We’ve all heard about the empty nest syndrome. Some parents will experience the blues, while others are excited to get on with a new phase in their lives. That was my parents. As soon as my brother moved out, my parents went out and bought a motorhome so they could travel North America. Oh, nice!
My parents started out with a smaller motorhome and got acclimated with the in’s and out’s of handling a vehicle that was quite a bit bigger than anything they’ve driven before. Unsure, they thought they needed a special license to drive an RV. But, did you know you can drive most RV’s with a regular license?
One of the biggest challenges was learning to back up. The first motorhome my parents bought did not have any equipment to assist them in this area. Today, RV motorhomes come with back-up and side cameras to help you get comfortable behind the wheel. Driving an RV is not too difficult once you get into the flow of things, it’s just different. There is no test or as mentioned earlier any special license required for most RV’s, just a few things to keep in mind before you get behind the wheel and head off into the wild blue yonder.
Driving an RV won’t feel the same as driving a car. Depending on the size, it could feel like driving a minivan or even a commercial big rig truck. So it’s important to always pay attention to the size, height and weight of your motor vehicle, and choose one that feels comfortable for you to operate. Just from my parent’s experience, start with a smaller RV, get familiar with it, and down the road upgrade to a bigger unit. Once you’ve chosen the perfect RV, here are a few ‘shoulds’ to consider before your first adventure.
These rigs require handling and safety knowledge that sets then apart from a normal sized automobile. And there are lots of driving and towing tricks that most of us learn the hard way, so hopefully, these tips will offer some guidance. Incidentally, there are some excellent RV driving courses that you might want to ponder if you’re fearful or comfortable driving an RV. Better to be safe than sorry.
*Sit in the driver’s seat and adjust all the mirrors for optimal road views.
*Allow for the size of your vehicle when turning. The front and rear wheels will track paths much farther apart than those of a car.
*Allow more time to brake or to change lanes. Big vehicles take more time to accelerate and slow down. Learn to anticipate the traffic around you, so we can take action as soon as possible. Make slow and deliberate movements so other drivers can correct their course.
*When looking for fuel, always look for a large truck stop or major fueling station. A small gas stations layout is not designed for the long wheelbase of RVs.
*Stay in the right lane. It the lane where slower traffic like RVs should be, but it also allows you to see better behind you using the driver’s side mirror and if you have an emergency and need to pull over the shoulder is right there.
*Watch the truckers. They are generally the best and most experienced highway drivers. Observe what they do and watch what lane they merge into.
*Watch your rear. With the length of our RVs, it means the blind spot behind us can be fairly large and it’s easy for a car or tailgaters to hide back there. Here’s where the rear cameras are advantageous.
*Plot a course. Get the right maps that show the exit numbers, so you don’t end up driving in the heart of a massively busy city.
*Be well rested. Driving on the highway can be exhausting and intense. You need to have all your wits about you and it takes sustained concentration to make your travels safe. There are lots of rest stops along major highways, take advantage of them and rest up.
Necessary Shoulds if Your Towing Something
Not everyone will have an RV to holiday in, some of us like folding campers or travel trailers to tow behind our vehicles. Here are a few things to consider.
*Match the proper tow vehicle to your RV. Today, most SUVs, Vans, light-duty trucks and full and mid-size family cars can pull a trailer.
*Use the right trailer hitch, and make sure it’s hitched correctly.
*Connect brakes and signal lights. Make sure that the trailer’s brakes, turn signals, and taillights are synchronized with the towing vehicle.
*Back up with care. By placing your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, the trailer will move in the direction you turn your hand. For example, to move the trailer to the right, move your hand to the right. Once the trailer is moving in the proper direction, avoid any sharp movements of the steering wheel.
*When reversing: ask someone to stand outside the vehicle to make sure the driver avoids any obstacles not seen in the mirrors. If another person is not available, the driver should inspect the area behind the vehicle to prevent surprises and accidents.
I love to travel and Europe is my favorite destination. Yes, you can hit the quaint bed & breakfast’s, hostile and hotels, but you can rent motorhomes over there. RVs are popular worldwide and more people are taking advantage of their convenience and portability. Happy RVing.