RV driving tips and tricks for newcomers

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RV driving tips and tricks for newcomers

A new RV is an exciting purchase; it’s the opportunity to get on the road, explore places near and far, and avoid costly trip expenses like hotels and restaurants.  It gives you all of the comforts at home while you check out all of the destinations and check off the things on your bucket list.  RV’s are a great way to travel as a family – either just you, the spouse and the kids or with some of your extended family members.  It can also be wonderful for a retired or empty nester couples looking for some adventure.

Driving an RV can also be a bit nerve wracking if you’re not used to it, and there is a learning curve.  Use the tips below to help navigate your way around your new acquisition;

 

Campers driving

Parking;

  • First of all, before you park and set up, get out of your RV and walk around the spot.  Check for soft areas where you’ll want to avoid.  

  • Don’t attempt to “squeeze it in”.  If it doesn’t look as if your RV will fit, it won’t!  Looking for another location will take a lot less time than the paperwork will, if you damage your RV or worse; someone else’s.

  • If you’re using a parking lot for an overnight space, park away from other vehicles and as close to the outside perimeter as possible.  This will help avoid both collisions and a hassle to get out the next day.

  • Practise parking in several different areas so you get used to handling your RV before you actually take off and need to get it right.

Backing Up

  • If you’re travelling with someone, have them act as your assistant to direct you.  They can be your best way to avoid hitting anything and getting backed up in a straight line.

  • Get used to your mirrors.  You can’t shoulder check in an RV, so get used to using all of your mirrors regularly.

  • Don’t rely solely on a back up camera; it won’t give you the details of any obstruction overhead.  It’s best to get out and take a walk around before attempting to back up.

  • Don’t attempt to back up with a vehicle in tow!  At best, it’s a very difficult and frustrating set up to maneuver.  You’re far better to detach and back up the RV afterwards.

Weather

  • Weather can definitely have an impact on the use of your RV.  In general, if road conditions aren’t suitable for a car, they’re not suitable for your RV either.  Stay put.

  • Before you head out, ensure that your RV will take a good rain storm in stride.  Repair any leaks or cracks and check to see that ceiling vents seal properly when closed.

  • If you’re thinking about winter camping, make sure your RV is suitably winterized.  Some water lines are kept in heated compartments, but others aren’t, so it’s important to know which ones might need some antifreeze.  

  • When camping in cold conditions, be aware of how efficient your RV heater is and pack extra blankets and clothes to help keep warm.  Parking in a spot where the sun beat down on it all day will reduce the work your heater might need to do.

  • High winds can be difficult to drive in as they beat against the side of your RV.  If you find your driving impacted by the strength of wind, it’s best to find a spot to stay and wait it out.


campers

General Driving Tips

  • It’s very important (and your sole responsibility) to know your clearance height so you know which bridges and overpasses you’ll clear with ease, and which ones will require a detour.  Most will be marked with their heights, however these are not always entirely accurate, so approach with caution (slowly!) and when in doubt, detour!  Damage you create by underestimating your height is always your fault, no matter if posted signs gave you inaccurate information.

  • Because of your extra length, you’ll need to navigate turns (especially in busy cities or towns) with care.  You may need to turn to the left slightly before making a right turn, or vice versa, to give your girth the room it needs.  It’s a good idea to use turn signals long before you’re making your turn so those around you can anticipate your movements.

  • If you’re not entirely sure of your route, pull over and double check.  It’s a lot easier and more productive to take a second look and determine the best ways through a location before you commit and end up in a tight one way back road!


You may initially feel intimidated while behind the driver's seat, but with patience, care and practice, you’re sure to enjoy the added comfort and ease with which travelling can be done in your RV.