Prior to my recent RV trip across Florida the largest vehicle I’d ever driven was a 16-passenger van.
Most of my driving experience centered around my mini-van and smaller SUV. So, driving an RV for the first time was pretty intimidating, but once I got used to it, I knew I was going to be fine.
Go RVing asked if I would be interested in driving an RV and sharing my RV travel experience with y’all. Of course, I’m not one to back down from a fun adventure so I immediately said yes!
I thought I knew what to expect driving a large vehicle, but the truth is I was totally clueless. Thanks to the team at General RV in Orange Park, FL I left with lots of tips on how to drive it and what to expect rolling down the road.
I arrived to pick up the 32′ Minnie Winnie and thought “I got this, no worries.”
Little did I know that driving an RV was going to take some quick learning and the ability to stay focused and cool under pressure.
Slipping behind the wheel I made sure the seat and mirrors were adjusted properly.
The great thing about this 2020 Winnebago Minnie Winnie is there is a backup camera, side mirror cameras and large side mirrors that give you a good look of the world along each side and behind the motorhome.
Those driving safety features made my RV road trip a lot easier.
Taking a deep breath I put the RV in gear and slowly eased out toward the road. I kept going through the RV tips and tricks in my head that the dealership shared with me.
Take a walk through the RV with me:
RVing for Beginners–AKA What I Didn’t Expect
Use the following RV driving tips and tricks to give you some advanced preparation before your first RV adventure.
It’s a little shocking to realize how much vehicle you’re actually driving when you get behind the wheel of an RV.
It feels different. The best way to describe it is that you can “feel” the weight of the RV and it is heavy.
Note that accelerating takes time. The engine is moving a lot of weight and it takes a hot minute to get up to speed. Same for braking. Give yourself plenty of time and room to stop.
If it is windy outside the wind will push the RV. In my case, it pushed it to the side so it really took all my concentration to keep the RV between the lines.
Add a passing semi or large straight truck and the RV was pushed even further.
I never got used to the feeling of being pushed out of my lane, but I learned to prep for it. A tip is to watch for trucks getting ready to pass you and then brace and, let’s be honest, grip the wheel a little harder.
I thought the issue was with me and my lack of RV driving experience but after speaking with other RVers I learned that this is quite common. That was a relief.
RV Tips and Tricks for Right and Left Turns
Left turns will be easy, just like a left turn in a van with just a bit more vehicle.
Right turns are tricky, take your time, check your mirrors and note that wherever the rear wheels are is where the RV is going.
Check and check. The first left-hand turn was a breeze.
The first right-hand turn had me taking deep breaths and reminding myself that I wasn’t in a race.
The thing with the right-hand turns is you need about a lane and a half to complete the turn.
Check, double check and recheck the mirrors and the video screen that shows the side of the RV then gently ease into the turn.
Once you have both turns under your belt your confidence improves and you should be a bit more relaxed.
RV Tips for Pumping Gas
This is tricky. Driving a 32′ RV into a gas station requires some quick pre-planning.
With a glance, you need to scope out the station and make sure the station is big enough to handle the RV.
Then you’ll want to confirm that the roof of the station is high enough for the RV to fit under.
Use a pump on the outside part of the station.
Watch for those short cement pylons that are generally found near the pumps. If you cut the RV too tight on a turn you will hit them (PLEASE, don’t ask how I know.)
Swing wide when pulling up to the pump and pull way forward because the gas cap is usually located towards the back of the RV.
When leaving the pump, it’s best to drive forward as far as possible before making a turn. This is why it’s important to go to a large gas station. You don’t want to hit the pumps on the way out.
Truckstops are actually a great place to get gas because they are made for big vehicles.
For those interested, gas mileage for a 32″ Minnie Winnie, driving across the flat of Florida, averages about 8.5 MPG.
RV Tips for Driving an RV on the Highway
The secondary roads were fairly easy for me to navigate. It’s a slower pace and there isn’t as much traffic.
Driving an RV on the highway was a whole other game.
Fast moving cars (I’ll admit, that’s usually me), semis, other RVs, oh my.
I merged onto the highway and stayed as long as I could in the far right-hand lane (aka the slow lane). I was comfortable there and things were going smoothly and then I had to merge to the middle lane to make room for oncoming traffic.
Ok, blinker on to alert those behind me I plan on moving to the left, check the video screen on the console for any cars hiding in my blind spot, triple check the mirrors to make sure the lane is clear and move over.
Whew, I did it.
For the most part, I kept to the right-hand lane, as most RVers do.
The shape of the Minnie Winnie makes it a bit challenging to go much over 70 plus the faster you go the more gas you burn so that was enough to keep me at 70 or less.
Perks of Motorhome Travel
One of the great things about an RV road trip is that you save on eating out. When we wanted lunch we found a place to pull over and whipped up a tasty meal. No expense of eating out, food made the way we wanted, and back on the road in no time.
Owning a motorhome may not be an immediate purchase but you can rent an RV for a week through a number of companies to give living in a motorhome a try.
If you’re ready to purchase an RV or even thinking about it my friends at Go RVing are a fantastic resource to help you find your perfect match.
Asked if I would drive an RV again and I hesitate to answer either way. I think at heart I’m a true, back to nature, toss up a tent kind of camper.
However, I will say there is a lot to be said for running water, a soft bed and a bathroom. I figure a few more RV trips and I’ll be a pro at driving an RV and will probably be sold on the RV life.
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