Here's what you should know before you rent an RV

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RV rental companies say summer reservations are so strong that a lot of them are booked clear into September. And many of their customers will be operating an RV for the first time ever.

There are all sorts reasons for the surge in popularity.

"You can really tailor your own vacation," said Road Bear RV's Andreas Kollmannsberger.

Some credit recent documentaries about our National Park system. Others point to empty nesters who prefer renting over full-time ownership. Still others point to a growing segment of millennials seeking more creature comforts than traditional camping.

Kollmannsberger says in the Puget Sound region, a lot of people rent for extended weekend getaways, or for an alternative to tents at big concerts at the Gorge.

Depending on the size of the RV you rent plan on spending between $100 to $250 per night for the rental fee, plus gas. Some companies may have extra mileage charges depending on where you plan to travel, so be sure to ask.

Also ask about border crossing restrictions. Many rental companies for example, prohibit travel to Mexico.

"Usually with RV rentals there's insurance included for the RV itself, with a certain deductible," Kollmannsberger explained.

Deductibles typically start at around $1,000 or more, depending on the size of the RV and duration of the rental period. Most RV rental companies offer additional rental coverage so that's something else to consider. Also make note of whether the insurance covers back-up damage. Some plans don't.

When you pick up your rental, expect a detailed orientation. And pay attention. The last thing you need is to make a mistake in the middle of no where.

A good company will go over the operation of the entire RV system, from generator, to water and propane systems, to how to empty the sewage, how to operate the appliances, and even under the hood.

And Kollmannsberger says when you're driving an RV, take it slow. Especially on turns.

"Always make a nice, full swing," Kollmannsberger stressed. "Don't cut the corners."

This is especially critical at gas stations so you don't take out a protection pole around the pumps. You don't want to end up being one of the horror stories.

"It happens," Kollmannsberger said. "And it happens most times when people are rushed."

Speaking of gas, watch the fuel gauge. Even with a 50 gallon tank, at 7 to 9 miles per gallon- you'll need to gas up often.

More tips: Pay attention to what grade of fuel you can use. Some companies don't allow regular gas.

Watch out for the side view mirrors. They really add to your clearance requirements.

And never park or back up when you're driving an RV, unless someone else is standing outside the RV to guide you.

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