RVs are awesome. They're like a home on wheels, and they give you the freedom to travel wherever you want without having to worry about finding a hotel or pre-planning how long you'll be in one place. But first time RVers can be intimated by their size and our RV Rental team is constantly being asked “How easy is it to drive an RV?” or “Is it easy to drive an RV?”
The simple answer is YES … RVs are easy to drive. Our Rental RVs can be driven by anyone over the age of 21 who has a valid full driver’s license. While they are larger than your family car, they operate in a similar manner, so driving one should be no problem for even beginner drivers of RVs! The learning curve isn't steep. If you are worried, the best way is to find an empty parking lot to practice in. Once you gain some confidence, get past the ‘what ifs’ you might be imagining may happen, and become more familiar with the size of the vehicle and the controls, you’ll feel more comfortable about hitting the road and wonder what you were ever worried about. While motorhomes are as easy to drive as your own car, there are some things that RV drivers do need to be aware of.
Check around the RV and get comfortable before you leave
Before driving away in your RV, walk around each side of the vehicle to check for potential obstacles, ensure all outside compartments are closed and locked and that the slide-out is retracted. Adjust your driver's seat and both side mirrors for optimal road views and ensure you are comfortable.
Be aware of the weather along your route
Check the weather conditions before you travel. Check the wind speed and direction and be aware of any issues you may have with crosswinds on your route. The higher the wind speed, the more the RV will sway and it will take more energy from the driver to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Ensure all compartments are closed | Check the weather before you travel
Use your Side Mirrors
Unlike your own car, you won’t have visibility in your rear-view mirror (if the RV actually does have one!). You’ll be relying on your side mirrors so take time to adjust these before you set off, ensuring you have a good view from every angle. While your side mirrors will provide good visibility, you still need to be careful of your blind spot and exercise caution, particularly when changing lanes.
Be aware of your RV's Height, Length and Width
Know your RV’s dimensions. Ask your RV Rental company for the vehicle’s height, length and width. They may have their RV Specifications already available on their website. The biggest mistake first-time RVers often make is forgetting that their RV won’t fit under building canopies, low bridges, drive-throughs and parkades. Research your planned route ahead of time to ensure you won’t encounter a low overpass, low bridges or tunnels.
Use your side mirrors | Be aware of your RV's dimensions
Practice safe highway driving
Give yourself room on the highway. Practice safe distancing with the vehicle in front of you – the weight of the RV means your stopping distance will be much longer than in your own car. Tailgating is hazardous. Driving in the right lane is a good idea if you are travelling slower than other traffic. When changing lanes, remember the length of your RV and ensure there’s enough space between vehicles to do so.
Slow down when weather and road conditions are not optimal
When driving a motorhome in bad weather, the most important thing to remember is to watch your speed limit and slow down even more than usual. Leave at least three times as much space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you as you would normally.
Leave space between you and the vehicle in front
Watch for steep hills and inclines
Go slowly on inclines and mountain passes. Steep grades are usually signposted in advance so be prepared. When travelling downhill, it can be tempting to ride your brakes … and this could lead to burn-out of the brakes. CanaDream RVs are equipped with a Tow/Haul function that selects a lower gear for a strong engine-braking effect when engaged. This reduces demand on the brakes and the odds of the brake pads overheating.
Be extra careful when driving in Canada at night. Watch for roaming wildlife and be prepared to stop suddenly if necessary. Make sure you adjust your headlights, clean your windshield and dim the cabin lights for maximum visibility.
Use tow/haul when descending hills
Your RV has a tail swing
Be aware of the tail swing on your RV. This is where the rear overhang swings in the opposite direction when turning corners. You will need to become familiar with the RV's turning radius and take wide turns on corners and in tight spaces.
Use a Spotter
Reversing can be a challenge for first-time RVers. The width of the RV and the lack of rear visibility make it easy to encounter an unseen obstacle behind you. Use a spotter (a person who stands behind the rear of your RV and is your ‘eyes’) to help you when backing up. Even if you have a backup camera on your RV, it's a good idea to still use a Spotter.
Drive throughs and parkades are out of bounds | Use a spotter when reversing
Be careful at gas stations
Most gas stations have high canopies and enough clearance to pull into the pumps and pull out again without needing to reverse. In some smaller towns, however, this may not be the case. Before you pull into a gas station, make sure you can easily exit it. Watch that you don't get too close to the gas pumps - give yourself enough space to easily get out after refuelling.
If you are nervous about backing up into a campground space in an RV park, try to book a pull-through site. Until you become more familiar with backing up your RV, this will alleviate any possibility of damaging the RV when reversing into a campsite space.
Watch height when pulling under objects | Use pull-through campsites when available
Always wear your seat belt
Seat belts are the law. Buckle up before hitting the road! Just because you are driving a home on wheels doesn’t mean that occupants can walk about freely while the RV is in motion. Make sure everyone is seated comfortably and wearing a seat belt while the RV is in motion. If you need a bathroom stop or to grab a bite to eat, find somewhere safe to pull over first.
Parking your RV
It goes without saying that your RV will not fit into a regular parking space. Most parking lots are made for cars and don't have much room between spaces, so are not RV friendly. It may not be easy to find a parking spot convenient to where you want to be. Open parking lots are ideal for RVs as there’s no worry about overhead clearances. You will feel more comfortable if you park well away from other vehicles and ensure there’s plenty of room to get out again.Everyone must be wearing a seatbelt when the vehicle is in motion
Is it easy to drive an RV?
The number one thing to remember when driving an RV is to take it slow. New RV drivers would say that getting used to the size of the RV didn't take too long. Keep in mind though, you need to enjoy your RV trip. Confidence will come with a little practice, but remember that RVs are meant for recreation. View our Safe Driving video below before you take to the open road then simply relax, slow down, and enjoy the views beyond your dashboard.
So, are you ready for RV travel and your first RV road trip? Read our Guide to Planning your First RV Trip to help you plan your RV vacation. CanaDream offers an easy online booking option on our website. If you still have any questions about driving an RV or booking your RV Rental, online chat with us at www.canadream.com, email us, or call us toll-free at 1-800-347-7126 – we’re always happy to help!