I’ve always found of the RV lifestyle to be kind of alluring. After all, being able to travel with all the comforts of home right with you, while exploring the world and enjoying the outdoors sounds like a dream.
Use technology to try on the RV lifestyle
Investing in an RV without knowing first whether or not you’ll truly enjoy the experience is a daunting prospect, since many RVs and even smaller camper vans can start at fifty thousand dollars and RV’s can go up to $200,000 and beyond. That’s not small change, particularly for people who might be used to paying $10 or $20 a night for a slice of national park to stake their tents.
What is RVezy?
I was thrilled when I found out there’s technology in the form of a brand new website now operating in Alberta that lets you rent an RV for anywhere from a few nights to a couple of weeks so you can really try this lifestyle on and see if it’s for you. The site is called RVezy (pronounced ARE-VEE-zee)and this will be its first full camping and summer season of operation in Alberta.
Based in Ottawa Ontario, the concept is pretty brilliant; you can call it in the Airbnb of recreational vehicles.
How RVezy works
Users will surf RVezy‘s website to select the style, model, and size of RV that they’re looking for. The vehicles are provided by RV owner themselves; typically, they’re the type of people that bought an RV but just can’t use it every single weekend. Similarly, if they are weekend warriors, the RV is doing nothing while it’s parked in the driveway during the week. It’s a smart concept, then, to set up a system where RV owners can rent their vehicles out to like-minded customers who don’t have the money to invest in buying a recreational vehicle of their own.
For other RV owners, it’s about being a better citizen.
“I’m a big fan of the sharing economy,” explains Sean Jacklin, a Calgary man we rented a custom-converted Mercedes Sprinter camper van from. “I get to enjoy my rig during the winter months for skiing, and share it with those whom are looking to cut down on hotel and car rental costs during the summer. Services like RVezy make it possible to do this, by acting as an intermediary and providing a hub for listing the ad, along with insurance coverage, make it safe for both parties to participate in the sharing economy.”
Every RV rental is different
Owners set the prices, and any minimum rental duration requirements. It’s expected the RV will have some basic amenities, though they’re not required. RVezy recommends RVs have linens, dishes and cutlery, camping chairs, a barbecue and a TV. But it’s up to the owners to decide how much of a home-like stay to provide; and incumbent on renters to ask what’s included and what’s not.
How to rent an RV in Alberta
Booking is simple. You’ll go online and search through the wide variety of listings and choose the vehicle that is going to work best for you. In our case we wanted to start out small so we chose Sean’s 2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van.
Booking is as simple as clicking the date you want and then choosing from among some available options. You can make your rental a one way with some owners. You can also add roadside assistance just in case you run into trouble.
There’s also a space for you to add a message to the owner. This is a good opportunity to take a second to introduce yourself with a friendly note letting them know how much you’re looking forward to trying out their vehicle.
RV rental costs
Costs to be aware of include the rental fee, which in this case was $199 per night, the addition of roadside assistance if you’ve chosen it which is currently listed at $12 per day, plus there is a deductible, a service fee, and a security deposit. Once you’ve made all your selections you’ll send your booking request to the owner for evaluation.
Next up if you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to add driver and payment information to your profile. Once the owner has had a chance to evaluate your request, you’ll get an email from them. You can track the progress of your booking at any time in the “my bookings“ section of the website. Once everything is confirmed you’ll know it!
Get ready to hit the road using RVezy
When preparing your driver information in the “My Account” section, you’ll need to supply your birthdate, drivers license number, and answer a few questions about your driving history. You’ll also need to upload a photo of your drivers license itself. This process will need to be completed by anyone who plans to drive the vehicle.
One final tip with respect to the booking process; I used the convenient Facebook login option. That saves me time and having to create a new account; but since I’ve had a Facebook account forever, it’s tied to an older email address, one that I don’t check that often. If you’re using this method for login, make sure you go into your profile and settings, and change the email address to one that you use regularly, since this is how you’ll directly communicate with the RV owner. Similarly, make sure your correct and current phone number is in there too.
Picking up your RV – expect an hour
When it’s time to pick up your vehicle, be sure to set aside at least an hour for the collection process, and here’s why. Unless you are an extremely experienced RV user, and know all about the maintenance requirements and other subtleties and necessities of recreational vehicle, you’ll need a brief education. Your rental RV’s owner will want to walk you through things that are required when using the vehicle and other amenities and features.
You’ll also have some paperwork to fill out; you and the owner will do a walk-through and a walk around of the vehicle to note any damage and make sure it’s marked on the paperwork. This is extraordinarily similar to the process you would use when renting a car from any of the large rental agencies.
By the time you’ve talked through the requirements, done the paperwork, and the walk around, you’re going to be a little while. Be sure to allot enough time for this.
It was nice being able to meet and interact with the owner in person. I our landlord in this case was Sean, a nice young man who uses his sprinter van himself most of the year, but opts to rent it out during the summer.
What if something goes wrong? Insurance and roadside coverage
So what do you do if something goes wrong? A great thing about using the RVezy website is that everyone is covered in the event of damage, or an accident. Renters must be at least 25 years old, and hold a valid driver’s license.
There’s also the option of roadside assistance that you can purchase as part of your rental. This means if you have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere, you cannot only get transportation, but a tow as well.
Driving the RV – Mercedes Sprinter van
Our rental Mercedes Sprinter van, was a beautiful and well appointed vecicle that we could stand up in easily. It had been fully customized on the inside by Sean, who was happy to tell us more about the process.
While the Sprinter drives extremely similar to a car, it is a much larger vehicle and there are different requirements. For me, adapting to driving this long and tall van was not extraordinarily difficult, but I could see there being some challenges if I were opting for a 30 or a 40 foot diesel pusher. Braking takes longer for example and the noise of your household goods in the back is amplified if you hit a bump.
We opted to do some early season spring camping in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. We are experienced tent campers, and don’t mind sleeping outdoors; but during the winter Alberta can be a very cold and inhospitable place.
The Mercedes Sprinter has heat inside, so it makes the vehicle perfectly comfortable for sleeping in even during extremely cold night.
While each vehicle available for rent on RV easy’s website is completely different, I’ll give you an idea of what we rented and some of the amenities that came along with it. Click to watch the video review on my YouTube channel.
Overall review of RVezy RV rental
After spending a weekend in an RV for the first time I have to say I really enjoyed my RVezy experience.
Surfing the website for a vehicle was easy, and even early in the season there was plenty of choice. A word to the wise; summer season is extremely busy so it pays to shop around on the site and book early if you’re looking for a weekend during summer.
Meeting the RV owner in person and talking to him was nice. We got a chance to hear about how he custom built the vans inside himself, and got some valuable tips for down the road if we opt to do this ourselves.
Overall, we had a great experience renting with RVezy and I can definitely recommend it for others either here in Alberta, or across Canada.
Click here to be re-directed to RVezy’s website.