Thursday, June 21, 2018

Renting a Motorhome in Alaska- Part 1--renting the RV

Well, by now you know that Sparky and Eldo love Alaska. We've been there four times, twice on a cruise, and three times renting motorhomes. As we no longer own our 40 foot Tiffin Phaeton, we have to rent an RV if we want to travel by RV. Eldy says that even if we did still have our Tiffin, he would not take it to Alaska. Why, you ask? Because of the possibilities of rough roads and windshield cracks and chips due to passing traffic throwing up rocks and stones or construction zones with loose gravel. The roads for the most part are good, at least the main highways are. But every year, there is frost heave and winter damage, and even on the main highways of Alaska, you will encounter roller coaster rides from the frost heaves, and summer construction where they try to repair the worst sections of road that got hit the hardest over the winter. 

We had to get out of the heat this summer for at least a little while. Eldy had been researching for weeks and weeks to get the best airfare. We are lucky in that we have FOUR airports to work incoming and outgoing flights from where we live in Bradenton. So for weeks and weeks, he went back and forth working on airfare and rental pricing of motorhomes. He would check to see if it was cheaper to leave from one airport but return to another one. (It was). Is it cheaper to have one stop instead of non-stop? (Sometimes it is and worth having a layover "break" from long flight hours). We have previously rented from a company called AK Motorhomes. We were very happy with them, but they are a much smaller company and don't have as many choices of rigs to go traveling in. They advertise their units as new, but are not always available once you get to their site. 

You have to compare RV rental companies very carefully when you decide to go to Alaska. Do they charge for linens? For cookware? For a coffee pot? For chairs? Do you get unlimited mileage? Do you want insurance? What time is check in and check out? Have you read the reviews for each company? You have to think about when your flight back home leaves and how many hours you will be sitting in the Anchorage airport waiting to go home as far as your checking in the motorhome when you are ready to return it. AK Motorhomes is just one company we worked with. We've rented from them twice and never had a problem with either rig. Last year we rented a Coachman, 27 footer, but it was actually longer than that when we picked it up and older than we thought it would be. There are many options for are a few:

This year we rented from Great Alaskan Holidays. Wow, what a rig!  And WOW! What service and staff! this is a fairly big company. They have about 500 RV's in their fleet. We rented a 2019 Minnie Winnie--a Winnebago which was a 32 footer, but actually is closer to 33 feet in length--too long for Riley Creek Campground in Denali, in case you are wondering.  The campground only accepts up to 31 foot RV's. The cost was 159.00 per day and it completely furnished with bed linens, quality towels and plenty of blankets. (We used all four of them!) If you want chairs, that's extra. Coffee pot is extra. Everything was new and in terrific shape, even the queen mattress, nice and firm.

We arrived in Anchorage after closing hours, but they have the rig all ready for you. The key is in a special spot, you let yourself in, spend the night, and the next morning, you check out after watching a 45 minute video all about RVing--how to empty tanks, how to drive an RV, how to leave parking lots, etc. We actually learned some new tips that we had never realized in the three years that we full timed. What's surprising about this is, if you never have driven a motorhome before, they send you out the door with only having watched the video. Although the video was VERY thorough, that was it. No tour of the rig, no explanations or demonstrations on how things work, and that was a scary thought. WE were very comfortable of course, on just seeing the video, having been RV full timers for three years, but NOT very comfortable knowing everybody gets the same introductory video and that's it. We really think the company ought to assess each customer's experience and tailor a how-to session based on that. Maybe the video is so complete, they don't need to do that! 

They offer collision insurance, but you are not pressured into taking it. We did, and we are glad we did. It was peace of mind having it with all the road construction and loose gravel sections that we encountered on the main, supposedly GOOD roads/highways. The company has an incredibly high percentage of chipped and broken windshields and we didn't want to take any chances with a 2019 rig. 

We were extremely happy with the company. Their service was fantastic, their check in and checkout staff terrific. We had a minor problem with leaving a towel behind at a campground and Eldy dropping the glass carafe coffee pot, and we were envisioning ridiculous charges for replacement, but nope! Nada. No charge. Their staff was readily available to answer questions, the manuals in the rig were excellent as far as helping you figure out minor problems and they have a staff ready for emergencies. Great Alaskan Holidays is an excellent company to deal with, and we highly recommend them!

See you on the road in Alaska!


  1. I've rented from GAH twice. I reserve in Dec when they have a "sale". They really are outstanding! I rented a 22ft. And yes, i got the extra insurance. Glad i did because in Fairbanks my navigator waved me into the site's utility post. Youch! I felt bad but they patched it up when we drove thru Anchorage on our way to Seward. They said "that was nothing. You wouldn't believe the damage we see."
    Look forward to hearing about your trip.

  2. Sounds like a good experience and I know you will enjoy Alaska again.

  3. Great post Jeannie for those who might rather rent than drive their own up. I had no idea this was your third RV trip to Alaska. When I tried your link Yelp told me it couldn't be found. Looking forward to finding out how many days you stayed there and where you went. Lucky you have Eldy to do what sounds like days and days of research to put this together.

    1. It always comes up on Google for might try that! :-)

  4. A fun read! It's been years since I traveled in a motor home. Great memories.

  5. We get a lot of foreigners in the park with rentals. Amazing to me how little the rental companies help the renters. None of them ever know how to hook up the sewer, etc.

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