Guest Author - Jim Fortune
I read an article in the Wall Street Journal a while ago about people who were full timers with RVs. A full timer is one who lives and travels in their RV all of the time, and has no real estate house to call their own. Their RV is their home. While I do not think that is the life for me, I found the article interesting as it told the story of several couples who lived and traveled in their RV full time.
Retirement is probably 10 or 15 years away for me, but I am planning now for "the day" when I can leave the job and kick back. Reading this article gave me some insight on some alternatives and one of the things that really struck me was that the author said to not run out and buy a big rig and take off for the wild blue yonder. You should try renting an RV first to see if it is for you and your mate.
I have completed a trip as a first timer and I learned several things that I can pass along so you have some knowledge under your belt.
Find a RV rental company. These companies are more popular in and near cities of 400,000 people or so. There are some rental companies in smaller towns, but you will have a better choice in the larger cities.
There are two kinds of popular RV rentals. They are a Class C and a Class A. Class C is basically a rig with a bunk over the front cab and varies in length of 22 to 31 feet long. They sleep six or so depending on the size and are a great first time rig to rent. The Class A is larger most of the time and there is no separate cab area. The front of the rig is integrated with the rest of the unit and the front seats swivel around to make them a part of the living area.
A Class A rig generally costs more to rent than a Class C, and the interior is generally nicer. The ones I have seen for rent will sleep five or six depending on the size of the people. While it is tight, you can fit two little kids in one bunk in a Class A and two bigger kids in the fold out sofa bed in the living room. The master bedroom will fit two adults. The same holds true for a Class C for sleeping accommodations.
Before you rent, get a copy of the rental agreement. Read it and read it well. There are a lot of things that if they break or go wrong, you will not get any money back, so you need to know that in advance.
Take a class on how to operate an RV. Some rental dealers have a first timer class which covers the basics and then some. Ask about driving tips from the dealer and see if they offer a class on driving.
You should make up your own troubleshooting list:
This breaks - check this, this and this
That breaks or does not work - check this, this and this
Renting an RV is fun - but it is not pitching a tent and cooking over the fire that makes it worthwhile. If that is what you are looking for, check out my article on "Your first back pack trip".