RV Rentals Surge in Popularity! In 2004 the RV Rental business is expected to grow 34 percent.

RESTON, Va. -- Renting a recreation vehicle is surging in popularity travel experts say. RV Rentals Association members report a 30 percent increase in domestic rentals since 2002. In 2004 the RV rentals business is expected to grow 34 percent.

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Harried travelers want to escape from lengthy airport waits, security searches, heavy luggage and jumping from hotel to hotel. "RV vacations offer families greater control and a flexible way to travel and see America–with all the comforts and conveniences of home," explains David J. Humphreys, president of Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).

Travel agents, too, are advising consumers to try RV rentals because of their appeal in today's climate. NBC Today travel editor Peter Greenberg declared RV rentals "affordable and attractive for a lot of families. [It] is less tramatic than schlepping two kids and luggage through the security gauntlet of airports. An RV has plenty of room for everyone's stuff," Greenberg pointed out.

Travelers are finding it easier to rent RVs year-round–for a weekend, entire week or even longer. Today more than 460 national rental outlets offer state-of-the art, late model year RVs in a range of sizes and styles.

The nation's largest rv rental company, Cruise America, of Mesa, Ariz., has more than 148 centers throughout the United States and Canada ( CruiseAmerica.com). Another national rental chain, El Monte RV, based in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., has 50 outlets nationwide ( ElMonteRV.com). In addition, many local RV dealers carry rental fleets, and a growing number of campground operators offer on-site RV rentals.

Affordability is another advantage of RV rentals, which are generally less expensive than other vacation types. RV rental rates vary by season, region and unit size. Motorhomes, the most common rental model, are typically $90 to $200 per day; folding camping trailers and travel trailers run $28 to $85 per day. Package deals of three to seven days often include mileage and reduce the per-day rate.

Because of the heightened demand, experts advise making reservations well in advance. Special tour packages offer such benefits as one-way rentals; off-season rates; guided escorts; campground discounts; and airline and railway connections.

Vacationers interested in renting an RV should check their Yellow Pages under "Recreation Vehicles–Renting and Leasing." Or visit rvra.org for a searchable online Rental Directory of more than 340 rental companies.

Easy driving. Operating an RV is easier than many newcomers think. No special license is required for the vast majority of RVs. Automatic transmission, power brakes and steering are typical equipment in today's vehicles. With proper attention to the difference in vehicle size, height and weight, safe, experienced car drivers will take quickly to the pleasure of being behind the wheel of an RV.

Dealers fully instruct customers how to operate their units. For an additional fee, some provide housekeeping packages that include linens, cookware and other necessities for life on the road. Larger dealerships operate extensive emergency repair networks and toll-free renters' assistance lines.

Try before you buy. RV rentals are ideal for families who enjoy RVing but don't want the commitment of ownership. But the opportunity to try-before-you-buy is also attracting considerable consumer attention. An extended test-drive with the family often helps prospective buyers determine which RV type best suits their needs.

Order a free RV "getting started" video or CD-ROM at 1-888-Go RVing or GoRVing.com. Surf the website for lists of Go RVing dealers and campgrounds in your area, as well as RV shows, publications, rental sources and clubs. Or write to: RVIA, P.O. Box 2999, Dept. P, Reston, VA 20195.

RVIA (rvia.org) is the national association representing more than 550 manufacturers and component suppliers producing approximately 98 percent of all RVs made in the United States.

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