We booked an RV rental – now what?

Trying an RV rental in the winter 

So we all go through various stages of decision-making when it comes to precious time off from work.  In our case we were weighing timing of a cruise, trip to the UK or possibly renting an RV.  A cruise out of Florida was the most reasonably priced option but we wanted to do a balcony having had not the best experience on our last cruise on an inside room so that increased the priced quite a bit.  And budget is always a consideration.

We looked into flights overseas and realized that we probably would bust the budget with that too.  Then I was doing some searching on RV rentals and it finally hit us when I came across a special offer from Cruise America.  They were looking for people to take brand new motor homes to Florida one-way from Chicago.

After a little math and a little bit of talking it over, this became the obvious option from the budget perspective.  At $19 per day with 200 miles and no drop off fee, the Cruise America deal was what we were going to go with.  It is called their Factory Delivery Specials.  While it probably isn’t for everyone, why would you NOT do this?

Here is the side of one of the units we saw at the Tampa location where we will drop off our RV.  This is the same as the one we will be renting on the one way special, except that ours will be new.
Here is the side of one of the units we saw at the Tampa location where we will drop off our RV. This is the same as the one we will be renting on the one way special, except that ours will be new.

We will be somewhat novices at this though I recall as a kid my Dad always packing us up in the motor home and going across country or to the Jersey Shore or a battlefield somewhere.  I even took my parent’s motor home to Virginia Beach on Spring Break from Penn State once so I’ve at least driven one and my partner has rented one many years ago.

The interior cab of the RV we'll be renting.  I'm sure it has some other name but this is the driver's seat.
The interior cab of the RV we’ll be renting. I’m sure it has some other name but this is the driver’s seat.

This works for us because we have two dogs and can rent a car one-way to Chicago and we live in the Tampa Bay area so we will drop it off here at home.  There are other cities to choose from including Phoenix, AZ plus Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and some other options.

We are now at the planning stage and working on our strategy.  Depending on weather (since it will be nearly winter) we have a few options mapped out though we are still planning various places to visit assembling everything on 3 x 5 cards and then creating a route based on weather.  We will also fill up various large carrier bags (like you can get at Ikea) and fill those with our own linens, pillows, blankets, clothes, and whatever we will need in the kitchen which won’t be much since there is just the two of us.

Plenty of room to play and eat in this RV while one of us drives through the country.  For families, this folds into a double bed and there is ample storage under each seat.
Plenty of room to play and eat in this RV while one of us drives through the country. For families, this folds into a double bed and there is ample storage under each seat.

I’ve downloaded the official visitors guides from most of the potential states that we are going through on my ipad and spend time going through them.  If you still prefer print, most of the states allow you to order these guides and they will mail them to you as well.  Like most people, we do all our research online.

So once I’ve gone through the apps and sites and prowled a few actual books we’ll take a look at them here.  In the meantime, we went to our first RV stores and actual camping stores.  The RV stores were really quite informative and while we only went to a total of three (LazyDays in Tampa, Camping World in Dover, Florida and La Mesa in Bradenton), we really have a much better idea of what we are in store for and what we would like in an RV should we ever go down that road which we may since we’ve caught ourselves looking on Craigslist too.

We will be live blogging from the trip and posting to Facebook and Twitter.  This should be a fun 17 day adventure with the RV and the dogs.

Try to make it an adventure every day!

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15 thoughts on “We booked an RV rental – now what?

  1. I can’t wait to follow this! For a bachelor’s party, the party took a RV roundtrip through all the surrounding parks in Vegas. We used the same company and it was really nice. The first thing we did once we got out of Vegas area was stocked up at Wal-Mart for all our food items. If you plan on doing National Parks, check now to see if they have RV spots (we were only able to stay at one). Otherwise, KOA’s were nice and gave a change in space regarding showering. If the weather is nice, I would see if Blue Ridge/Skyline is on the route. I have that route as my to-do and think an RV would really cool. Safe Travels!

      1. Dear Wayne, I just discovered the $19.00 delivery deal, and am interested in how the process works, and how you were treated. Just finished reading numerous complaints about CA and even the dealer in Illinois where I think the RV will be picked up. There is a dealer 20 miles north of me in Ottsville, PA. that I plan to visit since he is one of the receiving dealers. This sounds like something I would like to do with my wife, spend a month driving to Florida before returning north. I have recently retired, and I did own a 23′ Class C on a Ford chassis for 10 years. Thanks in advance for your reply and insight, John Lebiedzinski. 267-337-0926

      2. Hi John, We were overall very pleased with the RV and the service. In Chicago (Franklin Park) where we picked ours up they were very helpful and efficient and I’d have no problem going back – especially at the price – it was practically free at $19 per day. When we returned ours to Tampa after 17 days I spent a lot of time cleaning it so it was ready to go for the next person. They couldn’t wait to inspect the motor home in Tampa and make sure we fully emptied the tanks, that the LP was exactly where it should be (it never really read full and they got us for a quarter tank even though it couldn’t have been more than a dollar’s worth of propone different from where it should have been – it was very close to three quarters and it never ever read full even when it was full by their own admission in Chicago. The woman inspecting it also noticed dog hair under the driver’s seat – and I admit I missed that. They got us also for a few miles over our limit which I was prepared for. She nailed us for 50 dollars to clean the motor home. I told her I would go and vacuum it out myself and bring it back – all of this I will write about at some point when I finish all the road trip stories. So my best advice is they will try to get you for anything when you return it – I figured it must be part of their revenue model. But it wouldn’t prevent me from using Cruise America again. You can get a rude clerk anywhere and there are companies that are aggressive with tacking on cleaning fees and gas fees but you sign a contract and know that going into it so I was fine with them really. The cleaning charge was excessive for some pet hair under the drivers seat (and she did find one or two on the dash!). Cheers and hope it works for you John.

      3. Thanks for the quick reply, Wayne. I visited my nearest dealer today to see what shape his units are in. Of course they are not brand new, and I did notice some crumbs in several drawers, an odor from the fridge and foot prints on the front floor mats. Sounds like the thing to do would be to confirm that the $50.00 cleaning charge would not go up for average cleaning needed, and just return it without spending much time cleaning! The dealer here did sound honest and sincere, and he is co-owner of the business with his brother. This deal still sounds good, I will call them Monday to start the process. Will keep you posted on how my adventure goes, and thanks for your comments.
        John.

      4. That was an hour of cleaning – for some dog hair – I can’t imagine if you just returned it without cleaning what it would cost. Anyway, good luck to you, it is a terrific deal. The units are not high end but for the price and experience it is well worth it.

      5. Hi, Wayne,
        I pulled the trigger on this one today, the gal sounded very professional & knowledgeable on the phone. Got the contract & map online, and she answered some questions I had about the hitch for my bike rack. She said no TV onboard, did say there was a cable connection. Did you use any kind of device for TV reception? Also looking into a national park access pass, with a nice discount for seniors. John.

  2. Ours didn’t have a television either John. None of them do but we brought a TV and cable long enough to stretch into the RV and a laptop and between the two we were fine. We put the TV in the bedroom and the laptop sat on the table and both served as televisions. Most campgrounds have cable and wireless now or at least one of them. We since bought a smart TV which we can bring in the RV we bought and still use it at home since it isn’t bolted down anywhere. its perfect for the table and a shelf we have in the bedroom. Those would be your two best bets on the rented RV if you want television. We have a digital converter and antenna in the one we bought but were very happy with what we did in the Cruise America one we rented.

    1. Hi, Wayne, To follow up on my RV rental from CA, all went well from the check in to the return. I purchased an RCA antenna which helped when I was in the boonies, mounted my TV on a board which I put across the cutout in the front bunk. They didn’t tell me about the installed cable. I happened to discover the cable connection in the power cable compartment, but didn’t find the interior connection for a few days, it was behind the front upper curtain along with an electrical receptacle. I was able to keep the generator usage to 1 hour. Biggest problem was phone and Wi-Fi access. I stayed the first night in the local Walmart, after clearing it with the manager. then a few nights along the way at military bases with campgrounds, which were much cheaper. That also allowed me to do some tax-free shopping. Did a couple of weekends to visit nearby friends, but the best trip was to Richmond VA for the NASCAR race. Since my knee replacement in Feb, I had a handicapped placard which got me excellent parking close to my entrance gate. Spent 2 days, 3 naps and a few beers cleaning the RV inside and out, aware of how close yours was looked at. The dealer in Allentown just walked inside, recorded all the quantities, didn’t remove the dump cap to check for empty tanks, which I had dumped and flushed! I could have had a live dog under a front seat and he wouldn’t have noticed. I am checking their website regularly, looking for a similar deal soon or next spring. Only other concern was the gas mileage, 8.2 the few times I checked it. May do the next one in a standard size or smaller if available. So that’s my report, I have been letting others know about this deal, and I would do it again, if you can call that a positive review. And thanks for your earlier input, it helped very much in my decision making process. Regards, John Lebiezinski

      1. So good to hear John. Yeah gas miles add up but then so do hotel bills so it’s a trade off for freedom. Sounds like a fantastic trip!!!!

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