How to rent a motorhome (or RV) for your family and travel the US

May 31, 2019

We’ve toured some of the USA by doing a fly-drive holiday, and seeing some of the places to visit, wondered what it would be like to do a similar tour, but with a motorhome (or ‘RV’ as they are known as in the states). So we asked US RV expert Shelley for some tips.

For many families in the UK, the thought of travelling around the US in an RV sounds like a dream adventure. It’s no surprise as to why – every single state in America offers something different, with national parks and attractions, stunning views, beaches and other experiences that you can only find in the USA.

The question, then, is how is it possible to rent an RV and travel around America? Where do you start?  Not to worry, for all those living in the UK, this doesn’t have to remain a distant dream. There are easy and straightforward ways that you can rent an RV and have the trip of a lifetime.

Use a renting service

For some travellers, the hassle of buying and maintaining an RV is not part of their dream holiday. In these cases, it makes more sense to use a renting service (like Outdoorsy), so you can choose when and where you want to pick up and drop off the RV. As well, roadside assistance and insurance packages are often included, giving you peace of mind on the road. When you use an RV rental service, like Outdoorsy, you can worry less about safety and responsibility, and direct all your focus into having a trip of a lifetime.

They also offer a range of different types of vehicles – depending on the size of your family, this is really important. One of the underrated benefits of renting an RV is you often get insider information and amazing sight-seeing tips that only the locals know.

Picking the right RV

When all your family is in an RV, the absolute necessity is space, especially when you’re travelling around the U.S This will be a lengthy trip, and everybody will need some kind of personal space.

We highly recommend Class A, Class B and Class C RVs for a long journey like this. However, if you plan to only travel for a couple of weeks, and see various iconic spots along the way, a camper van could suffice.

Class A RV

This is the Class A RV, the largest RV you can hire. This RV offers living accommodation combined with a vehicle engine and is a common way to tour the US from coast to coast.

Class B RV

This is a Class B RV.

Class C RV

This is a Class C RV

For a family, we would stay away from renting trailers and truck campers. However, you know your family best – and they might just work out for you.

Driving and Other Details

If you are over the age of 21, you can rent and drive an RV in the US, as long as you have a UK driving license. This even includes the larger American A class RVs that are perfect for family recreation. Obviously, make sure that you get clued up on American road rules, including driving on the opposite side of the road. It might be a slight culture shock, but you’ll get used to it.

There are many maps, apps and road trip routes to choose from coastal adventures to historical landmarks or an American amusement park tour; there is something for every family. It is also a great opportunity to incorporate map activities and family navigation challenges.

Remember the extra costs

Renting an RV might seem like the best way to see America, but don’t let the additional costs sneak up on you. From fuel costs to camping costs, there are many was you can spend but also many ways you can save. Making your way around America in an RV can save you money on flights and hotels, and the budget can be personalised as needed. Where places like national parks and attractions entrance fees can add up there are always family rates and national parks, have a program that allows all grade 4 students (and their families) free access to all park. The Every Kid in a Park Pass can be a great place for families to start planning their trip.

Being able to cook meals on the road also often helps the entire road trip to be much more cost-effective. One of the best things to do is stop at a large grocery store before you leave. That way you can have all your favourite food and will not resort to expensive restaurants.

Remember, you can save money by being mindful of fuel, packing light, cooking on board, and taking the shortest routes possible. Being mindful with where you spend your money won’t make the trip any less enjoyable, we promise.

RV at beach with Tampa Bay Skyway Bridge

Take a trip to Florida like this RV, parked at the beach overlooking Tampa Bay, with the Skyway Bridge in the background

Ideal Destinations

Now comes the hard part; deciding where to go. There are so many National Parks, incredible coastlines and everything in between. Choosing where to go is a personal decision, and your best bet is planning around things your family already loves. Some of the most popular RV trips that people come from around the world to experience include:

  • Embracing nature at the Grand Canyon
  • Seeking thrills on an amusement park road trip
  • Relaxing in a tropical paradise, wintering in Florida

For a family seeking the great outdoors, the Grand Canyon is a great place to start your adventure. From there, depending on your time frame, you can hop from National Park to Park, taking advantage of their exciting and affordable children’s activities. Or you can head west, explore California and take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway to the rainforest.

RV motorhome entering monument valley, utah

You might recognise Monument Valley in Utah from films and TV. Why not visit it yourself?

Those families looking for entertainment and attractions would do well to stay on the east coast. On that side of the country, you have everything from museums and historical sites, to theme parks and quaint fishing villages.

A fun idea for the spontaneous family is to have every member pick one place they want to visit in the US. Then, connect the dots and start your road trip.

Check the weather

The US is so vast, and so extreme weather changes can be expected. You’re from the UK, though, so you’ll be used to it all.

Just like a standard week in Britain, you can expect sun, rain, snow and everything in between. So, pack accordingly, and try to organise your trip at the best times. Seeing the US in such a unique, and special way is priceless.

The takeaway? RVs are the best way to tour around the US. You’ll interact with the most interesting of people, see the beautiful country in a fascinating new light, and engage in fantastic activities.

It beats hiding away in a hotel, doesn’t it?

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Shelley Trupert
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Shelley Trupert Contributor

  Shelley Trupert works for Outdoorsy, an RV marketplace for consumers and pros. She has been camping for almost 20 years and is always looking to find the next hike, off the beaten path. While she used to enjoy tenting in the wilderness, she prefers to camp in an RV now—whether it is a Class C or a teardrop trailer—to enjoy a little comfort after a long day outdoors and the ease of travel it provides. Her goal is to hike in all of the national parks in North America.  

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