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"Renting an RV" Personal Page by Camping_Girl


Renting a RV is not a cheap undertaking. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay for the RV rental, plus insurance, and a per kilometre charge.

Some places may have an all-inclusive rate, so make sure you ask. Rates are better in the off season, so if you can travel before mid-June or after Labor Day, you will generally save yourself a few hundred dollars. A one week rental in high season will cost approx $1500, not including mileage charges, which are generally $0.35 per km or so. In low season, that one-week rental would cost about $1000. Note, that this does not include the fuel.

Check before you reserve if there is a cancellation fee.

You will be charged late fees if you're late getting back. A fuel refilling fee will be applied if you don't return the unit with a full tank.

You will be required to leave a refundable damage deposit (generally charged to your credit card and reversed after you return the unit clean and undamaged with your holding tanks emptied).

Pets and smoking are not allowed by some companies and fee (more like a fine!) will be levied if you do either in their units (this is a hefty fee, generally around $250!).

In addition, you may be charged an additional fee if you plan to take the unit on certain restricted roads or areas. This is generally for roads that are so rough they are virtually impassable or in very remote areas.

There may be a fee for taking the unit outside of the country, because of the additional insurance costs.

And don't forget the fuel costs!


Your RV will not come with dishes, bedding, or towels. You will have to supply this yourself. All companies have a supply "kit" that they will rent you which includes all of these items. The bedding and towel kits are rented on a per person basis, while the dishes and other equipment are rented on a per RV basis. If you are flying in from somewhere, I think this is your best alternative. I'm not sure you could buy all of the stuff you'd need for less than the rental charge. And then what would you do with it all after the vacation?

This is what is generally included in the kits:

Equipment kit: ($100 - $200, depending on the # of people in your group)

- 2 tea towels and 1 dish cloth
- 1 set of dishes for 4 people (If you need a larger kit, they have them)
- glasses (Wine glasses upon request)
- 1 set of pots and pans
- cutlery and tray
- 1 set of knives (sometimes with a wooden block)
- pot holder
- kettle
- coffee pot
- juice container
- mixing bowl
- cutting board
- colander
- spatula / serving spoons
- can opener / corkscrew / peeler
- flashlight
- tool set
- gas lighter
- toilet chemicals / toilet paper
- axe
- bucket
- broom / dust pan
- coat hangers
- instruction manual

Personal kit: ($25 - 50 per person)

- 1 sleeping bag or duvet set for fixed bed
- 1 pillow / sheet & pillow case
- 1 set of towels: 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel, 1 face cloth

In addition you can generally rent a portable bbq, toaster, TV/DVD, lawn chairs, infant car seats, and even bikes for an additional fee.

How do you work this stuff anyway?

Before you set off in your rental RV, the company will spend an hour or two with you, showing you how everything runs. They will even take you for a test drive, and offer some driving tips, if you ask. Ask before you book if this training is offered. If the company is not prepared to offer you this assistance, I would suggest you look for a different company, because any of the reputable companies will do this.

Things you should know how to do before you leave the rental place:

1. Where do you fill the unit with water?

2. How do you drain the water? There are two kinds of dirty water in your RV, each with a separate holding tank. Grey water is the water from the sinks and shower. Black water is the water from the toilet. Both types need to be disposed of in a proper disposal site. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can dump your grey water on the ground. You can't. If you get caught, you can get a pretty serious fine. (Ask them to show you where the drain hoses are for the tanks - there may be a different one for each tank. They will probably be hidden in the bumper, FYI.)

3. How do you work the water pump? Your RV will have a pump which pumps water up from the holding tank to the sinks, toilet, etc. Over time, after you turn the pump off, gravity works its magic and the water seeps back down to the holding tank. In the newer RVs you can leave the pump turned on and it will circulate on and off as needed to keep the water pumped up. If the pump is noisy you may want to turn it off at night. It is generally a good idea to turn it off when you're gone for the day as it does drain the battery slightly.

4. Where do the propane bottles go and how do you hook them up and unhook them for refilling? A little trick for how to tell how full your propane bottles are - run your hand slowly from bottom to top. Propane is very cold, so as you run your hand upwards the tank will start to feel warm when you reach the level of the propane. If the level is within 2 - 4 inches of the bottom, you should think about refilling the bottles. You are charged the same amount for a refill, regardless of how empty the tanks are, so you do want to wait until you are close to empty before you refill them.

5. How do you light the pilot lights? There should be three pilot lights: one on the fridge, one on the stove and one on the furnace. If you are not using the furnace at all, the pilot light doesn't need to be lit. But the fridge and stove pilot lights should be lit whenever you are parked. (Close your propane bottles and flip your fridge to "battery" power when you are driving. The pilot lights may not stay lit when you are travelling, so make sure you close the bottles.)

6. How do you run the fridge, anyway? Your fridge should have 3 power options: propane, electricity and battery. The battery feature is only designed to be used when you are travelling. If you leave the fridge on this setting for any length of time with the motor turned off, you will discover that you have a dead battery! If you have a power hook up at your site, run your fridge off power, since the cost is already included in your camping fee. Save the propane for when you have no power option, as you will be paying for the propane.

7. How do you work the roof air conditioner? (If your RV is equipped with one)

8. How do you set up the awning? (If your RV is equipped with one)

9. How do you run the generator? (If your RV is equipped with one)

Make sure you are familiar and comfortable with all of these procedures before you leave the rental place.

And we're off!

There are a number of things to consider while you're ambling down the road in your RV:

The additional weight and size of a RV makes it less maneuverable than a car. Defensive driving in a RV requires making changes slowly, braking gradually, and being familiar with its handling characteristics. Because it is heavier, the RV may not stop as quickly as you are used to and you will need to leave more distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.

Most RVs are taller than passenger vehicles so you should learn about road clearances, service station canopies, bridge heights, and watch for low hanging obstacles such as tree branches. Your owner's manual or RV rental company is the best source for helping you determine the height of your RV. As a rule of thumb, if you're not 100% certain the RV will fit under something, don't drive under it. This definitely includes canopies at gas stations! You'll be in for a heart-stopping surprise if you tear the rooftop air conditioner off! (Or worse yet - part of the roof!)

Most RVs are heavier than passenger vehicles and require greater braking distances. You need to allow more time for the vehicle to slow down or stop. In the mountains you must also worry about brakes overheating from prolonged use. To prevent this on downgrades, shift to a lower gear to allow the engine to help slow the vehicle.

A RV is naturally slower than a car. It takes longer to climb a hill because it's heavier. Keep this in mind, practice good manners, and use pullouts to allow other vehicles to pass. The drivers behind you will be able to see ahead more easily if you try not to drive right along the centre line. If you are travelling with other RVs in a group, be sure to leave enough space between your RV and the RV in front of you for other drivers to enter when they pass.

Bad weather conditions including winds, fog, rain, snow, and ice are hazards to all drivers. Schedule your trips to avoid bad weather conditions wherever possible.

Before you start driving your rental RV, sit in the driver's seat and adjust the seat and all mirrors for best road views.

When reversing in your rental RV, ask someone to stand outside the vehicle to direct you. This prevents the driver from hitting any obstacles not seen in the mirrors. If another person is not available, the driver should inspect the area behind the vehicle before backing up.

Where do we start?

Below is a list of a few rental companies in Alberta and BC. This is by no means a complete list. This list should not be considered an endorsement in any way of any company listed; it is intended simply as a starting point for rental information.

Go West Campers Calgary GoWest

All Drive Canada AllDrive

Canada RV Rentals CanadaRV

High Country RV Rentals HighCountry

Traveland Traveland

Fraserway RV Rentals Fraserway

Cruise Canada CruiseCanada

Westcoast Mountain Campers WCM

Budget Rentals on Vancouver Island VancouverIsland

If you do a google search on "RV rentals western Canada" you will find pages and pages of rental listings.

  • Page Updated Oct 17, 2008
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