RV rental in Maine
May 2, 2020 4:42 AM   Subscribe

We are thinking about doing an RV vacation this summer as it may be the safest and easiest way to do a small amount of travel. We live in southern Maine and would be heading up north, a little camping, biking, etc depending on what is open. I

have never taken on a trip like this and looking for any thoughts or guidance. Mostly about renting an RV. I am a great traveler and research and day to day things come easy to me.

We have good friends that camp off grid a lot and did a six week trip out west last year, they opted to buy a used RV rather than rent due to prices and the knowledge that they would continue to use it. For us I don't think that is the case, but pandemic travel could later that, again looking for hive mind thoughts on that.
posted by silsurf to Travel & Transportation around Maine (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you've never driven a bus sized vehicle, stay away from the class As. They are beasts.

Bringing a memory foam mattress topper (or even getting one of the full memory foam mattresses and putting it on top of the mattress may be a lot more comfortable than what's provided.

If it's going to be sweltering, having to get the generator going to have A/C can be annoying. They probably don't have super quiet ones in rental units.

Make sure you have insurance coverage.

Plan on bringing a table, EZ-up, and grill and doing some if not all of the cooking outside. The kitchen is cramped and you may not want to add heat inside.

If you plan on going to town often, it'll be a lot easier if you have a car with you but class Cs are not too bad to drive around in.

If you have latrines/toilets available, keeping the RV toilet use to pee only will help keep the whole thing smelling better. The worst part of the black water smell is pee and poop intermingling.

Keep an eye on the chassis weight limit. Most of them have pretty tight thresholds on what they should carry, especially if you're loaded with clean/grey/black water.

Find out what PSI the tires should be and check before heading out and at least halfway though the trip.
posted by Candleman at 8:19 AM on May 2

My partner and I have RVed together for more than three decades, working up from vacationing in small towables to ultimately living and traveling full-time in a 39' fifth wheel for more than 10 years. We're big advocates.

I always say, the biggest advantage of traveling in an RV is that you know exactly when the sheets were last changed and the toilet was last scrubbed. There's no schlepping of suitcases, coolers, and other junk in and out of your vehicle at the beginning and end of each day of travels. No worries about finding pet-friendly accommodations. With self-contained units, set up can be as simple as pulling in, leveling off, and unlocking the door. Once you're parked and set up, you're home. You have your own kitchen, your own bathroom, your own shower and your own bed.

That said, there are disadvantages. Most rentals are drivable class C units, built on a truck/van size frame. Driving something that wide, tall and slow to stop takes some skill and a fair mix of confidence and caution. You'll be surprised at how invisible your great big RV seems to be to other drivers.

You need to be a good planner. Storage is limited not only by space, but by weight. You won't be popping into any fast food drive-thrus along your way. Every stop for fuel or supplies or to visit an attraction means checking first that you can safely get in and find a big enough space to park, but also safely maneuver to get out again. Once you're set up for the night, there'll be no running to a grocery or drug store to pick up a couple forgotten items. And there are constantly tanks to empty (sewage and grey water) and tanks to fill (fresh water, propane and fuel).

Obviously, we found that the advantages were worth it. But there were days -- when a trailer axle broke on the Pacific Coast Highway and we spent three days and nights in a tiny just-barely-off-the-highway mountainside pulloff listening to traffic whiz by while waiting for a mechanic -- or when we backed over a 4x4, 12in post hidden in unmown grass and poked a hole in a full sewage tank -- or when we had the second flat in 24 hours and had to be flat-bed towed to a gas station to wait for two days for special-order tires to arrive -- well, let's just say, I have stories.

My advice: Don't even consider a big bus class A. Look for a 25-30 foot class C, either from a commercial RV rental specialist (CruiseAmerica and El Monte RV are the biggies, but neither seems to have a Maine outlet) or a private party (you might try RVShare or Outdoorsy for that, but I have no experience with them). Insist on and listen carefully to a full operational walk-thru on your rental RV. Take notes on electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems. Know exactly how much additional weight your rental is rated to carry with all tanks full, and stay within that limit when you pack it. (The renter may poo-poo that concern, but trust me, an overweight RV handles unpredictably and is the #1 reason for RV-related accidents.)

Do expect a learning curve when you get behind the wheel. Don't expect to save money over a traditional car/hotel road trip -- you're paying for freedom, flexibility and comfort. Take your time, stay safe, have fun, and go collect your own adventure stories.
posted by peakcomm at 8:40 AM on May 2 [4 favorites]

Can I just ask, will you spend a moment to consider your assumption that remote travel is a safer option. As someone who lives in a remote community that gets a lot of recreation visitors, I don't know a single person that isn't somewhat concerned as they discuss reopening our county. Any travel is a potential spreading vector. Traveling remotely may seem like the safer option to you, but to those that live in those remote places, it's somewhat terrifying.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:46 AM on May 2 [12 favorites]

Not sure what’s currently going on with their paywall, but here’s a recent New York Times article on the difficulties of traveling by R.V. during the pandemic.
posted by FencingGal at 12:55 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]

Do you imagine that this trip would include no contact with people? Because that's not actually how RV travel works - you stop for supplies, pay admission fees, etc. And those people you would interact with have families and lives of their own. Please reconsider your idea that this is 'safer' - for you? Or for the people of those communities? Your desire for a vacation is not more important than their safety.
posted by epanalepsis at 6:45 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]

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