RV Driving Tips for Beginners
We share some must-know tips for first-timers.
Many couples and families have taken to recreational vehicles (RVs) and motorhomes this year in an effort to get out and about during a year when there aren’t many options. RV’s are a great choice for those who want to keep socially distant; having your own self-contained home on wheels allows you to avoid public restrooms and hotels along the way.
While drivers with a full G licence are allowed to tow RV’s, that doesn’t mean you should hop in the driver's seat and immediately set out on a road trip. You may be eager to get out on the road, but it’s imperative that you get to know your RV before you do.
Keep reading to find out our must-know RV driving tips for first-timers.
Practice makes perfect
Remember when you were a high schooler learning how to drive your mom’s sedan? You felt shaky, inexperienced and had very little confidence. But after a bunch of practice, you finally got the hang of it.
Whether you sign up for RV driving lessons or try it out on your own, the key is practice, practice, and more practice! Although basic road navigation is important, be sure to focus on parallel parking, tight turns and other tricky maneuvers, too.
Practice in your neighbourhood, in parking lots, and don’t forget to take it on the highway a few times. It can be disorienting driving such a large vehicle if you’re accustomed to smaller vehicles, so it’s important to get a feel for your RV before you set out on the road. Dedicate a few hours each day on practising, and you’ll gain the confidence required for those longer road trips.
Because of its sheer size, sitting in a motorhome can make you feel invincible. Passengers may feel safe getting up and walking around while it’s moving, but that’s never a safe idea. Because of the large blind spots, an RV accident can be just as damaging as one with a large truck. Make sure you and all other passengers are buckled up before driving off, and remain as such for the duration of the trip.
Understand your RV’s height restrictions
From narrow roadways to underground tunnels, you’ll likely encounter some challenging points along the way. Know your motorhome’s limits before getting behind the wheel. Familiarizing yourself with the dimensions of your RV will help you make on-the-spot decisions when approaching a tricky passageway.
When your home is on wheels, you have the luxury of slowing down and enjoying the ride — especially if you’re taking a scenic route. When your home is on wheels, there’s not as much of a rush; you can always pull off the road for a bathroom break, and even a nap if you need it.
Following posted speed limits is especially important if you’re driving an RV. They’re bigger and a lot heavier than your average car, which means it takes a lot more for them to stop — especially at high speeds. Be mindful of other motorists, and allow room for others to pass.
RV’s are a lot heavier than cars, which means it takes more for them to come to a stop. Practising on quiet streets will help you get a feel for the stopping distance of your RV, but remember — driving at higher speeds means you should give yourself more time, and room.
As a newbie, always remember that there’s no such thing as sudden stops in an RV. If you must brake, it needs to be planned well in advance. Keep your space from other drivers and keep your eyes peeled, so you always have the chance to brake early.
Keep an eye on the weather
It’s impossible to ensure sunny days each time you’re on the road, especially if you’re going on a long haul. But you can download a reliable weather app, and use it often.
Bad weather can make it hard to navigate a regular car, let alone an RV. A light drizzle or a few flurries don’t have to postpone your trip, but they can make it difficult and dangerous if you’re not adequately prepared.
Never drive when tired
RV travel usually means driving thousands of kilometres, across days, weeks, or even months. When making your itinerary, leave some room for rest days and impromptu plans. Taking it slow is key when you’re road tripping in an RV — you don’t want to get burned out and fatigued on the road. Not only does it make for unpleasant travel, but it can be tremendously dangerous, too.
As a first-time driver you’ll want to be extra alert when navigating the roads, so never try to push through a sleepy slump. Instead, swap out with another driver on board or find a spot to pull off for some rest. The plus side is, you can use your RV’s built-in amenities to recharge before setting out again.
With these tips in mind and some regular practice, you’ll be driving like a pro in no time. Always stay prepared and keep safety your top priority, so you can enjoy every destination you reach in your RV!