If you’re planning a trip right now, and if this is your first trip driving an RV, you may be a little anxious about the driving process. Skilled RV drivers will tell you it’s not that hard, and it’s really not. But there are some things you have to be aware of, just like driving a regular car!
While RV driving can be intimidating, there is no need to worry. With these tips in mind while on your trip, you will look and feel like an experienced RV driver. It’s not just about looking cool while driving an RV, though!
Safe driving is crucial while driving any vehicle, but when you’re driving a large vehicle, there are things you need to look out for while driving at any time of day. So, are you ready?! Warning: You may only want to drive an RV for the rest of your life after reading this.
Don’t Treat It Like a Regular Car
It’s really good to go into this with a positive attitude, but not thinking you’ll be able to drive an RV easily because you drive a normal car or truck. While it is similar, there are a lot of differences that you must take into consideration. RVs are on average about 10 feet tall, which isn’t even comparable to a sedan.
With RVs, you need to be aware of all of the cars around you. Merging with a regular sedan or a truck is easy, but it’s pretty different with an RV. RVs are typically 25 to 40 feet long, so that’s a lot of space you’ll need to merge into a lane.
You also cannot park normally in any parking spot. Parking your RV horizontally vs. vertically will save you the trouble of trying to perfect the parking job. When you park horizontally and away from other cars, it will be easier to get in and out and, saving you the headache of trying to exit a tight parking spot.
Stay Seated and Buckled While Driving
I know it’s very tempting to get up and roam around while someone else is driving the RV. While it’s not illegal, it’s also not the safest option. If you’re in the driver's seat or the passengers seat, you need to have your seat-belt on, while in the back of the RV it’s less common to stay buckled in and sitting down. The safest option, without a doubt, is to remain seated and buckled while the RV is moving.
The driver may need to slam on their breaks, for example, and you don't want to go flying or fall down. Of course you may need to get up and get food or go to the washroom, which can be done safely, but it may not be the best idea to do a workout while the RV is moving.
There are some fun ways that you can stay seated while the RV is moving. Here are a couple of ideas that will help pass the boredom of staying still for a couple of hours, particularly with kids:
- Playing a card game
- Playing board games
- Watching a movie or TV shows
- Taking a nap
- Prepping for tonight's dinner
- Helping make lunch
Those are just a few little fun tips to help pass the time! Remember, this is only for motor-homes. You cannot have anyone in a travel trailer that’s being hauled by another vehicle - this is very dangerous.
Be Aware of Weather Conditions While Driving
In Canada, we have to be aware of weather conditions all year around. It also true with most of the USA. While peak times for RV camping and travelling are from July to September, that definitely doesn’t mean the rest of the year is off limits. Many people actually believe fall camping is better than summer! No matter when your trip is planned for, however, checking the weather often will give you some insight into what you can expect and make your trip all the better.
Let’s say your RV trip is booked for the end of October. While driving, you will have to be aware of any snowfall warnings as well as cold fronts or heavy rain. The weather is very unpredictable sometimes, so it’s hard to book your trip with full confidence that the weather will be good.
Of course, an RV trip in the winter will be more difficult than a RV trip in the summer. You’ll have to look out for freezing rain warnings, snowfall warnings, and you’ll definitely have to bundle up. If you’re driving cross country or even through a couple of provinces, then you’ll need to check the weather for each of those provinces as you move along. This will pay off very well.
If you’re starting out in Toronto, for example, it could be snowing for a week straight. But destination like Vancouver don’t see much snow but lots of rain. So, you could plan your driving when it will be bright outside and then the roads will be clear.
Make Sure All Objects Are Secured
Have you ever driven a car and heard things moving around the backseat? Falling off the seat, tipping over, or just sliding around? Well, in an RV that happens a lot, even when you don’t expect it. Since you’re driving a very big van, things are bound to fall off the counters and the beds while you’re taking a steep turn or pumping the breaks.
In order to avoid this from happening, here are a few tips:
Put everything away: At home, it’s easier to leave things out to dry. But when you’re in an RV, everything has a place and should go in that place to avoid any damages. If you have a blender, dishes, forks and knives out from breakfast, then make sure to put those away before you get on the road again!
Use anti-slip liners: These are a lifesaver. You can purchase them at any dollar store, and they go inside your drawers so that whatever is in the drawers doesn't slip of move around. If you’re worried about dishes sliding, this is the perfect tool!
Invest in an over-the-door shower caddy: This will not only save all of your products from falling, but it will save room in your bathroom too. You can put this on the back of your bathroom door in your RV and that will help keep all of your products in one place, not falling everywhere.
These tips will help you organize for your trip. You’ll be able to see where everything goes, give everything a spot, and know that the counters and tables need to be cleared off before you hit the road!
Know That Driving at Night Is Different During The Day
Just like with a car, driving at night can come with some anxiety. The roads are a little harder to see, there aren’t as many people on the roads, and you’re more likely to be tired. However, it’s completely manageable. Driving at night is very different than during the day, so if this is your first time driving an RV, a little practice will make perfect. You’ll definitely get used to driving an RV at night, but there are some things to look out for from the start.
Don’t use cruise control at night: This will make it harder for you to concentrate if you aren’t really having fresh and aware. When you’re tired, you want to do everything to make hard work easier, but at night you need all your attention on the road!
Watch out for wild animals: In the daytime, it’s way easier to see wild animals crossing the road. But at night, just like in a car, you should keep an eye out in areas where it’s normal for animals to cross the road. This is also why it’s important to drive at a safe speed with all of your attention at night so you have enough time to stop comfortably or react accordingly.
Don’t be afraid to use your high beams: This what they’re there for! High beams will really save you at night if you’re worried about seeing ahead or getting someone's attention.
Stop if you’re too tired: Going through the night because you want to make it to your destination faster is not the best option. Unless you have a co-pilot who is switching with you half way through the night, then it’s really better to rest and get moving tomorrow when you wake up refreshed. Coffee may sound good at 12 am, but sleep will certainly do better.
Slow down: You don’t need to be driving fast at night in order to get to your destination. Driving fast makes it harder to stop at a safe distance and it also makes it very dangerous to go around bends in the road. Driving at a safe speed is essential at night and at all times.
If you’re nervous while driving at night, either see if someone else can drive or you could set a time when you stop driving everyday. There are free campsites all around Canada, and some are even cooler than you think!
Safe driving within Canada is super important, but you’ll get the hang of driving an RV in no time. The trip is part of the journey, and whether this is your first on the road with an RV or your 10th, it’s always a different experience!
Taking all of these tips into consideration will lessen your anxiety and help the trip go according to plan. You may be driving to the next city or driving across the country, but, either way, these tips will make driving an RV in Canada a breeze.