RV Skills To Know Before You Go
Picture it… you’re sitting on the couch when you see a gorgeous scene — the sun setting slowly, bathing Yellowstone in gold and pink and orange. The urge to jump in the RV and see it for yourself will definitely hit you. But as majestic as purple mountains are, when adventuring in an RV, it is best to plan your trip out as much as possible no matter how close or far away your destination may be. Sidenote: If you don’t currently own an RV, we’ve got you covered. We have a great handy guide that helps you through the process of how an RV rental works for your next adventure beyond!
Some people argue that overplanning sucks any spontaneity out of an adventure. I think overplanning makes any form of spontaneity possible. Overplanning and overpacking, however, is not good when you are facing weight restrictions on the road.
The Planning Shortlist
- Best and Alternate Routes
- Potential Stops, Gas Stations, and Rest Areas
- Campgrounds/Resorts en route to final destination
- Eat Out or Cook?
Identifying these shortlist items will help you plan without overpacking. Obviously, some of these are very high level and others are micro but it’s all for the same badass trip. Sometimes, the meals I want to cook and the scheduled activities once I’ve reached my final destination are overzealous. There are a few trips that I’ve looked back on and realized that I could have packed less and cooked simpler meals which would have saved me time, money, and space (and back aches and blisters lugging gear across Cumberland Island).
Selecting a campground or resort for your final destination is always one of the first steps. If your destination is far enough away though, you may need to find a couple of spots to set up camp and take a break from behind the wheel. If you are hellbent on getting to your destination as soon as possible, gas stations and rest areas are going to be your best friend because you can restock, refuel, and dump waste when necessary. These factors also influence when, where, and how you eat.
Where you go and what you need to pack is heavily influenced by what you are planning on doing.
- Weight of vehicle + weight of the gear = bridge restrictions
- What gear will you need: Essentials vs Adventure Accessories
- Food Planning : Cooking vs Eating Out
All of the above heavily influences your trip. Weight influences gas mileage, fastest and alternative routes, average speeds during good and bad road conditions, how long it takes to pack and unpack at each destination, and how often you will need to conduct on-the-road maintenance. (Damn…that’s a really long sentence.) We will discuss this fully in an upcoming post and give you a handy dandy checklist to make packing as painless as possible!
It’s extremely important to know the exact height, length, width, and weight of your RV for more than just packing. This heavily influences the best routes to take as well as alternate routes that may be riddled with weight or height restrictions. The last thing you want is to misjudge the height of your rig and not clear the bridge. Whether you are a renter or owner, a mistake like this could be catastrophic to your RV and will definitely rain on your vacation parade.
The more familiar you are with your rig’s dimensions and how it handles, the better. Too often, people miscalculate how slow they need to approach a turn and end up flipping their RV. Can you imagine watching your dreams go up in literal smoke?
Whether renting or purchasing, we strongly recommend that you:
- Attend a professionally run, in-depth and complete RV driver safety class or
- Find an experienced RV owner who is willing to actually take you out on the highway and teach you to drive, backup, and park your RV.
It is also helpful to practice driving your RV in various weather conditions. The Southeast has torrential downpours and tornadoes. The Midwest is known for their straight line winds and crazy lightning storms. The Northeast has their own fair share of crazy weather patterns. Winter travel has snow storms that can cause rock and mudslides and treacherous road conditions . If you are traveling. Better safe than sorry.
Most highways were designed for high occupancy so they are clearly your best bet. Lesser known is the benefit of cruising in the middle lane when applicable. Middle lane driving allows you to maintain a consistent speed and avoid people slowing down at an exit or speed demons cursing you and the safe rate at which you drive your RV. For two lane highways, slower traffic keeps to the right. Blinkers, extended stop ranges, and slower speeds when approaching a curve are your best options to make damn sure your family gets to Yellowstone (or wherever you are going) safe and sound.
Don Bobbitt at Axel Addict has a ton of on the road experience and does a fantastic job of explaining why careful RV driving matters. He shares fantastic tips and tricks to help make your ride as smooth as possible.
There is a lot about maintenance and troubleshooting that you need to know about before you hit the road so you can be prepared for anything. A LOT. So much so that it deserves it’s own article with a lot more detail.If you rent an RV, All your levels should be checked and topped off prior to pick up. The dealership should instruct you on standard levels and pressures so you can maintain and troubleshoot on the road. If they don’t offer up this info, I’d ask and make a note — just to be on the safe side. If you are a new RV owner, be on the lookout for our next article RV Maintenance and Troubleshooting Basics. The only hitch should be the one on the back of your RV or the one towing it!