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Driving Big- RV vs. car

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I have always loved big vehicles. I’ve owned a Chevy Blazer, a GMC pick- up truck, and driven a friends Chevy Suburban a few times. I’ve driven UHaul vans, a small Uhaul box truck and most recently I had several years of experience driving a 15 passenger handicapped van. (The van with the high bubble like top) I had never envisioned myself sitting in the seat of an RV. My partner had never driven anything bigger than my Honda CRV.
You know where this article is headed.. what it’s like driving an RV vs a car!! I just heard a story here at the campground about a customer that is staying here in a rental RV. He and his wife are thinking about buying an RV, so they decided to rent one to try it on for size. When he arrived here, he was exhausted! He had been driving the RV for over 8 hours. The customer was talking to a staff member about his return drive home. He hadn’t taken into account the difference of driving a car 8 hours vs. driving an RV for 8 hours. There is quite a difference!
When we bought our RV we were both a little nervous about what it would be like to drive. We both took the RV out on a test drive and were impressed with how comfortable it was and how well it handled. Still, driving an RV is much different than driving a car. Here’s a few things we have learned over the past year.
Our 29 ft Fleetwood Storm can “turn on a dime” if needed, but that would only be as a last resort. Turns must be taken much wider than a car and other driver’s really don’t seem to care how much extra room the RV needs. We have learned to always be looking ahead and thinking about “if I pull into that gas station on the right” how will I get out? Is there a turn lane? Is there a traffic light?
Braking is another area of concern. You can’t stop an RV as quickly as you stop your car. The RV has a lot more weight behind it, even empty! It’s important to leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead of you. Be aware of the traffic lights ahead and start slowing down before you get to the intersection. We added a supplemental braking system in our tow vehicle for additional support. When the brake pedal in the RV is applied, the brake in the CRV is activated at the same time. This helps quite a bit when towing a vehicle and RV that are fully loaded.
Distance driving is a huge consideration in an RV. I drove across the county several years ago in my CRV. I drove an average of 10-13 hours a day, taking short breaks to refuel and stop overnight to rest. I thought we could do that same in an RV. When we first started camping in the RV we stayed very close to home. Our first few trips were to Walmart grocery shopping just to get experience driving in traffic, on the highway, in parking lots, etc. We started off camping 15 minutes down the road. The next trip was 2 hours one way. We gradually built up our driving time and endurance behind the RV wheel. When I began planning our RV cross country trip, I was thinking we could drive 10 hours a day easily. Our RV friends told us they don’t drive more than 250 miles a day. When I heard that I thought to myself “wow, that’s hardly anything but they are older, I’m sure we can drive more than that”. I’m sure glad I took their advice. A 4 hour car drive converts to about a 6 hour RV drive. We cannot exceed 65mph while towing the CRV. On average we drive anywhere between 45 and 60mph. Speeds are dependent on weather conditions, construction, traffic, and of course posted speed limits. The longest stretch we drove across the country was 8 hours on the very last day to arrive in Bar Harbor. By that time we had quite a bit more experience, we had built up our endurance and we were excited to arrive! Although we averaged about 6 hours a day arriving at our destination by 2pm, those 6 hours at times were very difficult. Traffic, construction, and bad weather are hard on the RV driver. We drive about 6 -7 hours a day starting out by 7am and ending around 2pm
. We like to get the RV set up and have time to walk around the campground and relax.

So what about the guy with the rental RV? The staff person at the KOA front desk suggested he consider the “3-3-3” rule that some RV’ers may use. Drive approximately 3 hours a day, or drive 300 miles, or arrive at your destination by 3pm. He already had a new understanding of driving the RV and was planning to give himself more time on the drive back.

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