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What’s it like to rent and travel in an RV? When we flew to Tampa for the RV Supershow, we ditched the idea of a hotel and spent two weeks in a rental RV in Florida, and drove it from Tampa to Key West and back again. In this article and our RV travel video, we’ll give you a tour of our rental RV, share the campgrounds and boondocking spots we stayed at, and take you on a Florida RV road trip.
If you saw our previous post and video about our test drive and overnight stay in our friend’s Airstream Interstate van, you will know we have been trying different RVs on for size. We are taking our time considering what might be next for us in our RV life, and sharing what we learn with you. So this Florida RV rental is part of our experiment being RV-curious.
And even though we are experienced RVers – having lived, worked and traveled in our RV full time since 2014 – this was our very first time renting an RV.
Over two weeks, we stayed in three private campgrounds, a state park, state fairgrounds and even stayed in two different boondocking locations! This was definitely very different experience to what we’re used to, living and traveling in our 40 foot motorhome!
Join us for our RV rental road trip to the Florida Keys, and we’ll tell you all about it. We’ll give you a tour of the RV, share what we liked, what we didn’t, and what we learned.
To get the full RV rental and travel experience, you’re going to want to watch our Florida RV Rental video.
Meanwhile, this blog post goes into more detail, and has two main areas of focus.
Our Florida RV Rental Vehicle
OK, let’s start with the RV – it’s a Class B plus (wide body) with no slides. The model is a 2015 Winnebago Trend 24L. Let’s give you an overview of the inside.
Kitchen Area of our Florida RV Rental
Walking into the main RV entry door, you step into the kitchen area, which has:
- an L-shaped counter with deep sink, plus a cover to allow for prep space
- a two burner propane stove
- microwave oven
- propane / electric fridge
- and really good storage for a small RV!
We found the kitchen storage to be plentiful and well laid out. Our rental RV also came equipped with a kitchen kit that included pots, pans, plates, silverware, cups, kitchen towels and a coffee maker. Also oven mitts, tea towels and a roll of paper towels.
It was easy to prepare meals in the RV, as long as only one person was using the kitchen.
Systems and Appliances
- The water heater was a Girard continuous hot water heater. It worked fine, but we found it difficult to maintain consistent temperature.
- Most all controls and monitoring for the batteries, water levels, etc. were located inside the cupboard next to the entry.
- Microwave and upper cupboards were out of Julie’s reach (but that’s common as she is under 5 feet tall). People of average height would be fine.
- The fridge is a 2-way (propane/electric) and a really good size. We packed the fridge and freezer full of food and drinks after grocery shops at Costco and Publix.
We had plenty of food for the two week trip, and didn’t eat out often. We may have gone a little overboard, as we did end up giving food away when it was time to return the RV!
The Bed / Sleeping areas in our Florida RV rental
We generally liked the space efficiencies of a corner bed. Marc usually needs to get up during the night, so it made more sense for him to be on the outside/curved side, rather than crawl over Julie. But the curve of the bed made it a bit too short for Marc and it felt a bit cramped, right next to the bathroom wall.
- We felt this RV (like most) could definitely do with a mattress upgrade for more comfort. If it were our RV, that is the first change we would make.
- We really liked the blackout curtain around the bed for privacy, which worked well. This is especially handy if you and your travel companions are on different sleep schedules.
- There were two additional sleeping options, so three beds in total. Technically, this RV can sleep 6 people, but personally we feel that would be very cramped!
- The front dinette could convert to a bed. Not very big, probably best suited to small kids.
- There was a full size drop down bed above the dinette on a power lift. We feel this could comfortably sleep two adults.
Side note: The RV rental company included the linen package, as we flew into Florida. But the pillows were terrible (flat) and the sheets were cheap and pilling, but at least everything was clean. In hindsight, we should have just stopped at Target and bought a couple of pillows. But you could also bring your own.
Overall, for a 24′ unit, there was massive sleeping capacity in this small RV!
Watch our video tour of this RV – starting at the 06:28 mark.
This Winnebago Trend had a dry bath. Meaning that the toilet is not located inside the shower area, so it stays dry when you take a shower. This is a BIG DEAL if you don’t like squeegy-ing or towel drying your bathroom every time you take a shower.
- The ‘good room’ (aka toilet) is a decent size and passes our RV toilet elbow test
- The shower door consisted of a roll of plastic sheet that retracted, which we had never seen before, but it worked fine
- It had a really deep bathroom sink
- There was a medicine cabinet above the sink, and a cupboard below the sink
- There were also hooks for hanging your towels
The bathroom worked pretty well but the door handle caught us both multiple times, causing bruises. This could easily be switched out for round handles for less injuries.
Bath towels were provided as part of the linen package, as well as a hand towel and a 4-pack of RV toilet paper.
This was one of our favorite areas of this RV. We really liked how big the table was.
- We could work from the table, and still have plenty of room to push laptops aside at meal time
- We liked that the bench seats were perpendicular so you could sit at two different sides of the table
- The forward facing dinette seats had seat belts
- There is an extra leaf under the dining table, that swings out to create a table extension and is lower. This made it easier for Julie to work from, when sitting on the passenger side bench seat.
What Could Be Improved?
One of the biggest shortcomings of this RV was that the front driver and passenger seats did NOT turn around. If they did, they could be excellent seats to work from or provide additional seating at the table. We have seen seats in other RVs built on the same chassis that do turn around. So, perhaps you could upgrade the seat mount aftermarket.
General Storage Space in our Florida RV Rental
We have to say, Winnebago did a nice job maximizing the storage space in this little RV. It has a very European feel in the styling, with curved cabinets that reminded us of some finished we’ve seen in the marine world.
- There is a closet for hanging clothes, between the bathroom and kitchen
- Drawers beneath the closet could be used for either kitchen or clothing, depending on what you had more of
- There were also cupboards above the bed for clothes, linens and personal items
- Under bed storage even had room for our suitcases. But, be mindful that half of the under bed storage is also the primary external storage bay.
We were very happy with the storage options, for the size of the unit.
Driving Our Florida RV Rental
We drove over 1,200 miles in the two weeks we had this rented RV. Being a mix of city and highway driving, that equated to over 30 hours of time behind the wheel. Here’s a bit more about this motorhome.
- This Winnebago Trend is built on a Ram Promaster Chassis
- It is powered by a gasoline 3.5L V6 with 280hp / 260 torque
- Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 9,000 pounds, and with water on board, we were probably at around 8,500 lbs
What We Liked About Driving our Rental RV
We found the power to be quite good, even zippy by RV standards.
Fuel economy around town was around 9 mpg. Once we started getting more highway miles in, our overall average came up to around 14-15 mpg. That said, we chose to keep our highway speeds relatively low at around 60, for safety and maximum fuel economy.
We loved the nimble, almost car-like feel of this RV when driving around town. Of course, we are comparing it to our 40’ diesel pusher motorhome, which is more cumbersome to drive – but also better suited to full time RV living and working.
Being able to make a U-turn, or easily navigate parking lots and tight spaces in this little Class B+ RV was a lot of fun. It was also super convenient to be able to park in regular car spaces, as long as there was room to overhang the tail of the RV. Or you could simply take up two spaces when back to back. We even found it easy to park on the main street of Venice, Florida to explore the town. We even scored a street park at the beach, with the tail overhanging a grassy area.
Ergonomics were good, but not great because of the lack of adjustability of the steering and seat in this particular unit. The seats sat vertical which was not ideal.
That said, we did like the short reach to controls, and the ease of entry and exit from the cab area. Visibility was good from the mirrors and rear view camera.
Downsides of Driving our Rental RV
Being relatively lightweight for how much surface area it has, this RV has significant ‘tail’ behind the rear wheels. Having only single rear wheels made it feel a little ‘floaty’ on the highway. This was especially felt when being passed by large vehicles like semi trucks, or when driving in windy conditions.
We have driven other similar sized vehicles on heavier weight chassis with dual rear wheels and those definitely felt a bit more planted. And of course, our 40′ diesel pusher motorhome is much bigger, heavier and feels very planted on the road.
Being under 5 feet tall, Julie also found that her feet dangled when driving the rental RV. She was able to reach the pedals when driving, but not to rest her feet on long stretches. Over long distances, she would find it uncomfortable driving and eventually her feet would ‘fall asleep’. So while she was easily able to drive the RV because it is so car-like, Marc still did almost all of the driving.
Julie tends to be the photographer/videographer anyway and Marc prefers to drive, so this arrangement works well for us, in any RV.
Specifications of the Winnebago Trend 24L
Capacities and other specifications of this Class B+ motorhome include:
- 24 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 10 feet tall
- 1,100 pound cargo carry capacity
- 2,000 pound towing capacity with 200lb tongue weight
- 24 gallon fuel tank
- 26 gal fresh tank (water tank fill separate to regular city connection)
- 35 gal grey tank
- 40 gal black tank
- 2,600 watt propane generator
- External shower
- We drove 1,200 miles (averaging 15.3 mpg) and used 86 gallons of fuel
- Generator usage was 3 hours
- Propane – we used half a tank for cooking, furnace, generator, and water heater
Livability and Extras
This Winnebago Trend was really livable, with a good floor plan and layout. They only made this model RV for 2 years. Very European styling. Nice quality little RV for the money. We aren’t sure why they stopped making them, as we liked it a lot.
This RV was rented through Mid-Florida RV Rentals, near Tampa, Florida. We dealt with Darren and Jason and both were very helpful throughout our RV rental experience. We did experience a plumbing issue with the shower a couple of days into our RV rental. A part inside the handle broke and the shower would not turn off. So we called them for help and Darrell was able to source the part and came out to fix it for us the next day.
They also offer the option of adding on extras, such as their kitchen package, linen package, patio mat and camping chairs. While most of these were functional, we found the quality of these items to be pretty cheap. Food constantly stuck to the frypan. There was no wine/bottle opener. The sheets were pilling and the pillows were flat to the point of being virtually non-existent. But this was not a high end rental RV. So we were not too surprised and certainly able to live with it all for a couple of weeks.
They did provide brand new items such as salt and pepper shakers (sealed) and a new set of oven mitts (probably easier to replace with a cheap new set than launder). If you can bring some of these things from home, it might be a good idea.
Overall, we really enjoyed our experience of driving around and staying in this RV rental in Florida! Now, let’s share more about the fun stuff – our RV travel experiences with this rental RV! Key West here we come!
Our RV Travel Experiences with our Florida RV Rental
We spent 2 weeks in Florida in a rental RV – a 24’ Class B + with no slides – and took it from Tampa all the way down to Key West. We drove about 1200 miles and did a combination of city and highway driving.
Here is where we stayed:
- 2 nights (first and last) at Lazy Days RV Resort in Seffner, Florida (full hookup site)
- 2 nights at Florida State Fairgrounds, on site while attending Florida RV Supershow (water/electric site)
- 2 nights boondocking (dry camping) one night each at two different locations – Cypress Creek and Deep Preserve Water Management Areas (no hookups)
- 3 nights at Oscar Scherer State Park (water/electric site)
- 3 nights at KOA St Petersburg, Madeira Beach (full hookup site)
- 2 nights at Leo’s Campground in Key West (full hookup site)
Picking up our RV Rental near Tampa
The night before picking up the RV, we rented a car from Tampa International Airport, and stayed at a hotel. The next morning, we drove to the RV rental place to pick up the RV. Jason gave us a thorough walk through to show us ow everything worked. Then we signed the paperwork, loaded up the RV with all of our gear, and got the keys.
After loading up the RV with all of our gear (suitcases and boxes of books) Julie returned the rental car to Tampa airport then Marc picked her up at the Airport with the RV. This was surprisingly easy with such a small motorhome! We could have caught Ubers or taxies instead of renting cars at either end of the trip, but when we did the math on that option, we found the car rentals ended up being cheaper. It was more convenient for us and we like to drive.
We picked up our RV rental from Mid-Florida RV Rentals. You can book directly with them, or use a peer to peer RV rental platform like RVShare to find an RV rental anywhere in the USA.
The Flexibility of RV Travel
One of the great things about renting an RV is that our accommodation was totally mobile, and we didn’t need to keep packing, unpacking or lugging our suitcases as we moved between areas. We didn’t need a separate RV rental in Tampa, another RV rental in Orlando, and a third RV rental in the Florida Keys – like we would need separate hotel accommodations or Airbnbs when visiting those areas. Not to mention the rental car!
So we made the most of the flexibility by really mixing up our stays with our RV rental in Florida. Staying in eight different hotels over two weeks while exploring the state would have been a real nuisance. But staying at eight spots in an RV was easy and fun in our small, nimble Class B+ RV. There was no packing and unpacking to change locations. We just packed the RV once at the start, and unpacked once, when returning from our trip.
Where We Stayed
We chose to mix up our RV travel styles. Here’s where we stayed:
- 1 night in a hotel (the night we flew in, before picking up the RV rental next day)
- 2 nights (first and last) at Lazy Days RV Resort in Seffner, Florida
- 2 nights at Florida State Fairgrounds, while attending Florida RV Supershow
- 1 night boondocking at Cypress Creek Water Management Area (no hookups)
- 3 nights at Oscar Scherer State Park – see our campground review
- 3 nights at KOA St Petersburg, Madeira Beach – see our campground review
- 1 night boondocking Deep Preserve Water Management Areas (no hookups)
- 2 nights at Leo’s Campground in Key West
Driving and Route Planning
As mentioned in the RV rental vehicle section above, this RV was pretty easy to drive. It felt very car-like, especially compared to our 40’ diesel motorhome towing a Jeep, that we normally live, work and travel in.
That said, we still needed to be mindful of the extra height and weight. Florida is pretty flat so it is very forgiving in regards to hills, low heights, and other RV perils, but we still used our RVLIFE and RV Trip Wizard tools for route planning to make sure we didn’t have any surprises, find campgrounds, and track our trip expenses. These tools are extra important for our typical RV travels in our larger motorhome.
When we entered our Winnebago rental RV model and year into RV Trip Wizard, all of the specifications came right up, with height and weight, which was handy. We also used the RVLIFE app on the go, when researching campgrounds, reviews and amenities.
Preparing Meals in our Rental RV
Another huge advantage of of us deciding to stay and travel in an RV rental in Florida instead of a hotel or Airbnb was that we had a full kitchen with us everywhere we went. After we picked up our RV rental near Tampa, one of our first stops was Costco, then Publix supermarket, so we could stock up on food and drinks for the next two weeks. We just wheeled our shopping cart from the store to our RV and loaded our groceries straight into the fridge and pantry!
To be honest, we bought a bit too much food. Even though we did not eat out much (which saved money too) and ate the vast majority of our meals in the RV, we still ended up giving some food away to friends so it would not go to waste. We did a better job of managing our food buying on our second RV rental in Texas shortly afterward.
Our thinking – when we bought so much food initially – was that we expected to stay put more, and didn’t want the inconvenience of having to take the RV out to shop every few days. But we ended up going somewhere with the RV most days anyway. Every time you go out, it is an opportunity to pick up more groceries.
Being so quick to pack up the RV and start driving, and easy to navigate in store parking lots, it really was no big deal. But again, that will depend on how you are traveling, and where to. We were never too far from a grocery store.
Save Money by Eating In and Soaking Up the Best Views
You can save a small fortune eating in the RV during your travels, instead of going out for meals all the time, plus it’s healthier! Best of all, you can enjoy your meals in much more scenic locations. Like on our last morning when Marc cooked up a southwestern style scramble breakfast and we sat to eat right outside the RV, by the water in Key West!
This rental RV cost around $220/night. With all fees the total cost was $3903. Costs will vary significantly depending on the type of RV, the length of rental, and the time of year.
Most people end up spending a lot more of their travel budget on food and eating out when staying in hotels. When you travel in an RV, your food expense is likely to be closer to what you would have spent if you were at home.
12 Florida RV Road Trip Travel Highlights
Every day was new and different because of our RV rental experience. This wasn’t our first visit to Florida, Tampa or Key West, and some of the places we visited we had been to before. But some things never get old. Our 12 Florida RV travel highlights included:
- Checking out the new RVs at Florida RV Supershow (staying on-site is handy)
- Meeting our RVLove community and signing books
- Visiting historic St Petersburg area and the local beaches
- RV camping in ‘the woods’ at a Florida State Park
- Boondocking for free, in Florida’s semi-wilderness
- Parking the RV in downtown Venice to stroll downtown and along the beach
- Driving across the 7 Mile Bridge to Key West and back on a sunny blue sky day
- Happy Hour with friends at Commodore’s Boathouse Bar and Grill, Key West
- Watching the sun set at Mallory Square in Key West
- Marc winning Ring Toss Game at Leo’s Campground at the Tiki Hut Happy Hour
- Date night with decadent desserts and drinks at Better Than Sex
- Waterfront home-made breakfast in Key West, right beside our rental RV
And while it wasn’t exactly a travel highlight, there was one more memorable moment. We’re glad we were able to help some German tourists and local authorities after witnessing a hit and run accident near the gas station in St Petersburg. Because we had the video camera rolling while Marc aired up the RV tires, we were able to provide useful information and evidence to help the local Sheriff quickly find the drunk driver for a slam dunk case. You’ll have to watch the video to see what happened!
PS. It was handy that our RV rental came with an air compressor, as we ended up using it a few times – for us and to help another RVer. Again, it was a cheap unit that ‘did the job’ but it was slow and noisy, and Marc really missed his Viair.
RV Travel, Exploring and Working in our Florida RV Rental
During our two week RV rental in Florida, we drove about 1200 miles. Our RV rental near Tampa included up to 150 miles per day at no extra charge, so we were well under the limit of 2,100 miles. If we had chosen to stay in hotels or an Airbnb, we would have needed a rental car to explore in anyway. By renting an RV, our accommodation and vehicle for exploring were one and the same.
As mentioned above, we did rent a car from the airport before and after our RV rental. But, some RV rental companies are located close to airports, so you might just catch an Uber or Taxi to and from the rental pick up location. It is very possible you can avoid having to rent a car at all on your trip.
Because we were gone for two weeks, we still had work to do. But it was easier to work from this dining table than any other RVs we have seen. And of course, we loved that our office views kept changing.
With our rental RV, we were able to stop for a bite to eat, use the restroom, or even take a nap. We had everything with us at all times. No need for public restrooms or fast food.
The best thing about it all was that every day the scenery changed and we got to enjoy so many different experiences, by taking our rental home on wheels with us everywhere we went.
We woke up in beautiful, wooded areas, took walks in nature, enjoyed breakfast among the trees, and found a free parking spot just a mile from downtown Key West. That morning we parked the RV right by the water, then cooked and ate our breakfast right by the ocean, taking in that stunning view was priceless. And free.
Limitations of an RV Rental in Key West
While we found this RV rental easy to drive and park for the most part, trying to visit densely populated Key West presented a challenge. Don’t try and park an RV downtown in Key West! It is SO crowded and hard to find a park, even for vans. And parking is expensive.
Luckily, our friends JC and Angie who live in Key West, delivered their Smart Car to our campground to use, as it’s their second car. The Smart car was super easy to drive and park, but it was still tricky to find parking spots at times.
Other options would be to rent a scooter/moped or bicycle to get around and explore the area. But even bike parking can be tricky to find at busy times!
If that isn’t your style, you could always catch a taxi or Uber for short trips, so you don’t have to pay the Key West exorbitant parking meter and parking garage fees!
Summary of our Experience with an RV Rental in Florida
Of course, as seasoned full time RVers since 2014, we were already well aware of all the amazing benefits of RV travel, and looked forward to trying out a rental RV, instead of traditional travel. But it was still really enjoyable and very educational to have this first hand experience of renting an RV for ourselves.
Even though we teach all about the RV life in our book and online courses, we learned even more than we anticipated, from our experience renting an RV for the first time. And especially traveling in a completely different kind and size RV than we are used to. While it was a fun adventure, we love that all of this expands our RV experience in ways that are even more helpful to all of you.
Every RV experience is different, and trying them on for size is one of the best ways to be able to get a feel for whether an RV, floorplan and layout is going to suit your needs.
Renting an RV is a fantastic way to be able to to just that. And by renting through a peer to peer RV rental company, you can choose from all kinds of privately owned RVs. We highly recommend it!
This is how to really get a first hand experience of what it’s like to be Living the RV Life!
Our RV-Curious Adventures Continue. Coming Up…
We really loved trying out our friends Class B Airstream Van in Connecticut, and our RV rental in Florida.
Next up, we flew to Austin, Texas to try out yet another RV rental through RVShare – a Class C RV, on a slightly larger and different chassis. This enabled us to continue our learning and comparing RVs, as we expand our first hand experience during our RV shopping. We even got to try RV beach camping!
Stay tuned for more articles and videos on our RV rental experiences.
Useful Links on RV Renting and Buying
Our more recent 8,500 mile trip to Florida comprehensive post.
Check out our RV tour of this Class B+ motorhome at the Florida RV Supershow.
Watch our experience borrowing and test driving our friend’s Airstream Interstate Van.
Get a quote on renting an RV – like this or others.
Get your ultimate guide to life on the road with our bestselling book Living the RV Life, and our new book RV Hacks – 400+ ways to make life on the road easier, safer and more fun.
GOT COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS?
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