It was the first time that we rent an RV. Geda had some experience with it as a child with her family. Lennart is the tent expert. To travel with an RV or with a tent is not for everybody. An RV is more comfortable as a tent, normally. Although, it’s always the way you travel and how much money you can spend which will make the difference. What we mean about that: it is not the same when you stay in a camping place for a week than searching a new spot to sleep every night (especially when you are looking for places for free).
It is important that everyone knows which way of travel suits you better. Do not lay yourselves, the only thing it will happen is that it will became a nightmare for you. If you sleep every night in a camping place you will have always or almost always the possibility to have toilets and showers in the camping place. That means you do not have to worry how much water do you still have or how high is the level of gray water (dirty water). We wanted to share with you what we learnt through our 3 weeks with an RV through BC, Vancouver Island and Alberta. It’s a we can tell you, but we decided to reduce the information in 10 tipps about what to do before renting an RV and during the journey. Our goal was travel traveling as cheap as we could. We just slept once in a camping place. So our tips will be interesting for you if you are thinking about renting an RV, and at the same time saving as much money as you can.
- Finding the best price for the rent: Normally the best choice is to rent it with unlimited km. But if you are pretty sure that you will not move much, than you can look for offers with limited km. Every offer is different (from price and how much km they offer). You can also estimate how much km do you think you are going to drive. Just check it on internet. After that, you can have a better idea if unlimited km is a good choice for you. Unlimited km also gives you more freedom, because you can change the route without worrying about how many km are you adding. We drove around 3000 km in 3 weeks. If we haven’t had unlimited km it would have been much more expensive than it was. And we didn’t had to check how much km we already drove, which was something less to worry about 🙂
- When you pick up the RV the company usually offers you the possibility to pay in advance for the last dumping. So they do it for you at the end and you don’t have to worry about it. They also offer you the possibility to fill the propane for you at the end so you don’t have to worry about giving it empty. We recommend you: NEVER pay that in advance! The prices they offer are usually much higher than what you will actually pay by doing it on your own (more than twice the price!). Of course you have to lose some time at the last day on it, but it’s not a big deal and you can invest the saved money for something better. At the worst case scenario you will pay it when you bring the RV back if you didn’tt manage to dump or fill up the propane. If you make a quick search in advance about the price of propane in the country you are traveling, you will know directly if the price the company is offering you is far above the normal one. (We didn’t check it in advance 😉 )
- If you are not sure how big the RV should be, we can suggest you the following: the smaller, the better. So you don’t have to worry about parking everywhere in the cities and also overnight somewhere (when allowed) that is for free. Always helps when your RV is an smaller one. This way you don’t need any special lot and you are more flexible. It is also easier to drive. And to be honest, it doesn’t attract as much attention as a big one 😉
- When you pick up the RV, we recommend you to check EVERYTHING before you start. Check the water level, how everything works and, the most important thing, check that everything is actually working! If you are not sure why we recommend you so, you can have a look here 🙂 victoria & the water pump
- If you also have the same problem as we had, that the renting company doesn’t offers you the possibility to rent a GPS, don’t panic, there is some possibilities as good as a GPS device. Some of you are lucky enough to have internet in the country, congratulations! If not, like us, there is still some possibilities. We used the whole time the app maps.me and it worked perfect for us. There are, for sure, a lot of apps out there for that, and some better than this one (If you have any recommendation, please let us know, we will be more than happy to try it and include it in our blog!). The appication maps.me worked perfectly for us. Although we do not get any money from them, but we decided to recommend it because it saved our lives in more than one situation. We recommend it to everyone. Just make sure you have enough space in your smartphone for the maps you want to download (and don’t forget to download it! 😉 )
- We booked some sets: one for the bed linen, towels, pillows, etc. And the other one for the kitchen (plates, bowls, forks, pans, etc.). It was already included in our price offer and also really useful. We didn’t want to bring this kind of things from Germany with us. We have enough equipment to carry and we were no sure if we will be using it after the three weeks. Just for Canada: If you are carrying some towels and pillows from home you can find in Walmart pretty cheap blankets and bed linen (normally cheaper than the set of the renting company).
- If you want to save some water from your tank (in order not to full it or dump it too often), we recommend you to use public toilets as oft as you can. We killed to birds with one stone by buying us some coffee in the morning and at the same time using the toilets there to brush our teeth, wash our face and, of course, use the toilet. Just for Canada: Every, or almost every, supermarket has a toilet. So you can also take advantage from the situation and buy some groceries and brush your teeth at the same time 😉
- Always keep an eye on the gas level. It’s always good to check the oil level and the temperature of the water. In some countries like Canada there is always signs which inform you how far is the next gas station. We thought it will be one at least every 100 km. But we were wrong and the next one was in 190 km. We almost didn’t make it. So if you know you are going through a long way, specially through the mountains, make sure there is a gas station there, or fill your tank before you start it.
- Elecricity: If you don’t want to overnight in a camping place and your RV doesn’t have a generator, the main problem is electricity for the smartphones and other electrical devices. The plugs don’t work and the only way to charge any device or battery is the lighter. You can buy easily a lighter adapter for any kind of gear. There is adapter with USB plug. There are even some label of laptops who offers charges with a lighter adapter. We also used coffee visits to charge laptop and other gadgets. We recommend you to think about which devices need to we charged the most and buy one or some adapters for it. (lighter adapter in Canada are really, really cheap 😉 )
- And last but not least: Maybe some of you will think is an stupid tip. But after long drives through mountain landscape without music, we missed to have our own playlists up to date. We though we can have radio everywhere, but it wasn’t like that if you didn’t want to pay extra for it (in Canada and USA you can pay for Sirius and you will have music everywhere because it works through satellite). Some cars don’t allow to plug your own Smartphone and play music. So we recommend you some old-school methods like CD or USB stick. We had Spotify and a speaker.
Overnight in Canada:
There are some different ways to overnight with an RV in Canada. The main difference between them is the price:
- Camping: this one is the most expensive and comfortable way to overnight. You will have everything you need: electricity, water and you can even dump directly gray and black water. Campings also have showers and toilets you can use. You decided if you wan to have everything (water, electricity and dump), that will be a full hook-up. You can pay less if you do not want to dump or water or electricity. Each Camping has different offers ans different prices for it. In Canada there is a wide offer of them, so you will need some search to find the best place and the best price for you. Just be aware to do it in advance, specially for the peak season.
- Campgrounds in British Columbia: there are a lot of them and is a cheaper way to overnight. Most of them are related to Natural Parks. They don’t have as much comfort as normal campings. Most of them doesn’t have electricity or water or dump that you can connect directly in your RV. Most of them are equipped with pit toilets and don’t have showers. The best way to know in advance which facilities are included, is looking it in the internet. Some campgrounds are better equipped than others. The price also varies from one another.
- Parking lots in Provincial and Regional Parks: If you plan to sleep every night somewhere else, it could be a good possibility for you. An it’s for free. You will not have anything besides what you have in your own RV and can be that toilets are not directly in the parking place. Is not allowed in every parking place in British Columbia, so just make sure you can stay there for a night. Most of them close the gate around 22:00 and then you can’t go out until the next morning. If the ranger sees you two nights in a row will ask you the second night to just go. If you are not sure if you can sleep there you can ask directly to the ranger. They are really friendly. Sometimes works out and sometimes not, but we managed to sleep in many of them.
- For risk-takers: Some nights (quite few, to be fair), we overnight directly in the city/town. We looked for some quiet neighborhood and parked at the street. This option will be louder than the others and also has the risk that you might will be woken up by the police (already happened to us). But if you follow your instincts and find somewhere you feel comfortable with, it should not be a problem.