TAMPA, Fla. - Whether it's spring break or summer travel, one thing is clear: People locked down during the pandemic are ready for an escape.
Craig Carey, the owner of Mid Florida RV, says he's seen a spike in RV rentals since the beginning of the pandemic last year -- and it hasn't stopped since.
"Last spring, our summer booked up right away. By the time summer hit, we had to turn away most of the calls for new customers," Carey said. "This was a good way to still go out and travel, see family be together but just with the ones that you want to be with rather than the general public."
He has some tips for those new to renting an RV.
First, he recommends checking the websites of RV rental companies to see what they offer.
"You can browse through there and see what looks like it fits your situation the best," said Carey.
When going to the dealership to check out vehicles in person, he says travelers should consider the number of people in their party, and how many nights they want to be on the road.
"I would ask what their maintenance is, what year the vehicle is, what kind of orientation and training do they have," Carey advised. "A lot of people are nervous about renting a larger vehicle, driving a larger vehicle, so that's something we want to go over with them. We're happy to give driving lessons before someone leaves so that they're comfortable."
And in these times of COVID, he recommends asking about their cleaning procedures as well.
"One of the first things we do is fog the whole vehicle to anything that could be a risk, then we'll let that sit overnight and then we'll go in and wipe down every surface," he said.
Another thing to keep in mind is the daily costs for using an RV, which Carey says can range from $150 a night up to $675 a night for a large, "fancy" vehicle.
The cost of gas is something travelers should factor in as well.
"Probably one to two hundred dollars depending on gas or diesel, how big a vehicle it is," Carey said.
He also advises looking out for hidden fees and checking the paperwork about things like insurance, generator and mileage costs.
In his case, he says his company has up to $1 million worth of insurance to cover accidents and damages, meaning the customer would not be held liable for the whole cost of the RV.
"There's on-board generators [and] most places will allow them to use it just for a few hours a day and then charge them the rest of the time, so that can be a pretty big surprise as well," Carey said. "People are going several states away putting on quite a few miles, that's usually the one that will surprise them the most. They'll get home and not realize they're spending way more what they thought they were."
His final recommendation: Book early.
"Within the next month or so people will be booking up the units for their next summer vacation," he said.
LINK: For more tips on how to plan your first RV trip, visit Mid Florida RV Rental's website.