The Recreational Vehicle: America’s greatest contribution to world culture after jazz and blue jeans?
This summer, the Kelly gang is hitting the road up to Northern California — provided it hasn’t burnt down before we depart — and we’re renting an RV to up the togetherness factor. I need eight seatbelts. “I have one RV with nine seatbelts,” said Brandon Thomason, manager of Adventure KT in El Cajon. “Everything else has seven or less. And you must have a seat belt for everyone who is riding in the RV. I do have RVs that can sleep nine or ten if you have a mix of kids and adults; sometimes people bring a second car along” to make it work.
So many sizes to choose from!
Right now, said Thomason, “we are slammed, because it’s peak season. The season starts in mid-May and runs through September 10, and requires a four-night minimum rental. Out of about 29 vehicles, I have maybe four on the lot right now. The best thing to do is go to our website, put in your travel dates and number of people, and then search our inventory. There are pictures and videos for each vehicle; we have Class A (35 feet and up) , B (20-21 feet), and C (23-32 feet) RVs, and also trailers. Class A runs $245-$295 a day depending on length, number of sleepers, and style. Class B is $195 — those sleep two to four. Class C is $125-$215. Towable trailers cost $90-$120 per a day and sleep anywhere from 3-6 people.
The one that I have that has nine seatbelts is a 29-foot Coachman Bunkhouse, and right now, it’s available August 10-August 30.” Mileage is extra: “Trailers cost $2.25 a mile, with a $55 minimum in each direction, while RVs cost $2.95 a mile with a $59 minimum in each direction. A towable car is also available for $49 a day.”
Thomason noted that “you are welcome to come to the lot first and check out all the vehicles. And if you do rent, when you come to pick it up, we give you a very thorough walk-through and explain how to operate every system. Or if you prefer, any RV or trailer can be delivered to you; every vehicle comes with a renter’s guide book. And we’re here as a resource when you’re out on the road in case you can’t remember something or something isn’t working properly.”
I don’t really want to bring the dog, but the kids do, and guess who’s going to lose that argument? “Pets are allowed in most vehicles for $10 a night — only one, and it must be 35 pounds or less. Personally, I’m a dog lover, and my boxer goes everywhere with me. But keep in mind that there are limitations regarding pets in campgrounds and some national parks. Most places won’t let you leave your dog unattended in an RV, not even in a crate. And in a lot of national parks, you can’t take them on hikes.”
As far as insurance goes, Thomason said that “six companies will cover you: USAA, State Farm, 21st Century, Farmer’s, Allstate, and AAA. With those, you can pull an insurance binder for your trip. If you don’t have one of those, we offer an insurance policy through a third-party provider that costs about 6-10 percent of the nightly rental rate.” (The Kellys have USAA, but sometimes you don’t want to worry about a rate increase following an accident.)
Thomason said that Adventure KT “doesn’t claim to be the cheapest, just the best. We provide exceptional service, and have one of the largest fleets of newest vehicles. I recommend reading reviews on places before you rent; an undesirable characteristic of the RV business is a lack of support once you’re on the road. We’re here to help if you get a flat tire of if your fridge stops working — we’ll talk you through the repair or hook you up with a reputable repair person. We have relationships across the country.” Sometimes, he said, the RVs you rent via Airbnb are mom-and-pop operations, people just trying to cover their RV payment. You might pay less, but once you leave, you’re on your own.
Other places around town: Cruise America (pickup locations in Poway and Spring Valley), Code 3 RV in Temecula, and J’s Adventures (San Diego and Serra Mesa).