Tuesday, March 21, 2023


Thinking about renting an RV for a special adventure? Here’s advice

Owning an RV is no reason not to rent an RV. Thanks to rentals, I’ve explored RV life in Australia and New Zealand. I can fly to Alaska when vacation time is short and do a two-week rental instead of making the long drive from Florida. Rentals not only save time, but they also give me a chance to try different rigs, gear and layouts.

The downside is that rental RVs are furnished with bare-bones essentials. There’s usually table service for four or six, one set of battered cookware, a skillet with a nonstick finish that wore away many moons ago, “their” choice of bed pillows and linens plus one bath towel per person to last all week. There may or may not be a tool kit and a first aid kit, both of them off the shelf.

Here are my 20 essential take-alongs, most of them small enough to take in checked luggage. Some of them may work for you.

Take-along essentials when renting an RV

  1. My own knives, at least one chef’s knife and one smaller knife, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. “Theirs” are always poor quality and dull. Bonus points if you also bring a small whetstone. Also your own medical kit depending on family needs, such as prescriptions, diabetic supplies, EpiPen, and children’s size OTC meds.
  2. All-purpose tool(s), even if you have only a Swiss Army knife. Many multi-purpose tools are now made for travelers. Some even fit on a key chain yet do amazing things.
  3. My own manual, double-gear can opener. “They” probably provide only a cheap, single-gear can opener with a dull blade.
  4. A yard or two of inexpensive nylon net, the kind you’d use to make a tutu for your granddaughter’s dance recital. It takes up no space and serves as a bug cover or strainer. Scrunch up a square foot of it to make a safe scrubber for dishes. Shake it out and it’s instantly dry to put away.
  5. Removable towel holders come in many types and sizes. There is never enough drying room in RVs and it’s bad manners to drape damp beach towels over bushes or the rearview mirror. Some racks go over a door. Some attach with suction. Command brand hooks come in many sizes and attach to walls. Remove them without scars.
  6. Clothespins. Old-fashioned wood, spring-loaded types are strong and reliable. Use them indoors and out to secure laundry, potato chip bags, and picnic tablecloths. Pin a swath of net or cheesecloth around dishes to keep flies away.
  7. Large, heavy-duty trash bags. Use them as dry bags, garbage bags, and laundry bags. Put them up as emergency privacy curtains or rain covers.
  8. 110V immersion coil-type water heater. When you have electric available, one of these tiny heaters fits in a cup of water and heats it in minutes while you wait for the campfire to get started.
  9. A toiletries bag for each person. Even if the RV has a bathroom cabinet, there is never enough room for everyone. Keep personal toiletries in a bag that goes in and out of the bathroom and campground showers with you. Bonus points if the kit hangs up on one nail or hook. Some backwoods campground washrooms have no counter space. Add your own preferred insect repellant(s).
  10. A collapsible water jug. It takes up no room yet it holds several gallons of water. (Mine holds 2 ½ gallons.) I prefer the kind with a built-in spigot. Lay it on its side and you have running water.
  11. It’s handy to have an extra ice chest. Bring a soft-sided ice chest that doubles as luggage, storage, and a pillow.
  12. Extra pillowcases. In steamy weather, you may want to change pillowcases more often. They’re also useful as stuff bags and catch-alls.
  13. Flashlights. You can’t ever have too many.
  14. Beach towels. They’re bulky but they serve as sit-upons, bath sheets, beach cover-ups, and a light blanket.
  15. Phone chargers and adapters for your personal electronics. Bonus points if you have a solar phone charger.
  16. Small hanks of string, small lines and dental floss. You’ll know why when the time comes.
  17. Zip-top plastic bags in all sizes.
  18. An ice pick. Use it as an awl and hole punch. Make a sieve by punching holes in a foil pan or a paper cup. Make a poke cake. Prick steaks for quicker marinating.
  19. Boilable bags for heating foods without having to wash a pan.
  20. A what-not kit. Think of it as your portable “kitchen junk drawer.” Start with a zip-top bag and throw in some paper clips, rubber bands, pre-threaded needles, twist ties, a few disposable kitchen gloves and/or rubber gloves, a small corkscrew, duct tape, tie wraps, a marker pen, etc., etc. You’ll thank me later.




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SM Jenkins
1 month ago

Do you seriously pack all that when you fly to Alaska to rent an RV?

1 month ago

We rented our 5th wheel through once and never again!
Renters who were a nice family who broke our basement door hinge, left the awnings out and level during a rain, and did not empty the black and grey tanks correctly. All of this after a 90 minute operational walk through and a few pages of notes for reference.
Bottom line? They were a family on vacation and had little interest in learning about an RV. Yes the damage was paid for from the rental company, but not my time and travel to the dealer. If anyone is considering it; DON’T!

1 month ago

After renting once we learned the most important thing we did not bring was a fly swatter. Our dog hates things flying around and it made him miserable with all the flies that got in. Next time we rent it will be the first thing we pack.

Bob M
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

I had one dog that would catch the flies in his mouth and eat them.

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