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RV Basics


You don’t need a special license to drive an RV! If you have a US State issued license or an international license and you are over 25 years old, you are good to go.


The smaller the RV, the easier it will be to drive and maneuver. You will be surprised at how quickly you will adapt to driving even the larger vehicles. The biggest difference between driving an RV to driving your car is the width and acceleration. You will want to take turns wider than usual and give yourself a little more time to speed up and slow down. Most people who book with us are first-timers, so no worries there.


Your RV will come with a bed, or multiple beds. Depending on what type of RV you get, your bed will be “fixed” (always open) or “convertable” (make a bed out of the dinette, couch, etc.) Either way, RVs are meant to provide a comfortable night’s sleep. Your rental will have the option to come with “sleep kits” which is worth it. This assures you have pillows, the correct size sheets and comforters for each bed.

Tumbleweed Tip: If there are older people in your group, make sure that your sleeping configuration does not put them in the “overcab” bed which involves climbing a ladder. Those beds are best for nimble and younger sleepers.


Most RVs come with small kitchens that will make cooking easy. Stoves are standard and most Class C and A RVs will also come with an oven. These are powered by onboard propane gas and don’t need electricity. Kitchens are also equipped with sinks and running water and work (via a battery pump) even if you aren’t hooked up to water or electricity. Rental companies will issue you a “kitchen kit” which outfits your rig with everything you need to cook and eat (pots, pans, plates, bowls, silverware, etc.)

Tumbleweed Tip: If you are a seasoned cook, it would be worth bringing your own chef’s knife when you rent your RV, as many knives supplied aren’t the best.


Most RVs come toilet in a self contained bathroom. These toilets are flush and use the fresh water onboard and water pump to work. They can work with or without hook-ups. The used water from the toilet, black water, is collected in the “black tank” under your RV. These need to be “dumped” every few days depending on usage. There are gages in your RV help you know when they need to be dumped, as well.


Most modern RVs have showers. Shower water comes from the freshwater tank in your RV or from the spigot at your campsite. The water is heated via your onboard propane fuel and pressure is provided onboard, as well. The used water is collected in your “gray tank” and will need to be dumped depending on usage.


Depending on how large of a unit you own or rent, will depend on the space you have at your disposal. We recommend using soft sided luggage when renting an RV so it doesn’t take a lot of space when you unpack for your trip. Most RVs have cabinets for food storage, and a small closet or two for your clothes and personal items. It will most likely be less space then you are use to, so pack wisely.

Tumbleweed Tip: Many Campgrounds have laundry facilities, so it is feasible to do laundry mid-trip, so you can pack less.


Motorhomes and RVs are vehicles, so they are all equipped with seatbelts. It is safe to say that the RV will have the same number of seatbelts as the number of sleeping spaces. For example, if an RV notes that it is “Sleeps 5” then the vehicle will have seatbelts for 5 people. It is mandatory for the front passenger and driver to wear seat belts while driving, laws vary in states about whether passengers must wear seatbelts, as well. Best to ask at the rental stations what the local laws are.

Tumbleweed Tip: If you are traveling with children who still ride in a car seat, most modern RVs have at least one “tether” for securing car seats, and sometimes two.

Air Conditioning

Most RVs come with air conditioning units. These units are only powered via electricity, therefore will only run if you are hooked up to electricity or you are running your generator. In hot climates, you will want a campground that cools down at night or has an electric hook-up, as most campsites will not let you run your generator overnight.


Heaters in motorhomes work using onboard propane fuel. You can use your heater anytime, as long as your propane tanks are full. They are also regulated by thermostat, and can keep you very comfortable.


Unless otherwise noted, RVs take unleaded gas as fuel. Fuel is also a consideration in the overall cost of your trip. As a general rule, Small Class C RVs get about 9-12 mile per gallon, where Large Class A RVs get as low as 5-8 mpg.


All RV rental companies provide Liability Insurance coverage with your rental. This covers you if someone is injured or their property gets damaged, and they try to sue you. In addition to this basic coverage included in your rental, most companies offer additional insurance at an added cost covering limited liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. This is needed if you damage your RV during your rental. We recommend buying this when you check out your vehicle.

Tumbleweed Tip: It is worth calling your personal auto insurance company to see if an RV rental is covered under your existing plan. If so, you won’t need to purchase the additional coverage provided by the rental company.

Roadside Assistance

All established RV rental companies provide roadside assistance. If you are renting a private vehicle (from Outdoorsy or RVShare) you will have an option to have roadside assistance added on. We 100% recommend paying for roadside assistance, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Traveling with Pets

We love our dogs and pets, but sadly, many RV rental companies don’t allow them in their rentals. Private rentals are much more likely to allow pets with an addition of an additional cleaning fee. If you are planning on traveling to a hot location and to any national park, it is best to leave your furry friends at home. National Parks do not let animals anywhere but parking lots and paved paths, and if you leave them in the RV for too long, the heat can be dangerous for them. If you do want to travel with a pet, let us know it’s a priority and we can find a route and time of year that will make it safer.

Travel Time

Traveling in an RV is slower than a small passenger car. Modern RVs can keep up on the highway, but it is best to think about your travel at an average of 50 miles per hour. You will want to stop, explore, eat, use the bathroom. Gaining speed, turning, slowing down is all slower in an RV, so plan accordingly.