Are RVs Hard to Drive? Hello freedom!


You’ve always fantasized about exploring the far reaches of the world in an RV. The only problem is you’ve never driven an RV in your life, and you have no idea how difficult it would be (if at all). Are RVs hard to drive?

RVs are difficult to drive if you have no prior experience commandeering large vehicles such as commercial trucks, buses, or even a travel trailer rig. If you are experienced in those kinds of driving scenarios, then the adjustment to an RV is not a big one.

In today’s guide, we’ll talk more about whether driving an RV is hard and how to make it easier. We’ll also share our top tips for driving success, so keep reading!

RV-parked-up-by-the-beach

Is It Hard to Drive an RV?

If driving an RV was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Unless you have driven larger vehicles, as we talked about in the intro, then getting behind the wheel of an RV is going to be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

The vehicle is going to feel huge. The sheer length of the RV behind you in your mirrors might make you anxious. When you slow, stop and turn, it takes longer for your RV to respond to your movements.

It’s for those reasons that, to the uninitiated especially, driving an RV can be very difficult! First-timers will have no comparable experience, and so they feel overwhelmed by the size of their vehicle.

Those who have successfully driven large vehicles like commercial trucks and buses will find that acclimating to driving an RV is not too challenging. You will need a brief adjustment period, but you should get the hang of things relatively easily.

If you have experience with travel trailers, then you’re in an especially good spot to begin driving an RV.

Now, technically, you don’t drive a travel trailer, that’s true. You pull it behind a large vehicle, usually an SUV or pickup truck.

You’ll know all about how you have to stop early, turn wide, and park with plenty of room to spare.

What Makes It Easier to Drive an RV?

While we wish there was a way to magically snap your fingers and you’ll be acclimated to driving an RV, that’s simply not the case.

Practice will truly make perfect. The more you drive your RV, the less alien it will feel.

As you begin to rack up driving experience, the scenarios that once felt so treacherous to you will become everyday fodder that you don’t think twice about.

Here’s another tip that ought to really help.

If you’re in the beginning stages where you’re browsing around for RVs or comparing your options, but you have yet to make a purchasing decision, don’t buy a large RV.

RVs are available in three classes, A, B, and C.

Class A RVs are the most gargantuan on the road. No travel trailer can compare to a class A RV, nor can other motorhome types. The average size of a class A RV is 29 to 45 feet. They’re mammoth vehicles that require a lot of ability to successfully control.

Class B RVs are 17 to 19 feet, making them the smallest of the three classes. Class C motorhomes are 22 to 44 feet long, so they’re hardly smaller than class A RVs.

Of the three classes, we would recommend you drive a class B RV. They’re still not small by any means, but they’re navigable enough that even beginners will eventually feel at ease.

Tips for Driving an RV

For the rest of this article, let’s share some tips that will make driving an RV easier.

Practice As Often As You Can

Yes, we’re harping about practice again because it’s so important.

You will gain real-world experience driving your RV on residential streets, highways, freeways, and maybe even some dirt paths.

That said, you’ll feel way in over your head unless you practice first.

Find an empty parking lot and use that as your practice space. Do all the maneuvers that you would when driving a car or truck such as turns, stopping, K-turns, regular parking, parallel parking, and reversing.

You will feel like an awkward 16-year-old who’s learning to drive for the first time again, and that’s okay. In a way, you are learning to drive for the first time again.

Once you feel relatively comfortable with these techniques and maneuvers, you’ll be ready to hit the open road.

Plan Your Routes Ahead

When you do indeed plan on hitting the open road, always know where you’re going.

No, this isn’t solely for matters of time management, although that’s important too.

Mostly, it’s to ensure you can even get to your destination.

What do we mean by that? RVs cannot fit through every tunnel or under every overpass. You might weigh too much to cross certain bridges.

Is this the sort of thing you want to find out the hard way when you’ve stopped traffic and have 30 angry motorists behind you blaring their horns and yelling? No, it is not.

Know your RV’s size no matter how large or little it is. Then research all the bridges, tunnels, and overpasses on your route as well as the weight limits and clearances of each.

If you can’t safely pass, then you need to plan an alternate route.

Learn to Stop Early

Braking is one of those things you can practice until the cows come home, but you can’t really feel comfortable doing it until you’re applying your brakes in a real-world scenario.

If you’re used to stopping on a dime in your car or truck, you need to discontinue that kind of driving immediately once you’re behind the wheel of an RV.

Your hulking hunk of metal weighs thousands of pounds, even if it is a smaller class B RV. When you hit the brakes, the entire vehicle needs to come to a stop, and that takes extra time.

You will have to get used to predicting when you need to stop and then pumping the brakes seconds before even that so you can roll to a stop at the red light or street line just in time.

Under-predicting your stops means you could be in the middle of a two-lane road with other cars stuck behind you. You then create a hazardous situation.

Over-predicting your stops could put your RV halfway out into a busy four-way intersection.

Stay Further from Other Motorists

Bumper-to-bumper driving isn’t polite even if you’re not behind the wheel of an RV. Once you are, it’s downright dangerous.

Your vehicle weighs thousands of pounds more than most on the road. Whether you were to hit someone from the front, the side, or the rear, you would cause exponentially more damage than you would if the same collision occurred in a car or truck.

You never know what another motorist is going to do, and it’s for that reason that you want to keep a good distance from everyone.

This way, if a driver decides they want to cut over into your lane even though they didn’t use their blinker, or they suddenly stop or turn, you have plenty of time to respond.

Plan to be 400 to 500 feet from the driver in front of you at all times. If people behind you think that’s too much space, they’re free to cut in front, but you should keep 400 to 500 feet behind that person as well.

Drive in the Right Lane on Highways

In the world of travel trailers, there’s a phenomenon called trailer sway that occurs when side forces make the trailer move.

As an RV owner, your motorhome can still sway, even though it’s not attached to a towing vehicle.

So what causes those side forces? Trying to drive in the center of a four-lane highway in your RV will definitely do it.

That’s why you should always stay in the furthest right lane near the exit lanes. You’re out of the fray. Cars can only drive to one side of you, which should improve your RV’s stability.

Plus, when you have to cross lanes to reach your exit, you only have to go one lane rather than three or four. That’s a much safer maneuver.

Let Others Have the Right of Way

As an RV owner, you have to become a bit of a bleeding heart.

When someone is impatiently coming out of a parking lot and they want to cut in front of you, let them. If someone wants to enter your lane, let them.

This basic courtesy is a safety precaution. You’re reducing the risks of sudden maneuvers.

Drive Slower Than Usual

Speed demons need not apply to own an RV. You should always drive within the 63-to-65-mile-per-hour threshold.

Yes, that’s it. Even if you’re used to doing 75 down the freeway, you can’t do that anymore.

For one, reaching that kind of speed in an RV is difficult, and maintaining speed is even tougher.

Plus, you shouldn’t want to drive like that. It’s dangerous for everyone in your RV as well as all the motorists you’re sharing the road with.

If other people think you’re driving too slowly, as we said before, they’re free to drive around you.

That said, don’t drive so slowly that you’re putting other motorists at risk. Follow the speed limits near you.

Conclusion

Driving an RV can be hard, but with time, practice, and experience, it becomes a lot easier. Buying a smaller RV to start will also make learning less of an uphill battle.

We hope the information in this guide inspires you to try driving an RV!

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John Cunningham

John is a writer, classic car and whiskey lover, men's shopping enthusiast and self appointed DIY expert. His greatest passion is repairing in the workshop, making old classics look and run like new again!

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