My folks have been retired for five years, and they’re spending their golden years on the road. There have been trips to China and Peru and a train tour of Canada. This year, they’re sticking closer to home — an RV tour of California with the Kelly clan.
“We’re a small company,” said Tom Franks, Director of Comfort Coach RV in Oceanside (760-554-7390; rvrentalssandiego.com). “Each of our coaches is privately owned. Not only do you have a rental company maintaining and managing the coach, but you also have an owner, who has a vested interest in maintaining it. And because these are privately owned coaches that people have purchased for themselves, they’re loaded with features and amenities — nicer upholstery and cabinetry, in-motion satellite receivers, surround-sound speaker systems...”
Franks said, “We carry both Class A and Class C. The Class C is the most popular family coach. It’s made on a van chassis and drives like a van. There’s a bed above the driver’s head and a queen-sized bed in the bedroom, and the sofa folds into a double bed, so it can sleep up to eight.” The Class A slept six people, but Franks suggested that it was a step up. “It’s a bus-style coach, so you sit up above the traffic and enjoy a great view. It will have more slide-outs, so you’ll have more living space.”
Neither model, said Franks, is difficult to drive, and neither requires a special license — you just need to be at least 25 years old. “You’ll be sitting up higher and more to the left than you’re probably used to. You need to allow additional braking distance, and because you don’t accelerate as quickly as a car, you need to allow additional time to get into traffic. We give renters a complete orientation and make sure they know how to operate everything.”
Renting starts with an online perusal of Comfort Coach’s inventory. “Every coach is up on the website, with floor plans available for viewing. We provide as much information as possible about each coach. People find the RV they are interested in and fill out a quote request, or they call and ask questions. Then we set up an appointment for them to come and see the coach at our storage area in Oceanside.”
Cost varies by coach, but Franks provided some estimates. “We generally require a three-day-minimum rental. A Class A will run $200 to $250 a night, depending on whether it’s low or high season. Class C might run you $139 to $225 a night. Class A luxury models cost between $280 and $345. Rental guests get 100 miles free per rental night and four hours of generator use. After that, it’s $.40 a mile and $4 per hour of generator use.” Linens and kitchen equipment are provided by the renter, but they are available for a fee if needed. Finally, Franks noted that the RV must be returned with its fuel and propane tanks full, and there is a sanitation tank cleaning fee of $50 to $125. Also, renters are required to get an insurance binder from their own insurance company or they can purchase insurance “on a daily basis for about $20 a day.”
Norm’s RV, Inc. in Poway (858-679-2250; normsrv.com) also has its inventory online. “We have a company-owned, uniform fleet made by Fleetwood, the largest manufacturer in America. That means we have more than one of each particular coach. If something should happen to the unit you’ve reserved, we’ll have another one just like it. You won’t end up with something that might have the wrong number of beds or be the wrong size for the campground space you’ve got reserved.
“We handle the maintenance, and our technicians go to factory-certified training every year. We replace all our units every season, and we put a cap of 15,000 miles on each coach before we pull it from service. Some are pulled at 6000 miles.”
As for price, “We’re kind of the maverick in how we charge for miles. We don’t give free miles per day because we don’t believe there’s such a thing as free out there. We charge you for the miles that you use. If you take a week and go to local beaches and put on only 20, 30 miles, there’s no built-in mileage charge in your daily fee to worry about. Every possible charge that we could possibly charge you is listed on the website as part of our rate calculator. There are the basic charges, and then the optional charges.”
I checked out a 24-foot Class C Jamboree, which ran $139 per night with a three-night minimum, plus $.29 per mile for the first 100 miles, with the price-per-mile increasing after that. Then there was a $1.50 state licensing fee, a $100 fuel deposit, a $500 security deposit, and a $62 Aloha Provision Package fee — toilet tissue, fresh water, final exterior wash, and initial chemical treatment on the holding tank. Extras included unlimited generator use ($6 per night), portable TV/DVD units ($5 per night), bicycle rack ($3 per night), and a dish-and-sheet package ($139 per trip). Moving up a notch, a 33-foot Class A Southwind Double Slide is $199 per night. All the other costs were the same, except that the Aloha package ran $82.