A Beginner's Guide to Renting a Camper

Travel blogger Amanda Martin rents a travel trailer to camp in Oklahoma
This is a post I never thought I'd be writing....2020 really changes a person! A year or two back, a company reached out to me and asked me to do a sponsored post about renting an RV. I politely declined and said I wasn't interested and that it didn't really fit my personal style of travel.....then COVID happened. Insert face palm emoji. I haven't left the state of Oklahoma since early February and I'm going stir crazy! When you can't travel anywhere exciting on an airplane and you live in the middle of the country in a landlocked state with no fun cities, beaches or mountain ranges within a reasonable driving distance, what are you supposed to do?! Rent a RV/camper/travel trailer and head to the lake, that's what! These days, the smallest change of scenery can do wonders for your mental state.

A group of my friends planned a socially distanced weekend trip to Lake Tenkiller in Eastern Oklahoma. The other families going had RVs, so C and I decided to rent one and join them! We used Outdoorsy.com to find a travel trailer that was small enough to pull behind my 4-Runner. I hadn't been camping in YEARS; I honestly wasn't sure how I would feel about it. Luckily having the camper made it super comfortable and enjoyable despite the summer heat and I never once felt like we were "roughing it." I can totally see the appeal of having a camper and I would absolutely rent one again! 

I'm going to share a few tips for renting a camper and things we wished we would have known before hitting the road, and then I'll go over our personal rental experience. If you are interested in buying a RV of any kind, this would be a great way to dip your toes in the water and test it out before purchasing! I do want to mention that this is in no way sponsored, we paid for the travel trailer rental ourselves so you can believe me when I say it is an honest review. Since this was a trip with friends, I wasn't in blogger mode and didn't think to take many pictures, so I apologize for that! 

Where to Rent a Camper
We used Outdoorsy.com to rent our travel trailer (we also searched on RVshare.com). Both websites are similar - think of them as the AirBNBs of RVs! Individual owners list their campers at whatever price they like with their own set of rules - each listing is different. You can search by location, set your dates/price, and add amenities like pet friendly, has a shower, etc. The process is really easy but I would recommend reading the description fully and carefully as some owners include unlimited miles in the nightly rate while others stipulate mileage limits or charge extra for the use of a generator, cleaning the tank, etc. Also, be sure to check the pick up and drop off times as you may need to rent it a night early depending on when you want to hit the road. Both websites offer basic insurance along with your rental and you can add on extra insurance options, as well. 

Choosing a Camper 
Obviously you should narrow your list down to what fits with your dates, location, price range, number of beds, pet situation, amenities etc., but also keep in mind the driving/towing situation! There are multiple sizes of drivable RVs (classes A, B, C) as well as towable campers. If you plan to tow a trailer, look up the weight of it and make sure your vehicle's towing capacity can handle it. My 4-Runner was able to handle the weight of our Wolf Pup but I wouldn't want to take it cross country....it was a little dicey going uphill or when the wind hit us, so be mindful of that! 

Where to Park?
You probably have an idea of where you're headed (i.e. what city, lake or state park) but once you get there....how exactly do you know where to park? This type A planner HATES the idea of driving somewhere without knowing you have a designated place to park....but for some, that might be part of the adventure! Some RV Parks and campgrounds offer online reservations ahead of time while others are on a first come first serve basis. Some times you are allowed to park anywhere you want without a hookup (in this case you could use the generator to power the camper and use the tanks for water/sewage) and others you are assigned to a specific numbered parking pad to hook up to. It honestly depends on the destination so I would recommend doing a lot of research ahead of time on sites like RVparking.com or JustPark.com

THIS site has recommendations and descriptions of RV parks and campgrounds all around Oklahoma! I think most state parks have an abundance of campgrounds and RV sites, so just do some googling to find your best option. 

Plan Ahead, Research & Pack Accordingly
As mentioned above, be sure to read what amenities the camper comes with. Some are fully furnished and stocked while others come empty, it all depends on the individual listing's owner. Do you plan to cook outside or inside? Will you need pots and pans, knives or serving spoons? Will your campground have grills/fires for each spot or is there designated group campfire and grill site? Also be sure to check if the trailer rental will come with sheets, towels, etc. Here is a quick list of essential things to check/pack:
  • TP, paper towels & napkins
  • Trash bags
  • Hand soap and sanitizer 
  • Sheets, pillows & towels
  • Bug spray & sunscreen 
  • Silverware, serving ware, plates, cups 
  • Cookware like cutting knives, mixing bowls, cutting boards, pans 
  • Plastic wrap, foil and baggies for leftovers 
  • Food, drinks, and bottled or jugged water
  • Coffee maker and any other appliances (I think most come with a fridge and microwave)
  • Folding chairs, maybe a rug and some bistro lights if you want to create a whole patio vibe! 
  • Coolers & ice to chill food/drinks during transportation 

My Camper Rental Experience & Review
We rented THIS "Wolf Pup" travel trailer via Outdoorsy to pull behind my 4-Runner SUV; it was around $100/night and was located in Mustang, Okla., The pick up / drop off was super smooth and simple, it only took a few minutes. The owner walked us through the trailer, showed us how to use everything and how to set up the electricity, water and sewage system and how to run the generator, if necessary. I was a little concerned about all of that because I'd never done it before but it was easy. 

Our trip was thrown together very last minute so we were NOT prepared! I barely read the Outdoorsy listing, I only looked at the pictures (do what I say, not what I do), so I had no idea our camper came completely EMPTY. No sheets, no towels, no hand soap, no TP or paper towels, no cups, silverware or plates, no coffee maker, no trash bags, nothin. We also had planned to leave around lunchtime but couldn't pick up the trailer that early due to the owner's pick up / drop off policy so that kind of set us back. We then had to stop to buy all those little necessities (TP, silverware, etc) at a gas station. Luckily we had thought to bring beach towels, our pillows and blankets and I, being the coffee snob that I am, packed my Keurig lol. The plus side was that the trailer had a much bigger fridge/freezer than we anticipated so we were able to store all of our food there as opposed to keeping it on ice in a cooler. 

Hooking up everything up at our campsite took way less time than we anticipated. It was really straight forward and simple. The only problem was our toilet.....when you flushed it, it sprayed everywhere (even with the lid shut it squirted out the seat) and it was SO SMELLY when you flushed. Gross. We tested it a few times that evening and eventually it stopped spraying and seemed to be working fine.... Until it wasn't. It got clogged and overflowed (note: pretty sure it was not from us because we were very careful). Eventually C was able to fix it (bless him)...we believe it was clogged from the previous renters. So nasty.  Of course, at the same time this was going on, the toilets in the campground bathroom were also clogged and overflowing........this is the downside of camping life hahaha. I guess there is always the woods....

Despite the toilet situation, we were very happy with our little Wolf Pup camper! It was a 2019 model and still looked and smelled new. The bed was very comfortable and the AC kept us perfectly cool. I'm a light sleeper and the AC was loud enough to drown out any noise from neighbors. The kitchen table converted to sleeping area for a third person, if needed! The camper also had a TV that could be moved inside or outside + it had USB/bluetooth hookup for speakers inside and out. It even had a specific hook for dog leashes which I loved! 

We originally planned to bring our dogs with us as it was a pet friendly camper, but we ended up boarding them. I think they would have had a blast but it's a good thing they didn't come because our Wolf Pup would have been a little tight for two gigantic, long haired, large breed dogs + two humans. I think if the weather was cooler and the dogs could have handled being outside the whole time (except when sleeping at night of course) we could have managed, so maybe they can tag along if we go somewhere in the fall/winter.  I would definitely rent this specific trailer again, but I'd also love to try out other ones! 

Traveling with a camper was definitely an experience.....but it was a fun one! I absolutely see why people love to explore the country this way. If we lived in a state like Colorado or Oregon with so much natural beauty and great summer weather I would be in the market to buy a trailer! I am already making a list of places in Oklahoma that C and I can travel to this way. We love hiking and the outdoors (especially when the weather is nice) so I think we could definitely do some hiking specific trips utilizing a camper. I'm looking at Black Mesa State Park, The Great Salt Plains, Little Sahara, Robbers Cave, Quartz Mountain and Broken Bow/Beavers Bend. If you have any other suggestions that are a reasonable driving distance from OKC, please leave them in the comments! Though it was a really fun adventure, I don't think we would personally utilize a camper enough to buy one...at least while living in Oklahoma (we will always love to travel to far away places most) but being able to rent one a few times a year seems like a great in-between option, especially during these covid times. 

What type of traveler are you? Fly or road trip? Chain or boutique hotel or AirBNB? Camping in tents? Glamping? RVing? I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences and/or tips below! 

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