RV through El Monte RV Rentals (via Motorhome Republic) in Las Vegas.
If at all possible, watch the RV tutorial video and do your necessary research about extra charges, insurances, etc. before getting to the RV rental center.
If you are not flying to your rental destination, bring your own bedding, lightweight pot, etc. We were traveling from the other side of the country and with the high luggage fees, it didn’t make much sense to bring our own. We had to pay a little more for renting the linens, pots, plates, and silverware. El Monte has a list of essentials on their website and this can help you think through what to get in advance and what to rent from El Monte when you pick up the rental.
TIP: The El Monte rental center has bins and shelves of leftover goods, kitchenware, camp gear, etc. that previous renters left when cleaning their RVs upon returning. These items are available for renters to take/borrow.
Make a grocery list before heading to Super Walmart. On any given day, Walmart can be quite overwhelming so stay focused on those things you really need. Having a list would have been so helpful. As it was, we wasted about an hour and a half walking through the food aisles figuring out what to buy and what meals to make for the next couple of days.
Try and buy most of your groceries at Walmart or a major grocery store to get the best deals. Once we got to the remote parts of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, we paid slightly more for the same items at the small town stores (usually the only store around for miles and miles).
The kettle came in so handy for coffee, tea, and cups of noodle. The hot water was just the thing for those cold mornings and nights in Bryce National Park (it reached 17 degrees at night while we were there)!
If the weather is cold, you may have to winterize your RV; and it costs extra through the rental company. We didn’t winterize although it was below freezing in Bryce. We opted to run the heat overnight where it dipped to 20 degrees.
With it being so cold, we rented a hotel or motel room in Bryce to keep all of us warmer at night. It was a nice reprieve after being the RV for several days. My husband had to get up in the middle of the night to start the RV and recharge the auxiliary batteries (since we didn’t winterize).
Lastly, if it’s your first time renting an RV, take your time getting used to the vehicle. Of course, pick a vehicle that is comfortable for your family and also, think about how maneuverable you need the RV to be, based on the activities you have planned and where you plan to go.
Is RVing Right For Your Family?
The best way to find out is to try it yourself. You can rent an RV on your next vacation or you can pick one up locally through the websites below. It’s also a great way to try which RV work for your style of camping.