Is it Hard to Drive an RV?

6 min read

It is undeniable that RVs are becoming pretty popular as of late. After all, the prospect of being able to go wherever you want whenever you want while still having a home is undoubtedly attractive.

This post will discuss everything you need to know about driving a motorhome to make your first RV driving experience an enthralling one.

 

How hard is it to drive an RV?

RVs are surprisingly easier to drive than many people think. However, there’s still a learning curve for new drivers. The size of the RV you’re operating and the road conditions you face can significantly affect the motorhome’s drivability.

When driving an RV for the first time, it is normal to feel nervous simply because you have never done it before. Considering that RVs don’t drive like cars, it is also good to get a little intimidated so that you give them the respect they deserve.

In most cases, driving an RV feels more like driving a bulky SUV, and with little practice, you will become comfortable behind the wheel.

Notably, RVs accelerate slower, brake slower, and the blind spots are much larger than they are in a car. The best way to get used to driving is obviously getting behind the wheel of one – experience is always the best teacher when it comes to driving – and you will get better at driving your RV each time you drive it.

 

Factors that made RVs hard to drive

RV manufacturers strive as much as possible to make the experience of driving an RV like that of driving a car. It turns out that RVs aren’t tricky to navigate, but one thing remains a challenge – the size.

Whilst the length and height of RVs posing a challenge to new drivers, modern RVs come equipped with cameras on all sides to give divers a good view of the surroundings. If you are not used to driving long vehicles such as buses, it is advisable that you practice your skills before hitting the road.

You will need to take your RV to a large parking lot and practice turning without hitting cars and other objects to your side or overestimating the brake system. When trying your skills, make good use of the mirrors and cameras, especially when backing up and parking.

Besides navigation, you need to be mindful of the roof clearance. As a matter of fact, you may have trouble negotiating the road if you don’t know the height of your RV. With knowledge of how tall your motorhome is, you will confidently navigate your way underneath an overpass and tunnels.

 

What is the easiest RV to drive?

If you are considering taking the plunge to invest in an RV for the first time, the first thing you should know is that RV (recreational vehicle) is an umbrella term describing a whole range of vehicles, trailers, and classic campers.

RVs include three distinct classes of motorhomes, various fifth-wheel campers, teardrop campers, popup campers, toy haulers, and travel trailers.

While there is a combination of factors that make driving an RV easier, Class B RVs are by far the easiest to drive for most people because they are just modified commercial vans. They feel easy to handle for most people who have ever driven a passenger car or a large SUV.

They are small, compact, and drive almost like a big van with soft suspension, which makes them the safest option for most drivers.

Another appeal of class B motorhomes is that they are available in 4 x 4 options and have lower fuel consumption. While they aren’t as spacious as class A RVs, they still pack enough space for a small family to live in. In addition, class B RVs can fit into most parking slots, making them an ideal option for day trips and quick errand runs.

If you are looking for a larger space for more comfortable travel, you may want to consider a class C motorhome. They are cheaper to maintain and manageable than class A motorhomes but might be more difficult to drive than the largest class A RVs.

Keeping other factors constant, you will be better if you buy an RV based on your prior driving experience.

 

How to drive an RV

As with most things in life, the best way to learn how to drive an RV is to practice first. If you have never driven a long vehicle before, forget about taking your RV out on the road during the first few days.

During these days, take a few hours every day to practice parking, reversing, K-turns, and other driving maneuvers that are somewhat tricky. If you take your time to learn the basics of driving your RV, you will gain confidence and drive like a pro in no time.

When learning how to drive an RV, it is best to try your skills in big parking lots or wide-open farm spaces where the chances of hitting another vehicle or objects are minimal. To make the learning process smooth, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • RVs are heavier vehicles and, of course, far heavier than any automobiles you have driven before. Due to its weight, it accelerates and brakes slower.
  • Your RV is very tall, so make sure to watch for clearance obstacles like overpasses, power lines, and tunnels.
  • Rear-end and bottom clearances can affect your driving. You should be ready for sudden jolts, steep hills, tall curbs, and other challenging driveways.
  • Strong wind can pose challenges by swaying your boxy motorhome. To stay safe, whenever you encounter wind gusts, keep your hands firmly fixed on the steering wheel.
  • Be mindful of your turns and forget about U-turns. RVs are long and usually require a wide turning radius, which you need to compensate for.
  • Reversing can be tricky because you can barely see what is behind them.

 

Best tips for new RV drivers

Here are some of the best tips to make things safe and easy when starting out:

 

1. Practice and give yourself lots of space

Driving an RV for the first time is a lot like driving a car for the first time – you are uncertain about what you’re doing. Before you hit the road for the first time, you really need to spend hours in the park to improve your skills.

You need to learn how to use your side mirrors and rear camera optimally. RVs also require more reaction and braking distance than an ordinary passenger vehicle.

Overall, you need to practice driving at steady and predictable speeds and giving yourself sufficient stopping distance.

 

2. Maintain your vehicle

RVs are significantly larger, which means a small issue can easily aggravate your driving experience, more than it would in a standard vehicle. To ensure you and other road users are safe, make sure to check your tires, mirrors, brake lights, and turn signals to ensure they are functioning properly.

If any of these is faulty, fix it before sitting behind the wheel to head out on the road.

 

3. Plan ahead

You need to know what route you will be taking, your turns, and, well, make sure you’re on the right lane when approaching turns. The last thing you want is the surprise of an unexpected low-clearance bridge, overpass, or a sign restricting large vehicles from using the route you are following.

In this regard, there are numerous apps that can help.

 

4. Adjust your seat and mirror before getting in motion

This will allow you to concentrate on the road, and put you at ease.

 

5. Make sure everything is well-secured

If you’ve got any loose items on your shelves, they will move or fall off. If you’re new to driving an RV, you’ll want to make sure these items are secure.

 

6. Keep an eye on the weather

Inclement weather can make RV driving difficult, even for the most experienced drivers. Notably, wind and snow are the biggest problems when it comes to being on the road in extreme weather. Having a weather app at your disposal will help you to have weather reports along your travel route.

If you notice sudden weather changes, it is better to stay put and let it die down. It is better late than losing your motor home to snow or strong winds.

 

7. Learn a better braking method

RVs are heavier than they appear to be. From a driving angle, this means that they require a much longer stopping distance than a standard passenger vehicle requires. You need to make up for the fact that the vehicle in front of you will most likely stop much quicker.

Besides, you want to keep your brakes working effectively. Generally, you should learn to pump your brakes. Leaving your foot on the pedal for long can cause the brakes to overheat and stop working.

 

8. Keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles

This is very important, whether you are a novice or seasoned drover. As for RVs, the bigger the vehicle, the longer it takes to brake. Considering that regular vehicles can stop abruptly, driving slowly while keeping a safe distance can help minimize accidents.

 

9. Remember the height of your RV

When you finally hit on the road, don’t drive on routes simply because they are familiar. Because your car has never had trouble fitting underneath a bridge or overpass, it might be different for your RV. Whatever route you elect to use, remember the height of your motorhomes.

 

10. Drive slowly

You are heading out for a vacation, so why can’t you take time to reach the destination? Whatever reason you have for driving your TVs, it is good to make driving a leisurely and pleasurable experience. Driving slowly also saves fuel.

 

11. Be mindful of blind spots

When driving such a large vehicle, it’s important to be more mindful of blind spots. A bigger vehicle translates into more damage, if an accident occurs.

 

Final thoughts

While it is absolutely normal to feel some nerves at first, a little practice and common sense will give you the confidence to hit the road. You need to get good before you get fast, so drive slowly, plan your trips, use the right routes, and practice before heading out on the road and long trips.

Victoria Miller

I'm the founder of NTT. I live in Miami, Florida, and enjoy learning everything there is to know about tiny spaces.