I rented a tricked-out RV for two days: Here’s what it was like
Editor’s note: RVshare is the exclusive sponsor of National Parks Week at TPG and covered the cost of the author’s rental and campground.
“If you have to rough it, rough it in comfort.”
Bennie Wilson (my dad)
As a kid, I was a huge fan of camping in the great outdoors. However, the rest of my family was not as enthusiastic, so I joined the Girl Scouts and remained a member until I graduated from high school — just to get in my camping fix.
I’ve camped sporadically in my adulthood, but it’s been awhile. So when I got the chance to return to my roots and test out RVshare, I jumped at the opportunity.
For the uninitiated, RVshare is the world’s first and largest peer-to-peer RV rental marketplace, serving more than 60,000 RV owners across the U.S. Owners can earn money when they’re not on the road by renting to travelers who want to take an RV trip.
RVshare offers everything from small, towable pop-up trailers to luxurious, Class A recreational vehicles the size of a city bus. So I decided to be the TPG guinea pig and test out the RVshare experience — bringing my surly 15-year-old teenager along for a schoolcation — from booking to the end of the trip.
Finding an RV
I started by creating an account at the RVshare website, which was pretty easy. You also need to search for a camping spot, whether you’re going to a National Park or renting a space at campgrounds such as KOA — and this must be done in tandem with your RV searches. This is to ensure that your desired site has open reservations and a spot that can accommodate the RV you wind up renting.
I typed in Washington, D.C., to search for RV rentals on June 8-10, 2021. As you can see above, you can choose by Driveable RV, Towable TV and Delivery (if you want the owner to deliver and set up the RV at a predetermined location). You can also limit the results to those that allow pets, and clicking More Filters gives you a host of additional options.
The price you’ll pay varies based on a number of factors, including where you’re staying, how far in advance you book, the size and age of the RV, the level of luxury you choose, and whether you want any add-ons — like delivery. Prices for smaller trailers can start as low as $60 per night, while high-end motorhomes will typically set you back $250 or more a night.
Personally, I had a few criteria for my trip:
- I wanted an RV no longer than 30 feet.
- I wanted newer options (2018-2021) with all the bells and whistles — so I could rough it in comfort.
- Finally, I wanted my RV to be delivered to (and set up at) my chosen location: a KOA campsite about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C.
One of my challenges was finding RVs that didn’t require a minimum of four nights — since I was just looking for a quick getaway. However, I ultimately found a great option and could review all of the details online. Jessie, the owner of this RV, was new to the rental game so had the flexible dates I needed.
I filled out the online application, which was quick and easy. I also used my iPhone to upload my driver’s license — both to show that I could drive and for identification purposes. Once I was confirmed, I was given the details (and the price) of my rental. I was also able to chat with Jessie, the terrific owner of the RV.
I ended up with this sweet 2021 Entegra Coach Odyssey 25R. This RV was so new that it still had that new-car smell and a paper license plate. In fact, it was nicer than my first two apartments out of college!
Booking the campsite
Once the RV was booked, it was time to get my KOA campsite. You need to give KOA details so your RV fits. I noted that I was bringing a 28-foot motorhome with slideouts (they widen the space inside the RV).
I ended up with a nice space near the store and the playground. My space was out in the open, but my RV had its own awning. It was nice to have protection from the sun when using the RV’s outdoor kitchen. The site also came with a picnic table and fire pit with wood supplied by KOA. There was enough room to park the RV and my car.
If you arrive before the store closes, it’s an easy check-in. I showed my ID and handed over my credit card. I got a map and my space number. I had previously sent that information to Jessie, who met me at my reserved spot.
Inside the RV
My RV had stainless steel appliances, two large beds, a dining area, a relaxation area with two comfy recliners, a 50-inch flat-screen television and a full bathroom with shower. Jessie and her husband attached the water source, turned on the hydraulics that kept the RV level and — most importantly — set up the system that handled the operation of our lavatory.
I was delighted to take the cool points my teen gave me for what they called “a really cool RV.” (As parents of teens know, you take the cool points whenever you can get them.)
They’re in online school at the moment and had assignments to do during our trip. The KOA camp had Wi-Fi, but it wasn’t robust enough. Fortunately, I brought my Skyroam Solis hotspot, which did the trick for both of us.
The days were warm, so I toggled between air conditioning and the fan. At night and in the morning it was chilly, so the heat went on, and both worked well. We didn’t use the stove, but the microwave came in handy. The teen slept in the berth above the driver/passenger seats, while I took the queen-sized bed in the back. Both were quite comfortable, with personal lights, power outlets and USB ports. Jessie offered us two sets of bedding and towels (minus pillows), but we passed because of COVID-19.
There was also the option to rent a camping kit and entertainment package that included two bikes, a flashlight, camp fuel, a Duraflame log, outdoor barbecue tools, five camping chairs, tents, sleeping bag, a DJI Mavic Air drone, a Nintendo Switch, a Go Pro 5 and family board games. Had our stay been longer, I might have taken the package. Regardless, it was great to have that as an option.
As it turns out, we didn’t use the television, instead choosing to eat at the inside or outside table and (gasp) spend our time talking about life. If I’m being honest, it was my favorite part of the trip, since they’re currently in that surly phase when you can’t do anything right as a parent.
Would I do this again? Absolutely! I loved the comfort and the quiet that comes with luxury RV living. And RVshare made the process so easy. It’s definitely something I’d recommend to friends and family — and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure, hopefully for an even longer getaway this time.
Screenshots courtesy of RVShare and KOA. Photos by Benét J. Wilson/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!