How Renting Two RVs Ultimately Led Us to Buy Our Own

LAURA GEORGIEFF's Tiffin Phaeton

Regardless if you’re brand new to camping or have done it every summer, having an RV is a great way to elevate your experience. If you’re unsure that RVing is right for you, or if you don’t feel convinced to buy an RV just yet, renting one is a great place to start. Not only will you get to experience everything first-hand, but you’ll feel better equipped and more confident to make the right choice and find your perfect RV.

Our First Rental: Small But Mighty

I grew up camping all over Europe. I knew I wanted to own an RV one day but my husband, on the other hand, had never stepped foot inside a campground. To help ease our family into the camping experience, we decided to rent a few different RVs. This allowed us to figure out what RV type we liked best and to decide if this could become a serious lifestyle for us.

Our first rental was a small camper van. We were traveling through New Zealand at the time and knew we wanted to see as much of the country as possible, so we wanted something compact and drivable. Our rented camper van had a raised roof in the front, allowing our kids to sleep above the driver cabin. In the back was a couch and dinette table that converted into a queen-size bed. There was also a tiny kitchenette with a gas burner, mini fridge and small sink.

It was a cozy little space and we loved it. Our clothing hung in packing cubes under the dinette booth, electronics and toiletries made their way into hanging baskets around the ceiling, and the kids spent hours giggling in their “kid cave.” We slept incredibly well in the tiny space, feeling nestled and happy to be together.

But for all the things we loved about the camper van, there were a few big things that we realized were missing. The tiny fridge meant way more grocery trips than we wanted, converting a dinette into bed every night was not our favorite exercise, a shower and toilet would’ve been nice after some long travel days, and our family of five needed a bit more space to move around.

Our Second Rental: More Space to Move

For our next camping trip, we decided to go bigger and rent a Class C RV. After our camper van, this one felt like a huge luxury.

The first thing we loved about the Class C were the separate sleeping spaces—two of our children had a bunk above the cabin, our third child slept on one of the converted dinettes, and my husband and I slept on the second converted dinette. During the day, the two dinette tables were perfect for sitting together and doing schoolwork. But overall, the biggest upgrades were the large refrigerator (which came with a freezer) and the full bathroom. With the bedrooms, bathrooms, countertops, and cabinets, it felt like we had a real home on wheels. The freedom and independence we felt driving around was exhilarating.

Our only issue with the Class C was that we couldn’t run the air conditioning on batteries. We did a lot of boondocking that trip and some of the nights got really warm, so we had to resort to open windows and fans. It was just one other RV feature we didn’t realize we needed until we actually experienced it.

Choosing Our Perfect RV

After our two camping trips, we returned home to Florida and came to the realization that we wanted to buy our own RV. We found RVing to be a lot easier than living out of suitcases, jumping from hotel to hotel. With an RV, there was no need to pack and unpack, we had all of our food and supplies with us, and we could sleep in our own beds each night. 

Both RV rental experiences allowed us to pin down our likes and wishes. It also gave us the confidence and assurance we needed to know that we could do this long-term. The lifestyle felt like us. So, when it came time to find the perfect family RV, we were thrilled to have a shortlist of must-haves thanks to our renting days.

Our list of absolute must-haves included:

We also had a list of ‘nice-to-haves’ that weren’t mandatory but preferred:

Based on our two lists, we decided to buy a Class A motorhome.

From there, we narrowed it down even further and landed on a diesel pusher (a diesel engine mounted in the rear of the motorhome). Since we knew we would be traveling long-term and going on a lot of adventures, our RV needed to be able to effortlessly tow a car and drive up mountain passes.

The other main reason we settled on a Class A was the ease of boondocking. We absolutely loved the natural freedom we experienced on our past camping trips, and a Class A motorhome with a generator would allow us to do more of that.

After visiting dozens of dealerships and touring countless RVs, we finally found one with all of our must-haves. And the hardest feature to find? A bunkhouse. Very few diesel pushers offer floor plans with a bunkhouse, so we were thrilled to find one—a Tiffin Phaeton Class A.

It’s the Little Things

We absolutely love RVing in our Phaeton. We ended up purchasing a model with extra batteries, which allow us to boondock for multiple nights without using our generator. And when we do run our generator, we only use it for about 30 minutes and then have a charge for another 24 hours. There are also numerous other small features that have really changed our life on the road:

  • Heated floors (and tile, which makes them easier to clean)
  • An instant water heater
  • Each sink has a static soap pump, so no need to store soap dispensers before driving
  • TVs that are firmly secured to the walls 
  • All doors lock and seal tightly (the front door even has a deadbolt)

Our Tiffin Phaeton is everything we could have wished for and more, and we give a lot of credit to our two RV rental experiences for providing us with the knowledge we needed to make the right decision. If you’re at all interested in buying an RV, or even trying the lifestyle, we highly recommend renting one first—we guarantee the experience will convince you to purchase one of your own.

Class A Motorhome

Built with the same framing and construction as commercial trucks and buses, Class A motorhomes are some of the largest vehicles on the road. What does that mean for your next adventure? Lots of room to stretch out and get comfortable. From spacious sleeping and lounging areas to full kitchens to upscale bathrooms, Class A vehicles take features and amenities to a higher level.

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