There are lots of benefits to renting a snowmobile—cost, convenience, guides, insurance—but it’s good to know some snowmobile rental 101 before you swipe that credit card.

Book early or smart.

If you’re heading to a popular snowmobile vacation destination, especially around a holiday weekend, call at least 30 days in advance. The sport has become so popular that many people book the same annual trips, which can limit availability.

Check sled quality.

Ask about how current your rental company’s sleds are and how often they turn them over or tune them. Top snowmobile manufactures are Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Polaris and Yahama. Ask your rental shop to go over all the components from tip to tail before you head out.

Get the insurance spiel.

Most all snowmobile rental outfits offer insurance on equipment, but it’s good to ask for details on insurance. In the event of an accident, you should only be responsible for a deductible.

Run the numbers on a guide.

If you’re on the fence about renting a sled to explore on your own or going with a guide, run the numbers on the cost difference and consider the consequences. Do you know the area? Do you want to try some new tricks under guidance? Do you want to hit all the best trails? Can you do it alone?

Consider a multi-day plan.

You might fork over $150+ to rent a snowmobile for a day—8am to 5pm. But will you really get to the shop that early to get your money’s worth? To save more and explore more, consider inquiring about discounts on two- and three-day rental packages.

Get in snowmobile shape.

There is some effort and sweat involved in riding and certainly driving a snowmobile. Be prepared for some of snowmobiling’s physical aspects, from maneuvering a powerful machine to braving the elements outside.