Buying an RV is undoubtedly exciting and life-changing.
You can travel across the country in comfort and camp without worrying about the rain.
However, driving a motorhome is much different than driving a standard car, and it takes some getting used to.
There are different rules and aspects toward owning and driving an RV.
Here’s how you can learn how to drive one, as well as the factors you should keep in mind once you’ve become familiar with operating a motorhome.
Driving A Motorhome Takes Patience and Time
You usually don’t need a license to drive an RV.
However, this doesn’t mean you should go out and buy an RV, then hop in it right away for a long cross-country trip.
Driving an RV isn’t the same as driving a car, and you will need to take some time to become familiar with your new vehicle.
Learning to drive one not only prevents accidents but also ensures you are comfortable operating your new motorhome.
It goes without saying that RVs are much bigger than a typical car.
You’ll need to get used to driving and navigating a taller and broader vehicle that is more susceptible to high winds and turns more slowly.
There is no way to see out the back, so you also won’t be able to turn your head to check your blind spots.
The good news is, driving a motorhome is fun and manageable once you get used to it.
You can learn how to drive a motorhome by:
- Attending an RV driving school.
- Taking different types of RVs out for a few test drives.
- Starting off with short trips before you embark across the country.
- Making sure you practice, practice, practice.
Attend RV Driving School
If you’re a little nervous about driving an RV or need more practice, attending RV driving school can help enhance your skills and confidence.
Some professional RV training is not required to purchase an RV, but you’ll be able to learn things from your instructor that you might not discover on your own.
RV driving school will be able to teach you:
- How to operate your motorhome safely as well as enjoyably. After all, there’s a reason why RVs are fun to travel in.
- How to conduct a safety inspection each time so you can make sure your RV is ready to go before you hit the road.
- How to drive safely in various situations such as in the rain or snow, in heavy traffic, or going up difficult terrain
- How to back up, park correctly, turn correctly, and turn your RV around, as well as other basic RV driving skills.
To many people, RV driving school is absolutely worth it, especially for first-time RV drivers.
Even if you are already familiar with driving a motorhome, it can help to get pointers on situations such as backing in your RV or driving in poor conditions.
How Do I Find An RV Driving School?
Many states have driving schools at a variety of locations.
Most driving schools are on permanent sites, but some are at seasonal or temporary sites.
You can find a school near you by looking online.
There are other options; RV events and shows sometimes have RV driving schools in attendance.
These schools will provide classes at the show or provide more information if you’re unable to attend.
Some larger RV dealerships also offer their own RV driving training.
Take A Few Test Drives
Just like you can take a car on a test drive when you’re at a dealership, you’ll be able to take RVs out on test drives.
Not only does this allow you to get a feel for which types of RVs do what, but you’ll also get more RV training experience along the way.
When you take an RV out for a test drive, pay attention to:
- How well you’re able to see: As you drive an RV, check your sightlines. You should be able to comfortably look out the windshield, front windows, and in the mirrors to see all around the vehicle. If you feel you aren’t able to see well, you shouldn’t purchase the RV. This also gives you time to adjust to being higher up and having a different sightline than regular cars.
- How the vehicle handles different terrain: Try not to simply drive the RV up and down the street in front of the dealership–take it on hills and curvy roads. If possible, try it out on all different aspects of the terrain. You’ll see how well the RV handles and can get more comfortable being in different situations.
Drive on Empty Roads
If you are just starting out learning how to drive a motorhome, take your RV on a test drive along a quiet and empty road.
This allows you to get used to driving the RV, and if you make any mistakes, no one is around to see or get injured.
You can take your time and simply get used to how an RV operates without the worry of other cars zipping in and out around you.
Take Small Trips
When you first set out in your RV, take small trips instead of embarking across the country.
To get used to your new vehicle, take a trip such as local camping instead of traveling to another state.
You can become familiar with your RV, and you can practice challenging aspects such as backing into a spot or making a sharp turn.
Factors to Driving A Motorhome
As you learn to drive a motorhome, there are few essential things to keep in mind.
An RV is entirely different than a small car, and it takes time and practice to navigate a larger, bulkier vehicle.
When you undergo RV training, these factors will be “driven” home.
Conduct A Safety Check Before Getting On the Road
One of the things that RV driving school can teach you is how to conduct a safety check on your RV successfully.
This is also known as conducting a preventative maintenance inspection (PMI).
It not only ensures your vehicle is good to go but helps you maintain the RV in the long run by identifying and fixing issues before they become worse.
As you get ready for your trip, make sure you check your turn signals, brake lights, tires, and mirrors.
It’s easy to fix these at home before you head out, but these can be dangerous if they malfunction on the road.
If you’re traveling to a remote area, it’s especially important to check over everything beforehand.
Give Yourself Extra Space to Brake
RVs weigh much more than regular cars.
The distance you travel in a motorhome as you put your foot on the brake and begin to brake will be a lot longer than in an SUV or passenger car.
Given this, one rule of thumb is to provide six more seconds of space between your RV and the vehicle in front of you.
You should also be mindful that other vehicles will be able to stop much more quickly than you.
RV Travel is Slower and More Demanding
Given their weight, motorhomes travel more slowly than cars, and you will need to add extra time to your trip; what takes an hour to reach in a car might take at least twice as long in an RV.
Give yourself more time to complete your journey, especially as you get used to driving a motorhome.
Driving an RV also takes more effort and focus.
You’ll likely get tired more quickly, especially in harmful conditions.
Make sure you include lots of short breaks in your trip so you can get the rest you need about once every hour or so.
Practice RV Safety
There are specific safety factors to driving an RV that you must always be mindful of.
- Drive more slowly. Your ability to stop, react, and turn in sudden or dangerous situations isn’t as fast as usual. If you drive slower, you’re giving yourself more time to react.
- Don’t allow people to move around inside. When your RV is in motion, everyone should be sitting down with their seat belt on. The ample space inside motorhomes may make it seem safe to move around, but any sudden turn or braking can cause injuries.
- Know the width and height of your vehicle. RVs are much taller and wider than standard cars, so you will need to be wary of parking garages, overpasses, and low-hanging wires. You also won’t have much space in your driving lane and need to be careful with parking.
- Watch your blind spots. RVs have more blind spots, so many motorhomes come with blind-spot cameras. These are cameras that help you back up and provide other guidance as you change lanes or back into a spot.
Learning to Drive A Motorhome
Driving a motorhome is fun and safe, but it takes a lot of training and practice before you are entirely comfortable operating your RV on the road.
There will be many situations that challenge your RV driving skills, from rainy road conditions to backing into a tight spot.
You can take a class at an RV driving school and take RVs from the dealership out for a test drive before you embark on your adventure with your motorhome.
Pay attention to what you learn in class, talk to other RV drivers, and practice safety protocols.
Learning to drive a motorhome isn’t easy, but once you’ve done it, your life will change for the better.