I've always wanted to go on an RV vacation, so my husband, Don, and I finally rented a 22-foot rig for the first time for four days in April. We went from Orlando, where we live, to Fort De Soto Park Campground in St. Petersburg, Florida. We pulled into our site and easily plugged in the RV for electricity to power the air conditioner and appliances. A few feet longer than the average pickup truck, the RV had plenty of space for our bikes and 18-pound dog, Tanner. But it was still small enough that we could simply unplug when we wanted to drive to the beach.

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We had so much fun, we made a second trip in May: a three-day getaway with our daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren, ages 3 and 7, to Sebastian Inlet State Park, also in Florida. We rented a 31-foot RV — about as long as two midsize cars — for $199 a day, plus $28 a day for insurance (my car insurance company doesn't offer RV coverage).

See also: Global glamping sites

It had "slide-outs," so we could press a button and the walls pushed out to make the area 12 feet wide. We pushed another button in the back and the bunk beds slid out. The little ones were in awe. The 3-year-old asked, "Grandma, is it yours?" I had to explain, "No, we're just borrowing it."

A few helpful tips

1. A good starter RV rental is what's known as a Class C. It's more like a truck, with the cab separate from the living area, and tends to be shorter than bus-style Class A RVs.

2. Plan to stay at a full-service RV campground for your first trip out, in case you need assistance. These campgrounds often have small convenience stores, for forgotten essentials.

3. Wal-Mart famously allows RV drivers to park overnight for free in many of its parking lots — though there won't be electricity or other hookups.

4. Bring bottled water for drinking. Save the freshwater in the RV's holding tank for dish-washing, toilets and the shower.

5. There isn't much storage space for clothing in most RVs. Take a few watertight plastic storage containers; keep clothes in them outside, to have more room inside.

6. The RV world is very pet-friendly, so bring Rex or Kitty. More than half the RVers who stay at Kampgrounds of America (KOA), which manages 490 RV campgrounds in North America, travel with pets.

7. RVs tend to get between 8 and 12 miles per gallon, though the huge ones may get only 5 mpg. You can save money if you travel to a campground near a rental location.

8. You can cook in an RV, but you might bring a small portable propane stove for use outside. It's fun and keeps odors out.

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