18 Things You Should Never Do When Renting a Campervan

Are you considering a campervan rental for an amazing road trip? Here are some things NOT to do.

couple with their dog inside a campervan parked outdoors

Whether you want to rent a campervan to test drive van life or go on the adventure of a lifetime, it’s an unforgettable experience. 

I rented a van with my husband and dog before buying my Sprinter van to see if I enjoyed it and could picture myself doing van life. Others rent a campervan for a few days, a week, a month, or longer as a fun way to travel and camp. 

No matter your reasons for wanting to rent a campervan, there are certain things you should never do during the process. Here’s our list of some common pitfalls to avoid when renting a campervan:

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1. Skim the Rental Terms and Conditions

Dodge Ram Promaster RV Rental parked in a forested campsite by a picnic table
Photo Credit: Outdoorsy

Before signing the rental agreement, take the time to read the terms and conditions closely. Ask the van rental company any questions you might have. You also should have a solid understanding of the insurance coverage, mileage limits, what’s included in the rental, where you can take the van, and additional fees before they hand over the keys.

2. Decline Test Drives and Tutorials

Photo Credit: Roadsurfer

Most campervan rental companies will provide a tutorial on how to use the campervan’s features and controls. If you aren’t offered a tutorial, ask for one before you hit the road. If you’re nervous about driving the campervan, you can ask to take the van on a test drive to see how to handle and operate it before you leave. 

3. Forget to Inspect the Campervan for Damages

Photo Credit: Mercedes Sprinter RV Rentals

Like renting an apartment or house, you must inspect the campervan for preexisting damages and note them before you hit the road. Check for interior and exterior damage, and document your findings with photos and notes. When you return your campervan rental, you can use this documentation to avoid fines if there are any questions.

4. Leave Without a Plan

Photo Credit: Moterra Campervans

When renting a campervan, you may go wherever the road leads you. Although this can be fun, it can also be dangerous if you get lost, stuck, or broken down in a remote area without proper supplies. I recommend researching an itinerary ahead of time with campsites in mind.

5. Disregard Size and Height Restrictions

Photo Credit: Travellers Autobarn

If you’ve never driven a campervan, it’s easy to forget you’re driving a vehicle with a much higher clearance and width than your standard car or SUV. Before leaving the rental facility, ask for measurements of the campervan’s height and width. You don’t want to accidentally damage your campervan rental by driving under a low-clearance bridge, narrow road, parking garage, drive-thru, or gas station not intended for tall vehicles.

6. Forget Campground Reservations

Photo Credit: Camille Attell

Although you can take your rental van to a dispersed campsite that doesn’t require a reservation, I recommend reserving campgrounds when renting so you have a guaranteed spot to stay. You’ll also have access to amenities like toilets, showers, dump stations, water fill-ups, and electrical hook-ups to make your rental more enjoyable. Popular campgrounds can fill during peak seasons, so make reservations in advance. 

7. Overpack

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

If you’re like me, you might overpack for trips. After all, you never know what you might need or want to wear! When you’re renting a campervan, though, this can result in a lot of unnecessary clutter when the space is already small and limited. If you stick to packing only the essentials, you’ll have a more comfortable rental experience.

8. Skip Campervan Maintenance

Man checking tire air pressure MSN
Image Credit: NewAfrica/DepositPhotos.

Depending on how far and long you’re driving your campervan rental, you may need to service it during your travels. Pay attention to tire pressure, oil levels, and other fluids. Take care of your campervan rental to avoid potential breakdowns and damage during your travels.

9. Ignore Local Laws and Regulations

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Although you may think it’s okay to camp or park overnight in certain places, it could be illegal. Do your research to understand the laws and regulations of the places you’re visiting in the rental van. You don’t want to receive a parking ticket or the dreaded “knock” from the police asking you to move your campervan at 2:00 am!

10. Leave Food Unsecured 

woman cooking on her campervan kitchen
Photo Credit: Danielle Campbell @stumblinguponserendipity

Whether cooking your meals outside on a portable stove or inside on an induction stove, you should always secure your food when you’re done (just like when you’re tent camping). Wildlife and rodents can be attracted to your food scraps, so put your food away when you’re done and dispose of waste properly to avoid unwanted critters.
11. Over-plan

While some people might be guilty of leaving without a plan, others can accidentally over-plan when renting a campervan. Make sure you’re not overly ambitious with your driving plans. Leave time each day to slow down, relax, and have fun!

12. Neglect Safety Equipment

jumper cables
Photo by Daniel at bestjumpstarterreview.com via Unsplash

Hopefully, you won’t need to use safety equipment like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, jumper cables, and other emergency roadside gear. However, if you need these items in an emergency, you should know exactly where they are in the campervan rental and how to use them.

13. Forget to Budget for Fuel

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

If you’re driving your campervan rental over long distances or to destinations with higher fuel prices, don’t forget to factor in the fuel costs. Campervans tend to weigh more than standard vehicles, requiring you to refuel more often. You may also want to consider whether your campervan requires gasoline or diesel, as diesel can be more expensive. 

14. Leave Items Loose in the Van

Photo Credit: Tommycampervans

Before moving the van, ensure everything is put away and the cabinets are secured. You don’t want your coffee mug to fly off the counter because you forgot to put it in the cupholder before you started driving! I’ve also had cans of food fly out of my van cabinets that I forgot to close before driving down a bumpy road. It’s better to check that everything is secured before you pull away.

15. Ignore Weather Forecasts 

Image Credit: Unsplash

Pay close attention to the forecasted weather for the roads and destinations you plan to visit. If bad storms are predicted, consider changing your plans to stay safe and avoid rain, snow, and high winds. You also don’t want to get the campervan stuck on a muddy road.

16. Pay Attention to Campsite Amenities

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

Whether you’re dispersed camping or staying at a campground, it’s important to make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s offered so you know what to bring and expect. Some campsites don’t have cell service, water, garbage disposals, or restrooms. While you can have an enjoyable camping experience without these amenities, you want to ensure you’re equipped and prepared to go without them.

17. Fail to Communicate with the Campervan Rental Company

Photo Credit: Outdoorsy

Despite our best intentions, sometimes things happen beyond our control. If you have any issues, concerns, damage to the van, mechanical failure, or get into an accident, contact the campervan rental company for assistance. They can help you resolve problems or guide you in the right direction.

18. Rush the Return Process

Photo Credit: Avanti Campervans

Before you return your campervan rental, slow down and follow the proper procedures. This may include cleaning the interior of the campervan, washing the vehicle, refilling the fuel tank, returning the keys promptly, and completing any paperwork. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re speeding to get back to the rental location or paying additional fees for tasks you forgot to do.

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