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Many visitors to California dream of renting an RV to tour the state. Here is some brief information about renting an RV. At the bottom of this page you'll find a list of some of the better known RV rental companies.
The category of "RV" includes a broad range of recreational vehicles. For travelers interested in renting an RV for their visit, these are the types of RVs which are appropriate.
Motorhomes: Motorhomes come in several categories.
The largest are called "Class A". These are the coach or bus type of motorhomes, and usually are longer than about 30 feet.
The next size down are called "Class C". These are the ones you see most often with a rental companies' logo emblazoned on the sides of it. The size of these ranges from about 20 feet up to about 30 feet.
The smallest of the motorhomes are called "Class B". Class B's are about 17 to 21 feet long, and usually do not sleep more than two people. They look like a van and are 'slimmer' than a small Class C. Class B's are sometimes called a "campervan" - see campervan section below.
Any of these motorhomes may be equipped with a "slide out". The slide out is a section of the motorhome which literally "slides out" with a push of a button to provide more interior room when you are parked at an RV park or campground. If you are interested in this, check with the various RV rental companies to see if they provide units with a slide out.
A true " campervan" in the United States is generally considered to be a fairly basic small van. A campervan most likely will not have amenities such as a toilet or shower, and it may not have a full kitchen with refrigerator and microwave. Some campervans are extremely basic, and provide not much more than a sleeping bed, a few shelves and cupboards, and a tiny icebox.
The difference between a Class B small motorhome and most campervans is that the Class B will have a toilet, shower, full kitchen with microwave, air conditioning, a furnace and often a small generator. A campervan, as stated above, most likely will be much more basic.
Basic rental / budget information:
The dream of many potential RVers is to just "wander around', stopping wherever you feel like.
Unfortunately, this is just a dream , not reality, especially between April and October! State Park campgrounds must be booked months ahead of time. Extremely popular National Parks such as Yosemite have very limited campsites within the park and book up within minutes of the opening date & time for taking reservations - which is months in advance. Private RV parks do not require booking months ahead, but one should still make reservations several weeks ahead of time in popular tourist areas.
In rural, less populated areas (or in winter) it is easier to travel around without booking ahead, however, the popular tourist sights that most people want to visit are not located in outlying rural areas!
Motorhome "buyback" programs: These are not as common in the USA as they are in other countries. However, if you are interested in a long-term stay in an RV, it is an option to consider. Here is one company that offers a buyback progam: Highway Campers
Some motorhome rental companies:
Luxe RV - luxury RVs
Moturis - in connection with Camping World
California RV Rentals - San Diego area motor home and travel trailer rentals
Highway Campers - no additional cost for a one way rental to a few locations, can take to Canada or on to Alaska
USA Camper RV - Yucaipa (east of LA) Small Class B motorhomes ; also Class C
Campervan North America - Las Vegas office, not in CA. Small motorhomes
Silver Ash Campers - Monterey (San Francisco area). Pickup truck campers , unlimited mileage.
CAMPERVANS The following rent basic campervans. Some of these might not rent one way and most have limited offices:
Bongo Buggies (one way okay)
Jucy (One way okay)
Campervan North America Las Vegas office, not in CA. One way okay
CampervanUSA (older vehicles, long term okay)
The Happier Camper Renting classic small bumper pull trailers.
RVPlusYou An RV rental booking and reservation website that lists RV rentals, by owner that are delivered, and set up at campground, events, festivals, tail gating, and private locations chosen by renter. Renter does not drive or tow the RV. RVPlusYou provides liability and damage protection.
For a fee, this company handles RV rental and route-planning and pre-books campsite and activities: Tracks & Trails
Renting an RV to see California can be an exciting family vacation, but it's not for everybody. Do plenty of research ahead of time and ask lots of questions on the TripAdvisor forums where experts & locals can help you decide if RVing is right for you!
TripAdvisor articles with more information: