The past 18 months have been … strange, To say the least. When the pandemic was confirmed last spring, like most of us, I went through something akin to the Five Stages of Grief. Somewhere between stages two (anger) and three (negotiation), I was struck by the realization that I would not be traveling anytime soon. As a professional travel writer, it was not easy to deal with. I felt it on a personal and emotional level. In the months that followed, cabin fever became very real. Come last fall, I was ready to escape almost literally anywhere. If I had been able to find a safe one-way flight to Akron, Ohio, I might have considered it.

So in September my girlfriend and I did the only sane thing: we bought a trailer. Take that, coronavirus. We joined the ranks of the tens of thousands of people with a pandemic who took America’s (mostly) open roads last year in the ultimate act of escape. Almost a year later, I’m happy to say it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys traveling, especially since the future of international travel seems to be on hold (or do not in the air, so to speak).

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If you’re not ready or able to take that next big international vacation, but feel like going, maybe a motorhome trip is in your future as well. But if you are new to RVs or are thinking of buying your own RV for the first time, I recommend you give it a try before you buy. Fortunately, there is an app for this. It’s called RVshare, and the folks there recently invited us for a ride with their RV rental service.

RVshare explained

RVshare has done for RVs what Airbnb has done for vacation homes, Turo has done for cars, and Swimply made for swimming pools. It’s a peer-to-peer rental site that connects RV owners with anyone looking to rent an RV. Basically, RVshare promises to help you “find the perfect RV rental” with a “large inventory” which is the “biggest RV rental market“. They are listed in all US states, so there’s a good chance there is an RV waiting to be rented near you. If you’ve ever booked a getaway through Airbnb, you’ll recognize the process. It’s fast and painless. The whole process can take less than an hour, from registration to research, reservation to confirmation.

RVshare RV Rental Website (screenshot)

Find the perfect RV rental with RVshare

Site research is similar to Airbnb, which is deceptively simple, allowing you to start with just the location, dates, and total number of people who will be camping. From there, you can select the exact type of RV you’re looking for by narrowing your search down with a long list of features and amenities. This includes almost everything you would expect to find in a modern condo – things like refrigerators, kitchen sinks, toilets, outdoor showers, DVD players, and iPod docking stations. If you bring your dog or smoke in the RV, be sure to include them in your search as well.

Some owners will even deliver their RVs to your home or a nearby campground, usually for a fee. To really simplify the installation and dismantling process, some even host fixed camping on their property. All you have to do is introduce yourself. Pay attention to any special requirements, as some owners don’t want their motorhome to be used for festivals, concerts, or other big events.

RVshare Airstream Interstate RV Location

Booking your first motorhome rental

If you’re not particularly picky, you can find a rental near you, check out features, amenities and requirements, and book it in under 15 minutes. For my own rental, I was traveling alone and without pets, and specifically wanted a “van type” model that could be driven. It took about 45 minutes, but that’s because most of the RVs near my hometown of Tulsa – and there were quite a few – were already booked, and I was looking at the last minute.

Some listings allow tenants to book instantly without having to wait for a response from the landlord. My owner was a little more picky (I would be too if I handed over the keys to a $ 250,000 vehicle to a complete stranger), so I had to ask for my dates and wait for a response. This is where it pays to fill out your rental profile so potential owners can see your face, get a feel for your RV experience, and know where you intend to take their vehicle. The owner confirmed my reservation within 24 hours and I was good to go.

It should be noted that in addition to the rental fee, you should expect to pay a large security deposit (mine was $ 1,500), rental insurance fees ($ 40 per day for my rental) and taxes as well. All-inclusive prices vary widely depending on pickup location, size, length, amenities, and rental period. Basic towable travel trailers can cost less than $ 50 per night, while the more luxurious and complete Class A motorhomes can cost over $ 400 per night.

Airstream RV rental via RVshare

Pick up day

Upon pickup, the owner patiently went through every last feature of his 2016 Airstream Interstate with me. He showed me the connection to the city water, where the electric cables were stored to connect to the shore power, how the rear view cameras worked, etc. Renters should feel free to ask questions about anything they are unsure of to avoid confusion and potential damage to the rental. As with renting a car at the airport, the process also includes a visit to note existing damage, fuel levels, hours of generator use, and more. Meeting the owner, examining the motorhome, and leaving took just over 30 minutes. Depending on your level of experience, the complexity of the RV, and any questions you might have, I don’t see it taking much longer than an hour. RVshare makes it completely painless.

Camp in style

Like most RVshare listings, mine included a detailed description and lots of photos, so I knew what to expect. Still, I was surprised to find that unlike my sleek 17ft travel trailer, it felt more like a private jet. The Airstream badge should have been a clue. Polished wood panels and plush, dark fabrics covered every square inch of the interior, with shiny chrome hardware throughout. Ambient lighting under the cabinet gave the cabin a moody cigar lounge feel. Every creature from the comforts of home – an open-plan kitchen, a wet bathroom with a shower, air-conditioning, an electric fold-out king-size bed, and a big-screen TV – was encased in the modest 24-foot frame of the Interstate. This meant that the three days I spent camping in rural Oklahoma were no ordinary experience.

I arrived at Birch Cove Campground a few hours before dark and backed off to my campsite by the water. Backup cameras have done a lot of the heavy lifting here. From parking the platform and connecting to shore power to deploying the automatic awning and opening my camp chair and table, I was officially camping on the water in less than 15 minutes. If you are an outdoor enthusiast who has not yet experienced the joys of modern camping, I cannot stress enough that it can be meditative. I’ve spent 72 hours reading, gazing at the water in quiet contemplation, cooking over an open fire, and bird watching – obviously that’s something I’m passionate about now. The best part? No permanent internet connection to tempt me into Google’s burrows or social networks. It turns out that woodpeckers ‘morning chatter and scissortail flycatchers’ mating habits are infinitely more interesting anyway.

RV rental tips for beginners

If you are renting a motorhome I guess you don’t own one and you might be new to the game. If you have experience towing a motorhome, boat, trailer, etc., then feel free to find a travel trailer that is right for you. If, on the other hand, you have little or no towing experience, I recommend sticking to smaller, drivable RV models. A Class B or Class C van or motorhome is your best bet, and there are plenty of options on RVshare. These represent the smallest models that can be driven and integrate everything into a single stand-alone unit. In high-end models like my Airstream, everything is automated, taking away much of the guesswork associated with RV camping. They are also generally shorter than a combined vehicle and trailer, making them easier to park and find a parking space. Basically, if you’re comfortable driving a full-size truck or van, you won’t have any issues with a Class B or C class RV.

If you are completely green in the motorhome world, there are a few other things to consider when choosing the right campsite and the right rental motorhome. If you prefer to camp in the shade, make sure your RV includes an awning. Also check the amperage requirements (this is a measurement of the maximum electrical requirements for each unit, measured by 20, 30, or 50) for your rental RV. If you are staying at a campsite, your campsite will need to provide the same amperage to allow you to run things like your air conditioner, microwave, lighting, electronics, and outlets.

Sunset at Birch Cove Campground in Oklahoma

When shopping at campsites, note that they are available as return or pick-up sites. If you’re not quite comfortable backing up an RV, especially if it’s relatively large, consider a troubleshooting site. It literally allows you to cross straight through when you arrive and when you leave, so you never move forward. Return sites are generally less expensive, but they are also less convenient.

Finally, no matter where you go or for how long, we recommend a good packing list app to make sure you don’t forget anything. There is nothing worse than being hours away from home without a camping lantern, a good multi-tool, or some other fancy glamping gear you can’t leave home without.

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