Driving a motorhome for the first time Top 10 Tips

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Driving a motorhome

Whether you are a seasoned camper or are renting a motorhome for the first time, every camper has their maiden trip in an RV. When doing something for the first time, of course, you will be nervous – it’s only natural!

Motorhomes are generally much larger than cars, and some A-Class motorhomes reach up to 40 feet in length, so you have to take care when driving them. This article will give you the 10 most useful tips to know before you set off out in a motorhome for the first time. Let’s get into it!

Tip one: Plan your journey before you set off.

A rookie error to make when driving a motorhome is to not plan your journey. Just setting off and following the sat nav can sometimes be okay but it is not a guarantee.  Avoidable mistakes, such as travelling at a peak time will be a cause for regret.

You also may not feel as confident without planning. Driving when stressed can significantly reduce your driving capability. Whether you use the map or sat-nav, plot the route you plan to drive. Then, you can choose a time to start your journey which avoids peak hours on busy roads. This way, you will know what you are in for when you hit the road.

Tip two: Inspect your RV before you set off.

You might think motorhome driving tips are all for when you are actually driving. The safety of a vehicle can never be neglected, so before every trip, you must do a once over on your RV. It’s no good setting out on a trip to realise a few miles down the road that you have a flat tyre or an issue. Your trip could be over before it starts!

An inspection before setting off will give you the peace of mind that your motorhome will get you there safely.

Tip three: Fill up the fuel tank.

Assuming your route is planned and your motorhome has been correctly inspected, it is now time to add fuel. This seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many campers end up running out of fuel.

Why is this? Often these mistakes occur due to a lack of planning. Motorhomes have a relatively low MPG (Miles per gallon) compared to a small modern car. For example, a large motorhome may only get 20 MPG, whereas a small car may get 50 MPG.

Some people fill the tank and expect their motorhome to go as far as the car they usually drive. We recommend filling the tank to its capacity before your journey. This is especially important if you go off the grid. The last thing you want to do in the middle of nowhere is to run out of fuel.

A great piece of advice is to have a spare fuel tank onboard. Make sure it is safely stowed away and if you ever run out of fuel in your main tank, you will be able to use your reserve until your reach the nearest fuel pump.

Tip four: Adjust the mirrors so you can see.

One of the biggest differences between driving an RV and driving a car is that there is no back window to look out of. This can be a big change, especially when driving a motorhome for the first time.

Your side mirrors will be your only tool to see what’s behind, so they must be correctly adjusted. This will only take a few moments before setting off but is an absolute must to do.

Tip five: Get to know your dashboard.

Getting familiar with your dashboard is a great thing to do before you set off. Even knowing basic information, such as if the dash is in miles per hour or kilometres per hour, is important.

Knowing how to work the lights, what buttons turn what on, how the air-con works, and what the warning lights are for is vital. Make sure to test the motorhome’s functions whilst it is static to prevent dangerous driving. The more familiar you are with your surroundings and controls, the more at ease you will be.

Tip six: Wear sunglasses.

This tip is such a great one. Regardless of whether it’s summer or winter on your road trip, there’s a good chance the sun will come out. The last thing you want is to be blinded by it. Having some good polarised sunglasses on hand can be a lifesaver whilst out driving.

Tip 7: Know the size of your RV.

When you venture out in a motorhome for the first time, this is a brutal mistake to make. If you don’t know the size of your RV, you risk not fitting down a road or under height restricting barriers. This would spell disaster for your road trip.

The best thing to do to overcome this potentially life issue is to have a sat-nav. Many sat-navs now allow you to input your vehicle’s height and length. They will use this information to plan a route that is safe for your motorhome, meaning you won’t encounter any areas that you can’t fit through.

Tip 8: Respect the speed limit.

Speeding is never a good idea – the faster you go, the less time you have to react. Keep in mind that a standard motorhome’s weight can be as much as 10 tonnes. This is a lot of weight to be out of control should you drive irresponsibly.

Furthermore, due to the various configurations inside, the weight will not be distributed evenly. Therefore driving at the speed limits and being particularly careful around corners will keep you out of danger. It’s much easier to slam on the brakes at slower speeds than faster speeds. This tip is common sense. Don’t drive like an idiot, drive sensibly and take in the views.

Tip 9: Avoid parking panic and problems.

Parking for many drivers is stressful. Even more so when it comes to parking a big motorhome. Let’s be honest, most parking spots hardly fit a car, let alone a huge motorhome. There are a few ways to park with more confidence. If you have a reversing camera, use it. They can be great judges of distance and will make reverse parking a breeze.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to park where there aren’t many cars and tight spaces. This way, you don’t have to worry about hitting anybody, and you can park with less stress.

If you need to park up and are still not confident, ask for help! Get your buddy or a passing person to help guide you in. Go slow and communicate well. Never rush when parking. Take your time and get it right.

Tip 10: Take breaks when you need them.

As keen as you may be to drive straight to your set destination, don’t forget to take breaks. Driving takes a huge amount of focus and concentration, which of course, tires you out in time. Have regular breaks to stretch your legs and refuel.  This is what heavy goods vehicle drivers do, so if you’re driving a motorhome, the same principles apply.

Driving tired brings all sorts of risks into play and endangers you and others. Falling asleep at the wheel is to be avoided at all costs. You have a bed in the back so park up and use it if you need it!

Driving a motorhome for the first time Summary

These 10 tips will give you the best preparation to hit the road in your RV. Critically with driving, confidence is key, so take responsibility for that motorhome when you drive it. Pay attention to your surroundings to ensure you get from A to B safe. There’s no rush.

Remember, it is better to arrive later than planned than not at all. Enjoy the campervan lifestyle whilst safely driving in your motorhome to your next destination.

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