Thoughts on Renting an RV

I wanted to see the solar eclipse last week, and as all hotels under the totality seemed to be sold out when I started looking earlier this year, we decided to to rent an RV and drive up to Wyoming. Here are the lessons I learned.

Driving it isn’t as hard as you think.
But that’s not to say there aren’t differences. There are things you need to keep in mind:

1) Mirror usage – there are blind spots you’re not used to
2) Pivot point for turns – when you should begin turning in parking lots
3) Back end swing – the long tail will go the opposite direction from your turn

There are lots of videos online that will help you with this. Once you know how to use the mirrors, they give you a lot of information.

Ask your rental company where the pivot point is for your RV. Learn how to find that spot in your mirrors.

And don’t be afraid to have someone with you get out and give you directions in parking lots, especially busy gas stations. I can’t imagine doing that alone.

If possible, make sure your RV has enough cup holders.
For some reason, the one we rented only had one cup holder behind the driving area. And with a pair of five year olds with us, that was way too few.

I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but water bottles and coffee mugs where flying every where.

Keep gas in mind.
Our rental RV had a fifty gallon tank and got about ten miles per gallon. Once we got to half a tank, we started looking. Don’t push it, especially if you’re in the middle of no where.

And if your exits list gas stations, look for an exit with several. That will allow you to pick one you can get in and out of easily.

Get plenty of RV toilet paper and drop ins.
You can’t use regular toilet paper because it’ll clog the system. And if you don’t drop a blue tablet into the system every time you drain the black water, it’ll start to smell.

Both of these are bad. If you don’t buy them ahead of time, the rental company will likely be happy to sell them to you.

Bring disposable latex gloves.
You want these for when you attached the hose for draining the black and gray water tanks. You don’t want to do this with bare hands. You really don’t.

Watch your speed.
Your RV should have a sweet spot for highway speed. Faster than that, and you’ll go through gas at an alarming rate.

Plus, at higher speeds, your margin of error will go down. Don’t be in a needless, dangerous hurry.

Give yourself plenty of space.
No, driving an RV isn’t hard, but it does take a long time to slow down. Don’t try to stop at a light suddenly.

Make sure you’re level when parking.
In our RV, at least, it look only the slightest incline towards the front to cause the refrigerator to stop cooling. This is a very bad thing in summer.

Plan your RV parks.
We had a couple of long driving days, so if we hadn’t made RV reservations, we might have had problems. In one case, the office was already closed, but they had taped an envelope with my name and instructions on the office door.

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