RV Rental Tips

RV Rental Pick-up and Return

RV rental pick-up or return is typically not possible directly at airports, city centers (i.e. downtowns) or rail stations; it usually must occur at the rental depot itself. Chiefly for insurance reasons this constraint is more or less an industry standard. The RV rental depot personnel must explain to you in detail how the RV and its equipment function. The setting and facilities of the depot itself make such explanation possible. The pick-up procedure takes nearly one hour and usually involves a video presentation. Ask questions to resolve any doubts you might have about the rental and operation of the motorhome.

In continental Europe it's not standard for the rental companies to offer airport shuttles, and if they do they typically charge for them. In Scandinavia the rental companies typically do offer free transport from and to the airport but they charge for transport from or to city locations or very distant airports. When you rent a RV in the USA or Canada it is quite standard for rental companies to offer free airport transport but only within a small, standard time window. If the rental you are interested in does not include free shuttle transfer, take solace in the fact that if it did it's price would naturally be higher to accommodate that cost, and it's easier to jump in one or another taxi than to track down a particular shuttle.

Most rental companies account for cost according to standard pick-up and return times so that most vehicles can be prepared during regular business hours and delivered to a client on the same day that the vehicle is returned by the previous client. Thus the rental company doesn't lose out on renting that vehicle for that night. This accounting is analogous to that used by the hotel and vacation home rental industries, where the standard is for afternoon check-in (RV pick-up) and morning check-out (RV return). As such, many RV rental companies account by "nights" rather than "days". A non-standard, morning pick-up would thus entail charge for the previous night. And a non-standard, afternoon return would entail charge for that night. Similarly, if a rental depot is closed on Sundays, a Monday morning pick-up might entail charge not only for the preceding Sunday night but also for the preceding Saturday night, this because the vehicle must be prepped on Saturday morning and therefore cannot be rented out on the Saturday and Sunday night.

Carefully inspect the RV's surface. Point out any marks, scratches, etc, to the RV rental depot staff. Take time-stamped photos of the vehicle including the roof, or video tape the inspection, so nothing is missed. The rental depot records any rental RV damage on a damage checklist that you will have to sign.

Examine the RV's interior to be sure it's clean, all appliances function, all cabinets and windows close properly, etc.

Read the insurance documentation provided upon the pick-up occasion by the rental company. The terms and conditions of the insurance are of course subject to change between the time you booked the RV rental and the pick-up occasion. Insurance changes are outside the control of IdeaMerge. Take special note of the geographic domain in which the insurance is effective.

Upon the RV rental pick-up occasion, you must place a security deposit with a valid major credit card in the name of a person who is at the rental depot and traveling in the vehicle. Many motorhome rental companies actually charge that security deposit to the card, refunding it in part or whole within a week or so after the rental return. In contrast, many rental companies simply authorize ("block") the security deposit amount on the card; they only charge the amount or part of it in the event of actual damage. Those who merely authorize are taking more of a risk. Those that actually charge the security deposit are taking less risk yet they do suffer the very considerable merchant credit card transaction fees for both the charge and the (potential) credit. If your security deposit is actually charged and later refunded and if your currency is different than the rental company's currency, you may of course either win or lose in terms of the exchange rate variation between the date of charging and the date of crediting, and you may suffer a foreign transaction fee if your card company does charge such fee (which many car companies pointedly do not charge).

Special tip: If you are traveling abroad to a country that uses a different currency than yours, use for the trip a credit card that does not charge a foreign currency transaction fee nor, more generally, a foreign transaction fee. Many do not but many do. Search the subject on the internet to discover the top cards that charge no such fee. At 1–3%, such fees really add up, and they are totally unneccessary.

At some RV rental depots parking is permitted. You must ask in advance. Space is typically not guaranteed, and you park there at your own risk. Typically rental depot personnel can direct clients to optimal parking solutions nearby the depot. Some RV rental depots allow you to store personal items while you are traveling.

Test drive the motorhome or camper van at and near the rental depot. If you notice anything unusual, especially regarding the clutch, or see any warning lights on the dashboard, notify the rental depot immediately.

Please do not expect to make changes to the RV rental booking when you pick up the RV or while traveling. Such changes might be possible, but that depends on availability.

Make sure all of your requested accessories are included. Check them at the depot to be sure they are in satisfactory condition and tell the staff if you have questions or doubts.

Make sure all vehicle equipment is included and in satisfactory condition, such as the hose, cleaning supplies, etc.

Ask how all features work, especially the awning (if present). You will be charged for damage to a motorhome or camper van feature. Some features, such as the awning and bike rack, are not guaranteed, because the vehicle might be delivered directly from the factory with no time for installation.

Test the GPS unit (if present) to be sure it works correctly. Note: it might be less expensive and more effective for you to buy a GPS navigation device before your trip, load it with the appropriate software, and program it with points of interest. Special navigation software for large vehicles (motorhomes, trucks) is now on the market, from the likes of Magellan and Rand McNally.

Check whether the vehicle manual is in the vehicle and in a language you can understand.

Regarding LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) for heating and cooking (alias "camping gaz" or "propane"): Ask the depot for appropriate LPG connectors/adapters for each country you plan to visit, and make sure the motorhome's LPG heating/cooking cylinders are sufficiently full upon pick-up and upon crossing national borders. Many European, Scandinavian, British and Irish rental motorhomes employ LPG cylinders (or bottles) which are meant to be exchanged by the customers rather than refilled by customers or by retail operations, the customer paying only for the LPG. The refilling of such cylinders by retail businesses is prohibited in the UK and in many other countries because it is a dangerous process and one which can easily be performed improperly. Continental exchangeable cylinders are not typically available on the UK or Irish markets; and there is no adapter on the general market which interfaces continental heating and cooking systems to the "Calor" gas exchangeable cylinders standard in the UK and Ireland. So, you might need to bring extra, full exchangeable cylinders if you are crossing to the UK or Ireland for an extended tour. UK and Irish RV rental company's supply the standard Calor gas exchangeable cylinders for travel in the UK and Ireland. When a client is traveling from the UK or Ireland to Europe, the rental company typically supplies the client with continental "Camping Gaz" exchangeable cylinders and/or an adapter that interfaces the Camping Gaz exchangeable cylinders to UK heating and cooking systems. Calor gas cylinders are not available outside the UK. Rgardless of where you are picking up, it is indeed a good practice to ask the depot for appropriate LPG connectors/adapters for each country you plan to visit. The exchangeable cylinders tend to vary by country even within continental Europe. Therefore you might not be able to exchange the cylinders provided by the motorhome rental company. Instead you might need to buy an exchangeable cylinder locally (in which case you'd also have to place a deposit on the exchangeable cylinder, because it remains the property of the gas company.) In such situation an adapter is usually needed to fit the exchangeable cylinder to the vehicle's heating and cooking system. Moreover, you might need a different regulator as well, although this is now typically the case only with pre-year-2004 vehicle models (which are rarely rented). With respect to LPG cylinders that are meant to be refilled by customers or retail operations, various connectors might be needed to re-fill the cylinders because the LPG dispenser nozzles at fuel stations tend to vary from country to country. Three different dispenser connectors used in Europe: the Dutch Bayonet, the Claw or Italian Dish, and the ACME thread. See the following articles.

The RV should be returned with the toilet waste receptacle (e.g. blackwater tank) and the shower/sink waste water tank (greywater tank) empty. Otherwise the rental company reserves the right to charge a waste cleaning fee.

You are obliged to return the vehicle to the scheduled depot or location. There is an hourly charge for late return, and the time window for return is probably far less than 24 hours. Contact the rental depot if you cannot return on time.

The rental depot personnel will thoroughly inspect the RV for any damage. If the damage is not already marked on the damage checklist, you will be held responsible.

The RV should be returned clean inside and be emptied of luggage by the reserved return time. (Typically the motorhome rental company will clean the outside.) If the vehicle is not clean on the inside — i.e. not only emptied of luggage but also with clean floors (vacuumed or thoroughly swept), clean seats, clean appliances, clean bathroom, and generally clean surfaces — the rental company reserves the right to charge a substantial interior cleaning fee. You are not allowed to clean the RV at the rental depot. You will also be responsible for any claim made by a subsequent client because of their pick-up delay.

You must report and turn in to the rental depot any parking, toll-road or other tickets received during your rental. When you rent a RV in Canada, the USA, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, etc, the cost of any associated fine or fines devolves upon you the client, even if you were not directly ticketed for the violation or were otherwise unaware of the violation. Moreover, the rental company might charge you an administration fee for processing each such fine.