Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
Road View From the Drivers Seat of an RV
What's So Different about Driving a motorhome?
Whenever I'm in a campground, I spend a good amount of time talking to my fellow campers, and one of the more well known jokes among campers is the following:
Owning a motorhome is like owning a boat; the only thing you have to know when you buy one is how to write the check!
This usually comes up as some of us are watching a novice trying to park their RV in a campsite, or unhitching a tow car, or other RV-centric moves that requires a little fore-thought and know-how.
I wrote this article to provide some facts about driving a large motorhome, regardless of whether it's a Class-A, Class-B, or a Class-C version.
These rigs require special handling and safety knowledge that sets them apart from a normal sized automobile when you operate them.
Learn to Drive the Hard Way or the Smart Way?
Over my lifetime, I have driven a lot of different automobiles and I have even towed a few trailers with small trucks. Heck, I have, just like everyone else, rented large moving trucks and driven them on the highways of America without a clue of how dangerous they can be.
But, my formal operating lessons consisted of a sales guy walking over to me and saying;
Here are the keys, so sign the form and the truck is due back in 24-hours. Have a nice day.
My wife and I had camped in RVs for decades from the time we were married and over that period of time we have gone through a range of camper styles from; family tents to Pop-Up Campers to a 24-foot Tag-Along Trailer.
Back then, our camping had always been for those one or two weeks a year you took a family vacation plus maybe a half-dozen weekend trips to nearby places of interest.
Looking back, we were pretty lucky because we had some close calls towing even these campers as we learned all of those towing and driving tricks you need to be aware of, the hard way.
Driving My First Motorhome Was an RV Adventure
And, eventually, I purchased my first Motorhome.
At the time, I found this great deal where I could trade my older SUV to a private owner in Florida for an older 36-foot motorhome.
Excited over the deal, my wife and I drove the SUV down to the Florida guys home, paperwork in hand. When we got to Tampa, each of us inspected the others vehicle and after some haggling we came to a deal that satisfied each of us.
A quick trip to the local bank, and after signing the papers with a Notary Public, we loaded our gear and pulled out of the Tampa area in my first Motorhome; a 36-foot long, 1996 Pace Arrow Vision.
I was on top of the world.
Literally, it felt like I was on top of the world, I had never driven anything so large and I had never driven from the vantage point of a seat that was so high above the road.
Looking back to that trip home, I should have known that, as careful as I was trying to be, I was a rolling accident waiting to happen.
My First RV Driving Mistake
First of all, let me state; We all make mistakes at times, but for those of us who are on the road in a Big Rig, a small mistake can lead to some dangerous situations. Here are a couple of my first driving mistakes.
RV Driving Mistake #1:
I should have known that something was different about driving a Motorhome, when I had something go wrong on the trip back to our home that was then, in Lynchburg Virginia.
After about three hours of driving without incident by the way, I finally pulled into a standard sized gas station right off of I-95 to fill up my fuel tank.
It was a small gas station, and not some large open truck stop, but I saw that they had a sign which pointed around the building and said; RV's this way!.
I thought, what the Hey! RV's obviously fit here, or they wouldn't have that sign, right?
I settled into my seat and slowly followed the signs. I circled the station itself and as I turned in to align my rig with the fuel pump, there was this strange scraping sound.
I was scraping the Service Compartment door of my rig along the protective concrete-filled pole right next to the gas pump. I stopped, and let my wife stand there for a few minutes waving her arms and yelling at me.
It seems I had done several thing wrong, I later learned.
1- I had not picked a large truck stop or major fuel stop that is laid out specifically for large towed campers and motorhomes to access their pumps.
On the other hand, this particular gas station and it's layout was not designed for big rigs and had been an afterthought that the owner had added so he could sell more gas to RV owners.
2- I did not take into effect the long wheelbase of my rig, as opposed to an automobile when I finally started to turn into the fueling lane next to the pump.
With the longer wheelbase, I had started my turn far too soon and I had paid the price.
3- I had not asked my wife to go outside and warn me if I got too close to; the pump, the roof over the pump, or other vehicles that I couldn't see in my RV mirrors.
Anyway, the station owner came out, with a smile on his face, and after checking that his pump and concrete filled pole were OK, his smile broadened and he said;
That happens to a lot of people, you should have pulled out further before you started to turn.
So, duly chastised, we filled our tank and finally we, very carefully, exited the tiny gas station and got back on the road. But now we had a dented Service Compartment door that would need repair.
Needless to say, my wife and I spent the next hour or so discussing the new level of stupidity that I had reached.
But as all of you married people know, this was done is jest and not meant to be insulting to my ego at all, or so she now say. But finally, silence fell over the inside of the motorhome as we headed for our reserved overnight campsite near Brunswick, Georgia.
My next Driving Mistake (Same Trip)
Driving Mistake #2:
As we got closer to Brunswick, we began to notice that there were more and more orange cones and warning signs appearing along the sides of the Interstate.
It seems we had driven into a major highway maintenance area and the speed limit quickly dropped to 55 and 60-mph versus the standard 70-mph.
The northbound lane was still two-lanes wide, but with the reduced speed limit, the traffic was getting thicker. In anticipation of slowing down in certain spots of maintenance.
Telling myself to be smart, I eased my RV over into the right lane and just kept up with the pace of traffic in front of me.
Then suddenly, looking ahead, I saw that we were approaching a bridge and that the two lanes looked like they had been narrowed, so I dropped down to a little over fifty-mph as I started onto the bridge.
Suddenly, there was the sound of a very loud truck horn behind me, playing a tune resembling DIXIE.
I checked my left-hand mirror and there was this Low-Boy tractor-trailer barreling down the left hand lane and his right tires were straddling the solid center lane markings.
I quickly looked to the right and the right edge of my rig was already directly over the right-hand white lane marking.
I had nowhere else to go. and I realized that I had only two choices, in my mind.
I could go right crossing the outside white lane markers and give the trucker more room, or I could stay where I was and get hit by the insane trucker coming up on me.
It was at this moment that I made my critical mistake.
You see, I assumed that the truck driver had some right to cross over the center marking and to a part of my lane but it was obvious to me that he was going to hit my Motorhome.
Of course, he didn't have that right and he wasn't going to hit us. He should have pulled back and used his own lane and passed me with the same caution that I thought I was using.
But, I guess that driving a very large truck on the highway gave the driver some feeling that he had priority over other vehicles and drivers.
Anyway, I pulled further over to the right and my motorhome immediately took out eight of those bright orange plastic reflective cones before I could come back into my lane.
They made a thump, thump, thump sound as I struck each one, and they each, burst into a hundred pieces that flew in all directions, including my windshield.
At this point, the trucker had flown on by me and was happily driving down the road that he obviously thought he was the King of.
I quickly checked my mirrors and I saw that everyone behind me had backed off and were dodging the errant cone debris that I had launched into flight.
I glanced over at my wife and she was sitting there, petrified.
You see, the passenger seat is right over the right-hand tire and she was able to watch as each cone thumped under the motorhome body and then flew away, not five feet away, in front of and beside her.
Well, I had no other choice and kept driving until I had crossed the bridge and the lane widened to normal again. But my wife, after she had regained her composure, decided that we should have yet another conversation about my stupidity.
She described, in great detail, exactly how stupid I was to; 1- buy an RV in the first place, 2-drive one on an Interstate with my limited brain function, and 3- even consider her ever traveling on a road with me again in this lifetime.
That's when I chewed off most of my lower lip, as I repeated to myself; Do Not Respond, Do Not Respond, Do Not Respond.
DOT Roadside Safety Triangles
RV Damage Control
So, as I chewed the end of my tongue off, I also continued to drive along the Interstate for a couple of dozen miles until we eventually pulled into the first large rest area we came to.
Tired of the heat inside the RV, real and imagined, I jumped out and inspected my wounded motorhome.
The right front fender was fiberglass and it was seriously cracked in a couple of places. The wheel well was fiberglass and aluminum and most of the fiberglass was missing while the metal was bent badly.
And, there was a battery compartment right behind the wheel and its door was hanging by one mauled hinge.
As I stood there, waiting for my wife to wind up and chew on me even more, another camper came rolling into the area and parked right beside me.
They were an older couple in a Class-C motorhome and we spent the next few minutes talking about what had happened at the bridge.
Finally literally laughing at me, he turned and asked me;
You do know that your rig is probably right at 8-feet wide don't you?
i answered that yes I did know this and then I threw in a "So What?"
He looked at his wife and then said;
:"Well, when the state does highway work, they will often narrow the lanes down to the legal minimum size and that's 8-foot, 6-inches.
A motorhome driver needs to be very careful whenever he comes into a road maintenance area, or he could do what you did, hit some of the cones, or sometimes hit some of the signs."
I looked at my wife and then decided not to give her time to fall into the "I told You So" trap quite yet and I turned back to the other camper driver as, still laughing, he said to me;
Anyway, Buddy, I have a few of the basics that every Motorhome driver needs when he is on the road that you might be able to use.. I have a drill, some pop-rivets and a roll of Duct tape. let me go get them.
Well, he and I spent the next hour pop-riveting the loose parts back into place and duct taping the others so that they wouldn't flap in the wind as I drove down the road.
Eventually,I thanked the guy and as he pulled out of the rest area, he told me one more thing about driving a Motorhome;
Look, Buddy, You're obviously a newbie, so you need to be extra careful until you learn the tricks of the road for Motorhome drivers. Just stay in the right lane and keep it five to ten mph under the speed limit, and you'll probably be OK.
I just nodded and anyway, we got back onto the road, spent a several great nights in a couple of campgrounds, on a now much slower and very cautious trip back home to Virginia.
I now knew a few things about driving an RV that I had never considered.
But I also realized that I needed to learn a lot more about driving a Motorhome.
If for no other reason than the fact that I just couldn't afford to keep learning the Hard Way!
Gorilla Tape for RV Repairs
Driving in the High Country of Arizona
A Good RV Driving Course for Beginners
After a couple of thousand dollars repairing my RV, I kept that motorhome for about a year and a half and we grew to love the freedom and extra comforts that a big rig gave us as we traveled on our trips around the southeastern parts of the US.
Actually, we loved it so much that we decided what we needed was a NEWER and BETTER motorhome, because we were starting to travel more and more and were looking forward to even longer extended trips.
Shopping for an RV Trade
We shopped around on the web for a while and finally we traded our old Rig for a newer and fancier motorhome from a pretty large RV dealer in the South.
And along with the deal, the sales company offered us a two-day driving course, while we were waiting for our new RV to be checked out and readied for us.
We jumped on this opportunity. This was a specialized driving class for Coach owners. And along with my wife, we learned a lot of very important things about driving an RV.
During the course, we spent two days with a half a day in a classroom and the other half in different motorhomes, learning the things that make a motorhome so special when you drive one. We learned how to drive one safely and with confidence.
The second day, we went out and spent another half a day practicing what we had learned in a brand new 40-foot Diesel Pusher with a qualified instructor making us drive this Rig under all types of conditions.
After these two days, even though we had previously owned and driven a couple of thousand miles in two different RV Coaches, we left feeling so much safer driving our new rig on the open road.
Here are some of the things we learned in the classroom and on the road as part of these fantastic driving classes. We share these with you in the hopes that they will aid you in your travels also.
Parking and Turning Tips for the RV Driver
Remember this old and unofficial Rule of the Road for RV Drivers:
I learned the rule of the road for boating when I owned a HouseBoat and kept it for years on a lake in Virginia.
Basically the rule is that SIZE RULES!.
What this means is that the larger boat is harder to maneuver in the water than a small boat, so it has the right-of-way in almost every confrontational situation.
I was happy to hear this same rule explained by the teacher of this RV Driving class as well as by most of my fellow RVers.
When it comes to a situation where you must react or the smaller vehicle must react, the smaller vehicle should stop and allow the other vehicle to get out of the way.
And keep your Cool because when they Yell and blow their horn at you, just stay calm and be polite. And when insulted just shrug and smile while continuing to wait for them to get out of the way.
DO NOT take chances with your RV trying to back up or pull off of the road for the convenience of other smaller and thus more maneuverable vehicles!
Even the most dim-witted angry driver of a car will eventually catch on and move out of your way.
Campsite in Verde Valley, Arizona
DID YOU KNOW – Road Tips:
The following are some of the TIPS that we learned in our Driving Course as well as from other Motorhome drivers.
They are logical and common sense things that will halp any camper be a safer and better RV drive.
If you're traveling in Canada, make a note for yourself that 12-feet is equal to 3.66 meters, and post it on your dash as a quick reference when you're approaching an overpass or pulling into a fueling station with the clearance is posted in meters.
Motorhomes Deserve Respect
The driver/owner of a Motorhome should always keep in mind that their Coach is longer, wider and taller than an automobile, and your RV deserves the extra respect and thought from others when you are turning, stopping, accelerating, and parking the RV.
You should always know the overhead clearance of your Motorhome. Motorhomes are typically over ten or even eleven feet tall at the highest point of the tallest thing mounted on the roof.
And, many of the very big motorhomes will be right at the 13-foot, 6-inches limit. So, even though you will have higher and well-marked clearances on major highways, when you pull off and onto the side roads of the country, you could easily come up on an overpass that your rig will not clear.
Take care and don't chance getting your AC units and other things ripped off of your roof and your rig wedged under an old country overpass in a small town.
One trick is when you are on the road remember that a tractor/trailer rig is nearly always at or near the US maximum allowed height of 13-feet and 6-inches, and if you watch and stay behind them on the back roads, this should help you stay out of trouble with overpasses and fuel stops.
Tail Swing or Off-Tracking
And By The Way, the Tail moves!
The number-1 accident with Motorhomes is actually caused by Tail Swing, and one should keep in mind that the average Motorhome has up to 2-1/2 feet of Tail-Swing when it is in a turn.
When stopping at fuel dispensers, keep your rig at least 3-1/2 feet away from the pump to allow for Tail-Swing when you pull away from the fuel dispenser.
What to Do At an Intersection
Intersections are a curse to Big Rig drivers. As you pull up you are trying to figure out so many tings sud ch as; which lane do I use, ae there any signs or other man-made things near the edge of the road at the intersection, who is in the lane beside me and how big is the vehicle, and more.
That Big White Painted Bar at a Stop Sign
Surely you have noticed the big white painted bar across the road at every stop sign/ stop light in the country.
This bar is always designed to be set back enough to allow other turning vehicles to clear the vehicle that is sitting at the sign/painted bar, when they make a turn.
So always stop your rig at the white bar and do not go past it for a better view.
Turning Through an Intersection
There are a couple of pretty common situations that a Motorhome driver will run into at an intersection. Be aware and handle them properly.
Intersection Situation One:
When you are pulling up to a STOP sign/light and are in the left lane of 2 lanes, and are planning on turning left, you should pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to allow for the tail end of your rig to swing out and to the right when you turn left.
Always take the turn very slowly and watch closely when actually turning. If there happens to be a car that is too close to you on your right, by taking the turn slowly they will see your tail start to swing and get out of your way, themselves. And remember the Rule of the Road mentioned above.
Situation Two: When pulling up to a STOP in a single lane, and turning left, pull up as close to the left line on the road as possible to avoid your tail hitting any signs, fire hydrants or other things on the side of the road at the corner.
When to Turn the Wheel:
If you are driving a Diesel Pusher or any big rig Motorhome, you must remember that you are probably sitting directly over the front wheel, unlike when you are driving an automobile and the front wheels are in front of your feet.
So regardless of whether you are turning left or right at an intersection, pull straight forward until your Butt is at the point where you need to turn, THEN turn the wheel.
Everyone is used to their car, where they are sitting behind the front wheels, and turning the front end before "their Butt" gets to the turn location. You need to turn your big Pusher as mentioned here if you want to make the turn without taking out stop signs and other paraphenalia standing at the intersection..
While driving your RV, follow these Tips
Here are a number of simple things an RV driver can do to make their trip a safer and more enjoyable one.
When on the road, try to keep at a 4 to 6 second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you maintain this gap, you will have adequate time to stop your Motorhome under normal road situations.
This time gap is equivalent to 400-500 feet and is considered a safe stopping distance.
Try to keep your speed down on Interstate Highways, and drive at a 63 to 65 MPH speed range and take the time to enjoy the trip and the scenery.
If you drive at this speed, you will lose only 15 minutes in a 200 mile drive, and you could pick up as much as 2 to 2-1/2 MPG with a gasoline engine.
And….Those people that keep passing you doing the 70-mph speed limit or faster, will pull in front of you, but they will be long gone very quickly at the speeds they are driving.
Steady your Steering:
If you are driving down the highway, and it seems that you are constantly turning the steering wheel left and right, try lifting your head and looking further down the road.
You will find that you will be moving the steering wheel much less, and you will still maintain your position in your lane.
You should try to get into the habit of looking 10 to 12 seconds down the road, so that you will have more time to react to situations that arise, that might require you to slow down, change lanes, etcetera.
When you see a situation that far ahead of you, you will have the time to safely change lanes and/or slow down long before it is necessary.
Make REST STOPS regularly.
Even though you are driving a pretty self-contained Motorhome, with bathroom, food, entertainment and all of those luxuries that you love, you need to stop and get out of the RV regularly.
Plan on and pull off of the road, at Rest Areas if possible, every hour an a half to two hours.
It will help you keep fresh and alert, if you just get out and walk around your Motorhome checking it over and then walking up to the restroom area and back to your RV.
Use TRUCK STOPS
If you are traveling along the Interstate highways of the US or even the major state highways, you will find that there are Truck Stops interspersed all along the major roads of America.
I recommend that you use these whenever possible for re-fueling as well as for taking a short break while on the road.
Truck Stops will not only sell Diesel fuel, but they will also have at least a few gasoline pumps. These pumps will always be designed to accomodate the big Motorhomes and towed Campers and you will be able to get into and out of them so easy, as opposed to regular gas stations.
They will also have large enough parking areas that you can pull back into a site and catch a few hours of sleep when you get tired on your journey.
And, of course, regardless of the hour, you will be able to pick up something to eat. It may not be gourmet food, but it will invariably be served hot, and the facilities will be clean.
RV Driving Safety
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: We have heard that older National Park campgrounds cannot accommodate a motorhome over 32'. Did you find the size of yours to be a problem?
Answer: Oh yes! In fact, I have several friends with Fivers who planned a trip across the country and back and were going to stay at National and State Parks almost exclusively.
One of them actually traded his perfectly good, almost new Fiver in for a shorter one so he could use these parks.
I have stayed at a few, but each time, I made sure I called and checked their site sizes ahead of time.
It's a great way to travel and see the country, but if you have a larger RV, getting sites in regular campgrounds can be a problem too. I went to the west coast in a 43-foot motorhome, and I had a heck of a time finding a campground that had sites I could fit in that weren't already reserved.
I recommend that you plan your trip for the size of your RV.
Question: What's the maximum safe distance (in your opinion) one should drive a large RV in one day?
Answer: A decade ago, on one of my trips across the USA on I-10, I drove several times for 10+ hours. BUT, I was younger, I was pumping Caffeine, and I took a rest break where I got out of my RV and walked around every hour and a half.
Looking back, this was truly stupid because no matter what you do, your brain is going to get tired over such a long day of driving.
Nowadays, I drive like many of my fellow motorhome owners. I plan my trips for a maximum of 5 hours of drive time, and I still take a break every hour and a half or so.
And, I drive 5 or more MPH below the speed limit and stay on the right-hand lane.
This way, I get where I'm going safer, and I get to look at the scenery as I go. Plus, I get to my destination, with a clear mind and I'm ready to enjoy the campground because I'm not exhausted.
Question: We are planning a trip to Maine from Texas in May. I have a 30' gas motorhome, and I will have a Honda CRV in tow. I am relatively new at RVing, although we have just completed a trip to Florida without any complications. Could you give me any advice on climbing and descending steep grades, and do you know of any driving schools in Texas?
Answer: My first tip is this; you will be crossing the Appalachian Mountains at some point, and if you do it down around Georgia, it will be a snap. As you go further North, the mountains become more prominent, and there will be long grades both up and down.
I assume you have a Ford V10 engine and 5-speed transmission, so with your 30' and tow car, you should be OK.
Once you're over to the Wast side of the Appalachian mountains, I-95 is the main N-S route for most RV campers, with the occasional foray either to the beach areas or what I call the "rolling hill" areas. There are lots of great places to visit without worrying about driving and towing over mountains.
As for myself, I have found that the safest and most enjoyable way to drive an RV is; stay in the right lane and stay 5-mph below the speed limit. Everyone passes you, so you don't need to keep passing others, and just that 5-mph speed reduction will allow you to relax and enjoy the drive yourself, rather than feeling like you are negotiating a battlefield with the other cars.
As for Driving Schools, I'm not aware of what might be available in Texas. I would Google it.
Question: Hi, my husband and I have never driven an RV before but a need has arisen where my family (2 adults, 2 kids) need to drive from Chicago to Long Beach CA. We would have about four days to drive there and more to drive back. I am looking to rent a 24ft RV for the family. Do you think this would be feasible for two people with no prior RV experience?
Answer: In my opinion, using an RV for such a trip would be a good option for you, when you take such a long trip. A 24-foot motorhome is just large enough for your family, it will have room for everyone, and you can still stop at a motel when you need a shower or whatever.
The one thing I do recommend is that whoever you rent from that you make them give you good instructions of how to dump the holding tanks. You see, they hold the waste water and sewage from the sinks, and showers and the toilet. Dumping them is a simple process and they usually hold the waste from up to a week of NORMAL use. I assume you will be staying at a campground when you get to CA, so typically your campsite will have a dump connection. If you're going to park at someone's house then ask them to find you a place that has a dump station you can use when necessary.
You can plan your trip to stop and even stay overnight at places such as; Rest Areas (that have nighttime security), truck stops (a little noisy), Walmart parking lots (ask management for permission), etcetera. Or pick a campground chain such as KOA and call them to set you up with the right KOA campgrounds where you have overnight freedom to use their pool, restrooms, electricity and water hookup, and the run of their amenities.
I know I'm putting a lot of emphasis on these things, but if you plan ahead you can have a great trip, stop where and when you want, fix your own meals, and have a relaxed trip.
I envy your, traveling through such a great and beautiful part of the USA.
Question: We went to AAA and got a trip-tic showing our routes to Maine and back. We decided to avoid I-95 after South Carolina and followed Route 81 all the way through New York, and then hopped on I-95. Any thoughts on route 81?
Answer: From what a lot of my fellow RVer's that live in the North tell me, you have the right route, using I-81. The best thing you can do is make sure you time your trip over this section of interstate to avoid busy traffic periods (such as morning and evening commuters) as best you can.
Question: I'm trying to decide between a 26-foot, 30-foot or 32-foot class C. I love the single bunk beds in the larger class C. I will need sleeping space for 6 to 8 people. I really wanted to stay as small as I could, but sleep is so important to me. I'm just wondering if there is much of a difference driving a 26-foot versus a 30 or 32 foot?
Answer: Actually, I would say yes. As the manufacturers built, larger RV's the customer got larger dinette tables, larger toilet, larger holding tanks, and more room to move around. I would NOT recommend a 26-foot for 6-8 people.
Be aware though that most campground limit the number of people allowed on a campsite to 6.
Also, always check whether it is allowed or not, but many campgrounds will allow you to add a small tent where you can have a couple of people sleep at night.
Question: Is there any difference in class c size or options when driving the interstate and 18 wheelers pass you they push you all over the road?
Answer: Well, a Class-A is like an 18-wheeler in that they are both the maximum width allowed on interstate highways; and typically they are longer and heavier than a Class-C.
A Class-C is typically a camper body mounted on a standard truck body which is not as wide. Also, they are shorter and much lighter than a Class-A.
As to pushing you around on the road, that comes from the things I mentioned as well as the fact that most semis are flat on the front and not anywhere near aerodynamic.
Some things you just have to live with; so "anticipate and avoid "is all I can recommend for your dilemma.
Question: We have done a couple of trips in rentals (Class C, 26 ft.). I was comfortable driving the 26 ft. We want to try a 32 ft. for our next trip, but I am concerned that I might not feel as comfortable driving with the extra 6 ft. in length. Do you think there is much difference between the 26 ft and 32 ft motorhome in terms of ease of driving/maneuvering?
Answer: Honestly, while on the road, the primary time to think about driving a longer Rig, when you are passing someone, otherwise you should not have any real problems because it should handle pretty much the same. Of course, parking it will take more space.
I should mention that the manufacturers h=now have some very nice Class-A's that range in length from 29 to 34 feet long, and a Class-A has more room for the occupants than a Class-C.
DON Bobbitt on June 29, 2020:
Two gals on the Road -
Well, the Rockies are hard to avoid, butI did a quick look using GOOGLE MAPS and they show that you can use Interstate-80 to interstate-84 and go directly to Portland Oregon from Denver. The good thing about these interstates is that they are nicely graded highways and they also have warnings you can zoom in on and find where any steep downgrades and upgrades will be.
With these being interstates, you should also be able to zoom in and find some state maintained rest areas with overnight security.
And remember when you are traveling almost all Cracker Barrels will have 4 or 5 parking spots big enough for an RV. And you can stay overnight or even for a day or so at some Walmart parking lots. But you do have to ask the managements permission.
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, LOL!
Two gals on the road on June 28, 2020:
Im new to rv living Just did trip from Colorado to New Mexico
Now need safe route least amount of climbing and decent. From denver co to the Oregon coast
1999 fleetwood storm
34’ disc breaks V 10
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 07, 2020:
Karen - I'm so glad you enjoyed my article. Mixing a little humor with safety advice never hurts anyone.
Have a Great Day,
Karen Langston on January 06, 2020:
I loved your story.. it was like my husband and I! Thanks for making my day and for great advice! Laughing from ear-to-ear
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 30, 2019:
tworootless - I'm so glad that you liked my predicament and my story. This was just one of many of my "stupid moves" over the years my wife and I traveled in our Rvs.
Have a Nice Day,
firstname.lastname@example.org on August 30, 2019:
LOL We can so relate to your beginning story. I did the exact same thing damaging our fiver during our 1st fill up. Never seen that red concrete filled pole jump out!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on June 27, 2019:
Fritzine - First of all, you should understand that our interstate system in the US has a minimum clearance of OVER 13" 6', unless otherwise marked and there are warning signs before you get to these few exceptions.
But, that's for our interstate highways, and once you get onto local roads it's another story and you can run into (pun intended) many overpass situations where the equipment on your RV's roof can be damaged or destroyed.
You should always know, (I even measured mine) the exact maximum height of your RV.
As to your question? While I hpe this situation never occurs for you, but, of course, you need to stop, get out of the lane, turn on your flashers and then assess the situation as to whether you can back up (I tow a car so that would be impossible for me without unhitching) what you do next is what you find is best.
Good luck though,
Fritzine on June 26, 2019:
OK, this is a really stupid question from a newbie, but...…..what happens if while I'm driving along the interstate & Up ahead I notice that I can't clear the overpass..what do I do? (My guess is that I would have to get into emerg.lane & back up to a ramp that I just passed & get back on interstate)???
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 22, 2018:
Meg - Thanks, I put these things down on paler mostly because I had th learn them the hard way.
I'm so glad you found my article and read it. Safe driving,
Meg on March 22, 2018:
This was super helpful thank you!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 17, 2018:
Cinda - Tere are no laws I am aware of who restrict what is in the holding tanks of a recreation vehicle. Perhaps will commercial vehicles, but not RV's. "Keep on Campin!"
Cinda on February 16, 2018:
Can you haul black tank partially full in camper across state lines?
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on January 23, 2018:
Gina - I'm glad you enjoyed my article. I often try to put a little humor into my RV tips to make them more memorable. As ti your brake tip, its a good one to pass on.
Have a great day.
Gina on January 22, 2018:
Thanks for the laughs, Don! We've had our first 30 foot motorhome for about 2 years now and I'm the official chauffeur! I still get creeped out having to pass slower semi-trucks but always keep it under 65. A helpful hint: if you're towing a vehicle, don't forget to press the tow button! It'll help you slow down and safely through those winding mountain road!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 01, 2017:
Marina - As the Navigator, you do need to keep a watch on traffic for the driver. Try these tricks.
First, if you have a rearview camera, you can normally tell that your Rig is pat the traffic in the adjacent lanes, because they will be empty.
Second, You should sit as you normally would and have your partner walk up to the rear of your RV and stand there. You should look at where you can see him in the right mirror, and place a small colored stripe horizontally on the right mirror where you can see he is standing. This should be a good indicator for you to know that the vehicle in the lane needs to be further back of the line.
Marina on July 30, 2017:
We are new to motor homing and my husband does the driving. My problem is not being able to get a feel for passing or changing lanes. I cannot tell by looking in the passenger side mirror where the end of my vehicle is. Hints?
Larry Taylor on June 29, 2017:
Great article and very helpful.
Rick Allenberg on February 08, 2017:
Driving on a highway under construction is a little nerve racking but the only way to deal with a bridge narrowing is very easy.
You indicate well before you get there and pull over the centre line and force the traffic behind your to stay behind you. Stick with the posted construction speed limit and own the road over that section of the road, that is what the trucker was doing. In this situation, you can only be hit from the back and you know that anybody who hits a car from the back is in the wrong so you damage gets paid for. It is better and cheaper than getting a divorce.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 14, 2016:
Free Bird - I'm glad you can use the information I provided. So many people just don't get told these very basic rules of driving an RV.
Thanks for the read and the comment.
Free bird on February 13, 2016:
Thanks man I work at a rv dealership and was worried about pulling and driving them around! These make me feel more comfortable with each class I'm about to start moving!!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 18, 2014:
velzipmur- Funny thing is, many of the early Motorhomes were converted Buses, both Diesel and Gas, so yes, I am sure you have seen these situations and had to deal with them daily.
Thanks for the read and comment,
Shelly Wyatt from Maryland on November 17, 2014:
excellent points, I drive a school bus and I learned all of this in the class. I also drive a 32 foot motor home, so the class for bus driving really helped me out. You covered some really good points that were covered in my driving class. I think that every person that drives a motor home needs to know these points. Good Job!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on September 22, 2014:
Jay Witcher- I am glad that the article has proved useful to you. Check out my other HUB articles on RVing and Camping for more valuable tips for campers.
Jay Witcher on September 20, 2014:
Thanks for taking the time to put this together. An enjoyable read "and" informative :)
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on July 21, 2014:
Mary Hamel - Thanks for the kind words about my article. I guess the hard learned lessons are the best ones, and I have learned so many that I actually did fill a book with them. LOL!
It is good to hear from a fellow traveler and I do recommend that a day of hands-on lessons from someone who knows what they are doing can save you a lot of heartache if not money.
Mary Hamel on July 19, 2014:
Don - I love the info you have written and also your sense of humor is off the charts funny. My husband, also a "Don", and I sound exactly like you and your wife. I have driven our Ford F-800 towing our 37 foot fifth wheel on freeways -- probably going too fast when I think about it. I just hate backing up... At any rate, I want a 36-38 ft DP -- driving it does make me nervous. We live in Oregon but I will go to TX or even FL if I can find a good deal and driving lessons! I am planning on buying your book... thanks so much for the info!
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 25, 2014:
Bonnie Lynn_ I can only say, GO FOR IT. As to the length, you need, I can tell you one thing. The more time you are going to spen i your motorhome, the more floorspace you will eventually want. And a 3 or 4 slide 40-footer will have more storage and living space than a 2-slide motorhome 32-feet long or less.
As to your driving skills, honestly, if you ae not uncomfortable towing a trailer with you truck, I believe you will be fine in a nice motorhome. Also, once you are traveling and staying in campgrounds, you will find that there are a lot of wives who drive the motorhome, for on reason or another.
As for on the road, I use truck stops that all have pull through fuel pumps so, that eliminates that problem and a larger motorhome will have you reserving pull-through campsites. And, when you have a back in campsite, you always unhook your tow car before you back in.
Good Luck in your choice and in your future travels.
Bonnie Lynn on May 25, 2014:
I'm thinking about purchasing our first motorhome. I'll be driving it as my husband is legally blind, and am just worried this will be difficult. I've driven Ford F-150, and now a ford explorer. I've pulled car trailers (but still can't back up a trailer) with F-150 truck from Maine down to our home in Texas, and from Montana to Texas. I'm just concerned with never ever having/driving a motorhome, this will be difficult. Your article is amazing and so insightful. We've just started looking and am discovering my husband likes the 40 footers, but I'm not sure about me driving one this long. But, I had never pulled a trailer before, and that went just fine. I have a lot to learn before I decide what length. Thanks for the information in this article.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 21, 2014:
Phil T - Thanks for the comment.
I appreciate the correction on my name of the Valley. I guess I had a bout of dyslexia when I was writing the article.
Anyway, Thanks and have a great day,
Phil T. on February 21, 2014:
Thank you for taking the time to write this information. A couple of observations:
1. Your wife can not do better than you and about a 95% chance she would do worse..SO !
2. It is Verde Valley, not the other way. Verde is a Spanish word for green. The last photo was not "Valley Verde" as you put it but the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
I am not nagging on you, like your wife does, just information.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on August 25, 2010:
Thanks Kathy, for the kind words. We will be pulling out in a few weeks for our Winter trip to the West Coast. It will take 6 or more months we hope. Also, I have pulled a lot of this information together into a book that I will be selling on my eBay store.
Kathy Van Clapdurp on August 25, 2010:
This is such great information. This took a long time to help other people with hints and suggestions on RV to see the states. You are all so lucky. You and Helen both deserve it all. You worked hard all of your life.