No matter if you’re hitting the road for the tenth time or the first time, there are certain things you want to do and want to avoid in order to have a more enjoyable and less stressful journey. From planning ahead to using RV-safe GPS directions to setting a time limit for drive days, these tips will help your next RV road trip be safe and pleasant.
1. Measure Your RV
Before you ever hit the road, it’s important to know the exact measurements of your RV. Where you’re towing a travel trailer or driving a Class A motorhome, you need to know the height, width, length, and weight of your rig. This is crucial for creating a safe route because you’ll have to avoid low clearances and pay attention to weight restrictions on bridges. You also need to know this information to book campsites that suit your length. You can reach out to your local branch manager to receive this information about the RV you are renting.
Once have this information, you can correctly input the measurements and weights into an RV-safe GPS. A safe route will appear that avoids low clearances, narrow roads, and any other dangerous scenarios. You can usually set your own parameters as well like avoiding tunnels, tolls, or tight turns.
2. Plan Your Route
It’s important to plan your route, especially if you’re new to RVing. Use an RV-safe GPS and not Apple Maps or Google Maps. You’re not driving a standard vehicle. You’re driving one that’s much longer, heavier, and taller and will need to take RV-friendly roads.
Once you have a route, plan your fuel stops, rest stops, and food stops. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re low on fuel, and there are no truck stops where you can get a 40-foot Class A in safely. Plan accordingly so you know where you can get in and out easily. Then when you start your trip, you don’t have to worry about where to stop.
3. Don’t Be In A Rush
Whenever you drive, it’s never a good idea to be in a hurry. But when you’re driving or towing an RV, it’s even more important to take your time. These vehicles are long and heavy. They don’t handle the same way as smaller vehicles. Never be in a rush to get from one place to another. Reckless driving in an RV isn’t safe for you or the other travelers on the road. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the journey.
4. Stay In the Right Lane
Like the above driving tip, you want to take your time so stay in the right lane. Let others pass you who want to drive 70-75 MPH. RVs shouldn’t travel at high speeds. Again, they don’t handle the same way as a standard vehicle. One big gust of wind can send a trailer swaying. Plus, trailer tires are only rated for certain speeds. If you exceed that speed, you risk having a tire blow-out, which can have disastrous consequences.
You also want to stay in the right lane so drivers can pass you on your left side where you can see them more clearly. It’s harder to see someone coming up from your right. By sticking to the right lane, you’re encouraging other drivers to pass correctly.
5. Leave Ample Room
RVs can’t stop on a dime. Due to their size and weight, it takes longer to come to a stop. Leave plenty of room between you and the next vehicle. When you’re traveling in a city, drivers tend to weave in and out of traffic. You’ll have green lights suddenly change to yellow lights and then red lights. By leaving plenty of room, you’ll have space to slow down and stop when necessary.
6. Stick To 65 MPH or Under
As mentioned above, you don’t want to travel too fast in an RV. This goes along with the idea to stay in the right lane and to leave ample room. A 30,000-pound Class C motorhome can’t stop quickly if a car swerves into your lane. If you’re traveling at 65 MPH or less, you’ll have a better handle on the RV itself, and you’ll have time to slow down.
When you’re towing, you greatly increase the risk of trailer sway if you drive too fast. Trailer sway can lead to flipped-over RVs or cause accidents when the trailer swerves into another lane. So drive safely by sticking to speeds that are more reasonable for a longer, heavier vehicle.
7. Watch For Tail Swing
Unless you’re driving a camper van, tail swing is something you’ll need to watch out for every time you turn. Whether you’re leaving the fuel pump or turning into a Cracker Barrel, the back end of your RV will swing out farther than you realize. It’s always a good idea to practice in an empty parking lot if you’ve never driven or towed an RV before. You’ll learn how much space you need to leave and how wide you need to take your turns. You could easily take out a pole or side-swipe another car if you aren’t careful.
8. Follow the 3-3-3 Rule
The 3-3-3 Rule of driving is followed by many RVers, seasoned and novice. This means you travel no more than 300 miles in one day, no more than three hours at one time, and you arrive at your destination by 3:00pm. Some people even add on an additional requirement: to stay at least three days before moving on to another location.
By adhering to these guidelines, you ensure that you’re alert while driving because you avoid fatigue. You also arrive with plenty of daylight to get your campsite set up. Should you run into any issues along the way, you still have a couple of hours to get help or make alternative plans.
9. Check the Weather
It’s never a good idea to hit the road without checking the weather. No matter if you’re traveling 100 miles or 300 miles, you want to know the weather for the entire route. Check wind conditions especially. High-profile vehicles like semi-trucks and RVs are more susceptible to high winds than smaller cars. Avoid driving in dangerous conditions like snow storms, dust storms, and heavy rain. Pay attention to tornado warnings. This goes along with the second driving tip to plan your route ahead of time.
10. Don’t Drive At Night
Finally, if you can help it, avoid driving at night. It’s more dangerous to drive at night due to lower visibility. There are also more fatigued drivers on the roads at night. Plus, when you arrive at your location, you can’t see well to set up. It will be much more difficult to get the camper level and unhitch if necessary when it’s pitch black. This is another reason why the 3-3-3 Rule of driving is such a good guideline.
Enjoy the Journey With These 10 Driving Tips
The next time you’re gearing up for a road trip or just driving to the local campground an hour from your house, consider these driving tips. They’ll save you time and energy. Potentially, they’ll save you money by keeping you out of accidents. RVing isn’t just about the destination but the journey itself. Take your time, drive safely, and enjoy the adventure!
Where will your next road trip take you?