Social Distance Camping in a Rental RV

Tired of being stuck at home? Looking to go on vacation but don’t know where to go?

Try going social distancing camping with a rental RV this spring.

Find out how to rent an RV, what you need to know before you go, and how to make it the best camping trip ever!

Social distance camping in a RV Rental with pictures of a Class A motorhome in a forested campground and a lake at a state park

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The New Campground Rules

Many campgrounds are opening back up to RV camping which is good news for people that are tired of being stuck at home!

But the campgrounds that are opening up are having to live under some new rules to keep everyone safe.

Most notably, many campgrounds are not allowing tent or car camping and you must be self-contained.

The Tiggin Allegro parked at McKinney Campground on Lake AllatoonaA self-contained RV is one that has all the basic systems that allow you to function without additional facilities at the campground. Most notably for camping purposes this spring and summer, you’ll need to be able to use the bathroom and shower in your own RV without relying on campground bath facilities.

That’s why the tent and car camping is so limited right now.

So if you don’t already own an RV and are looking to rent an RV for social distancing camping this spring, make sure you get one that has a bathroom in it. This will give you the widest possible range of campgrounds and locations that you can go to.

Also, many of the playgrounds and social centers will be closed. As are some boat ramps.

One of the things that are typically not closed include hiking trails and the lake shore, if they are at or near the campgrounds. It’s a great time to get out into nature and really explore these trails and more.

See Also: RV Campground Etiquette: 10 Things to Never Do

Where To Go

The list of campgrounds that are open and accepting visitors is changing day by day and even hour by hour.

I’m not even going to try to keep up with the list. Sorry.

But our friends at Rootless Living have a list of open campgrounds with extended stays. The Dyrt also has compiled a list of open and closed parks. And Reserve America has a similar list of park updates for those campgrounds that it serves.

Some of my favorite RV campgrounds in the southeast include:
Oak Mountain State Park
Edisto Beach State Park
McKinney Campground at Lake Allatoona, Georgia
Oak Plantation RV Campground, Charleston, SC

Reservations are Highly Recommended!

With all the demand for vacation and getting out of the house, RV camping is a very popular choice right now.

In normal times, this is the high season. And now, let’s just say that getting a reservation or spot to camp may be some of the hardest part of the whole process.

So start your research now. You may find that going during the week is easier than the weekend. Or some odd days, like arriving on a Saturday instead of a Sunday helps.

Make sure that you make a note of any restrictions that the campground has on visitors, cars, and number of people per site. Many are not allowing groups of more than 10 or groups of people that don’t live together.

Once you have your reservation at the campground, find the size restrictions for your spot. This will limit the size RV that you can rent.

Rent Your RV

The next step is to find the RV you want to rent!

I like supporting small businesses and mom and pop shops, so I’ll search RVShare and Outdoorsy where many individuals have a part-time business renting out their own RV when it is not being used.

These listings are great for someone like you since these listings often have a lot more included in them than one of the large rental companies.

For example, do you really want to have to bring sheets? Or kitchen gear? Many of the RVShare and Outdoorsy listings have these included or as an add-on.

Tips for Renting an RV

Renting a travel trailer or a motorhome is a great way to get a vacation in and still stay socially distant from other people. And you can support local small businesses and our state and local parks at the same time!

Here are some tips to make sure that you get the most of out of your RV rental this summer.

What’s the Best Kind of RV to Rent for Camping?

You know how lawyers always answer questions with “it depends”? Well, that’s the answer to the question “what’s the best kind of RV to rent for camping?”

First, let’s look at the types of equipment that are self-contained and popular for RV camping:

  • Class A Motorhomes think tour buses here. They are driveable, big and are often the fanciest of the bunch (but that’s not always true – there are some really fancy Class Cs and Fifth Wheels). They will usually have a master bedroom with a king or queen bed. Some Class A motorhomes also have bunk beds that will allow more people to sleep on them. The couches and the kitchen table may convert into sleeping spaces as well.
  • Class C Motorhomes these are also driveable, but have doors in the front like a truck. And there is some space over the driver’s cab compartment that is often sleep space – great for kids or teenagers. Like the Class A motorhomes, these have a master bedroom, some have bunks, and then the couches and tables may or may not convert to sleeping space.
  • Travel Trailer this is what we call a “towable” – meaning you hook the trailer up to the hitch on your SUV, truck, or large van. You’ll have to check your truck to see how much you can tow. But like the motorhomes, the travel trailers will usually have one bedroom and then the main living area which may have additional sleeping space.
  • Fifth Wheels are similar to travel trailers in that they are towable. However, these are typically much larger than your average travel trailer and require special equipment in the bed of your truck to tow. Because of the added weight and the special equipment needed, most people don’t rent fifth wheels unless they have them delivered to the camp site. But they can be really nice and luxurious.
  • Toy Haulers are not a separate type of RV. Instead they are a special model that can be popular if outfitted for your RV camping needs. See, the toy hauler has a “garage” in the back that is great for putting the toys that are great for outdoors – bikes, ATVs, kayaks, canoes, and other water gear. However, some people have converted this garage space to include more sleeping and living spaces.

The big considerations for you will be: will you drive or tow? If you are going to tow, do you have the proper sized truck and equipment to tow? How many people need to sleep in the RV?

These are the filters you will want to use when you search RVShare and Outdoorsy.

Don’t forget the filters so that you get an RV that will fit in the campground spot you have reserved! The length is very important, but so is the width with all slides fully extended. Height is also a consideration as some spaces have tree limbs that will limit the size of motorhomes that can fit.

RV Tailgate Life with RV flags flying at Oak Plantation RV Resort in Charleston, South Carolina

Set a Budget

Renting an RV won’t be cheap. RV rentals will be, at minimum, around $100 for a nice small C class. And it could be upwards of $300-400 for a large A class motor home. And that’s a per day fee.

However, consider what you would be spending on a hotel if you wanted to get away right now. And then you have to be all peopley and it’s harder to socially distance right now.

You also are not likely to have a kitchen where you can cook up a nice meal for your family, meaning you’d have to brave crowds to go out to eat.

Don’t Forget About Extra Fees

When you are setting your budget, you’ll need to remain aware of the extra fees that are not included in the nightly rental fees.

If you don’t dump the black tank at the end, then you’ll be hit with a dump fee.

You could also have cleaning fees and if you are going with a motorized Class A or Class C RV, then you may have fees if you don’t return it with a full tank of gas (just like a rental car).

Many RV rentals also have limits on how much you can run the generator (trust me on this – it costs a lot of money or effort to change that oil every 100 hours).

Damage Deposits are Often Required

Millers Camping has a private pond you can fish from as well as great views of mountains and the surrounding forestI hate that I’m throwing a bunch of negatives at you right off the bat here, but I want you to know what you are getting into.

The good news is that this money – the damage deposit – is usually refundable if you return the RV in the same shape that you received it in.

Scared of Driving? Have the RV Delivered!

If you aren’t used to driving an RV, it can be scary.

That’s why you can elect to have the RV delivered if you want. Then you drive up and get to camping without fear of driving it and then parking it! This is really important if you aren’t comfortable backing it up in the campground.

It’s also a way to reduce the risk of potential damage to the RV where you wouldn’t get your damage deposit back.

Know What Comes with Your RV Rental

It’s important to know what you get with your rental RV.

For example, are sheets included or do you need to bring your own? Some rentals don’t have this included, so you’ll want to bring some for the beds.

But know that many of the beds are weird sizes – your queen sheets may not fit the queen RV bed. Well, not perfectly at least. They are typically going to be good enough for a weekend trip away.

Also, many RVs have extra sleep spaces, like on pull-out sleeps on couches or kitchen tables that turn into beds. These are great places for the kids to sleep. And instead of trying to find sheets that don’t really fit, just put down a blanket and then sleep in sleeping bags! The kids will love it and they are easy to pack.

Another thing that many people don’t realize or forget to check is the kitchen “stuff” – the pots, pans, plates, and utensils. This is really important to check if you are planning on eating in your RV kitchen. Even if you are just getting takeout, it might be nice to put that food on a real plate. So check your listings to make sure you know what is included or whether you need to bring it from home.

Speaking of kitchen stuff, check to see if a grill is included. Or maybe your camp site will have a charcoal grill available (many state or local campgrounds have some grills available). Make sure that you bring the appropriate fuel – charcoal or propane.

You may also want to check on the other outdoor gear. Some motorhome rentals may include things like outdoor camping chairs and other necessary items. But don’t count on it.

Do a Walk-Through When Your Pick Up Your RV

RVs are complicated. Even the basic RVs.

So when you go to pickup your RV, have the owner or their representative walk you through the basics. Even if they are delivering the camper to your camp site, still have them walk you through everything.

Some things that are important for you to know:

  • How to successfully setup the camp – level the RV, set jacks, extend slides – and how to break down camp
  • How to operate the awning and know when to bring it in
  • If needed, how to setup any tables or couches for sleeping
  • How to hookup power, fresh water, and sewer hoses
  • How to dump the waste tanks.
  • How to check the battery status.
  • How to run the generator (especially important if you need the AC and you are driving!)

Ask for permission, but video the walk-through if possible. You will be getting lots of information and a video is great to refer back to when you have questions when you get to the camp site.

Another useful purpose of a video and walk-through – note any pre-existing damage to the RV. You don’t want anything you didn’t cause to come out of your damage deposit!

Check the Rules on Pets

Oak Mountain State Park RV Campgrounds are dog friendly and the dogs will love the hikingAre you wanting to take your dogs along with your family to the campground? Check your rental agreement – some owners will not allow pets in their rental RVs.

Also, you’ll want to check your campground for any special rules that they may have. Not all campgrounds welcome pets. And some have restrictions on breeds, sizes, or how many you can bring with you. Make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for disappointment during your planning stages.

See Also: The Ultimate Dogs’ Guide to RVing

Have Fun and Go RV Camping!

Social Distance Camping in a Rental RV - a picture of Class A motorhome - Tips for First Time RV Renters from RV Tailgate LifeThe most important thing is to get out there and have some fun. I think we all deserve it after how this year began.

For some more information on renting an RV, check out:
Tips for Renting an RV for Tailgating
Go RV Tailgating with RVShare

Renting an RV for camping is great. It’s even more fun when you can go tailgating. So try it out now and then come back and rent it again when we get sports back!

Soon enough, you’ll be hooked and want to buy your own RV so you can go camping and tailgating all the time!

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