When you haven’t driven an RV before, it’s pretty intimidating to imagine driving one – especially if you have a small car. Here are a few tips to guide you as you prepare for driving a Class C motorhome for the first time.
Do a test runHave you rented a moving fan and driven it across town? Driving your Class C isn’t all that different. Just remember that you’re much longer than a typical car – probably at least 10 feet – so don’t be taking any tight turns. And make sure you learn the vehicle controls before you head out. Nervous? Take it for a spin around the parking lot before your big trek.
Always do a safety checkHonestly, whether you drive a Class C or a Class A or something else entirely, you should always do a thorough check before departure. Leaving a campground? Make sure you’ve unhooked your electric, water and sewer connections, have put all the hoses away and grabbed your chairs, fancy lights, bug zapper, or whatever else you’ve got. Leaving the lot of the RV dealer or rental facility? It still pays to make sure every compartment is closed, both inside and outside. No one likes broken dishes or watching their belongings fly across a highway. And if your Class C has slides, make sure the slides are in before you try to leave! Like with any car, it’s always a good idea to check your tire pressure and fluid levels before a trip.
Plan aheadBe proactive as a driver. Look ahead on your route (GPS etc.) as much as possible, and anticipate your moves, especially on a busy highway. Be in the right lane in plenty of time and never drive in the fast lane.
Slow downIt’s sometimes tempting, especially with a smaller Class C, to see if you can put the pedal to the medal. But even though you may technically be able to get that RV up to 75, keep in mind that you’ll be paying much more for gas if you maintain that pace and what speeds up, must slow down. Remember that rule from science class – every action has an equal and opposite reaction? If you’re driving 70 down the highway and you need to slow down quickly, you’re driving a house – it’s going to take a while to slow it down. Your safest bet is to keep your speed at 55 or 60. Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front of you. And whatever speed you choose, remember to allow extra time to slow for traffic signals, congestion, and deer running across the road. Nervous about stopping? Practice it in a parking lot. Slamming on the brakes is scary, but it isn’t as bad as you may imagine it would be.
Avoid U-TurnsCan you make a U-Turn in an RV? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not unless you’ve gotten really comfortable behind the wheel. Skip it if this is your first outing.
Drive with confidenceYou may not be as big as a giant truck, but your RV is much bigger than any car or commercial truck you’ll see on the road. With that larger presence, people will pay attention. It’s good to be cautious – after all, you’re driving a house! But don’t drive with fear of turns and merges. Drive with confidence, allowing lots of time and room but trusting that those around you will adjust to you where necessary. After all, if a little hatchback decides to get impatient and gets in an accident with you, chances are your RV will come through it okay. That little hatchback? It’s not looking so good.
Parking your Class C is easier with a partnerClass Cs, like other RVs, are best parked with a partner. If you’re not the driver and you’re able to, hop out of the RV and help guide the driver into their spot. Solo driver? Consider investing in a backup camera if your RV doesn’t already have one. Or befriend someone at the campground to help guide you in safely. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and use your mirrors. Never hesitate to stop and get out and look. And don’t rush. You’re on vacation! It’s better to take 20 minutes to get into a space than deal with whatever you broke.
Be smart and courteous parking your Class CParking at a big box store, like a Walmart? When you can, park with the door to the coach (to the house) next to a tree in a median. This makes it so you can still get in easily if someone parks a little too close. Park on the outskirts of the parking lot – it’s the courteous thing to do and it’s less crowded. Keep an eye on where other RVs are parked; typically that’s not just where you are supposed to park, but it’s probably safer too. Just remember, we all need a little space, so don’t park too close!
Enjoy Your Class CMake your trip easier with a GPS, and enjoy some music or a podcast; moderation is good, though. Don’t be wild and crazy singing while driving in a city, for instance. But really, enjoy your class C! After all, you can stop anywhere and take a nap in your bed! Don’t be afraid to nap on a long driving day, or make yourself a sandwich. Take your time and enjoy the moment.
Written by Jamie Feinberg, for Outdoorsy. 03/06/2018